Former peacekeeper recalls Canada’s ‘forgotten battle’ in former Yugoslavia

A British Columbia veteran is wanting again at what, for a few years, went as one in all Canada’s forgotten battles.

Tony Spiess is a former Canadian peacekeeper, who served with the United Nations Safety Power within the fractured former Yugoslavia.

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In 1993, he was on the finish of his tour as a machine gunner when his battalion was deployed to implement a ceasefire line between Croatian and Serbian forces in an space that got here to be often called the “Medak Pocket.”

On Sept. 9, that fragile peace dissolved when the Croats launched an offensive, capturing the Serbian-populated space across the city of Medak; a brand new ceasefire was established, which referred to as on the Croatians to withdraw.

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Every week later, UNPROFOR deployed a whole bunch of troops from the 2nd Battalion Princes Patricia’s Mild Canadian Infantry to implement the deal, however issues broke down once they tried to enter the pocket.

“The Croatians hit us round suppertime … and so they hit us actually exhausting,” he informed International Information.

“All we had was what we carried into battle with us … And I suppose, effectively you already know — enterprise is enterprise.”

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The following battle produced probably the most intense preventing Canadian troopers confronted between the Korean and Afghan wars.

The Canadians fortified their place and for 15 hours withstood waves of machinegun and artillery hearth.

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“They had been successfully making an attempt to kill us — 100 per cent,” Speiss mentioned.

4 Canadians had been wounded within the battle.

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The Croatians had been ultimately compelled to withdraw amid political and media strain. Canadian troops then entered the Medak Pocket, the place they discovered proof of horrific violence towards Serbian villagers and what gave the impression to be ethnic cleaning by Croatian troopers.

Proof collected by the Canadians was later utilized in worldwide battle crimes investigations.

“It was extraordinarily horrific to see, however … we saved numerous civilian lives, and that’s one thing I’m very pleased with,” Spiess mentioned.

Whereas the battle constituted probably the most severe motion Canadian troops had seen in many years, it was years earlier than many Canadians discovered the story.

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The Canadian authorities didn’t acknowledge the battle till 2002, when Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson awarded the battalion the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation.

“That was the toughest half. Returning house, it was fairly spectacular how the Liberal authorities made an entire battle disappear similar to that,” he mentioned.

“It broken numerous troopers morale … It’s not that we wished a parade or something once we got here house — only a ‘job effectively completed.’”

The battle is now formally remembered, acknowledged on the Veterans Affairs web site as “a forgotten chapter in our nation’s army historical past.”

© 2021 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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