A former British Army Captain has described the “sobering” experience of delivering essential supplies and vehicles to Ukraine to support casualty evacuation efforts during the Russian invasion.
Last week, islander James Baker delivered a Landrover to a vehicle workshop in Lviv as part of his third convey with the ‘Driving Ukraine’ initiative. The initiative was set up last March by 22-year-old Flynn Watt from Oxfordshire. Since its launch, Driving Ukraine has delivered 81 vehicles to the war-torn country – including ex-ambulances, helicopter-evacuation team vehicles, 4×4 evacuation vehicles, and first aid responder vehicles which are now stationed on the eastern and southern frontlines of Ukraine.
Driving Ukraine founder, Mr Watt said: “The situation in Ukraine is very difficult, now more than ever as we are entering the winter. That’s why I appreciated the help of James from Jersey so much, and the rest of the team of 19 volunteers who helped to deliver the recent convoys of nine vehicles. In the east, there is a war that is constantly raging. It is awful. Lives are being lost every day. In the west of the country, people try to live as best as they can, but this life is constantly pieced by air-raid and the fear of rockets.”
Explaining his decision to get involved with the initiative, Jerseyman Mr Baker said: “I felt like I had had something to offer with 10 years of experience in the military.”
He described the situation in Ukraine as “horrific”, adding: “There are thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians living through unimaginable horrors in sub-zero temperatures and without any functioning infrastructure. Earlier this year, I was introduced to an incredible network of volunteers on the ground and humbled by the stories I was told by the soldiers, the medical teams and the families whose lives have been torn apart by the invasion.”
The ex-police pickup truck that Mr Baker initially set out in broke down halfway into the three-day journey – but he was able to collect another Driving Ukraine vehicle from Poland. All nine vehicles in the convey were delivered successfully and are being prepared for service in the workshop.
Describing what it was like on the ground, Mr Baker said: “The impact of being immersed in a country at war with Russia was profound. It is a sobering reflection. However, the resolution of the country and its people is inspirational and unrelenting. And their gratitude for our support is humbling.”
Mr Baker funded his trip to Ukraine himself after his fundraising page was frozen. He has since set up a new page and would be grateful for donations for sourcing, preparing and delivering the vehicles as well as other humanitarian and medical supplies.