Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Argentina Trying to Screw with Britain in the Falklands Again ('cuz It Worked-Out SO Well Last Time)
Reaganite Republican ^ | February 09, 2012 | Reaganite Republican

Posted on 02/09/2012 7:13:42 AM PST by Reaganite Republican

Back in April '82, a failing right-wing junta in Buenos Aires 
-desperate for some populist appeal/diversion to quell domestic (economic) unrest- attempted to buoy public support through an ill-advised nationalistic military conquest.

And it worked, for a while: not only was the planned invasion and occupation of the Falklands launched prematurely (for political reasons) with lightly-trained troops, the military government

-under the command of General Leopoldo Galtieri- severely underestimated the steely resolve of PM Margret Thatcher in attacking what they refer to as the 'Malivinas', a small group of British-held islands 300 miles off the Argentine coast (then subsequently the inhospitable South Georgia Islands +840 miles further out to sea). 

Indeed the Iron Lady wasted no time in sending a powerful Royal Navy flotilla steaming towards Port Stanley just three days after the invasion. Following a somewhat costly (for both sides) six-week war fought on land, at sea, and in the air, British training and equipment proved far superior: Argentina had their butts handed to them (only the Argentine Air Force offered any real challenge). This brought-about the collapse of the incompetent military regime as well: Britain liberated not just Falkland Islanders, but in-effect the entire Argentine nation.

Today -as we approach the Falkland War's 30-year-anniversary- the far-Left Peronist-nationalist administration of Cristina Fernandez-Kirchner is not long on gratitude to say the least, instead threatening to re-ignite the issue at the UN, perhaps even blockade the island economicallyor ...?

Predictably CastroChavez (El Bombasto)and other belligerent Bolivarian boneheads are egging her on, speaking enthusiastically in support of resurrecting Argentine claims on islands that have been inhabited by British citizens for over 175 years now.

Regardless of Kirchner's purporting this week that the territorial dispute is 'a South American cause, a global cause', the only relevant fact is that the people of the Falklands -less than 1% of whom are even Argentine- choose to be British, their right to self-determination a principle enshrined in the UN charter... while poll after poll shows they want nothing to do with Argentina in any way, shape, or form.

A pending high-profile, six-month tour of duty on the Falklands by heir-to-the-throne Prince William (helicopter pilot) is also rubbing the gauchos the wrong way, and there are rumors of a British nuclear attack submarine -the kind that sunk the Gen Belgrano last time- being deployed to the South Atlantic... as you may have guessed, they don't much care for that, either.
But the loudest and clearest message is being sent by the most advanced warship in the Royal Navy -'ultra-modern' destroyer HMS Dauntless- which is about to be dispatched to the vicinity of the Falklands, providing Kirchner ample incentive to mind her manners. 

So far -alas- she's not: much like Barack Obama's Teamster/SIEU, ACORN, and 'Occupy' street-muscle, radical Kirchner goons are already threatening to violently attack British business interests in Argentina until the Duke of Cambridge -who Kirchner said the Argentine people would 'prefer to see in civilian clothes'- is withdrawn from the Falklands. 

President Fernandez-Kirchner still claims to be committed to finding 'peaceful solutions'... probably not the worst idea she's ever had, considering Dauntless will arriving with a powerful battery of high-tech missiles that could 'take out all of South America's fighter aircraft... let alone Argentina's' according to one Royal Navy source. Indeed, the 70-mile range of the state-of-the-art Sea Viper 'smart' missiles on-board enable the British to down every single Argentine fighter that dare take to flight... the minute it leaves the ground.

This all has Fernandez-Kirchner in
quite a huff, or at least pretending to be: yesterday she denounced the dispatch of Royal Navy warships to the region around the Falkland Islands as an 'unnecessary'militarization of the South Atlantic", but what is truly 'unnecessary' is the way in which she's chosen to demagogue the dispute for domestic political consumption. Given the Argentines' unsettling record in dealing with this ongoing issue, who's to blame Whitehall for taking preventative measures... could save a lot of lives on both sides.

With the United Kingdom's seat on the UN Security Council preventing much happening down there either, it's hard to see just what Cristina Fernandez-Kirchner is hoping to accomplish... now that she's got the kids whipped into a frenzy, there'll be nothing but disappointment to offer them for the foreseeable future.

