Remembrance Day in Banja Luka.
Most of the male members of my family had served in both World Wars.
My grandfather didn’t talk too much about his experiences of 1914-18, but when he did, it horrified me. It affected me profoundly.
My father served in the Air Force in World War 2. Once again, not much glorification.
Nevertheless I joined the army, in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), as an apprentice.
My own service saw me on the streets of Belfast in the early 1970’s. My unit had the first fatalities from terrorist activities. I think I grew up during that time.
All in all, my military life (both regular and reserve) spanned some 29 years.
The annual November Remembrance has been a time for me to think back on the mates no longer with us and of what soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have gone, and still go through, to give us a free life.
I arrived here in Banja Luka, back in September 1998, living in a container in a disused factory.
The annual Remembrance Day was special as we were in an operational environment.
2005 saw the UK troops withdraw, but a small memorial plaque was left behind.
I chose to stay here too.
Each year I try to be at the memorial to pay my own respects.
This year I was with my good friend Mark Dakin, (former SSM with 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards), who also lives here in the city.
Mark brought 7 crosses to lay at the memorial.
3 for REME, 3 for The Light Dragoons and 1 for 1st, The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG).
Although it’s been some 12 years since the UK troops left Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in particular the north of the country, someone here is remembering the sacrifice those 7 soldiers made.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning:
We will remember them”.