Foreign volunteers in the Croatian War of Independence

1st Dutch Volunteer Unit

104th and 106th brigades of the Croatian Defence Council

Viking Platoon of the King Tomislav Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council


 1st Dutch Volunteer Unit

1. Commando training. The training course, led by Johannes Tilder, was extremely demanding. Raymond van der Linden, third from the left, carries a sniper rifle.

2. The 9th GBR recon-commando group after the completion of the training course. Johan Tilder is second from right and Raymond van der Linden second from left. Tilder received a commendation from the High Command of the Croatian Armed Forces for setting up and conducting the training course.

3. Johannes Tilder and Martin de Perres near Čanak, at Perušić (winter 1991).

4. Johannes Tilder and Martin de Perres with a Browning 12.7mm machine gun. The weapon was not fully operable, automatic fire was disabled. Tilder repaired the machine gun in a matter of seconds.

5. UN and Croatian army officers at a meeting in the Eugen Kvaternik barracks in Gospić. The security detail consisted of members of the 1st Dutch Volunteer Unit. Standing, from left, with UN officers: Joost van Dijk, Martin de Perres, Rik Grauwert, interpreter Tihomir Stanić and Johannes Linder.

6. Insignia of the 1st Dutch Volunteer Unit. Design: Guido Terbroeke and Douwe van de Bos.

7. Members of the 1st Dutch Volunteer Unit getting ready for a recon mission (1992). Rick Grauwert and Ivica Štimac were acting commanders at that time because Tilder was recovering from a leg wound. From left: Joost van Dijk, Ivica Štimac, Marc Molenaar, Tom Chittum (USA) and Rik Grauwert. Photograph taken for the Soldier of Fortune magazine.

8. The grave of Johannes Tilder in the Mirogoj cemetery (Zagreb). His wished, if killed in action, was to be buried in Croatia. ”If I die for this country, I deserve two square meters of this state’s turf,” he used to say to his comrades.

9. From left: Bart Velt, Raymond van der Linden, Tony and Marco ”Mad Max” Visser at the Perušić barracks (1992).

10. Johannes Tilder at the main square in Gospić, at the height of his career – happily married, lieutenant by rank, commander of I.D.S.9. GBR and main commando course instructor (1993).


11. Honor Guard for the first officers of the UN Peace keeping force to arrive in Croatia consisting of members of the 1st Dutch Volunteer Unit photographed for the ‘Nieuwe Revue’ magazine. Van der Linden stated that Mirko Norac had insisted that the members of the 1st Dutch Volunteer Unit form the Honor Guard for the occasion. The members of the Honor Guard were under orders to use their weapons to protect the UN officers, should the situation demand it. From left: Raymond van der Linden, Rik Grauwert, Joost van Dijk, Johannes Tilder, Tom Chittum (USA) and Martin de Perres.

12. Johannes Tilder and Mandica Tilder/Nikšić on their wedding day. This story does not have a happy ending. In October 1991, the Serbs killed 40 civilians in the village of Široka Kula. Marica Tilder and her father managed to escape but the rest of the family was among the slain. Some time later her husband was captured by the Serbs, tortured and brutally executed.

13. Relaxing in the Perušić barracks. From left: Joost van Dijk, Špejtim ‘Zijo’ Tači from Sarajevo. On the bed playing cards: Raymond van der Linden and Andre van der Aart (right). Tači played an instrumental role in the bloodless capture of the Perušić barracks.


104th and 106th brigades of the Croatian Defence Council

1. The American Joe ‘Farmer’ Sideway, a veteran of the Vietnam War (note the Recon Hells Angels 104th Brigade insignia on his shoulder).

2. Foreign volunteers from the 2nd HOS Battalion on the way to the frontline. From left: Roy ‘Smiley’ Crawford (there was always a smile on his face, hence the nickname), Mahmood from Turkey and Joe ‘Farmer’ Sideway. Note the emblem on Crawford’s uniform. The emblem was designed in honor of the commander Stojan ‘Srbin’ Vujanović, killed in action some time before.

3. The burial of Andreas Bühner, a young German soldier, killed when an anti-tank mine exploded.

4. Saša (from Slovenia) and Simon Hutt before going to the frontline.

5. In Orašje, by the Sava River. From left: Mahmood (Turkey), Tony (England), Simon Hutt (England), Peter van Ekeren (Netherlands) and Roy ‘Smiley’ Crawford. Crouching: Željko Čelik, from Croatia (he was the only one allowed to carry weapons outside the battle zone).

6. The Englishmen in the house where they were deployed. From left: Tony, Roy ‘Smiley’ Crawford and Simon Hutt.

7. The emblem of ‘Free crusaders’, an intervention commando group composed of foreign volunteers, members of the 2nd Battalion of the 106th Brigade of the Croatian army.

8. Hand-drawn map showing Hutt’s route of travel to Posavina, area in which he served, contested locations between Serb forces and Croatian forces on that part of the front.

9. Gulf War. Hutt’s team of signalers. This was the team’s first stop during the advance. They tried to dig in to have some protection from artillery fire but the ground was too hard for digging. Note the nuclear biological chemical warfare uniforms.


Viking Platoon of the King Tomislav Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council

1. Birthday party for Peter from Germany (he held the rank of first lieutenant in Bundeswehr). From left: Englishman Rodney Morgan, Uwe (deceased), Alex (deceased), ”Japanac”, Marco Casagrande, Peter, Michael Homeister and the volunteer from Sweden (sitting).

2. Late summer 1993, foreign volunteers preparing to go on patrol. Casagrande (wearing a cap) sits next to Rodney Morgan.

3. Morgan posing with his 20mm sniper rifle. Casagrande holds his sniper rifle – he wears his Finnish army unit’s beret (Coastal Jaegers/Rannikkojääkärit). The photo was taken in the Brigade’s HQ in Gračac.

4. On patrol in a forest around Pisvir. The German Michael Homeister in the foreground. Casagrande on far left. The Japanese journalists voluntarily joined the patrol.

5. Fall 1993, near Jablanica. The sniper team on patrol in no man’s land. Casagrande holds a 20mm sniper rifle. The sniper rifle was transported to the mountain on a donkey’s back. Next to casagrande is Fred from the USA. Fred had prior combat experience serving in Rhodesian light infantry (he led the attack on Pisvir).

6. Relaxing at Brigade HQ before anther attack on Pisvir. From left: Giovanni from Italy, Mathias from Germany and Casagrande (reading).

7. Fall 1993 near Jablanica. Casagrande fires his 12.7 mm sniper rifle.

8. Rodney Morgan with a 20mm sniper rifle and Marco Casagrande with a 12.7 mm sniper rifle (only his hand visible in the photograph) during a mission before the capture of Pisvir peak.

9. Foreign volunteers on a training course in Crvenica, near Tomislavgrad. Standing (from left): German Michael Homeister, Frenchy, German Heiko K., Englishman Grimm, German Bismarck Kolb (killed at the end of 1993). Crouching (from left): François, Spaniard Bruno, Englishman Wolfie, Englishman Paul Williams and a soldier from America. The photograph was taken by Rob Croft for the Soldier of Fortune magazine. Rob Croft was a basic training instructor for Croatian conscripts. He also led the advanced training course for foreign volunteers so that they could train newly arrived foreigners.

10. Mountain peaks around Pisvir. Photograph taken during a recon mission 1993.