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The following extract is from Darren Ware, who served in the Royal Green Jackets
A Rendezvous With The Enemy; My brother’s life and death with the Coldstream Guards in Northern Ireland.
This is a story from my book, of an interesting encounter in Bosnia….
My section vehicle, commanded by me, left the main road and drove onto a narrowing track that led up to the hilltop village. I had identified a place to stop the APC as I knew that the remainder of the track had not been used by military vehicles, and due to the mine threat I decided to stop and assess the ground in front. Although there were one or two dwellings that were inhabited it was clearly not suitable for a 12 tonne APC. Having made my I decided to patrol to the remote village on foot and take with me a team of four – myself, my driver who was one of the most experienced soldiers on my team, one other Rifleman and my interpreter, Jasmin. I left behind my second-in-command plus four men, of whom one could drive. There was no need to leave my driver with the vehicle as it could not be brought forward, and that was the reason why I wanted to take the experience with me.
What confronted me I had not expected and what made it more difficult was that communications between me and my second in command had failed due to the terrain, and there was no possible way that I could contact them to bring the vehicle up to us or to send a runner back to bring them forward on foot. I did not want to send a lone Rifleman half a kilometre to bring reinforcements, leaving just me and one other with an unarmed interpreter.
Out of the wooded area to my right and about 10 metres in front of me walked two adult males both of whom were wearing combat clothing, neither of them had seen us, and one of them was carrying a Kalashnikov AK47 assault rifle. I dropped to my knees,and instructed the others to go firm. There was next to no immediate cover to take for our own protection, my heart immediately began to beat extremely fast and in a fraction of a second or two, I had to ascertain whether they were the only two. I had to protect myself and my team, I reached over to my assault rifle with my left hand and cocked it, loading a round into the chamber, placed the weapon into my right shoulder and issued a firm warning in Serb Croat “IFOR, STANI ILLI PUT SAM”. Translated into English this clearly states “IFOR stand still or I will shoot”. The middle-aged man turned in my direction and fortunately for him with the weapon to his side began to ramble in
unrecognisable language. He made no immediate threat, and if he had levelled the AK47 towards us then he would have been shot. The male was verbally challenged in an aggressive but firm manner and disarmed at gun-point. The situation was not easy.
The male did not want to surrender the weapon but I wanted it, and I needed him to give it to me. The rest of my section was not aware of what as going on and the incident took probably three quarters of an hour to resolve. Once I had seized the AK47 from him we made our way back to the rest of the section and made a swift return to base having radioed through with a situation report. I was immensely impressed as to how our section had dealt with this incident and received several deserved verbal commendations.
Interviews with heroes
He went to Bosnia in 1992, 1993 and 1994 – 3 tours.
The Balkans was harder than the Gulf........the things people did to each other were horrible, neighbours killing neighbours, family members killing family members.
While there he applied to do a course about close protection and that enabled him to do escorting of cavalcades and motorcycle out riding and the 3rd time he went he had completed more training so
his tour involved more protection of dignitaries etc. He spent more time in Mostar so it gave him a different perspective doing more primary protection.
“It was as if it was accepted by everybody. What had been the norm of living together became the norm of hating each other. It was very strange.”
“I talked to one guy who was a civil servant whose brother in law was on the other side of the council. He had to watch while his political comrades executed him.....and that was his brother in law. I asked
him how that made him feel and he just said “He deserved it” It’s a strange kind of perspective which is difficult to get your head around.”
The last time in 1996 when he went he was involved in looking out for smuggling. He didn’t care too much about cigarettes and booze getting through but it was the guns and machetes that were stopped.
“It was hard being fired on and not being able to just fire back. We always had to give a warning because they could always say they fired on you by mistake. In a war zone you could just fire back but being in a zone with a civilian population you just had to be careful.”
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