Ambush in the Pokula Forest – They Laid Down their Lives protecting Civilians retreating towards the Kupa River

On 30 September 1991, the enemy attacked defense lines at Glina with the aim of breaking through to the Kupa River. The strength of advancing forces from Glina was overwhelming and the few poorly armed Croatian soldiers retreated with the civilian population.

Gornji and Donji Viduševac were occupied on the first day of the offensive. Members of the “Osa” Special Police Unit from Sisak arrived the next day and tried to broke through to Viduševac from Velika Solina in the evening of 1 October. However, fierce firefights forced them to retreat the following morning.

Panicked Croats watched Viduševac burn as they withdrew from Velika Solina by way of Taborište. Croatian soldiers and police escorted a convoy of refugees that fled across the Kupa River at Pokupsko and seven Croatian defenders, Ivica Jažeta, Branko Uzelac, Danijel Mihaljević, Milan Zgurić, Branko Klasnić, Josip Zgurić and Darko Srbić were killed in the Pokula forest near Gornje Taborište on 2 October 1991. The sole survivor was Miljenko Milošević who although gravely wounded, managed to escape, gather his family and retreat across the Kupa River.

One of the victims, Dark0 Srbić was born on 17 September 1963 in Gornje Taborište where he lived with his parents Slavko and Zlatica and older siblings Ivan and Nada. After finishing primary school, he went to Zagreb where he finished secondary school in the building trades as a construction technician. He is remembered as a sociable but serious person who adored children. Following the first democratic elections in Croatia, he was among the first to volunteer to defend his homeland and enrolled in the First Croatian Police Officer Course in August of 1990.

Darko Srbić

Srbić was among two hundred physically and mentally capable young men who attended the course and were then sent to Lučko to become the core of the newly formed Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU). The unit was sent to numerous crisis spots and following these baptisms by fire, Srbić and many of the Lučko ATU members enlisted to defend their homeland in the summer of 1991. The vehicle in which he was driving was fired upon that fateful day and was then crushed by a Yugoslav army tank. Srbić, his brother-in-law Danijel Mihaljević and Ivica Jažeta were all killed in the vehicle. He left his wife and daughter Patricia who was born only a month before her father’s death.

Danijel Mihaljević

Danijel Mihaljević was born on 5 February 1952 in Zagreb to parents Dragutin and Ana and was the older brother of Dušan. In his youth he was an avid badge collector. Mihaljević was employed as a worker in the “Jadran” furniture factory and was lively, temperamental and loved cars and mechanical jobs. He was married to Nada (née Srbić) and they had a son Mario who was 14 at the time of his father’s death. Mihaljević volunteered for Glina’s Independent Battalion of the National Guard in June 1991 and served as a member until he was killed in action.

Danijel and his family

Any trace of them had been lost until July 1996 when their remains were found buried with their vehicle in a pit not far from where they died. All three were disinterred and then reburied in nearby Gornja Bučica.

Sources
Literature
Marinić, Borna. Specijalna jedinica policije “OSA” u Domovinskom ratu. Sisak: Udruga SJP OSA, 2018
Runtić, Davor. Prvi hrvatski redarstvenik. Zagreb: Udruga Prvi hrvatski redarstvenik, 2003
Šaravanja, Vjekoslav. 10.000 djece bez roditelja u Domovinskom ratu. Slavonski Brod: Obiteljski centar župe Duha Svetoga, 2001
Turić, Gordana. U viteza krunica (knjiga II). Zagreb: Udruga roditelja poginulih branitelja Domovinskog rata grada Zagreba, 2008
Turić, Gordana. U viteza krunica (knjiga III). Zagreb: Udruga roditelja poginulih branitelja Domovinskog rata grada Zagreba, 2008

Internet
Mateja Feljan: “Mještani i suborci zapalili svijeće stradalima u Pokulama”, Radio Banovina, access achieved September 20, 2020, https://www.radio-banovina.hr/mjestani-suborci-zapalili-svijece-stradalima-pokulama/

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