'An important book...these brave men put their lives on the line' - Colonel Tim Collins, OBE
In the midst of the horrors of the Bosnian War, Richard Westley found himself commanding British troops in a battle to save an entire town from massacre. It proved to be one of the British Army's finest hours since the Second World War.
In the summer of 1995, the Bosnian town of Goražde came under attack from the Bosnian Serb Army, despite having been designated a Safe Area by the United Nations. Soldiers of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, sent to the area as UN peacekeepers, outnumbered, lacking firepower and without air support, began to be taken hostage by the encroaching Serbian forces, while the city itself came under bombardment. The entire British venture could have been summed up in two words: 'Operation Insanity'.
The author, then a thirty-two year old major, knew he had to act quickly and decisively to have any chance of saving the lives not only of the men under his command, but of Goražde's 45,000 inhabitants. In this he succeeded, saving the town from the fate of nearby Srebenica, where more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks were massacred. He was later awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry and leadership.
Colonel Westley's reflections on a horrendous period of modern history are harrowing and unforgettable. At one point he witnessed the murder of a young Bosniak boy by Serbian snipers, and he himself was wounded by shrapnel while directing the defence against an attack by renegade Muslims. Yet his is also a very human story, from the gallows humour of the SAS team to his friendship with Selma, a female Muslim interpreter, whose courage and skill inspired him. Two decades on, his story is as relevant as ever.