Just don't try anything funny, crazy lady-

Photos/diagrams/more at Reaganite Republican


DefPro   GreatMilitaryBattles   The Telegraph (UK)   Wikipedia   Daily Mail (UK)   The Guardian   The West Australian   Google Maps   Liverpool Echo


*Starting a ping list here at FR, pls FReepmail me at 'Reaganite Republican' if interested... TIA

TOPICS: Government; History; Military/Veterans; Politics
KEYWORDS: argentina; falklands; kirchner; sovereignty
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-35 next last

1 posted on 02/09/2012 7:13:55 AM PST by Reaganite Republican
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: ken5050

Personal *ping*

2 posted on 02/09/2012 7:15:36 AM PST by Reaganite Republican
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Reaganite Republican

“Don’t make us come down there and kick your ass again.”

3 posted on 02/09/2012 7:15:40 AM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Reaganite Republican; Jeff Head; Travis McGee; writer33

I don’t think Argentina is in any position to attack the Falklands.... but there are a couple of Chilean islands that are also ‘disputed’.
I think it is more likely that this is just noise for domestic reasons (failing socialists need distrations).

4 posted on 02/09/2012 7:18:40 AM PST by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Reaganite Republican
Regardless of Kirchner's purporting this week that the territorial dispute is 'a South American cause, a global cause', the only relevant fact is that the people of the Falklands -less than 1% of whom are even Argentine- choose to be British, their right to self-determination a principle enshrined in the UN charter...

Thankfully the Falklands don't have as relaxed an immigration policy as England has. Or the USA, for that matter.

5 posted on 02/09/2012 7:22:04 AM PST by skeeter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Reaganite Republican

Cristina don’t surf.
No, really, Cristina......don’t surf.

6 posted on 02/09/2012 7:26:29 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Reaganite Republican

One thing not mentioned is an underlying dispute about developing the Falklands’ oil reserves. Britain is starting up exploration for oil and the Argentinians don’t like that. They think any oil wealth belongs to them. So - as usual - you need to follow the money to understand why things are happening.

Further - One warship isn’t REALLY going to stop an Air Force. Other aircraft will. Don’t forget those little Exocet missiles that did such a wonderful job on the British task-force. The Brits have let their Navy’s strength decline precipitously over the intervening years (just like we have..) and I suspect would be hard pressed to pull it off again in the same fashion.

Lastly - fighting another war using the same script as last time on either side would be idiocy - though some aspects are still a good answer (like the nuke sub prowling Argentinian shores..) I would imagine the tactics would be different on both sides if they get into a shooting war again. The Argentinians are going to be more mindful of subs - while the Brits need to have a better answer about land-based air.

7 posted on 02/09/2012 7:28:40 AM PST by fremont_steve
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Reaganite Republican

‘With the Gurkhas in the Falklands’ - A War Journal’s Postscript

By Mike Seer

July 2003

Mike Seer fought with the Gurkhas in the Falklands War, being the Battalion’s Operations and Training Officer. In 2003 his book ‘With the Gurkhas in the Falklands - A War Journal’ was published in the UK by Pen & Sword Books. As part of his research he has travelled three times to Argentina to interview war veterans whom he fought against. This article records his third trip to Argentina.

Nineteen years after leaving the 7th Gurkha Rifles as a seconded Light Infantry officer, I attended my first 7th Gurkha Rifles Regimental Association Reunion at Netheravon on Saturday, 13 September 2003. It was an enjoyable event as well as an opportunity to sell a few copies of my book ‘With the Gurkhas in the Falklands - A War Journal’. An accumulated period of eight years to write, research, re-write, make two fact-finding trips to Argentina in 2002, re-write yet again (twelve drafts in all) and endure an exhausting editorial process was needed before I could claim to be an author.

For those who have not read it, the book is deliberately different from the cold objective style that pertains to regimental histories. The former had to be a living story since, in the final analysis, war is about soldiers and their decisions, actions and reactions during the most traumatic ‘life event’ of them all. My eye-witness account therefore had to inform honestly those who wish to learn about ‘the what, how, why, when and who’ of the 1st Battalion’s part in the campaign - as well as those inevitable ‘warts and all’. Consequently it has been gratifying to receive letters from readers of the book who confirmed my efforts were not in vain.

However, one last mission had to take place before the circle was closed on my self-imposed task - and that was to return for a third time to Argentina. I had two aims: to make a formal presentation of the book at the Cordoba City Book Fair and, secondly, thank personally the many Argentines who had assisted me in my writing.

So forty-eight hours after the Reunion I boarded my late-evening British Airways flight to Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo. After the fifteen-hour journey I experienced a surprisingly cold winter’s day of four degrees centigrade at the Argentine capital’s airport. A taxi drove me quickly to my usual haunt of the Imperial Park Hotel in central Buenos Aires, little more than a stone’s throw from the Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada Presidential Palace from where General Galtieri, the Head of the Military Junta, would harangue tens of thousands of excited Argentines gathered there in those dramatic April days of 1982.

