Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment

Impressions in a Foreign Land

Major Bernd Horn, OC B Company, 1 RCR
Pro Patria, Issue No. 74, April 1993

UN Protection Force (Yugoslavia) (UNPROFOR)

UNPROFOR was established in February 1992 as an interim arrangement to create the conditions of peace and security required for the negotiation of an overall settlement of the Yugoslavian crisis.  The UN Protection Force (Yugoslavia) (UNPROFOR) Medal was awarded for 90 days consecutive service from 01 March 1992 to 19 December 1995.

As the D-10 lumbered in for its final approach, the airplane settled into an audible hush. Anxious faces were pressed to plexiglass windows, all gazing down onto a foreign land. What experiences would unravel in the next six months? Lost in their own thoughts and reflections few noted the Zagreb Airport quickly coming into view. The Croatian airport was easily discernible by mounds of relief supplies stored on the surrounding tarmac. In the background white UN vehicles darted about creating an image of The perpetual motion as yet more supplies were being systematically unloaded from yet another military relief flight. The 116 Canadian peacekeepers from Bravo Company, 1 RCR, attached to 2 RCR for Operation Cavalier, quickly adjusted to their new environment. The rolling, rugged landscape of former Yugoslavia has an ability to captivate the interloper. Unfortunately, the bitter, savage struggle which epitomizes the civil war which is still raging in areas, has left its scar on both the land and its people. As one travels through the countryside the empty shells of houses, burnt out buildings, bullet riddled vehicles and other wreckage pay mute testimony to man's inherent destructiveness.

The land tells a story of a merciless struggle waged to destroy the military, economic and social fabric of opposing ethnic factions . Orchards deliberately and systematically destroyed, churches, schools and hospitals pounded to rubble and indiscriminate destruction of residential areas strain the belief of the existence of humanity in this otherwise beautiful land.

While some villages lay totally devastated and abandoned, others begin to show signs of returning life. Slowly a few intrepid individuals have returned to rebuild their shattered lives and homes. Their courage in turn shows renewed hope in others and soon a visible migration of people returning to their homes begins. In these areas people carry on oblivious to the destruction which surrounds them. The human spirit once again proves to be an unconquerable force.

As UN convoys and patrols pass, children too young to understand the events that have transpired wave energetically, faces crowned with innocent smiles. The elderly stare in stoic silence. One can only imagine their thoughts. Yet another "occupying" force. As the convoy passes they quietly return to their plots 'of land and farm yards which look untouched by this century's rapid and profound technological advances. Only in the eyes and faces of the recently demobilized men of military age does defiance and resentment meet the gaze of the UN peacekeeper. One can only attempt to understand their bitterness and reluctance to lay down arms, for the mistrust and ethnic hatred runs deep and far.

For Bravo company the impressions have been formed from their experience in but a small area of Croatia between Lipik and Daruvar . The experience to date prompted the following comment from the CSM, "those who wish to separate in Canada should come and take a look at (former) Yugoslavia and see what happens when people cannot live together."

Pro Patria

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