When veteran Richard Jolly, who fought in the battle of Medak Pocket in 1993, has a bad dream, his dog Daisy will snuggle up to offer comfort. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

When veteran Richard Jolly, who fought in the battle of Medak Pocket in 1993, has a bad dream, his dog Daisy will snuggle up to offer comfort. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Haunted by the ghosts of the Medak Pocket: a Langley veteran remembers

Richard Jolly took part in one of the most severe battles Canadian troops fought since the Korean War

When he is asked about his time as a soldier, Richard Jolly first talks about the year he spent in Victoria, and the year he served in Germany, before he gets to Croatia, and pauses.

The resident of Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood served with the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) during the battle of Medak Pocket in Croatia in September of 1993, when the Canadians took on an opposing army that had been given orders to “ethnically cleanse” Croatia of all Serbs.

It isn’t something Jolly likes to dwell on.

“There’s a book about it,” he suggests, when asked to recount his experience.

“‘It’s called ‘The Ghosts of Medak Pocket.’”

There’s a documentary, too, he mentions.

“I don’t talk about it too much,” the 56-year-old said.

Then-Master Cpl. Richard Jolly was one of the Canadians servings as United Nations peacekeepers near the town of Medak.

When Croatian soldiers pushed the Serbians back, it created the so-called “Medak Pocket,” a Croatian-controlled territory populated by Serbian people.

It was a brutal, religious war, Jolly recalled.

“Ethnic cleansing, burning of houses, burning of people,” he remembers.

Jolly was in charge of combart support stores, what he terms “beans and bullets,” transporting supplies where they were needed.

Some of those supplies were body bags.

READ ALSO: Poppy sales begin at Aldergrove legion branch #265

An online summary of The Ghost of Medak Pocket by author Carol Off describes how the Canadian peacekeepers in Croatia “engaged the forces of ethnic cleansing in a deadly firefight and drove them from the area under United Nations protection.”

It is considered one of the most severe battles Canadian troops have fought since the Korean War.

Off reported the Croatian army wiped out entire Serbian villages, and when the Canadians searched for survivors, they found none.

Other accounts estimate as many as 100 Serb civilians were killed by Croatian forces, and many more were seriously wounded.

Many of the victims victims were women and elderly people.

The U.S. State Department estimated at least 11 Serbian villages were completely destroyed.

Several Croatian officers were later convicted of war crimes.

Jolly came back from the Medak pocket with bad dreams, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and damaged eardrums that require him to wear hearing aids.

He thinks it was likely the force of the artillery fire that did it.

“I came back and it [my hearing] was gone,” he told the Langley Advance Times.

He believes his struggle with PTSD after Croatia is what ended his first marriage.

“I was bat s&#@ crazy,” he said.

Some of the other soldiers from the Croatian battle “aren’t doing so well,” he added.

Some ended up homeless, and others have committed suicide.

Jolly reports he is doing a lot better now, learning how to manage his PTSD with counselling, and is now on good terms with his ex.

He went back to school to upgrade his skills and now handles purchasing helicopter parts as a materials specialist for a Langley-based aerospace company.

He lives with Linda Thomas, who Jolly describes with admiration as a “strong woman” who helps him keep his ghosts at bay.

“She’s my demon fighter,” he commented, smiling.

And when the nightmares come back, as they do some nights, his dog, Daisy, a Chihuahua cross, will snuggle up next to him to provide her own kind of support.

“She crawls up onto my neck,” he said.

For all that he has gone through, Jolly is proud of being a soldier for Canada.

“It was an honour to serve,” he said.

That goes for his friends from the service, as well, he added.

“We would do it again, if called up.”

Jolly was a kid growing up in Aldergrove when he signed up.

He was out and about with a buddy one day, he recalls.

“I just happened to be walking past the recruiting centre,” Jolly said.

When Jolly went inside, the recruiter made a case for signing up that sounded attractive.

“He said, ‘so you like camping? so you like the outdoors? I said yes,” Jolly recalled.

Jolly keeps his service medals in a display case next to the medals his grandfather, Albert Jolly, was awarded for his service in World War 2.

He was unable to attend in 2002, when then-Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson bestowed the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation on the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for the Croatian combat.

“Your actions were nothing less than heroic and yet your country didn’t recognize it at the time,” Clarkson told them.

READ MORE: VIDEO: A stay-at-home Remembrance Day planned for Fort Langley

Usually, Jolly attends the Fort Langley Remembrance Day ceremony every year on Nov. 11 with a friend from his days as an infantry solider in the Canadian Armed Forces.

But this year, with the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jolly expects he will be watching the Fort Langley service online.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusLangleyRemembrance DayVeterans

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A young Master Cpl. Richard Jolly fills water jugs at a location outside Medak, Croatia in 1993. He and other members of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) second battalion would battle a Croatian army bent on the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Serbs. (Courtesy Richard Jolly)

A young Master Cpl. Richard Jolly fills water jugs at a location outside Medak, Croatia in 1993. He and other members of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) second battalion would battle a Croatian army bent on the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Serbs. (Courtesy Richard Jolly)

Just Posted

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety and strengthen B.C. food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Liberty roses – created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert – will be planted in White Rock later this month. (Contributed photo)
‘Liberty Rose’ to be planted along Johnston Road and at White Rock City Hall

Poppy-like rose created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert

A memorial to Hudson Brooks grew quickly outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment following his July 2015 death at the hands of police. (File photo)
Inquest yields ‘sliver of justice’ for South Surrey’s Hudson Brooks: brother

Beau Brooks says he’s not optimistic call for increased RCMP training will bear fruit

Undated Google Street View image of Peterson Road Elementary School in Langley. A member of the school community has tested positive for COVID-19. (Google)
COVID-19 case reported at Peterson Road Elementary School

Person is ‘self-isolating at home’

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Lower Mainland teens with Ocean Wise’s YouthToSea program have launched an initiative called Clean Coastal, Eat Local, through which they’re offering restaurant gift cards to individuals or households that organize a coastal cleanup in the month of March. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise)
Teens challenge Lower Mainlanders to clean up their act

YouthToSea offers restaurant gift cards in exchange for a cleaner coastline

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Most Read