Saturday, 17 August 2013

2006-The Anglo-Argentine Post-Conflict Common Ground: The Combat Veterans’ Aftermath

- Eduardo C. Gerding  -

International Review of the Armed Forces Medical Services- 2007, Vol 80, Numb 3, pages 189-191

During the course of the year 2006 I was invited by Professor Bernard McGuirk, Director of the Centre for the Study of Post-Conflict Cultures at the University of Nottingham (author of Falklands-Malvinas: An Unfinished Business, Comparative Literatures in Conflict) to give a lecture whose title was "The Anglo-Argentine Post-Conflict Common Ground: The Combat Veterans’ Aftermath". My Chairman was Commodore ( Ret ) Toby Elliott a submariner of the Royal Navy and Chief Executive Officer for the UK Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society.

Professor Bernard Bernard McGuirk author of Falklands-Malvinas: An Unfinished Business
Professor Bernard McGuirk author of Falklands-Malvinas: 
An Unfinished Business, Comparative Literatures in Conflict . 
The book is shown by Oscar winner actress Julie Christie.

Bernard McGuirk is Professor of Romance Literatures and Literary Theory and Director of the Centre for the Study of Post-Conflict Cultures at the University of Nottingham. He has published widely on literatures in French, Spanish and Portuguese and his most recent books are Latin American Literature: Symptoms, Risks and Strategies of Poststructuralist Criticism (Routledge) and Poesia de Guerra (Memo). He has also co-edited Landless Voices in Song and Poetry: The Movimento dos Sem Terra of Brazil

Falklands-Malvinas: An Unfinished Business
Published 1 April 2007


My mission was a matter of fact much more ample as I had to coordinate the assistance of all Argentine participants, translate their dialogues into english and, at request of former Commander David Morgan, translate into Spanish the superb presentations of Martin Reed (Chief Officer of the P&O cruise liner SS Canberra in the conflict and Chairman of the South Atlantic Medal Association) and Mark Sandman Psychologist and Infantry sniper of the 101 Airborne Division during the Vietnam war. This last was to depict the whole theory of the Peer Support Group for War Veterans.

The International Colloquium (17-19 November ) took place at Willoughby Hall and was composed of two chapters: Gender Conflict and Post-Conflict 200 years on with many remarkable presentations among which I should mention Will Fowler’sLas Soldaderas de Santa Anna: Women and the Mexican Army 1821-1855 “ and Parvathi Kumaraswami’sConflict as a catalyst of transformation in women’s testimonial writing from the Cuban revolution”.

The second part : The Falklands-Malvinas Conflicts 25 years on was to begun on Saturday 18th. . This last involved more than 60 participants and the distinguished presence of Lars Reiermark ( The Norwegian Armed Forces Veterans Administration ) in what came to be a colossal organization. This international event couldn’t have taken place without the unrivalled support of two indefatigable women: Beverly Tribbick and Catherine McGuirk.

Nottingham University
Nottingham University - From left to right:
Serving Warrant Officer Nicolas Urbieta 4th Infantry Regiment ( RI 4), Eduardo Villarraza ( Company Commander of the Marine corps 5th Battalion, Jorge Daniel Pérez Grandi (1 Platoon Commander, 4th Infantry Regiment ( RI 4), María Isabel Clausen de Bruno , Rear Admiral (Ret) Carlos H. Robacio † commander of the Marine Corps 5th Battalion and Dr. Eduardo César Gerding

Photograph: Dr EC Gerding


Mark Sandman-Psychologist
Mark Sandman-Psychologist
Academic María Fra Amador
Academic María Fra Amador






















Photograph : Dr. Eduardo C. Gerding

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (the oldest pub in UK) witnessed the previous efforts of Rear Admiral (Ret) Carlos Hugo Robacio † ( former commander of the Marine Corps 5th Battalion ) and  Mike Seear ( Operations and Training Officer,1st Bn, 7th Ghurka Rifles in the conflict ) to understand what really happened during the dark hours of the Battle of Tumbledown ( June 13/14th 1982 ).

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem ( established in 1189 AD)
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem ( established in 1189 AD) -Photograph: Dr EC Gerding.

