A large number of foreign volunteers who enrolled in the Croatian Army in the early 1990’s to fight for an independent Croatia now want their place in history and to be treated like their fellow Croatian fighters, says British volunteer Steve Gaunt.
After watching the war in Croatia unfold on TV, Leeds-born Gaunt felt compelled to take an active role, and in November 1991 with no prior military experience he left for Croatia. Gaunt was not alone, and he says that around 650 volunteers from all over the world came to Croatia to help fight. Gaunt’s numbers and the numbers of those registered with the Croatian Ministry of Defence don’t add up, and now the man who has settled in Croatia says that foreign volunteers want recognition for participating in helping create the new Croatian state and have their deserved place in history.
“Foreign volunteers in most cases did not earn their rights, because most did not even know they had rights, or they did not pursue their rights because they went back to their own country after. Deaths of foreign volunteers were not always recorded correctly, and even some of them they did not even know where their bodies were,” said Gaunt, who was made a Croatian citizen after the people of Vinkovci where he remained, actively petitioned on his behalf.
Depending on the source, there were between 500-1000 foreign volunteers who fought during the war in Croatia, news portal T-portal reports that 139 people from England came to Croatia in the 1990’s to fight, 15 of them were killed and 21 injured, 10 people from Ireland, 5 from Scotland, 4 from Wales, at least 55 from Germany, 73 from France, 27 from Holland, 33 from Hungary and from all over the world.
The Ministry of Defence state that 58 foreign volunteers died or went missing during the war: 7 from Slovenia, 6 from Yugoslavia, 2 from Germany, 2 from Argentina, 2 from Kosovo, and 1 from France, Montenegro, Macedonia and South Africa. The remaining 35 were from Bosnia and Herzegovina. But, these statistics do not add up with those from historian documents and those from the Association of Foreign Volunteers.