Lunch was followed by an interview with a freelance journalist, Guadalupe Barriviera, who wanted to write an article about the book in a well-known weekly magazine. She had interviewed me eighteen months before, and her article in Clarin, one of the biggest newspapers in Argentina, attracted considerable interest. In the evening I met my old acquaintances from previous visits, Alberto Peralta Ramos - a TV producer - and Dr Eduardo Gerding - the Malvinas’ War Veterans’ Medical Coordinator. Both had provided me with many useful contacts and information that were included in the book.

The following day on 17 September, I contacted Colonel Peter Reynolds, the Defence Attache at the British Embassy. He is also a Royal Marine Commando and Falklands’ War veteran, so it was most appropriate to provide two copies of the book to him and the British Ambassador, Sir Robin Christopher. I had met both during my second visit to Argentina in December 2002 in addition to interviewing a dozen Malvinas’ War veterans with my colleague Professor Lars Weisaeth of the Office of Disaster Psychiatry in Oslo.

These had included a survivor of the torpedoed Argentine Navy cruiser ARA General Belgrano who saw an anchor crash down on a full life raft that injured two men, and then himself endured thirty-four hours wallowing around the cold South Atlantic in another life raft whilst witnessing the death of a badly-burnt shipmate on board; a 25th Infantry Regiment soldier who had participated in the shooting down of two British Scout helicopters at Port San Carlos during the British landings on 21 May and, eight days later, had been one of the Goose Green garrison that sang the Argentine national anthem with deliberate gusto, “ show them that we meant it,” in the surrender ceremony to 2 Para after the Battle there.

It also included a 10th Infantry Brigade HQ cook whose mortally wounded comrade had died in his arms after a Harrier air strike on Moody Brook Barracks near Stanley; a 7th Infantry Regiment number two on a 7.62 MAG (Mitrailleur a Gaz) machine-gun who had engaged the lead elements of 3 Para in a two-hour firefight during the latter’s initial assault on Mount Longdon, and whose platoon of forty-six took nearly fifty per cent casualties in a company which had a total of thirty-nine killed, before withdrawing to the centre of the feature where they heard the (untrue) rumour that it was the Gurkhas who were attacking and beheading Longdon’s Argentine defenders; and another 25th Infantry Regiment soldier who told me about his unit’s deep concern, particularly at night, of the Gurkhas’ combat reputation even thought the former were located at Stanley airfield, a considerable distance from the East Falkland battlefields.

All had fascinating and often poignant stories to tell, but now, on this third trip, I was privileged that evening to enjoy another three marvellous surprises provided by the irrepressible Alberto. He is acquainted with many high-ranking officers in the Argentine Army, including Brigadier-General Mario Benjamin Menendez, ‘former Governor of the Malvinas Islands’ and Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine Land Forces garrison on the Islands in 1982. We met on my first visit to Buenos Aires in April 2002 and I had promised him then a copy of ‘With the Gurkhas in the Falklands’. If ever one Argentine should learn the truth of what the 1st / 7th Gurkha Rifles did during the war and afterwards, then it had to be him.

Alberto had arranged this second meeting in the same Buenos Aires restaurant as before. On arrival I shook hands with the retired Brigadier-General who remains a well-known personality in Argentina. His face always seems to bear a slightly haunted look and, after we sat down, he immediately recalled gravely in good English, “The war was a war of principles for both sides.” Over a cup of coffee we soon settled into animated conversation and he thanked me profusely for the book and five of its illustrations in the form of watercolour prints drawn by my mother.

We spent twenty minutes together as Alberto took a number of photographs. “My son was an officer in the 5th Infantry Regiment at Port Howard on West Falkland during the war,” he informed me, “and was most displeased that I had surrendered to the British!” Soldiering was clearly in his family’s blood because he added proudly a little later, “My great-grandfather, grandfather, father, three uncles and five cousins have all served in the Army.” I must confess to a twinge of pride whenever I recall that unique little meeting.

Next stop was at the apartment of retired Lieutenant-Colonel Tommy Fox. Many in the 1st Battalion twenty-two years ago will recall the effect of those 155-mm shells that rained down on us at Wether Ground during 10, 11 and 12 June. It was Tommy who directed this fire as the artillery Forward Observation Officer for the Argentine 155-mm guns. He was located on top of Mount Harriet, having been entrusted with the task of making our lives as unpleasant as possible.

