Croatia: Top Honour to former Colonel in British Royal Marines – Mark Nicholas Gray

Ivo Josipovic and Mark Nicholas Gray  Photo:

Ivo Josipovic and Mark Nicholas Gray Photo:

At the ceremony (26 January) marking the 20th Anniversary of operation Peruca, when the Croatian forces on 27 and 28 January 1993, took the Hydroelectric Plant at Peruce from Serb paramilitary forces, British Royal Marines Colonel Mark Nicholas Gray (now retired Brigadier) was awarded a high honour bestowed on Croatians and foreigners for exceptional courage and heroism, immediate danger and exceptional circumstances of war – the Order of Duke Domagoj with necklace.

Croatian Order of Duke Domagoj with necklace  Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Croatian Order of Duke Domagoj with necklace Photo: Wikimedia Commons

President Ivo Josipovic, who awarded Brigadier Gray the award said that the military operation in Peruca had an enormous importance but also a human component of solidarity shown by the member of the UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Forces) – Mark Nicholas Gray. Mark Nicholas Gray charged forth far and beyond his duties as UNPROFOR officer in that he acted swiftly in efforts to stop the collapse of the Peruca Dam and, hence, preventing a horrible catastrophe, which would have resulted, had the river Cetina flooded.

After the Serb paramilitary forces had in January 1993 placed explosives into the Peruca Dam, Gray swiftly opened the Dam’s side channels for much of the water to drain away, hence preventing the collapse of the Dam. Immediately after the explosions, members of the Croatian forces swiftly took over and were able to control the whole Dam. Had this not happened, masses of water would have reaped havoc and horror all the way to the town Omis, where river Cetina meets the Adriatic Sea.

President Josipovic stated that the Medal of Honour is presented to Gray for “demonstrated courage and heroism in the aversion of collapse of Peruca Dam, which evidences the human component and human solidarity that contributed to preventing a great catastrophe”.

Brigadier Gray said he was honoured to receive such recognition, adding: “the role I played was small when compared to the heroism of Croatian people”.

I am, nevertheless, proud to have contributed at least a little to the history of this great nation. I shall always remember the time spent here and feel affection towards this country and her people”, said Brigadier Gray at the ceremony.

President Josipovic also stated that the Serb’s intention to blast the Peruca Dam is mentioned in Croatia’s lawsuit against Serbia at the ICJ for genocide. “That criminal intent in mentioned in our claim against Serbia for genocide because it truly serves as an example of barbarism and I hope that such an example will never be repeated again”, he said.

Keep that thought President Josipovic! The International Court of Justice (ICJ) must unveil all the horrors committed on Croatian soil during early 1990’s, for the whole world to see and for the history to record. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. And to top the greatness of Brigadier Gray – he actually read what he said in the Croatian language (with British accent of course). It was simply marvelous seeing that on Croatian TV News.

  2. Fully deserved!

  3. Political Nomad says:

    Mark Nicholas Gray MBE is a Colonel in the British Royal Marines who stopped a disaster at the hydroelectric Peruća Dam during the Croatian offensive of 27–28 January 1993 when he raised the spillway channel and reduced the level of water in the lake. This prevented collapse of the dam when the withdrawing Serbs detonated 30 tons of explosives they had placed there. In 1993 Gray defied land mines and booby traps to open a sluice gate on top of the Peruća dam in Croatia shortly before the occupying Serbs detonated explosives deep inside it. This action had been unknown to the public until described to the Science Festival in 1995 by engineering Professor Paul Back from Oxford University. He described how Serbian militia had expelled UN observers from the 65-metre-high dam in January, 1993, and set off huge explosives in a maintenance gallery that ran the dam’s length at foundation level. “This was an attempt to use the 540 million cubic metres of stored water as a weapon of mass destruction to the downstream land and population,” said Professor Back. “Some 20,000 people would have been drowned or rendered homeless had the dam failed as intended.” Severe damage was caused to three points in the dam corresponding to where the saboteurs had placed their explosives. In the central section alone it was estimated that 15 tons of explosive material had been used. At each of these three points the top of the dam, made of rock fill with a clay core, sagged by two metres, said Professor Back, who was a member of a British team dispatched by the Overseas Development Administration to inspect it and advise on repairs after the Croatians liberated it. “During the tenure of the UN observers, but while the dam was in Serb hands, Gray had visited the site and observed that the Serbs were holding the water level well above the correct full supply level, ” he said. “On his own initiative, and exceeding his authority, he opened the surface spillway gate sufficiently to slowly reduce the water level. He managed to lower the water level by some metres by the time the attempt to destroy the dam took place. Had he not been able to reduce the level, there is no doubt that the dam would have failed as water would have poured over the slumped crest after the explosions.” As it was, Professor Back said it was only a miracle that the dam had not failed. With gunfire echoing in the hills engineers had to race against time before the ongoing erosion of the dam’s clay core caused a blow-through and total collapse. Professor Back said he learned later that Major Gray could have been disciplined for exceeding his authority. “I wrote to the Ministry of Defence and told him he should be given a medal instead.”

  4. Dignified national says:

    About time too! Great stuff.


    There’s a map of Operation Peruca on website where this link will lead you. Congratulations Mark Nicholas Gray. A top guy a thousand times. Thank you!

  6. Michael Silovic says:

    Colonel Mark Nicholas Gray deserves the medal with out doubt. However let us not forget that he was ordered by the British goverment not to get involved with the dam issue but he chose to do so on his own and saved thousands of Croatian. I really am trying to understand why the British goverment knowing that the Serbs planted these explosive and knew that many lives were to be lost if the dam collapsed ordered him not to intervene. I never liked the British goverment from the get go and not very fond of British people overall but this really angers me to know they would participate with the Serbs to kill our people.How can any Croatian say the British goverment is our friend after this? The British goverment should always be looked at with suspicion when dealing with Croatia.


  1. […] At a ceremony on last Sunday, President Ivo Josipovic gave him the well deserved honour of the Order of Duke Domagoj. […]

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