By Cpl. Rob Knight
First published in
SFOR Informer#108, March 7, 2001
Mrkonjic Grad. - There are 32 Fijian soldiers currently
serving with the 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal
Regiment. During the next six months another batch of approximately
20 are being taken through the training cycle and are expected
to be joining the regiment soon after.
Slightly larger than Kuwait, the Republic of Fiji lies approximately
2,774 km north-east of Brisbane, Australia and forms the largest
islands in the Pacific Melanesian group. The population of about
800,000 is broken down along ethnic lines of 49% Fijian, 46% Indian
and 5% European, other Pacific Islands, and others Asian. Fiji
gained independence from the UK in 1970, after having been a Crown
Colony since 1874. Exports comprise mainly of sugar, clothing,
gold, processed fish (tuna) and timber.
Pvt. Lemeki Tuisovivi stands at the main gate of the UKBG platoon
location at Manjaca Ranges, staring with barely concealed horror
at the snow falling gently around him. He has another hour of
his two-hour guard duty before he can retire to the warmth of
the Rubb Shelter for a hot drink. Though by European standards
this winter in Bosnia has been comparatively mild so far, it is
still a far cry from the annual average of 25oC in Fiji. Even
with his cold weather gear, Lemeki is feeling a long way from
the tropical sunshine of his native islands.
We all joined for the experience and opportunities that
the British Army offers, but this is an experience I could happily
do without, he laughed. He was also encouraged by the many
sporting opportunities offered by a career in the British Army.
Everyone assumes that because of our size and speed that
we're crazy about rugby, but personally, I prefer football!
His colleague, Pvt. Josefa Beleveicau, agreed. We like rugby
a lot and we're looking forward to beating some more people,
he said. We beat the Canadians and the local Bosnian team
very easily, so we're hoping that we can arrange a game with the
Bosnian National team, just to make things more interesting. We
hear that there are French troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina also
- we'd like to beat them too!
Nations of SFOR: UK