Feet in the water
By Cpl. Nicolas Girault
Valley - Some days before June 20, large warm air masses pushed
by a violent wind stumbled against the hills overhanging Travnik.
When it climbed the slopes and went higher, it formed clouds,
which got colder and colder and caused violent storms and plenty
of heavy rain.
The same day, a valley inhabitant called the Dutch base of Novi Travnik by phone. Lt. Frocklage from the 13th Armoured Engineer Regiment explained that "this kind of operation is not part of our mission here, so we asked the Battle Group command in Bugojno if we should intervene."
answer was: "you are allowed to do everything you can to
help the population."
Hennie Van De Molengratt remembers that "we went with a ten
ton truck, with a boat and sand bags. From the first night onwards,
we intervened to evacuate three people, which were isolated by
most important operation occurred near Matici village. The Dutch
reinforced an electrical mast, which supplied several valleys'
villages with electricity; the violent current submerged its feet,
and its foundations were shaky.
So, the sappers built a dam on one side of the mast.
They put rocks, Hescos" gabions, joined with logs and reinforced
with sandbags in order to support the whole structure.
In Mehurici, a bridge was totally submerged by water. "According to me, it would have been the best to destroy it, but a mosque was located downstream at about fifty metres from the bridge," said Sgt. Remco Van Dommelen. So the bridge and several houses were damaged.
The third day, the Dutch provided material - mainly gabions - to the valley's inhabitants. The intervention then ended and the soldiers could go and dry their feet, and dream of the summer's sun in their beds.