Tuesday 18 June 2024

2024 The drama of age





               THE DRAMA OF AGE


                       EDUARDO C. GERDING


Historical background 9

 The Roman Empire used young men in war although it was understood that it was reckless and cruel to use children in war. Plutarco implied that the regulations required that young people be at least 16 years of age. The Napoleonic Imperial Guard used orphans aged 14 to 17 to fight in the Netherlands under the command of Marshal Etienne Macdonald. One of the most visible roles was that of the drummer.


Pedro Ríos (Yaguareté-Corá, September 1798-Tacuarí, March 9, 1811), better known as the Drummer of Tacuarí, was a boy who participated as a soldier in the army of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, commanding by Manuel Belgrano, standing out in the battle of Tacuarí, where he died in combat, playing the drum that encouraged the troops; from there he takes his nickname by which he is known in Argentine history.

In the case of the Royal Navy, minors aged 12 to 14 were used for essential tasks on board, such as carrying gunpowder and shot from the ship's magazine to the cannon crews. These were called the “Powder monkeys”.



During the US Civil War, 15-year-old cornet John Cook received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Antietam as did 11-year-old Willie Johnston.


What is adolescence?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines adolescence as the stage that occurs between the ages of 10 and 19. They normally divide it into two phases; early adolescence from 12 to 14 years old and late adolescence from 15 to 19 years old. In late adolescence there are still immature biological and psychological functions.

 The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until at least 25 years of age in most people, or even beyond their thirties. 2


Development at 16 years old   7

From a physical point of view, they gain weight, have a beard and show redistribution of their body fat. Variations in the circadian cycle make them stay up late and wake up later.

In the emotional aspect, they value the opinion of their peers compared to that of their parents. They are not always aware of their consequences. They tend to spend less time with family and more time with their friends or romantic relationships. They have strong sexual desires.

The adolescent becomes more aware of what he wants to do with his future. Some are already beginning to understand what university life will be like.

Some get their driver's license or join a sports team. They begin to use abstract thinking and begin their way of solving problems.

They are susceptible to the phenomenon called the Personal Fable, meaning that they take risks because they consider themselves invincible.

It is a risky age for them to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Parents should be alert to cognitive, emotional, and physical changes.

In Argentina, the minimum age to work is 16 years old according to Law 26,390-Art 2 (Prohibition of child labor and protection of adolescent work). In Buenos Aires there are requirements for adolescent work whose working hours must be 6 hours a day. 19

16-year-old adolescents are trained for various tasks such as babysitting, gardening, giving private lessons, tasks in small businesses, walking and caring for pets, and even basic computer classes for adults.


Adolescents under 15 years of age  4

The Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (1977, Art 77.2), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Statute of the International Criminal Court of Rome (2002) prohibit the Armed Forces and non-state armed groups the use of children under 15 years of age in armed conflicts. It is considered a war crime.

Adolescents under 18 years of age  4

The majority of the Armed Forces World governments have ratified the Optional Protocol for the Intervention of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) (2000) and the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (1999), which prohibit the compulsory recruitment of adolescents under 18 years of age.

The OPAC requires that governments that, even recruiting from the age of 16, take all available measures to ensure that no person under the age of 18 takes a direct part in hostilities. OPAC also prohibits any non-state armed group from recruiting children under any circumstances. Most African states have ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.


Why are children chosen for war?

Children and adolescents are chosen because they are very susceptible to influence and this facilitates recruitment and control. Some are recruited by force, others choose to enter to escape poverty or because military life offers them a rite of passage to maturity. 4


The aftermath of sending teenagers to war  4

Those who survive armed conflict often develop psychiatric pathology, poor literacy and numeracy. They present behavioral problems such as aggression which causes them to be unemployed and poor in adulthood.

Research in the United Kingdom revealed that the recruitment and training of adolescents, even when they are not sent to war, is accompanied by an increased risk of suicide, mental disorders due to stress, alcohol addiction and violent behavior.


Recruitment of children and adolescents  4

Military life is presented to these adolescents as something attractive but the risks and the loss of their fundamental rights are omitted to be explained to them.

The British Army finds it easier to attract 16-year-olds than 18-year-olds, especially if they come from a poor social background. (Child Rights International Network (21 August 2019). "Conscription by poverty? Deprivation and army recruitment in the UK" (PDF). crin.org. Retrieved 24 August 2019.)