The abiding memory I had of Tommy from my first Buenos Aires visit was his graphic English description of being under Royal Navy 4.5-inch gunfire, an experience he will clearly never forget. But now a second promise was kept as I presented him with his copy of the book. Unfortunately there was hardly time to drink our tea or eat the cakes that Tommy gave us because Alberto had to usher me on to the 197th Regimental Birthday Parade of the 1st ‘Los Patricios’ Infantry Regiment.

The 1st ‘Los Patricios’ Infantry Regiment is the oldest regiment in the Argentine Army. This unit is permanently based in Buenos Aires and its history includes a successful defence of the capital in 1806 against ten thousand British redcoats commanded by Lieutenant-General Whitelocke who had landed at Montevideo, crossed the River Plate and advanced on the town with the intention of seizing it as a trading base. Also engaged in fighting the British was a naval infantry battalion, predecessor of today’s Argentine 5th Marine Infantry Battalion which, in the 1982 Falklands War, was amongst the opposition of the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards and 1st / 7th Gurkha Rifles on Tumbledown and Mount William.

Ironically the Gurkha motto ‘It is better to die than to be a coward’ has a strikingly similar sentiment to the Argentine Marines’ ‘Pugnams Pereror Per Patriam’ (Fighting I Die For The Fatherland).

The latter’s predecessors in 1807 also defeated Brigadier-General Robert Crauford and his two thousand redcoats at the Battle of Plaza del Mercado in Buenos Aires to complete the two-year struggle against the British which is recalled proudly by Argentines as ‘The Defence’ - and certainly much pride was evident during the parade on that 2003 September evening. It was staged against a backdrop of an enormous Argentine national flag illuminated by spotlights and which hung from the front of a building overlooking the parade square.

The entire Regiment was drawn up in a hollow square formation and patiently listened to the inevitable long speeches given by two officers. Spectacular mounted cavalry then made its entrance past a small contingent of the Regiment’s Malvinas War veterans also on parade. The latter were from A Company deployed to Stanley in 1982, and which had one man killed during the war. Dressed in drab civilian clothes, in stark contrast to the remainder of the Regiment’s colourful Napoleonic ceremonial uniform of black knee-high boots, white breeches, scarlet waist sash, dark-blue tunic, white crossbelts, and compact black top hats adorned with a vertical long white feather, these veterans were the last to march past. A standard bearer marched in front and they received rapturous applause from the large number of spectators.

Afterwards we withdrew into another building to enjoy a sumptuous cocktail party that included food for the many guests. Here I met not only Brigadier-General Menendez again, but also the white-haired retired Lieutenant-General Diego Soria, former Commanding Officer of the 4th Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Mount Harriet. I was also introduced to a serving General who was the third most senior officer in the Argentine Army.

Alberto then revealed one more surprise that evening. It concerned the third Argentine soldier I had researched and written about in my book, but still had never met. But now the Brigadier-General had intervened to correct this outstanding deficiency. He had requested the General to authorise the air flight to Buenos Aires of this ex-4th Infantry Regiment Malvinas War veteran by the name of Nicolas Urbieta from his current unit, the 24th Mechanised Infantry Regiment based three thousand five hundred kilometres in the south at the town of Rio Gallegos. To my delight Alberto informed me that the request had been granted.

Thirty-six hours later I set out on a six-hour bus ride through the grassy pampas countryside to the small town of General Roca in the province of Cordoba. It was to be here that my meeting with Urbieta would take place after my hunt for him had begun in 1995. With a population of three thousand and located three hundred kilometres north-west of the capital, this is also where Maria Isabel Clausen de Bruno lives. She is a retired school teacher who has taught her pupils emphatically that, ‘Las Malvinas es Argentina!’ (The Malvinas are Argentine!) Also a local Peronist politician and vehement supporter of the Malvinas War veterans’ cause, ‘Marisa’, as she is known, had given me tremendous support during my previous trips to Argentina.

Being well acquainted with Brigadier-General Menendez, she was also responsible for the idea of flying Urbieta up from Rio Gallegos. It was therefore entirely appropriate at next morning’s breakfast in her kitchen that we two war veterans met for the first time. As well as Marisa, also present were her husband Roberto and three neighbours: Natalia, who always acted as my interpreter at General Roca, Ligia, who had translated my letters to Marisa, and Marcelo, the pleasant local police chief who provides the security.

In an emotionally-charged atmosphere Natalia burst into tears whilst interpreting the initial conversation after Nicolas and I had embraced each other. To the casual reader this latter action might appear strange. However, although on opposing sides, we shared a secret of having fought on the Falklands / Malvinas battlefields and it was this mutual experience that prompted such spontaniety.

