Major Alan Macklin of the Royal Engineers addressed his remarks pointedly to local Bosnian Croat and Muslim leaders as they stood side by side with UN soldiers to honour Corporal Barney Warburton, one of three British soldiers killed on duty in Bosnia.
Yesterday, a memorial was unveiled to Warburton just opposite the gaping brown crater where he died on 19 March, killed by a home-made mine he had been trying to defuse near Stari Vitez. The Muslim enclave there had held off Croat attacks for 10 months; now the sides are 'allies' again, in a fragile 'federation'.
Ruzid Stipo, a Croatian stonemason, had carved the granite block on which a dark plaque bearing Warburton's name and the Royal Engineers' insignia had been fixed.
The young soldier, it said simply, had 'died in the service of peace'. Mr Stipo - whose own son was mortally wounded in Muslim-Croat fighting at Santici, east of Vitez, before Christmas - said he would tend Warburton's memorial as long as he lived.
Yesterday at Stari Vitez the Muslim imam, Mestrovac Omer, and the Catholic priest, Father Anton Tomas, stood together, though they did not speak. The 'Vips' - two brigadiers - had not arrived, because their helicopter could not get down through the cloud.
Major Macklin, the Engineers' squadron commander, read a moving statement in which he asked local people 'for your continued support and to put your differences aside'.
Earlier, 60 British troops had marched to the memorial, three ranks of 20, and they cracked to attention with a single movement.
Vitez's small Croat choir, mostly children aged between 10 and 12, sang a chorus first in English, then in Serbo-Croat: 'How many roads must a man walk down . . . the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.'
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