In 2018 there was only one country, the United Kingdom, that recruited adolescents aged 16 and there were five countries that recruited from the age of 17 (Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany and the Netherlands). In 2016, a quarter of those recruited into the British Army were under 18 years of age.


In Canada, 16-year-old adolescents can enter the reserve if they have parental authorization and enter as regular members at 17, also with parental authorization, but they cannot volunteer for missions until they are 18.


In the US, 17-year-old adolescents can join the Armed Forces, with written authorization from their parents. In 2015 there were 16,000 17-year-old adolescents recruited. The OPAC prohibited them from participating directly in hostilities until the age of 18 and the Committee on the Rights of the Child also did not allow them to participate in support tasks in combat areas.


In 2003 it was estimated that child soldiers participated in three quarters of world conflicts. In 2004, Colombia was the fourth country in the world in the use of child soldiers (recruited as volunteers or by coercion)


In 2018 there were 46 countries recruiting minors under 18 years of age for military purposes. Most were recruited from the age of 17, a few from the age of 16 and an even smaller number were children. In 2022, the United Nations detected 12 countries that directly recruited children.

In 2023, the Secretary General of the United Nations found that girls represented 12.3% of soldiers recruited by armed groups.


 Ages in Malvinas

The majority (almost 70%) of the bodies buried in the Darwin cemetery were conscript soldiers of the Army, very young (between 18 and 20 years old) and from the Province of Buenos Aires, Chaco and Corrientes.

The average age of British troops during the Falklands Conflict was 26 years old. The British sailors who manned the Bofors anti-aircraft guns were 17 years old.14


The case of Mario Vilca Condorí  6,16

Many of those who died in the Malvinas were members of Kolla communities. This has to do with the fact that they were leaving to relieve the family. It was impossible for them to send the kids to school, they had to go to Oran (Salta) for them to study. At that time there was nothing, and for a family of shepherds and farmers it was impossible. So many young people went to the Navy, the Army and enrolled to go to high school, basically to be able to eat, to take the burden off their parents of feeding one more mouth.”


Sailor Mario Vilca Condorí

Fernández Mainardi, Patricia-El hundimiento del ARA General Belgrano: la historia del héroe más joven de Malvinas. DEF,2 de mayo 2024.



Starting in the 19th century, the ethnonym Colla was identified in Argentina with the indigenous people of the towns and hamlets of the Humahuaca ravine, the highlands, the northern part of the Calchaquíes valleys, the rural mestizo mass of the Andean areas of Salta, Tucumán and Jujuy. , and the Bolivian immigrants of Andean origin who arrived in large numbers to those provinces or were incorporated into Argentina with the Puna de Atacama in 1899.


The route taken by those who chose the Navy was to reach Oran, where the recruitment offices were located, and from there they traveled directly on a very long route by train for more than 36 hours. They all studied at the Navy Mechanics School. Then they shipped them. 16

Mario Vilca Condorí from the Los Naranjos native community, entered the Navy in January 1981 at the age of 15. He was the fourth of 9 siblings.

His 15-year-old sister was the one who gave birth to him, she lived in absolute poverty, her teacher was the godmother. 3

Mario was assigned (as a baker) to the ARA General Belgrano light cruiser like his brother Juan Bautista. The other brother Anastacio (Male Nurse Corporal) was on the ARA Bahía Paraíso auxiliary ship, which when the Belgrano is sunk, is one of the ships that comes to the rescue.

That day, May 2, Mario cooked bread for everyone, he had worked all night, they had breakfast with their bread and then they had noodles with tuco (creole tomato sauce) for lunch where many dipped their bread for the last time. 3

“What is known about Mario's death is what Juan Bautista tells, who recounts the last moment he saw him. He went to rest and Mario was trapped where the Mark 8 torpedo from the submarine HMS Conqueror hit. Even Juan Bautista was one of the last to jump onto the rescue boats because he continued looking for his brother... someone grabbed him and said 'there's no way, let's go', and that person manages to get Juan Bautista to jump, because he was already was running dangerously low. In fact, his boat was gone, so he jumped into another one.”

His other brother was on the ARA Bahía Paraíso, which was then a hospital ship. That ship went to the rescue of the Belgrano when it was sunk.