Contrary to what I had written originally in my book, Nicolas had been decorated with his Army’s second highest award for gallantry, the ‘Abnegacion y Valor’ (self-denial and valour) medal, in recognition of rescuing Lieutenant Jorge Perez Grandi, his badly wounded platoon commander, from the battlefield of Two Sisters.

Even though our conversation continued to be carried out via Natalia, after only five minutes I sensed that the small but stockily-built Argentine was a man to be relied upon in a crisis situation. This extraordinarily modest Warrant Officer had also served twice with the United Nations in Croatia in 1992 and 1996. On his first tour of duty there he served alongside not only a Nepalese Army infantry battalion, from which he had acquired a kukri, but also British Army logistics and medical units.

I attempted to prise more information from Nicolas about his war, but he did not want to talk too much about the details. Perhaps this reluctance of verbalising traumatic experiences mirrors that of other Malvinas War veterans, and which exacerbates psychologically the majority’s current unhappy situation in which seventy per cent are unemployed and there have been a plethora of suicides amongst them.

Nicolas Urbieta revealed that whilst his sub-unit, C Company, was located in defensive positions on Wall Mountain during May 1982 as part of Task Force Monte Caseros, its officers had told the men about our Battalion’s deployment. the ensuring rumour quickly spread that Gurkhas cut off their enemy’s ears in combat and he also confirmed that this piece of information kept 4th Infantry Regiment soldiers well awake whilst on night sentry duty in the East Falkland khuds.

A few days after the surrender Nicolas was embarked on board SS Canberra, otherwise known as ‘The Great White Whale’, and subsequently repatriated to Argentina as one of many prisoners of war who disembarked finally at the port of Puerto Madryn. Together with the other soldiers in his regiment, they experienced a difficult time back in their barracks at Monte Caseros in the province of Corrientes. Defeat was painful to accept. Most suffered from depression and they also had a tendency to isolate themselves from the outside world in those immediate post-war months. In other words, they suffered from classic post-traumatic stress reactions - which, it should be added, are normal after an abnormal event. Collectively one great lesson was learnt from the war - a conscript army starts with too many disadvantages when pitted against a regular army. The consequence was that the Argentine Army converted itself into a regular one in the year immediately after the war.

Later that morning Marisa, Nicolas and I visited the town’s modest waist-high Malvinas War Memorial. Also accompanied by Natalia, we stood before it for a few moments of silence in respect to those who had fallen on both sides. An Argentine Army helmet was mounted on top of the white-painted concrete block. Underneath the latter had been buried a piece of Falkland Islands’ peat. A short aluminium flagpole was also incorporated into the memorial and, being an ardent Malvinist, Marisa had designed the official flag of the Malvinas War Veterans comprising a dark-brown motif of her beloved Islas las Malvinas superimposed on the pale blue and white Argentine national flag. This was hoisted annually on 2 April - the day that the Islands were invaded and otherwise known in Argentina as Malvinas Day.

Back at her home she also showed me her recently published third book of the war’s aftermath. The first two had been about the Argentine Malvinas War veterans. This latest 135-page work was entitled Entre tu mano y la mia (Between your hand and mine), and it described our first contacts by letter in 1997 and 1998, and continued with the culmination - my first visit to Argentina four years later. More than a third of the book consisted of my letters to Marisa which had been translated into Spanish. These had explained the background of the Gurkhas, their role in the war and how life, for one particular British Falklands War veteran, became somewhat tangled afterwards. The book is complementary to mine, and Marisa hoped that all her books might help the Malvinas War veterans tackle their difficult life situation better. She also had plans of starting a fourth.

A three-hour presentation of the third book had been organised in the local school’s assembly hall during that evening of 20 September. In addition to invited people from the town, half a dozen Malvinas War veterans from the local area attended this emotionally draining event in which reconciliation was the theme. With his rich Spanish voice, Marcelo was the logical choice for compere. These was a strong Argentine cultural flavour to the programme which included canned music, speeches, songs, tango dancing, solo guitar-playing and poetry readings. Marisa possessed an Evita-like presence as she made several speeches, distributed her book to many called up onto the stage and also recited poems she had written about her initial meetings with Nicolas in Rio Gallegos and me in the Plaza de Mayo. I also presented him with a copy of my book after making an impromptu speech to the audience of approximately 100 people. They included three local TV reporters and camera teams and, needless to say, interviews were required afterwards.

Marisa, Roberto, Nicolas, Natalia and her boyfriend and I then left General Roca early the following morning to travel 300 kilometres north-west to Cordoba City and the Book Fair. En route we passed through the town of Oliva and stopped there at the National Museum of the Malvinas War. Outside were assembled three Argentine aircraft from the war - a Pucara twin piston-engined ground attack fighter, an A-4B Skyhawk jet fighter and Canberra bomber. The latter happened to be one that participated in the final air strike on British forces.

