Although unknown to the general public, a difficult and decisive battle was fought in the area of Bosanski Grahovo soon after Operation “STORM” in which Serbian forces led by General Ratko Mladić tried to regain lost territory.
Not accepting their defeat overnight on 12 August, Serbian army units counterattacked with the aim of regaining lost positions, severing links between Knin and Bosansko Grahovo by occupying the strategic Derala Pass (also known as the “Gate to Knin”) near Grahovo and to take positions to allow for further advance towards Livno and Knin.
An initial barrage of artillery was followed by a combined attack by infantry supported by tanks and aircraft. The fiercest attacks were upon positions at the entrance to the Derala Pass and on the road between Drvar and Bosansko Grahovo. These were held by 141st Split Brigade of the Croatian Army whose members Denis Jerković, Ivan Burić, Loran Šulentić and Tomislav Grujica were killed in fierce hand-to-hand combat. An intervention squad sent to assist Croatian forces fell upon a group of enemy saboteurs and in the ensuing clash, Stipe Marčić-Štef, Denis Baleta and Dragan Kikić were killed and several soldiers were wounded. Among them was Oleg Ujević, who managed to get out, return with reinforcements and rejoin the fight only to die a hero’s death as a result.
In the afternoon of 13 August, members of the 141st Brigade launched a counterattack to regain lost ground with the support of the Anti-Tank Artillery and Missile Division from the Split Military District. Croatian defenders Nenad Božan, Ranko Grbavac, Sead Jasenčić and Slaven Ujević were killed as the enemy repelled the attack. Ante Merćep and Ante Domazet were killed in the fighting on other battlefields while Zoran Karanović died from his wounds. In a clash with the enemy near Cigelj, Ognjen Krešić, Aljoša Ruspić, Igor Koprčina and Drago Ilović from the 6th Split Home Guard Regiment were killed and their remains have still not been found. Despite all losses they suffered, Croatian soldiers stopped the enemy’s advance.
In the days that followed, Croatian forces managed to retain their positions. The 7th Guard “Puma” Brigade of the Croatian Army played a key role in these operations and were assisted by the following units: 141st Split Brigade, 126th Sinj Home Guard Regiment, battle group of the 6th Split Home Guard Regiment, policemen from the Strmica Border Police Station and tank platoon, 2nd Battalion of the 113th Brigade.
In the aforementioned battles of 14 August 1995, 20-year-old Stjepan Križanec and 25-year-old Romano Ribić of the 3rd Battalion of the 7th Guard” Puma” Brigade were killed as the 4th Guard “Spiders” Brigade of the Croatian Army severed all links between Resanovci and Drvar and effectively dealt the final blow to Serbian forces.
The attack was authorized by General Mladic himself with the objective to capture Bosansko Grahovo, break through to the Derala Pass or ‘Gate to Knin’ and continue towards the Livno Plain. The Second Battalion also took part in stopping his plan. With the help of the 7th Guard’s Brigade, we tried to regain the positions we controlled before the army of the so-called Serbian Republic in Bosnia-Herzegovina became involved. The attack of 13 August was extremely heavy as strong artillery, armored and sabotage units were backed up by air support in which two fighter planes pounded our positions. The fighting lasted all day and after reinforcements from the 7th Guard’s Brigade arrived in the evening, all positions were regained on 14 August and all positions were moved six to seven kilometers towards Drvar by 15 August.Ante Šilović, commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 141st Brigade:
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 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.