Mine-clearing by hand near Vitez, Bosnia, 1994
Oil on board by Jonathan Wade, 1997.
In 1994 the artist, Jonathan Wade, a former officer of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, visited Bosnia to paint military subjects, sometimes basing his work on photographs. The unit depicted here is 49 Squadron, Royal Engineers, from 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), engaged in the highly dangerous work of mine clearance. The unit had suffered one fatal casualty prior to Wade's visit.
In this painting, three sappers crawl along a road, two with hand-held mine prodders to feel for mines and one resting behind with a jerrycan of water and a kitbag. The two men with prodders are working as a pair, with one slightly ahead of the other. This standing operating procedure ensures that if either man sets off a mine, then only one of them is on a level with it. The men should be wearing protective visors over their faces when engaged in mine clearance, but Wade noted that these are sometimes discarded as they tend to impede vision.
The sappers each carry a roll of white mine tape laid out behind them to indicate how far they have cleared. In the background, more white tape attached to six foot pickets hammered into the ground indicates that mine clearance has not been completed beyond that point.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection