Historical Experience

Brendan Walsh

Interviewed 7 July 2021

LIFE AFTER CAMBODIA

In the early 1990s, Garda Brendan Walsh, a native of Dublin spent a year in Cambodia, as part of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). UNTAC, was set up to supervise the ceasefire, between Cambodia and Vietnam. The peacekeeping operation involved approximately 15,900 military, 3,400 civilian police, 2,000 civilians and 450 UN Volunteers, as well as locally recruited staff and interpreters. In this audio segment, Brendan reflects on the period after his return to Ireland and the effect of the traumatic experiences he had in Cambodia.

MR. DREW: Okay. Okay. So so you came home around that time and was there any long-term effects from that?

BRENDAN WALSH: Ehm, I don’t think so, no. It was we got when we came back we got a month off, you know, so that was there was no kind of debriefing. When we came back. There was no like a lot of the stuff that we dealt with and saw like we saw some pretty, some kind of harrowing stuff.

MR. DREW: Like what? What would you have seen?

MR. WALSH: Well we dealt with people that were blown up. We dealt with that land mine, you know. Like we were picking up body parts. You know, at a scene where a Chief where a car had been blown up. Ehm, there was a lot of bodies. A lot of, a lot of, ehm like the country was going through a was still it was still hadn’t settled down completely. It was still there was still trouble going ongoing there. So we would have dealt with, you know, a lot of, you know. And just the attitude, I suppose, you know, the attitude that we had coming from Ireland or from Europe, the way things were done or the way you expected things to be done probably wasn’t the same. It was different. So like we

MR. DREW: What other nations were you had you CIVPOL were involved were involved with there?

MR. WALSH: Well we had police from Bulgaria, Ghana, Columbia, Algeria, France. We had we had Germans. It was the first the German Army had a field hospital there, it was the first time since the Second World War that the German Army had been involved in an overseas mission. We had, ehm oh, we basically we had police from Nepal. We had police from Pakistan. Police from India. Basically, every country in the world almost had police there.

MR. DREW: And they were working side by side with you, were they?

MR. WALSH: When we were up in Thailand we were working with Pakistani police, and that was, that was, that was challenging. We didn’t our approaches and our ways of doing things were completely different, and it was that was difficult. We struggled to get on, to put it mildly.