Bosnia

After passing out from training in March 1995 I was posted to my Battalion in Hounslow, Middlesex. The Battalion was in Northern Ireland and unfortunately as I was only 17 I was not allowed to go 'over the water'.

After spending around seven months on rear detail the Battalion came back from Ireland, all the lads were talking about Ireland and I felt a bit left out. Word went round that the Battalion was looking for volunteers to go to Bosnia in March 1996 with 1QLR. A lot of people were not interested as they had just spent six months in Ireland and the Battalion was due to go to Cyprus, for two years, in January 1996.

I was interested so I volunteered to go to Bosnia with 1QLR. There is a saying within the army that you should never volunteer for anything, well I ignored that as I wanted to do some proper army stuff.

After completing further training, to ready me for operations in Bosnia, we were ready to fly out in March 1996. To say I was nervous would be an understatement; here I was only 18 and off to an environment I didn't yet understand, plus my family were a bit concerned. Touchdown at Split airport in Croatia; not yet in Bosnia but still 'in theatre'. We were taken to the army base, just around the corner, to be given our weapons, ammunition and collect our kit; this is it we were going 'up country'.

The first place I was stationed was the Bocac Dam on the Verbas River. From here we would carry out patrols in the surrounding area, gathering information and policing the ZOS. Experiencing what life was like for the normal Bosnian, whether they be Serb, Croat or Muslim, was an eye opener, people still rode around in horse and cart! The only eventful thing that happened was seeing my first dead body, it had washed up at the edge of the dam; we found a few more like that.

During my time in Bosnia I went to the following places: Banja Luka, Bogonjo, Mirconic Grad, Gorni Vakuf and Sipivo, I witnessed, first hand, people in real poverty and as usual the worst off were the young and old. We did some 'hearts and minds' stuff such as, assist in rebuilding the hospital in Bogonjo and de-sandbagging a school that had been used as an air-raid shelter.

Although I didn't get to fire my rifle in anger, it was still a good experience and one that I will remember. After my return to the UK, I got four weeks leave and then re-joined my Battalion in Cyprus.

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