By Cpl. David Thomas
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21,
Mkronjic Grad - Under a fine and yet persistent
rain, the twists and turns of the city opened up before the British
They entered, step by step, through the sloping streets of Mrkonjic
Grad. They disappeared downtown to arrive at the market place.
Each walking urban patrol begins like that.
Soldiers from A Company, 2nd Battalion of The Princess of Wales'
Royal Regiment (2PWRR) prepare the four daily patrols. Cpl. "Mac"
McCarthy's group is indicated to pace up and down the streets
of the city.
The main gate of camp "Shoe Factory" is crossed, the
four-man team can start to go downtown. The patrol has a precise
objective: go to the market to ask questions of the tradesmen.
Composed of four soldiers and a translator, the "little patrol"
carries no more than two weapons. "Only two soldiers carry
weapons, otherwise our attitude could be considered aggressive
by the local population," explained Pvt. Jay Parks, who opened
The market appears below an anonymous street. McCarthy used this
moment to ask a question of a tradesman with translator Miroslav
Bosnic's help. Each question is on a different subject: membership
of Army, membership of reserves, whether they are refugees or
not, if they are recent returnees, and their opinion on Mostovi,
the newspaper produced by MND-SW. The three soldiers, use that
time to give tradesmen and women this magazine in the local language.
The market visit goes smoothly. Soldiers began a conversation
with a saleswoman. This one, a former refugee, returned from Donji
Vakuf, spoke about everything.
Having contact with the locals is very good, Parks said. "It
is really interesting because we can meet the local population.
It's better than just driving vehicles."
As usual, the patrol went for a coffee in the downtown area. "We
are here to show our presence in public places," explained
McCarthy. "Villagers are happy to see us." Around a
cup of coffee or a cup of tea, the team gave a progress report
on their work.
Then, the soldiers decide to go to a former theatre in ruins for
a reconnaissance. While entering the auditorium, the broken seats
lie in front of a scene filled with rubble. A gaping hole, the
consequence of a shell, pierced the roof. They are saddened by
the spectacle in front of them. "Nevertheless, nobody seems
to want to rebuild these cultural places," the translator
said, then sighed.
The patrol came to an end by climbing the hill to the camp. Quietly,
soldiers returned to the "Shoe Factory" to write a report
on this very quiet
but wet mission.
Nations of SFOR: UK
SFOR at Work