On 26 December 1991, Croatian forces liberated the village of Bučje as part of a larger operation to free villages under enemy occupation in western Slavonia.
Located in the former municipality of Pakrac, Bučje was infamous as the coordinating center of the rebel Serb uprising in the Pakrac area. It was also notorious for its concentration camp through which passed more than 300 detainees, including Dr. Ivan Šreter, a prominent Croatian peacemaker who was murdered and whose remains have yet to be located.
On Christmas Day in 1991, Croatian forces freed several villages on the Pakrac battlefront and took in a major step towards the final liberation of the entire area. The villages of Dragović, Španovica, Kamenska, Mijači, Ožegovci and Popovac were liberated but partially surrounded Bučje continued to put up fierce resistance. However, in the afternoon of 26 December, the 123rd Požega Brigade of the Croatian Army coming from Kamenska and Mijač linked up with the 127th Virovitica Brigade coming from Grahovljani, Dragović and Novo Selo to liberate the villages of Donja Šumetlica and Branešci. They were then joined by the 136th Slatina Brigade who approached from Zvečevo and all three took part in the liberation of Bučje.
The liberation of Branešci and Bučje opened up the road between Pakrac and Požega. Despite the victory, the Croatian Army was disappointed upon entering Bučje as the concentration camp was found empty. All remaining detainees who had not been exchanged in August and October 1991 were transferred by Serb troops to a camp at Stara Gradiška. The youngest detainee of the Bučje camp was 4 years old and the fate of 21 missing detainees, including Dr. Šreter, is still unknown. Only three murdered detainees have been found and identified thus far.
The enemy withdrew from the villages of Tisovac, Glavica, Prgomelje, Cikota and Rogulje along Psunj Mountain on 26 December and the 127th Brigade from Virovitica liberated the Psunj village of Donja Šumetlica. The enemy concentrated its forces along the western slope of Psunj, east and northeast of Pakrac and expected further attacks by Croatian forces from that direction.
That same day, Operation “ALPHA” had begun with the objective to liberate the villages of Brusnik, Kragujevac, Japaga, Šeovica and Skenderovci east and southeast of the town of Pakrac as well as its southeastern district of Gavrinica that was under Serb occupation. Unfortunately, the operation ended without success on 29 December and those villages would not be liberated until the completion of Operation “FLASH” in May 1995.
Graduated with a Master’s Degree in History from the University of Zagreb. He has worked at the Croatian History Museum and as a researcher for the popular TV Calendar program for Croatian Radio and Television. He has authored several books and documentaries about Croatia’s Homeland War and is the creator/producer of the immensely popular “It Happened on this Day – Homeland War” Facebook page as well as the online portal Domovinskirat.hr. Borna also edits the Braniteljski.hr portal and is the host and editor of the daily segment “Patriotic Minutes” on Croatian Catholic Radio. He created CroHis to promote the values of the Homeland War and ensure that the sacrifices of those who defended Croatia’s independence would not be forgotten.