The Launch of Operation “HURRICANE ’91”

On 29 October 1991, a battle took place for the Trokut Motel on the Novljan front and marked the beginning of Operation “HURRICANE ’91”.

Trokut is the local name for a dilapidated motel that still stands exactly halfway between Novska and Lipik and was a strategically important location for both Croatian and Serbian forces during the Homeland War. The entire territory around Novljan including Bair, Lovska and Brezovac to Donji Čaglić could be monitored from this location.

The operation began at 6:00 AM with a fierce artillery barrage on all potential paths of attack by the enemy. Croatian forces positioned above Novska moved in two directions, one towards the village of Bair and the other towards the Trokut Motel, with the majority of the forces heading towards Bair because it was considered to be the most prominent Serbian stronghold in the area. The 3rd Đurđevac Battalion of the 105th Bjelovar Brigade, the 151st Samobor Brigade and the “Štraseri” Volunteer Unit from Zagreb were sent to the Trokut Motel from Novi Grabovac accompanied by armoured vehicles. Their task was to break through the forest and take control of the intersection in front of the motel.

While Croatian forces successfully liberated Bair, their comrades on the other attack path experienced many problems from the outset of the operation. Advancing through the forest, Croatian soldiers were slowed down by shelling and armoured vehicles had difficulty moving past barricades placed on the road. At one point, the armoured vehicles separated from most of the infantry and headed towards Bair. With mortar support from Novi Grabovac, Croatian forces engaged in their first direct combat in Serbian trenches 200 metres from the motel. Croatian soldiers used the concrete wall and bushes around a massive partisan monument next to the motel as cover from enemy fire coming from the building and awaited assistance from the people of Novi Grabovac and tanks from Bair from that position.

One section of the Đurđevac battalion came under heavy crossfire and received assistance from their comrades. Jurica Rešetar particularly stood out as he liquidated a group of Serbian soldiers in close combat. When the other soldiers broke through to the Trokut Motel, they found themselves in a hell unleashed by Serbian weapons and the intensity of enemy fire stopped any further progress. At approximately 2:00 PM, Croatian forces began their retreat to Novi Grabovac and the Trokut Motel would not be retaken until 19 November 1991.

Twelve heroic Croats were killed in the battle for the Trokut Motel. They were Ivan Rengel, Davor Kelemen, Rajko Turk, Krešimir Purić, Zlatko Šabarić, Zlatko Zubić, Božidar Vlahović, Ivica Šabić, Željko Pulfer, Siniša Lajišić, Tomo Čižmešinki and Vlado Ivčić who died in Zagreb as a result of his injuries.

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