Soldiers tell of the pain of parting
Wednesday 30 August 1995
"We went one minute from playing cards and discussing what we were going to do that night, then we got the order and 20 minutes later we were off," said Frank, a Royal Engineer who spent more than three months in Gorazde. Neither he nor his comrade Dave knew why their departure had been advanced by 24 hours - it was only when they reached Belgrade that they learnt of the deaths of 37 people in Sarajevo.
The safe arrival in Belgrade of the last group of Royal Welch Fusiliers and Royal Engineers cleared the way if necessary for Nato jets or the heavy guns of the Rapid Reaction Force to avenge the Bosnian Serb attack on Sarajevo.
But it leaves the people of Gorazde standing alone in the event of a Bosnian Serb offensive with only the promises of Nato action as protection. "The saddest thing as we were leaving was the little kids begging us to take them with us," Dave said."I think the people there must be bitterly disappointed," said Frank. "Especially after the UN said Gorazde would be the last stand," Dave added.
Despite fears that terrified civilians would try to stop the pull-out, the Britons left unhindered. "The journey in took six days," said Dave. "The Serbs wanted us out quicker than they wanted us in." The two said they would happily return. "It was excellent," Frank said. "I had a great time, I really enjoyed myself out there."
Much of their work involved building fortifications and repairing the camp fence - damaged in many attempted break-ins - but occasionally there were more rewarding jobs such as enlarging the river pool where locals swam when the Serb snipers were quiet.
Although their departure was earlier than planned, the men had prepared for withdrawal, destroying equipment they could not remove. "Any vehicles left behind got blown up and trashed," Frank said.
They clearly regretted leaving, despite their fears that the UN presence in Gorazde merely postponed its inevitable fall to the Bosnian Serbs. "The thing that sticks in my mind about Gorazde is that if you are going to pull out, all that work is wasted," Dave said sadly.
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 Dylan Moran on quitting smoking, being about as sexy as the Pope and why comedy panel programmes are 'c*ck shows'
- 5 Modern society encapsulated in five seconds
Costa Concordia: Shipment of Mob drugs was hidden aboard cruise liner when it hit rocks off Italian coast, investigators say
Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
Iran nuclear talks: Prospect of deal with Iran pushes Saudi Arabia and Israel into an unlikely alliance
A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
£30,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a perso...
£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...
£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...