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Bosnia Operation Grapple November 1995 to May 1996

Northern Ireland
Operation Grapple
Bosnia Misc
Bosnia Map
Bosnia Photos

Everybody will have their own personal memory of Bosnia. It may be sitting on a cold Rebro eating your way through six months or driving orange six foot pickets into the ground whilst a BBC cameraman films you. Different images will trigger different memories, a picture may not be of a specific event or location but it might give cause for you to pull up a sand bag and swing a lamp or two. Loading Warriors onto a ship in Belgium is now so far away that it is almost forgotten. But for these people the tour started before anybody else. Despite a few self important movers the vehicles came off the ship and began their move up country. Our arrival at Lipa also coincided with a rather premature winter. The track move up country was a baptism of fire for the drivers on steep narrow snow caovered roads. But eventually everybody arrived in either Vitez, Kiseljak or Mount Igman. The situation the Battalion took over was a relative mill pond in comparison to what was in store for us. Initially the Battalion was deployed as part of the Multi National Brigade (MNB), with ACoy and Fwd HQ living in the field on Mount Igman, B Coy in an old Brick Works in Kiseljak and C Coy (me!), sharing the School at Vitez with BG HQ. Echelon was based 2 kms SE in the Vitez Garage. Igman was the main effort and A company after blagging their way into some temporary accommoation moved into the corimec town that was to be called Sebastopol Camp. Names like Bentley, EW Site and TPQ 36 became very familiar to the companies. The devestation of the confrontation line around Sarajevo and airport and the extensive minefields were a sobering introduction to the reality of Bosnia. The key problems were equipment maintenance and mobility in the wintery conditions; a temperature of minus 67C (with wind chill) was recorded on top of the main peak. Warior was not good in fresh snow. Winter track improved the situation, but we were not truly mobile until issued with 6 BV 206 oversnow vehicles. There were few major incidents, but 'celebratory' fire by BiH soldiers was regular occurrence and a 'celebratory' grenade was thrown close to a check point on one occasion. Kiseljak Brick Factory then became the most uncomfortable location, with an abundance of rats and mud. Eventually as Transition of Authority (TOA) became likely, increasing numbers of French Foreign Legionnaires and UK/US Special forces arrived to share the camp. This force a move of 2 platoons from the factory to share Kiseljak Hotel with the RRFOS (Rapid Reaction Force Operational staff); a popular move! On both Igman and in Kiseljak other nations were encountered. The French Foreign Legion will not be forgotten by those who met and dealt with them, nor will the Mulit National Brigade Headquarters. The Vitez locations also played a part for everybody in this first part of the tour. The School was the place that everybody wanted to get away from - including the CO. It was also the place where the odd Toga party was held! The Garage became renowned for wellington boot wearing SNCOs and a large puddle which doubled as the vehicle circuit. However it did host a third of the Three Degrees in a CSE Show just before Christmas.