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Bosnia '95

Old 10th Feb 2010, 20:06
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Bosnia '95

In 1995 Pumas were deployed to Ploce to help the UN in the FRY (even though we were told that the UN hadn't actually asked us for help - politics). The RAF were one of the last units to arrive - the French and others had already 'acquired' the pallets lying around for use as interior walls etc. We did get a small number though, which unfortunately wasn't much help on the night the rains came. Those who were there (apart from my crew, who had to deliver a 2* to Verona for an overnight, so went boating in Venice after drop off, shame, eh?) hung on their 12 x 12s that night to stop them blowing away.

The water table rose so much that by the next day the det got fairly trashed - including the public conveniences which had risen, like leviathans, out of the hardcore. Charming! Not surprisingly, we were evacuated soon after to a nearby hotel - which is really where we should have been in the first place!

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Old 10th Feb 2010, 20:15
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I remember it well!!

The Royal Air Force being evacuated to their hotels while the other half a brigade (4000 people) continued to exist in this fine camp (said with irony).
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Old 10th Feb 2010, 20:49
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Ploce death camp!
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Old 10th Feb 2010, 20:54
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Bear in mind, the hotels were only 2*. And not a Michelin star between them! God we had it rough!
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 00:18
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Also being a small port for the embarkation of cattle, there were holding pens at Ploce where the the RE had converted the cattle watering system into a usable, but en masse shower system, where you could at least get wet if not clean. Seeing about 50 squaddies at a time going through this had obviously inspired some wag to create a sign over the entrance announcing "Schindler's Showers". Very droll.

I was only there for a few days but it was exactly at this time as the raw sewage burst forth from the water table. Delightful, but as HEDP points out, hotels were not an option for most people.
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 09:36
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While it would be easy to snipe at the "hotel homing instinct", the straight fact is that the decision was correct one if measured in terms of sustaining the capability. The AAC Regt was apparently asked if it also wanted to decamp, and the CO said that his people would stay and the Regt suffered accordingly. The medics will tell you that the rate of disease and non-battle injuries (in this case D&V) skyrocketed amongst those that stayed at Ploce by comparison with the hotel fraternity - hardly surprising given that the whole camp had been contaminated with raw sewage and who know's what from the landfill area.
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 10:20
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Hi all,
Best regards from "enemy" side.
If I avoid political and other similar point of view,one thing will always keep place in memories.
October 1995,I was flying in Montenegro(at that time part of Federal Republic of Yougoslavia) unarmed ,on south courses parrralel with the border between FRY and Republic of Serbska. All of sudden I noticed 4 F15 ,flying parralel to me but in Republic of Serbska.
for me it is unforgetable. apart from the fact that I am survived , "close encounter " gives me an oportunity to examine "see and avoid " procedures in praxis
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 10:35
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Do keep up

Come on you guys, stop all this tent and latrine banter. You know the drill: The Army dig in; The RAF check in.
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 11:12
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I was one of the evacuees, though we didn't go to any hotel. It was some kind of wooded campsite about 20 miles up/down(?) the coast. There were tents and........that was pretty much it. Not that I'm complaining mind. I recall that with the 'flood mentality' at the time, we took as many pallets and sandbags as we could, much to the bemusement of the campsite owner.

Anecdotal evidance at the time suggested that upon arrival the Royal Engineers surveyed the Ploce site and assessed that a certain amount of aggregate was required to lift the site above the water level. They were provided with about half that amount. They pointed out that should it rain inline with recent historical data, the camp would flood. It rained, it flooded, the thunderbox submarines floated to the surface, majestically rolled towards the camp and. dumped the erm...dumps as one would expect.

The storm was great fun though, hanging onto the inside of the tent-poles until the bare bulbs smashed against them, extinguishing the lights and leaving us wondering "is the remaining bit of bulb that is flailing about still live, and is it about to zap us through these metals poles what we are all holding on to?"

Ah the showers. Another example of RE ingenuity and improvisation (I'm not being sarcastic btw). Take one cattle market, fit a labrynith of 'scaffold poles' overhead at about 7' high, drill holes in poles every 3 feet, attach one end to water main, turn on (big) tap, voila! It was a tad chilly mind, but if you jumped in and exclaimed "fucbollocfannyarse!" repeatedly, it made it bearable. No roof by the way, so whoever allocated the dedicated 'birds only' shower time which comfortably coincided with a leisurely morning take off

Last edited by talk_shy_tall_knight; 12th Feb 2010 at 08:44.
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 15:20
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Ahem, not all members of the Royal Air Force were allowed to abandon Ploce. The dark and shady forces of Avtur distribution, Tactical Supply Wing, hung around whilst the future Nigels and their batmen departed (sensibly it seems from later evidence) for less swampy pastures. I felt a little sorry for the wing's (at the time) token female (she of the scary knife collection for those in the know) for who 'female accommodation' was a 9x9 tent plopped on top of as many pallets as she could beg/borrow/steal to keep her boots from floating away and seemingly a few tons of sandbags dumped around the skirts to stop it blowing away.

The alarm bells really should have been ringing when construction started on the bunds for the EBFI and partially decomposed cattle parts and more worrying, something that looked suspiciously like blue asbestos, appeared by the scoopful in among the other assorted domestic waste. Is it any wonder that when the site eventually closed the bund liners were just folded back into their bunds and buried?

On the sickness front, a guy who was on the wing at the time was later diagnosed with something pretty nasty (can't remember the name of it) but it was believed to have stemmed from his time at PDC, it ended his RAF career too. Oh and the smurfs may have kept some semblance of operational ability through the D&V but they were not well bunnies.
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 23:54
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Fighting a war in Bosnia in 95? The only way to do it was from the comfort of an "Aluminum Pursuit Ship" by day and the Hotel Svevo in Italy by night...

Check in, don't dig in - FFS!
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