Wednesday 2nd December 1992
The team travelled to Heathrow with a good margin of time to book in the equipment but delays due to excess baggage, and the need to have it checked through to Yerevan, necessitated a little bit of negotiation. Bad weather at Paris meant the first flight was aborted, followed by a 2 hour wait back at Heathrow. The next flight was delayed due to an emergency with another aircraft but the team finally got their Aeroflot connection and reached Yerevan at 0640 local time.
Tuesday 1st Dec 1992
The team assembled at Glory Mill the evening prior to departure. This gave time to package equipment, brief and meet the specialists. It was decided that as we would be working part of the time as 2 units, these would consist of:
• Harry Leefe
• Peter Ranger
• Willie McMartin
• Barry Sessions
• Glen Lloyd
• Brian Davison
Thursday 3rd December 1992
The entry into Armenia was slow but fortunately the team met a group from the PYUNIC Association. They were at the airport on other business but agreed to transport the team and the equipment to the Armenian Hotel where their contact was to be found.
On their first view of Armenia, it was clear to those who had been before how much change had taken place. The hotel was a culture shock. It was one of the best in the country and really brought home how poor conditions were. Four rooms were booked, three for the personnel and one for the equipment. The team started to settle in and once more checked the equipment. Just as well, as one generator had inadvertently been packed with oil in the sump and this had leaked over the complete contents of one box.
IRC members set up and tested both Satellite Communications units and found all in order. Initial problems of locating satellite were solved by use of a GPS unit to fix exact latitude and longitude. The specialists had a meeting those who could help and started the planning of the first trip out.
Saturday 5th December 1992
Transport arrived one vehicle short. It was still at Spitak Rescue HQ.
Team B, who were to travel to Georgia left to join up with this vehicle. Whilst at Spitak HQ they arranged to have a letter of introduction typed in Russian but on IRC headed paper in case it may help them on their journey north.
Team A headed south for Iran. Team A travelled to Goris. They found the journey fairly easy; Goris was a rest and recuperation centre and appeared fairly wild. They arrived at Megri and were well pleased with what they found, although the journey was not without its moments due to the roads and passing through bandit areas.
Team B travelled through Armenia and into Georgia. At Tiblisi they made contact with the International Red Cross and then moved on towards Batumi.
Monday 7th December 1992
Team A decided to try and make Yerevan in a single run. The first Niva with the trailer would stop only out of necessity, with the second doing the waypoints, etc. This run took 10 1/2 hours. As they entered Yerevan they heard on the radio that civil war had started in Georgia. At hotel set up Satellite Communications and sent a Situation Report.
Team B tried to take a mountain route but were stopped at Colas by snow. They returned to Batumi and tried a second route. Sent Situation Report and stayed over in Samtrazi, unaware of change to war status.
Tuesday 8th December 1992
Team A spent the day passing messages and reports. Planned trip to Turkish border for next day. Only two members to go as only one Niva available.
Team B head to Armenia on snow covered roads. Arrive back at Yerevan via Kirovakan.
Debrief and discussion shows both teams appear to have done well. Both Fax machines giving problems.
Thursday 10th December 1992
Visit to Spitak Rescue HQ and make arrangements for team A to go to Goris and Lacheen corridor, and Team B to go to Kirovakan. Teams to look into Distribution network.
Friday 11th December 1992
Team A set out for Goris. One Niva blows a cylinder head gasket, 50 Km from Yerevan. Use Sat Comms to arrange a tow in. Two members must return with vehicle, whilst another carries on with the local guide and driver.
Team B carry out distribution survey. Stay at Post Trauma Centre overnight.
Sunday 13th December 1992
Reports and Meetings. Start to check kit for return to UK.
Three team members visit an Orphanage. This is a soul destroying trip.
They also help the PYUNIC Group deliver Ski equipment for a children’s winter camp.
Wednesday 16th December 1992
Leave at 0400 hours to start trip home. Very slow with many hold ups. Slight trouble at Paris due to extra hand luggage. All return home safely.
To feature any part of our stories in your own publications, please contact Julie Ryan on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 7786 881 908