 “Anastacio always hoped to see his brother Mario on one of the rafts… but he never found him,”

“My parents were notified weeks later. The bad thing about the war was the destruction of the family. They had a very bad time. My father had a serious psychological problem. My mother got heart disease and died two months after the end of Malvinas. “My father was devastated.”

The Vilca Condorí's youngest sisters were left in the care of a relative. Anastacio did not hesitate and, some time later, he left everything to go to Salta to be with them.

 Once they finished high school, he was able to enter university to study law. Today, he heads a legal project on the Malvinas at the Salta Bar Association. 6


British teenagers in the Malvinas

Ian Patrick Scrivens was born in Weymouth and served in the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (3 PARA). He was killed at the age of 17 by a sniper during the Battle of Mount Longdon on June 12, 1982. He is buried in the Aldershot Military Cemetery, Hampshire. 15



                             Scrivens, Ian P. Private-Airborne Assault ParaData



Private Neil Grose, from Leighton Buzzard, served with the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), and was wounded in the chest and died one day after his 18th birthday during the Battle of Mount Longdon. He is buried in Aldershot Military Cemetery, Hampshire.


Jason Burt, originally from Hackney, entered weeks before the conflict and was killed at the age of 17 by a 50 caliber machine gun in the Battle of Mount Longdon in the early hours of Saturday, June 12, 1982. His parents never received official recognition for his actions. of his son by the MoD. A commemorative plaque has been placed at Sir George Monoux College in Chingford Road, Walthamstow where Jason was a pupil. 13

In 2022, his mother reported that his bedroom had been attacked by thieves. 11

Mark Higgit wrote a book about the life of Jason Burt called The death and life of private Jason Burt and has been honored by the Jewish Military Association. 8,10

Mark Eyles-Thomas, 17, fought with Platoon 4 (Lt AS Bickerdike and Sgt I. McKay). He was the only survivor and wrote a book about his friendship with Neil Grose called Sod that for a game of soldiers. 5,18

He left the Army in June 1985. Mark is a Deputy Provincial Grand Master Mason of West Kent. 1



Mark found the helmet of naval conscript Daniel Francisco Sírtori of the Marine Corp 5th Battalion on the battlefield, located his family and traveled more than 25 thousand kilometers to restore it. 12  Sírtori committed suicide in 1999. His daughter Virginia received the helmet from Thomas in a commemorative ceremony at the municipal cemetery of Chajari, Entre Ríos. 12

Matthew James Stuart (WE Seaman) of Bredon, Worcestershire had been born on 21 May 1964, was in charge of maintenance of the Seacat System and died on his 18th birthday when HMS Argonaut was bombed on 21 May 1982. 17











1-Brothers in Adversity-United Grand Lodge of England-


2-Castillero Mimenza, Oscar-Adolescencia tardía: Qué es y características físicas y psicológicas. Psicología y Mente.16 de Mayo 2018.


3-Ceballos, Estela-2 de Mayo ARA Belgrano-Carta Abierta, Comunicación y Cultura-


4-Children in the Military-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_in_the_military

5-Etim, Thelma-Soldier recalls Mt Longdon horror-BBC News.



6-Fernández Mainardi, Patricia-El hundimiento del ARA General Belgrano: la historia del héroe más joven de Malvinas. DEF,2 de mayo 2024.


7-Gordon,Sherri-16 year-old Child Development Milestones-VerywellFamily.


8-Higgit, Mark-The death and life of Private Jason Burt. Many Heroes Publishing .4 Julio 2015.


9-History of the children in the military-Wikipedia.


10-Jewish Military Association marks 40 years since the Falklands War.



11-Lines,Andy-Teen war hero killed by sniper has room raided as mum brands thieves ´total scumbags´-Mirror.


12-Malvinas: Un soldado inglés guardo 40 años el casco de un argentino y viajo al país para devolvérselo a la hija. Los Andes.


13-Our son the hero-News Shopper-April 18,2022.


14-Paul, Robert-Quora.


15-Scrivens, Ian P. Private-Airborne Assault ParaData




16-Soukoyan, Facundo Sinatra-La historia de Mario Vilca Condorí, adolescente Kolla que dejo su vida en Malvinas. Página 12-31 de octubre 2021.


17-Stuart, Matthew James-South Atlantic Medal Association 1982.


18-Thomas,Mark-Eyles-Sod that for a game of soldiers. Kenton Publishing.1 Enero 2007.


 19-Trabajo Adolescente en Buenos Aires.