The Malvinas colloquium opened with an spontaneous and common requirement from Argentines and British alike: amidst an uttermost silence Angus Smith (Chaplain to 2nd Bn, Scots Guards in the Battle of Tumbledown ) asked me to join him. Thus we both prayed for the good outcome of the colloquium and the understanding of our countries. For the participants the climax arrived when I translated Luke 6:20-23.
 

Rear Admiral Robacio and Mike Scott Commander 2nd Bn, Scots Guard in Tumbledown gave one of the most thrilling descriptions of the battlefield. Let us remember that during this ground battle positions were taken with grenades and bayonets. The battle ended up well after dawn. Eight men from the Scots Guard and a Royal Engineer were killed and 32 were wounded. Forty men of the BIM 5, the best Argentine unit were killed. However, both commanders made quite clear that they’ve been opponents but not foes amidst a conflict not a war.

After the lecture there was a fleeting funny moment when Scott waved his hand with the Argentine map that was just held to him and said “ We’ve got the map ! “. However, he was later appalled when he learned about an Argentine disguised minefield. He solemnly said “We missed that..”. The concept of the effect of the diversionary attack on the BIM 5 forces was shattered.


David Morgan ( Commander 1Bn,7th Gurkha Rifles ) was the Chairman in the first lectures given by Robacio and Scott. At the very end of the colloquium and looking at the audience he said “We’ve planted a seed here that eventually will grow to be a big tree” The other amazing presentation came from Eduardo Villarraza ( Company Commander of the Marine corps 5th Battalion in Tumbledown ) and his British counterpart Simon Price ( Company Commander 2nd Bn, Scots Guard ).


Jeremy McTeague
(10 Platoon Commander, D Company, 1st Bn, 7th Gurkha Rifles in the conflict ), now employed at a Geneva-based philantropic foundation, shared his wide experience in command. The Argentine Army was somehow represented by Jorge Daniel Pérez Grandi ( 1 Platoon Commander, 4th Infantry Regiment ( RI 4) and war casualty in the Battle of Two Sisters ( June 11/12th ) and Serving Warrant Officer Nicolas Urbieta who supported the former and is actually in duty service at the 24th Infantry Regiment of Río Gallegos.



At Two Sisters the British Forces consisted of 45 Scottish Commando, Royal Marines with support from six 105 mm guns of 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery plus the naval gunfire-support provided by the HMS Glamorgan 114 mm guns (later hit by Exocet missile) . 

Diego García Quiroga Commanding Officer Naval Special Forces who participated in the re-take of the islands ( Operation Rosario ) and became a war casualty fully described with accuracy the circumstances under which he was hit. Catherine Davies ( Professor of Hispanic and Latin American Studies in Nottingham ) quite fluent in Spanish, contributed to Pérez Grandi translation into Spanish when some sharp remarks surged.

Alan Warsap (Regimental Medical Officer,2nd Bn, Scots Guard in Tumbledown ) who assisted Argentine and British wounded soldiers.

Martin Reed
Martin Reed ( Chief Officer of the P&O cruise liner SS Canberra in the conflict and
Chairman of the South Atlantic Medal Association )- Photograph: Dr EC Gerding

Lars Weisaeth ( Research Director for the Norwegian National Study Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress ) offered a brilliant update of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD).



Note:
Lars Weisaeth is Professor of Disaster psychiatry ,Professor of Psychiatry, Medical Faculty (University of Oslo), Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry ( F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine), Senior Research Supervisor ( Norwegian Centre for Violence ), Professor of Disaster Psychiatry (Oslo University), Head of the Division of Disaster Psychiatry (Oslo University), Center Scientist ( Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress ), Board Member and Vice President ( International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies ),Advisory Board Member (Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress) and Member of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
 
María Isabel Clausen de Bruno a politician in General Roca ( Cordoba ), author and a retired school teacher offered the audience the most moving experiences of Argentine war veterans ( one of them said “I’m happy I left both legs in the Malvinas soil ” ). María Fra Amador an academic and researcher and Lucrecia Escudero an Argentine critic and semiotician.

Professor of the Université de Lille not only enlightened us in such a difficult issue but contributed with their feminine charm.

Professor McGuirk, having as Chairman to French Barrister Sophie Thonon-Wesfreid , offered a plenary of the literary representations of war quoting José Luis Borges well known poem ” Juan López and John Ward


They lived in a strange era. The planet had been parceled
in different countries, each with its own loyalties, dear
memories, a heroic past, rights, injuries, a peculiar
mythology, bronze heroes, anniversaries, demagogues,
and symbols.

