Ministry of Defence
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UK forces who served in Bosnia and Herzegovina commemorated
A commemorative service was held today at the magnificent Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. It marked the efforts of more than 100,000 members of UK Armed Forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina over their 15 year deployment, paying tribute to those who did not return.
The service was attended by HRH The Princess Michael of Kent, Minister of State for the Armed Forces Bob Ainsworth, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt, and Bosnia and Herzegovina Defence Minister Mr Selmo Cikotic.
Also present were hundreds of veterans from across the UK, and the families and friends of those who paid the ultimate price in bringing greater peace and stability to a country once ravaged by a bitter civil war.
Wreaths were laid inside the Memorial on behalf of HRH Princess Michael of Kent, the Government and Armed Forces of the UK, and the Government and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the wreath laying Vedran Smailovic, the "Cellist of Sarajevo", played a musical tribute to the UK personnel and their efforts to help his country. Vedran famously played his cello for 22 consecutive days in Sarajevo in 1992 to honour the deaths of 22 civilians who were killed when queuing for bread during the bombing and shelling of the city.
Chief of the General Staff and Bosnia veteran General Sir Richard Dannatt, opened the Service and said:
"The United Kingdom's contribution to the operation in Bosnia was not only vital but has led to considerable success. We were part of a unified international effort which resulted in the negotiation of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 - an agreement that has endured and set the political and military framework for that country ever since. The British Army, on the ground and in the air, helped to create a safe and secure environment. The Royal Air Force established the No Fly zone and the Sarajevo Air Bridge, and the Royal Navy contributed to the maritime embargo as well as assisting the efforts in the air. As a nation, we can be proud of what we have achieved, not just in Bosnia but throughout this region - although the contribution came at the cost of 72 lives lost, all now properly commemorated by the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum."
Mollie Wormald's son Captain Steven Wormald of the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, was killed on patrol in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994. She gave a Reading in the Service, and said of the commemoration:
"I am so very proud of my son and all of those who died helping Bosnia and Herzegovina become a safer place. The service today has paid fitting tribute to them, and also to the efforts of those who returned safely home. It gives me comfort to see my son's name engraved on this national tribute to our brave service men and women. May his reward be as great as his sacrifice"
Bosnia and Herzegovina Defence Minister Selmo Cikotic paid thanks to UK Armed Forces on behalf of his country:
"I stand before you with a sense of deep humility and great pride. We are here to commemorate more than fifty sons and daughters of this country who have died fighting for a better tomorrow. They took on a grave and honourable responsibility, to be the ones to stand between the civilized world and what threatened it. They signed up, took an oath, and made a promise to defend something larger than themselves. We must never forget that.
"To the men and women of the British Military, you have our deepest gratitude and respect for your support, dedication and friendship. We remain indebted to those who passed away for their courage and sacrifice, and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers."
Notes to Editors:
1. Thousands of UK personnel served in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) from 1992 - 2007 playing a vital peacekeeping role in support of the UN, NATO and the EU. The war between the multi-ethnic population that broke out in Bosnia during 1992 was brought to an end when the Dayton Peace agreement was signed at the end of 1995. UK personnel remained in the country for a further 12 years to assist in fulfilling the terms of the agreement.
2. During the 15 year campaign more than 50 members of the UK Armed Forces lost their lives, and many more were injured. The Bosnian death toll after the war ended in 1995 was reported at being at least 100,000-110,000, military and civilian, with over 1.8 million people forcibly displaced from their homes.
3. In October 1992 the then Secretary of State for Defence Malcolm Rifkind announced that UK Forces would be sent to Bosnia to support the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and in November the main body of the Battalion Group arrived under the name of Operation Grapple, tasked to provide armed escort to humanitarian aid convoys.
4. The Welsh Guards were the last British Unit to serve in BiH and returned to the UK at the end of March 2007 - http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/EndOfAnEraForUkForcesInBosniaherzegovina.htm
5. A small number of UK Forces remain in BiH attached to EUFOR, NATO and the Peace Support Operations Training Centre in Sarajevo. One of these, Maj Dave Fielder Royal Marine recently returned from the country and carried the UK Government and Armed Forces wreath into the Memorial.
6. The names of the UK service personnel who lost their lives during the 15 years of service in BiH are listed on the Armed Forces Memorial. The Memorial, which opened to the public in October 2007, remembers all those killed on duty in conflicts or on training exercises, by terrorist action or on peacekeeping missions - http://www.forcesmemorial.org
7. The Armed Forces Memorial is located within the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA), Alrewas, nr Lichfield, Staffordshire. The NMA covers 60 hectares of woodland and hosts memorials from a range of organisations both military and civilian, charities, local and overseas groups.
8. In addition to specific commemorations such as the withdrawal for Forces from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Veterans of all ages are the focus of attention each year on Veterans Day 27 June, which will be hosted by Blackpool in 2008 - http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/HistoryAndHonour/BlackpoolToHostNationalVeteransDay.htm