We enter into Kosovo at night, a bit afraid of what we would face there. Yugoslav Army was still there. Because we have to do a Line Passage trough UK forces we were lead by UK Army vehicles, I can not remember if they were RGR or the British 4th UK Brigade LO, but I remember perfectly well that they were in normal Land Rovers.
We were very puzzle when we realised that Albanian populace cherished us as liberators. We reminded them Italian Bersaglieri from IIWW.
It is dark, very dark, It’s cold, very cold, even in June; In Kosovo even the weather is a threat. The wind reaching our nostrils bring us well-known odours. Burning houses, decomposed bodies, rubbish, all of them stink, and we are very well used to them. They are war smells.
We came with open hatches with the feather flaming in the wind showing very proudly our long lasting tradition of fancy dressing, even in the Army. We even have a picture, of which we are as proud.
From derelict buildings show all sorts of animals, masters of the abandoned houses and surroundings, and from destroyed buildings by incommensurable hate little blond heads appeared showing great joie de vivre because we were there and we were their rescuers and saviours. We are very proud of it.
Kosovo soil is broken crystal, smoking debris, tomb of race and reason. It is said that hell does not exist, but it does and I assured you I have seen it and it was in Kosovo.
When we arrived to Pec, we saw a lot of houses burning and a very astonishing view, an absolutely grief and empty city, not believing that we were in Europe, the old Europe, the origin of democracy, our old beloved Europe.
We occupied a nice hotel, The Metohija, luckily we arrived before it was burned and looted by fleeing Serbs, going back to FRY afraid of revenge by Albanians.
Duty exceed us, but we are used to it, no hot water, no room service, crowded in the same room, three of us, no laundry service, but tons of pasta and with that we will succeed, we are strong than adversity, we are Bersaglieri, the crowd of the black feather.
We deployed our forces all over our AOR to control and enforce Law and Order, we went to the important cities like Dakovica or Decane, and we left Istok to the Spanish Foreign Legion. His fame precedes them.
Populace began his return to find their houses and belongings burned or looted, no roofs or shelters, their fear is the day by day living. We are there to give them confidence and stable life so they can begin with their own; for some a new one for others continue what they have left behind when they were forced to flew away.
We began realising that the ethnic cleansing has been as enormous as the journalist proclaimed over the waves for months. We keep discovering mass graves every day, 40 people, 25 people, 150 people all scattered around our AOR. We are sure that when the rest of the contingent arrives, Spanish and Portuguese, they will find more. It is difficult to believe that any can do that with no remorse at all.
In our hospital every day we have children very badly injured by one of the nastiest device used, the mines. We are very mach in state of awareness about them, not civil populace. We began giving then clear and concise instructions on how to deal with them but children are always children, and they want to play. It is sad, very sad.
We patrol the streets in full gear, ballistic helmet with the famous black feathers and goggles, the darker the better, flack vest, and webbing. Obviously with weapon in ready and gloves with cut fingers so we can fire with no problems.
We began discovering caches of weapons, all sort of weapons, from old muskets that probably have been used on Somme battlefield to new MANPACS,s.
One of the most demanding and strenuous jobs is manning checkpoints. You have to be courteous and at the same time tough and firm and all of that not knowing a single word of Albanian or Serb, ready for the worst but at the same time conscientious that with our training and god leadership we will succeed.
Kosovar people are very used to have weapons, it does not matter if they are legal or not, they have it. They use it for defence or for hunting or to celebrate household events like a wedding or a burial or even a christening, that’s why at the checkpoints we confiscate lots of weapons. They are not allowed to have them. UCK wants to be the new police or the Army that’s why they want the weapons, we are not going to sanction their behaviour, and we are not going to permit it.
We gave them deadlines to hand in weapons, first the most dangerous to us, like machine guns or hand grenades including mortars and their ammunition or antiaircraft weapons so we can control them and keep in a safe place for us.
This part of Kosovo is known as Methoija, “Land of Monasteries”, we have the most astonishing examples of medieval frescos from the XIII and XIV centuries in churches all scattered around Kosovo. We have to protect them and we are protecting them so Serb heritage is maintained and kept alive and in conditions so next generations of the owners of the land and foreigners can enjoy with their view.
That is another work we are carrying out, is as demanding as the checkpoints but it has the added risk of the possibility of an attack by Albanians trying to evict all remaining of Serb trace in Kosovo. And it happened, luckily we were aware and we avoid casualties and damages to the structures.
Our brigade is the first in the queue in terms of confiscated weapons and weapons given by the UCK voluntarily as the deadlines come and that is because of our god behaviour.
September is very near, we are nearer and nearer to our barracks, back to normal life, times to forget battle stress, to forget battle smell, to get rid of stinking uniforms and to give a warm welcome to the next Italian core of the Multinational Brigade, Brigade Ariete. We receive congratulations from everybody for our will done work. We are very proud of it. Italy is very proud of us. We are Italians, the spirit of the roman Legions is with us.
Over the immense battlefield, were any hole is trench and every ploughman is a warrior, every day light still draws hope due to Garibaldi brigade.
Col. IT Army Calligaris