They could have become friends, but they saw each
other’s face only once, in Islands that were too famous.

They were buried together. The snow and corruption
know them.
Jorge Luis Borges (1985 )


Mike Seear
Mike Seear Operations and Training Officer 1st Bn, 7th Ghurka Rifles

With the Gurkhas in the Falklands - Mike Seear
Published June 2003




Stathis N. Kalyvas professor of Political Sciences at Yale University recently published an article ( El País, Nov 22, 2006-p 17 ) in which he describes four ways societies have of remembering a conflictive past: the exclusion ( the version is given solely by the winners ) , the silence ( trying to forget the whole traumatic episode ), the inclusion ( an aseptic but
distorted history of facts ) and the conflict. This last refers to the memories’ entrepreneurs who challenge history by giving raise to hot debates ( e.g. the slavery issue in USA or the war in Algeria in France ).

Kalyvas concludes that, in spite of their potential instability, debates are the only option for democratic societies as they will offer a most strict view of the past. Historians then won’t be forced to justify, condemn or identify themselves with the witness of violence. Although historical debates are always traumatic good things may germinate from them and I would add if made in the appropiate set. The other option for the historic memory is much worse. We know that brave military men of both countries would return without hesitation to the front if called by duty and we know as well that Malvinas seems to be a Gordian knot.

At the University of Nottingham all participants could see each other’s human dimension, we appreciated our flaws and our virtues and above all we prayed together for the best outcome not just for us but for the future generations.
Participants at Nottingham University
Top Row from Left to Right
Toby Elliott-Jorge Daniel Pérez Grandi- David Morgan-Carlos Robacio- Michael Scott-
Dr. Alan Warsap and in the midst of the two roads Warrant Officer Nicolas Urbieta.
Front Line from Left to Right
Dr. Eduardo Gerding- Eduardo Villarraza-Chaplain Angus Smith-Diego García
Quiroga-Jeremy McTeagu




Rear Admiral Carlos H. Robacio and General Michael Scott
Rear Admiral (Ret) Carlos H. Robacio † commander of the Marine Corps 5th Battalion and
General Michael Scott CB CBE DSO Commander 2nd Bn, Scots Guard.  

Photograph: Dr EC Gerding


Diego García Quiroga
Diego García Quiroga
Commanding Officer Naval
Special Forces
Photograph: Dr EC Gerding
Commodore ( Ret ) RN Toby Elliott
Commodore ( Ret ) RN Toby Elliott
Chief Executive Officer,
Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society.
Photograph: Dr EC Gerding






















Eduardo Villarraza - Angus Smith - Carlos H. Robacio
From left to right: Eduardo Villarraza ( Company Commander of the Marine corps 5th
Battalion in Tumbledown, Angus Smith ( Chaplain to 2nd Bn, Scots Guards in the
Battle of Tumbledown and Rear Admiral (Ret) Carlos H. Robacio † .
Photograph: Dr EC Gerding
 
Alan Warsap ( Regimental Medical
Officer,2nd Bn, Scots )
Photograph: Dr EC Gerding


Lars Weisaeth ( Research
Director for the Norwegian National
Study Center for Violence and
Traumatic Stress ) Photograph: Dr EC Gerding




























From left to right:
Mike Seear ( Operations and Training Officer,1st Bn, 7th Ghurka Rifles ),
Angus Smith ( Chaplain to 2nd Bn, Scots Guards ), Dr Eduardo C.Gerding and
Rear Admiral (Ret) Carlos H. Robacio †. Photograph: Dr EC Gerding
Left: Jeremy McTeague (10 Platoon Commander, D Company, 1st Bn, 7th Gurkha Rifles
and Right: Rear Admiral (Ret) Carlos H. Robacio †. Photograph: Dr EC Gerding
Right: Eduardo Villarraza ( Company Commander of the Marine corps 5th
Battalion )and Left: Simon Price ( Company Commander 2nd Bn, Scots Guard ).
Photograph: Dr EC Gerding
Left: Dr Eduardo César Gerding Right: Rear Admiral (Ret) Carlos H. Robacio †.
Photograph: Dr EC Gerding