Tuesday 6 February 2018

In October 1992, 2,400 British troops deployed to Bosnia and Croatia under Operation 'Grapple' and became operational in November.  They were tasked with providing armed escort to United Nations humanitarian aid convoys as part of the UN Protection Force, UNPROFOR, in Bosnia.

Here are 25 photographs of civilians and members of Britain's armed forces from the Bosnian War of 1992-1995.

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1. Helicopter pilots

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1. Helicopter pilots

Helicopter pilots in full flying kit on board HMS Invincible during Operation 'Grapple', the British military deployment in support of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), the UN's peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Invincible sailed for the Adriatic in July 1993 to relieve HMS Ark Royal and remained in theatre until December. On 20 September 1993, the ship hosted unsuccessful warring parties peace talks, involving Thorvald Stoltenborg, the UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

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2. Operation 'Grapple'

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2. Operation 'Grapple'

The arrival of British forces in Bosnia at the start of Operation 'Grapple'. A column of Warrior armoured fighting vehicles belonging to 'A' Company, 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, moves up from Split, Croatia through a winter landscape to the UN operating base at Vitez, Bosnia. The Warriors are painted in the high visibility white colour scheme identifying UNPROFOR vehicles. The proximity of Serbian forces rendered the main route to Vitez unsafe and the first priority for British troops on deployment was to identify alternative routes through the difficult terrain.

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3. Soldier in Travnik

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3. Soldier in Travnik

Civilians, including children, cluster around a British soldier of 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment at Travnik, Bosnia, shortly after the arrival of British forces in Bosnia at the start of Operation 'Grapple'. In October 1992, 2,400 British troops deployed to Bosnia and Croatia under Operation Grapple and became operational in November.  They were tasked with providing armed escort to United Nations humanitarian aid convoys as part of UNPROFOR.  The British forces maintained a headquarters and logistics base at Split but operated mainly in the dangerous area around Vitez, where the UN central depots were based

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4. Warriors in the market place

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4. Warriors in the market place

View of the market place at Travnik, Bosnia in November 1992, shortly after the arrival of British forces in Bosnia at the start of Operation 'Grapple'. Civilians cluster around two Warrior armoured fighting vehicles of 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment.

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5. Football match

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5. Football match

A football match between 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment and the local Croat population of Dolac near Travnik, 13 December 1992.  The Dolac team won the match 4-3.

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6. Preparing to board

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6. Preparing to board

British troops, wearing blue United Nations berets, insignia and identification vests, prepare to board a troop transport aircraft at RAF Brize Norton for Bosnia in early 1993.  In the background, a television cameraman films the event.

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7. Firewood escort

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7. Firewood escort

A British soldier, his face muffled against the cold, keeps watch with his assault rifle from the top of a FV432 armoured personnel carrier as it moves through the snow-covered landscape during an operation to escort urgently needed convoys of firewood into Sarajevo in early 1993.

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8. Sea King supplies

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8. Sea King supplies

A Royal Navy Sea King helicopter of No. 845 Naval Air Squadron (Fleet Air Arm) arrives in Bosnia with supplies, 1993.

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9. Gornji Vakuf

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9. Gornji Vakuf

Soldiers from 'B' Company of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (Rangers) with a Warrior FV510 in the town of Gornji Vakuf, 1993. The town stands at an important crossroads in central Bosnia-Herzegovina and was one of the first attacked by Croatian forces during the Bosnian War, on 20 June 1992. At that time it was vital for UNPROFOR to hold Gornji Vakuf to enable UNHCR supplies to be transported around Bosnia. On 11 January 1993, major fighting broke out around the town. This included Croatian shelling of the town centre, which caused much destruction.

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10. Sniper's rifle

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10. Sniper's rifle

A Muslim civilian displays a sniper's rifle with homemade silencer near Gornji Vakuf, 1993.

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11. Cheshire Regiment

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11. Cheshire Regiment

A Warrior armoured fighting vehicle of 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment drives through the centre of Travnik in Bosnia. The market place is in the background.

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12. Medical duties

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12. Medical duties

A British FV432 and a Landrover both equipped for medical duties with UNPROFOR in the Vitez area of Bosnia, 1993. Both vehicles are painted in the high visibility white colour scheme adopted by UNPROFOR vehicles in Bosnia.

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13. Evacuated casualties

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13. Evacuated casualties

Casualties arrive by United Nations helicopter at Tuzla Air Base following their evacuation from Srebrenica, March 1993.

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14. Juliet

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14. Juliet

'Juliet', the Warrior IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) used by Colonel Bob Stewart, Commander of 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, and first British Commander of UNPROFOR, makes its way cautiously over an unsafe bridge.

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15. Refugees in Tuzla

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15. Refugees in Tuzla

Bosnian Muslim women and children refugees, possibly from Srebrenica, arrive in Tuzla, north-east Bosnia, March 1993.

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16. Bagpipes

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16. Bagpipes

Pipe Major Kenny Kerr from Ayrshire plays to some soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers sitting on a Warrior just outside Gornji Vakuf in the run-up to Christmas, 14 December 1994.

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17. Novi Travnik

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17. Novi Travnik

Members of the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers on a combined foot patrol in Novi Travnik in central Bosnia, November 1994. Novi Travnik came under attack at the start of the war from Serbian forces. Later, in 1993, Bosnia-Herzegovina soldiers entered the area and either evicted or killed the local population.

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18. Rebuilding

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18. Rebuilding

Members of the Royal Engineers helping to rebuild the Stari Bila school, near Vitez, 15 November 1994. At the outbreak of the war, the Vitez area saw local violence between Croats and Muslims, with villages and mosques being damaged. Hostilities flared up again in 1993 when Bosnia-Herzegovina soldiers entered the area, attacking Croats and Muslims. This left severe damage in many communities in the area.

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19. School books

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19. School books

Members of the Household Cavalry Regiment handing out books to the children of a school in Lug, near Prozor, Bosnia on 23 November 1994. Prozor came under attack early in the war and suffered great loss of life and damage during the conflict.

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20. Through the wire

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20. Through the wire

Troops of the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers in Jelah, north of Maglaj, central Bosnia, 10 December 1994. A Warrior FV510 can be seen through barbed wire navigating the mud. Maglaj was occupied by Serbian forces early in the war and its Bosnian population especially suffered as a result.

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21. Foot patrol

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21. Foot patrol

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers on patrol in Gornji Vakuf, 14 December 1994.

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22. Distributing aid

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22. Distributing aid

Members of the 1st Battalion, Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment distributing aid in the village of Glavice, south east of Bugojno, on 17 December 1994. From the start of the war, Bugojno was shelled by Serbian forces and was a sought-after prize due to it being an industrial centre in the region. Serbian forces occupied the area in 1992. As the war progressed, an influx of refugees and the advancement of Muslim and Croat forces escalated the conflict. In the summer of 1993 the Croat and Bosnian forces turned against each other, eventually leading to the defeat and withdrawal of Croat soldiers and civilians from Bugojno, leaving the town in Bosnian control.

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23. Getting a haircut

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23. Getting a haircut

A local man acts as the hairdresser for men of 'B' Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers, Vitez, 25 December 1994.

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24. Whiskey at Christmas

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24. Whiskey at Christmas

Men of 'B' Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers on Christmas Day, 25 December 1994. Major David Crumlish has a whiskey with the men at a checkpoint in the Vitez area.

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25. Boxing Day run

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25. Boxing Day run

Members of the Royal Engineers on a Boxing Day run in Vitez, 26 December 1994.

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