I also noted that truth remains a casualty from the war. On the port side of the Skyhawk’s fuselage below and in front of the cockpit was painted a red silhouette of the Royal Navy’s Type 21 frigate, HMS Avenger. The date of the attack, 25 May 1982 (not without coincidence Argentina’s National Day) was also painted in red alongside, indicating that the pilot of this particular Skyhawk from V Fighter Group based at Rio Gallegos had claimed the sinking of the frigate. However, on that day, Veintecinco de Mayo, five air raids had been launched by the Argentine Air Force. And it was during the final two raids of these that British ships were sunk.

On the penultimate raid, HM Ships Broadsword and Coventry were attacked in their ‘Missile Trap’ station at the northern end of the Falkland Sound off Pebble Island. Broadsword, a Type 22 frigate, was slightly damaged by two sea-skimming Skyhawks, whilst another two of the same flight sank the Type 42 guided-missile destroyer Coventry after having put three 1,000 pound bombs into her starboard side. These passed through the vessel under her bridge and then exploded on the port side. She capsized rapidly with nineteen of the ship’s company dead. The Argentines had gained their revenge because Coventry had shot down two Skyhawks in the previous raids of that day and, in a final Argentine Super-Etendard bomber raid east of the Falklands, the aircraft transport containership SS Atlantic Conveyor was hit and fatally set on fire by an Exocet AM-39 missile strike.

HMS Avenger, however, did not arrive in the eastern sector of the Total Exclusion Zone until twelve hours later - and direct from the UK! During the remainder of the war she was used extensively in coastal bombardments, firing more than one thousand rounds from her 4.5 inch automatic gun. Our Battalion, dug in at Wether Ground on East Falkland, heard this gun firing its 156 rounds from the Stanley southern gunline in support of 3 Para’s Mount Longdon night attack on 12 June, and again during the Battle of Tumbledown on 14 June from the Berkeley Sound northern gunline. This case of mistaken identity displayed at Oliva is a neat example of how the fog of war can persist decades after a war. A pity, too, there was no time available to go into the museum. A fourth visit to Argentina will be required to realise that new ambition.

Two hours later we arrived at Cordoba City to stroll around the Fair which had been open for the past two weeks, and then enjoyed a late lunch of juicy steak and excellent Argentine Malbec red wine before presenting our books. The event was sponsored by a local cultural association with the colourful name of La Solapa. A ‘walkabout’ TV cameraman recorded some of the proceedings that would, so we were told later, be broadcast nationally. The room was packed with at least seventy people and included, seated in the front row, three stern-faced Argentine Army officers in full Service Dress.

Another Argentine officer in civilian clothes came up to me before our presentations began and, in good English, introduced himself as Colonel Sergio Fernandez, the Deputy Commander of the Argentine Army’s 4th Airborne Infantry Brigade. He had been stationed at Port Howard during the war but, alas, there was little time to talk as two female La Solapa representatives began an elaborate introduction of how the two books came to be written.

Afterwards Nicolas was asked to say a few words. Then it was my turn. Usually I do not speak in public using notes, but this occasion was an exception in deference to Natalia who had to interpret into Spanish. The theme to my forty-five minute speech was, again, reconciliation. Diplomacy was also required, eg. by using the name ‘Malvinas’ throughout and mentioning the Argentine ‘landings’ on the Islands as opposed to ‘invasion’.

Midway through I also provided some background information about myself and experienced a momentary, but unintentional, frog in my throat when I mentioned my mentally handicapped daughter Kristina born in the aftermath of the war. Natalia was also trapped in a tearful moment and had to stop briefly. The room’s listening occupants reacted with an immediate outburst of generous applause. ‘It is our way of showing that we Argentines suffer with you,’ I was told later.

Marisa then presented her book. When she had finished there was a chance to ask questions. A lady immediately stood up and spoke earnestly. The room fell silent. My nil knowledge of Spanish prevented me from comprehending what was happening, but then Natalia whispered excitedly in my ear, “This lady has introduced herself as the mother of Jorge Perez Grandi and she’s come here this evening to shake the hand of the man who saved her son’s life!” Perez Grandi’s mother had never met Nicolas before. Appearing overwhelmed, the combat veteran from the Battle of Dos Hermanas (Two Sisters) walked out to embrace both her and Perez Grandi’s father who was also present.

