In Memory of Barney Dylan Warburton

Photo of Barney WarburtonBarney Warburton lived in Llys Brithyll, Llanbedr, a stone’s throw from the village war memorial. He attended Llanbedr Primary School and Ysgol Ardudwy, Harlech, writes his sister Margaret Barrett. He loved rugby, playing for Harlech RFC and supporting Wales. He was also a keen fisherman.

He joined the army straight from school, serving with the Royal Engineers. He lost some of his toes through frostbite whilst on a training exercise in Scotland but refused a desk job because he wanted to remain an active soldier. He did some boxing while in the army and won some medals for his unit. 

He specialised in defusing explosive devices and had attained the rank of corporal when he was deployed to Bosnia, in support of the United Nations’ peace-keeping force. Bosnia was part of Yugoslavia before fighting broke out in 1993. The violence was ended in February 1994 by the ceasefire agreement which created the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

John Major, the Prime Minister, visited the troops in Bosnia on 18 March 1994 and shook hands with Barney. On the following day, Barney was killed by one of the many bombs which had remained unexploded after the ceasefire. He was defusing ordnance near the football stadium in the Bosnian town of Stari Vitez when an improvised mine exploded. He was 27 years old. His body was returned to Llanbedr for burial in St Peter’s churchyard. A memorial plaque was created alongside the village’s war memorial.

Another plaque in his memory was carved in 1994 by Croatian stone-mason Ruzid Stipo and placed near the crater left by the explosion. Ruzid Stipo had lost a son of his own a few months earlier, during fighting near Stari Vitez, and pledged to look after the memorial to Barney for the rest of his life. A Catholic priest and a Muslim imam stood side by side at the memorial’s dedication ceremony, and Major Alan Macklin of the Royal Engineers described Barney as “a young man who came from abroad to help people he had never met”.

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