The guns of Chestnut Coy in Sanski Most
By Cpl. Diego Bunuel
First published in
SFOR Informer #99, October 25, 2000
Sanski Most - The Chestnut Company of the British 1st Royal
Horse Artillery Regiment, carries its name well. It's small, but tough.
The 150 men and women based in Sanski Most, a town tucked in a farming
valley west of Banja Luka, arguably pack the biggest firepower in theatre
with their six AS 90 guns of 155 mm.
These mammoth guns, set up on a tank body, can fire three 96-pound shells
at up to 24 km in less than 10 seconds. A battery of six of these, fires
18 rounds and can reload before the first shells hit its target, explained
Staff Sgt Derek McCarthy.
the equivalent of two tons of explosives coming down on a target,"
Capt. Taff Kalies, a 23-year veteran and the company commander, knows
his job and his priorities.
"Our purpose to be here in Bosnia is to fire our guns if needed,"
Kalies said. "We can be deployed anywhere in Theatre and we are the
only ones with such big guns."
Because many of the gunners are on their third or fourth tour in Bosnia,
a well-established routine allows the camp to run smoothly, said Colour
Sgt. Jerome Kenyon. But when Chestnut Company is not training, they are
either patrolling or participating in CIMIC projects.
"We are regularly asked to fill wells in the rural areas where people
are struggling financially and its important to help these communities
make it through the winter," Kenyon said.
over the camp is a decrepit, 10-story-high colliery known as "the
mine." It used to be the area's main industry, but is now unable
to sustain the population. The SFOR soldiers have been making every effort
to provide villagers with good shelter during the winter to prevent them
from leaving the countryside, Kenyon said.
"The first soldiers here would comment on the destruction,"
Kalies said. "Now what they are commenting on is how it's being rebuilt."
Like most British camps, the trademark dark green containers assembled
like a domino game, are linked by wooden gangways bearing names of famous
battles like Waterloo or known places like Victoria Park. The camp's three
bars provide for evening entertainment while the mess hall dishes out
fine foods from tasty curries to tender tandori chicken.
"This is a small camp, but it's homely," Kalies said.
"Everyone is tightly-knit here."
Nations of SFOR: UK