Simultaneously I felt my writing had at least achieved something positive by making such a meeting possible. The conclusion to this remarkable evening included some hectic signing of Marisa’s book and a few of mine, shaking hands with Perez Grandi’s tearful parents, and one of the La Solapa ladies who, employing her limited English with optimal effect, made a stout declaration to me of, “I love you!”

As I packed up, one of the Argentine officers seated in the front row also approached me and, in halting English, introduced himself by saying “I am a Malvinas War veteran of the 4th Infantry Regiment and was taken prisoner in the war by some Gurkhas at Port Harriet House.” Initially a mystery, I realised later that this officer must have been one of the eighty-three enemy who had been captured during the Battle of Mount Harriet in the early hours of 12 June. Afterwards, in daylight, 42 Commando had handed these POWs over to our D Company who then escorted them to our TAC HQ location on Wether Ground prior to being flown back to Ajax Bay. But just to confirm there was no doubt in his conviction, I asked him, “Are you certain they were Gurkhas?” “Yes, of course,” the white-haired veteran replied firmly, “because I saw they had kukris attached to their belts!”

Unfortunately a lack of time prevented us from conversing more. But at least Colonel Fernandez had bought a copy of my book. “Could you return to Cordoba on another occasion to make presentations about the war to Argentine military units in the area?” he also asked. We exchanged email addresses, so perhaps this might be possible in the future.

After a relaxing beer at an outdoor restaurant, we travelled back to General Roca that evening to arrive late at night. Before dawn the following morning on 22 September I had to say farewell to my hosts and climb aboard the bus back to Buenos Aires. There was time to sleep during the journey before arrival in the capital at lunchtime. In a nearby restaurant I ate my final Argentine steak, then took a taxi to the Malvinas War Memorial located near the city centre at the Plaza San Martin.

Colonel Peter Reynolds had already confidentially tipped me off that the British Chief of the General Staff (CGS), General Sir Michael Jackson, was on an official visit to Argentina that week and, at two o’clock, would lay a wreath at the memorial. I arrived half an hour early and sat down on a bench to enjoy the tepid sunshine of that second austral day of Spring and also observe the contrasts.

As my thoughts inevitably spun back twenty-one years to 1982’s eventful second quarter and those extraordinary events in the South Atlantic that changed so many lives, a few blissfully unaware people continued to sit on the adjacent grass bank. I gazed at the long, slightly elliptical pink-stone memorial and its eternal flame guarded by two Argentine Navy sentries clad in dark-blue uniforms and armed with bayonet-fixed rifles. A dark-suited civilian nearby, who was obviously connected with the security arrangements, spoke almost continuously into his mobile telephone as a cleaner swept away some cigarette ends and rubbish from the memorial steps.

Then two 1st Infantry Regiment soldiers in their eye-catching Napoleonic uniforms appeared. They were carrying an enormous wreath and positioned it carefully nearby as a simple guard-changing ceremony took place, the incoming naval sentries taking up position in front of the memorial with a low-key goose-step march.

The Buenos Aires’ traffic continued its tirade of hooting and whirlwind speeding by as, escorted by a uniformed Colonel Peter Reynolds, Sir Robin Christopher and some Argentine high-ranking officers, the red-bereted CGS arrived to carry out the simple ceremony. The Defence Attache nodded to me as they walked up to the memorial to lay the wreath and salute as a 1st Infantry Regiment trumpeteer blew the Argentine equivalent of The Last Post.

Automatically I stood to attention, but afterwards became a trifle taken aback as the CGS was ushered across in my direction and promptly introduced to me. Nonetheless it was satisfying to realise that this must have been the first occasion a British Para, Commando and Gurkha, all from regiments profoundly associated with the Falklands War, had gathered here. General Jackson looked back at the memorial displaying those 648 names of Argentine servicemen who had died in the war and said thoughtfully, “Well, twenty-one years have now gone by.”

The former Parachute Regiment officer then turned again towards me to ask in his gravelly voice, “So what are you doing here? Just passing through?” “No sir,” I replied respectfully. “I came to make a formal presentation of my book about the war at the Cordoba City Book Fair.” His response, “Then what were you doing in the war?” indicated he had not been fully briefed about my background. But my reply was deliberately short and to the point. “I was with the Gurkhas, sir. Their Operations and Training Officer - on Tumbledown.” The CGS blinked and his craggy face twitched from benevolent relaxation into instant curiosity at my terse reply. However I refrained from adding, “And may I recommend my book if you want to know more!” But his time was up, and the stressed Defence Attache quickly ushered him back to his waiting car - leaving me to gaze at the memorial and think that this could not have been a more perfect way to end my third visit to Argentina. The circle was finally closed.

