Oh, what a grizzly war
A soldier who saw service in Sarajevo, narrowly missing being killed by snipers - and dying in a Landrover free-falling backwards down a mountain - has written a play about a ridiculous war . Report by ANGELA SINGER SNIPER alley in Sarajevo was the town
A soldier who saw service in Sarajevo, narrowly missing being killed by snipers - and dying in a Landrover free-falling backwards down a mountain - has written a play about "a ridiculous war". Report by ANGELA SINGER
SNIPER alley in Sarajevo was the town's main road where snipers shot from the tall buildings which lined the street.
Lance Corporal Jules Neil was among those who were narrowly missed by one particular gunman in sniper alley during his six month tour of duty in Bosnia.
When the sniper was caught, it was discovered that he was a person in a wheelchair, a man with a grudge.
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Mr Neil, who now lives in Ramsey, saw horrific sights including children shot as they knelt stunned over the dead bodies of their mothers - both shot by the same killers.
He has now put his experiences to a play which not only looks at the anguish of war, but also the humour which helps make each day bearable. He served with the United Nations and the international peacekeeping force, Ufor.
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His central characters are a Welshman and a Geordie with a down-to-earth take on their surroundings, including the food, the disgusting lavatories and the tension between the English and the French.
"This was a war with no rules, whoever held the biggest guns held the power and neighbours who had lived together for 20 years suddenly turned on each other," he said.
"It's ridiculous, you would have thought we would have learnt the lessons of the Second World War but because there was no money involved - no oil - the West stood by while people were forced out of their houses. If you were lying in bed and somebody kicked in your door and told you that you had to get out and they took your husband round the corner and blew him away... it's something that we can't conceive of in this country."
He added: "The UN was almost an embarrassment because we couldn't do anything. We could watch people killing each other and we couldn't stop it. We were allowed no powers of intervention at all."
His play is called Shadows of Molloy - Molloy was the mountain near where Lance Corporal Neil was stationed. One day, after it had been snowing, he and a colleague were driving up the mountain when the driver's foot slipped and the vehicle began plunging backwards down the track with a 100 foot drop on one side.
"We came to a halt where a Bosnian was on a level part at the base of the mountain cleaning his car. The car had survived the war and then we totalled it. He was cleaning it when we bashed into it. He was horrified."
The play has the feeling of Journey's End, the play set in The First World War by R C Sherriff. It centres on Tom who has to leave his wife and small children (as Neil did) to serve his country. He is joined by characters called Taff, Granny and Norm who try to maintain some kind of normal existence in an insane world where death is at every corner.
Now at home in Ramsey, with two daughters at Ramsey Abbey School, Neil wanted to record what had gone on a decade ago.
He said: "It took me four months to write, working about three hours a night and then two months to edit."
So far, he says, he has not managed to interest anyone in staging the play but he is sure its time will come. He says: "There is a truth in war that is lost in peace.