Following the 2017 Vimy 100 Battlefield Bike Ride (BBR17) we are proud to announce that BBR18 will begin on the 100th Anniversary of the end WWI in the very place that sparked the war to end all wars — on the streets of Sarajevo. Nearly 80 years later, Sarajevo, and the broader Balkan region, would once again descend into chaos. The breakdown of the former Yugoslavia, and war that ensued, required the service and sacrifice of over 40,000 Canadian soldiers who would deploy as part of multiple United Nations and NATO missions, defending the cause of peace during the decade of the 1990's and the early 2000's in the Balkans.
As we bring Canada back to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, BBR18 will take us to places of significance to Canadian Armed Forces members and their families who served in the Balkan theatre. Their service was a physical demonstration of the mission of Wounded Warriors Canada to Honour the Fallen and Help the Living. The ride will culminate at the site of the battle of the Medak Pocket in Croatia on the 25th anniversary of the battle, the Canadian Army's most intensecombat since the Korean War.
Canadian Armed Forces deployed in many places in the 1990’s beginning with 4,000 Service Personnel in the Gulf War on OP FRICTION. Along with a myriad of other lesser known monitoring, peace keeping and peace support operations, Canada is well remembered for its deployments to Somalia and Rwanda. As significant and important as these operations were, Canada’s largest operational deployment in that decade was to the former Yugoslavia – beginning with the European Community Monitoring Mission in 1991-1992. Canada and other countries then deployed a large UN peacekeeping force known as the UNPROFOR to try to curb the violence in the region, particularly in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This would represent the first of a series of UN (and later NATO) peace support operations in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia.
In September 1993, Canadian soldiers experienced their most intense firefight since the Korean War. The soldiers of 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry were subjected to heavy machine gun, artillery and small arms fire in the Medak Pocket of Croatia. Canadian soldiers would remain in the Balkans until 2005 and would continue to experience the horrors of civil conflict. These ranged from being taken hostage, used as human shields to prevent NATO airstrikes, collecting evidence for war crimes, securing mass graves, assisting patients in hospitals that had been abandoned to trying to protect ethnic enclaves such as Srebrenica. Despite the challenges, Canadians acted with honour, courage, compassion and bravery.
BBR18 will commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Medak Pocket, honouring the service and sacrifice of those brave Canadians who fought there; the 23 Canadians who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Balkans; and the thousands who wereforever changed with the physical and mental scars of the conflict. One of the unique and very special aspects of BBR18 is that the cyclists will have the privilege of riding with Veterans who served in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.