Back in my hotel that evening came the perfect postscript to this postscript of my war journal - a third meeting with the successful Buenos Aires lawyer Jorge Perez Grandi, who was more than happy to receive the twelth complimentary copy of the book I had given to Argentines during the past seven days. Mission accomplished, I flew back home to Oslo via London the following afternoon.

‘With the Gurkhas in the Falklands - A War Journal’ by Mike Seer was published on July 17, 2003 by Pen & Sword Books, UK’s largest military history publisher. By April 2004 nearly 1,700 copies of the book had been sold, raising in excess of £1,300 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Its 416 pages contain nineteen line drawings, nineteen photographs and two maps.

This article first appeared in the 7th Gurkha Rifles Regimental Association’s annual journal. It was published in the Penguin News in four instalments on 6, 13, 20 and 27 August 2004 and is reproduced with the kind permission of the Editor.

8 posted on 02/09/2012 7:34:02 AM PST by James C. Bennett (An Australian.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fremont_steve

The Argentine military has declined much more than the Royal Navy.

Their air force is now a joke, with many aircraft non-operational.

And while the British basically had no capability to shoot down Exocets in 1982, the Royal Navy now has hundreds of missiles on their ships with anti-ASCM capability.

The Argentines also have essentially no amphibious capability now.

9 posted on 02/09/2012 7:34:52 AM PST by Strategerist
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: fremont_steve

I would think that the UK has some Patriots or something to defend from air attack too.

10 posted on 02/09/2012 7:43:24 AM PST by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: fremont_steve

Argies have more or less the same airforce as last time,
A4/Nesher/Mirage 5P dating from the 70s are their best planes. Fourth hand fixer uppers with high time on the airframes. They still face that long overwater flight;
virtually a one way trip with a full loadout of stores.

The subs will be out and they will clear the seas of any ships foolish enough to consider pulling the British Lion’s threadbare tail.

That includes any send along by any of the other Bolivarian boneheads.

11 posted on 02/09/2012 7:43:50 AM PST by RitchieAprile
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: James C. Bennett

1,700 copies doesn’t sound like much

12 posted on 02/09/2012 7:44:09 AM PST by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: RitchieAprile

Bolivia has a navy?

13 posted on 02/09/2012 8:03:45 AM PST by stefanbatory (Insert witty tagline here)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: GeronL
but there are a couple of Chilean islands that are also ‘disputed’.

That would be even more stupid then their challenging the UK.

Chile has an extremely professional military. They will mop up the gas station attendants that Argentina calls their "army" and pick their teeth with their bones.

This time they might take back some territory that belonged to Chile a couple of centuries back.

14 posted on 02/09/2012 8:06:06 AM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear (In the good times praise His name, In the bad times do the same, In everything give thanks)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Strategerist; fremont_steve

Have a look at the HMS Dauntless diagram at my site, seems like this thing could shoot down any plane as soon as it leaves the tarmac.

I think the worst the Argentines would pull would be a blockade... it is doubtful they have any amphibious capability left, agreed. But the English are re-enforcing the area for a reason...

15 posted on 02/09/2012 8:06:34 AM PST by Reaganite Republican
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: stefanbatory

actually, yes they do.

16 posted on 02/09/2012 8:10:07 AM PST by RitchieAprile
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: fremont_steve

Unfortunately, this time the US is likely to help the Argentines rather than the UK. At a minimum, the US would sit on the sidelines which is roughly the same thing.

17 posted on 02/09/2012 8:10:23 AM PST by Locomotive Breath
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Harmless Teddy Bear

In other words this is all for domestic public consumption to distract the people from the problems caused by socialism

18 posted on 02/09/2012 8:30:44 AM PST by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: GeronL
I don’t think Argentina is in any position to attack the Falklands.... but there are a couple of Chilean islands that are also ‘disputed’.

OTOH Argentina and Chile are now best friends.

The Gripping Hand, Chile has a similar sized military to Argentina, but a couple of decades more modern. Not an enemy Argentina needs

19 posted on 02/09/2012 8:43:53 AM PST by Oztrich Boy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: GeronL
Sure it is. It was last time too. It didn't end well.

As a distraction this is a risky policy.

If you keep making war noises the public expects you to go to war. You have maybe a year to either fish or cut bait.

But if you go to war you are going to get your tail kicked.

And when the country you are threatening is right next door they may not wait for you start something. They may just decide to take you at your word and start the war you wanted as a diversion.

20 posted on 02/09/2012 8:46:59 AM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear (In the good times praise His name, In the bad times do the same, In everything give thanks)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-35 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson