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  • Christina Drummond

Corporal Barney Warburton, Royal Engineers

Remembering the fallen: on this day in 1994, Corporal Barney Warburton of the Royal Engineers died in Bosnia. He was killed near Stari Vitez by a home-made mine that he had been trying to defuse. A month later a memorial was unveiled close to where he died, one made by a Croatian stonemason who carved a granite block to which Corporal Warburton’s name and the Royal Engineers’ insignia had been affixed along with the words “He died in the service of peace.”

The stonemason promised he would tend the memorial for as long as he lived – his own son had been killed the previous Christmas in the fighting at Santici. Major Alan Macklin spoke to those who gathered, local Bosnian Croat and Muslim leaders, along with U.N. soldiers, and he said pointedly: “A young man who came from abroad to help people he had never met . . . If an outsider is prepared to give his life, is it so hard to swallow one's pride to give peace a chance?”

Corporal Warburton had joined the army straight from school, where he specialized in defusing explosive devices and also won medals for his unit for boxing. He lost some of his toes through frostbite whilst on a training exercise, and was so determined to remain on activity duty that he turned down the desk job he was offered. He had arrived in Bosnia five months before his death, as a member of the United Nations’ peace-keeping force. Barney, from Llanbedr in Harlech, was 27 years old.

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