Stamford medivac driver recounts front line experiences at Bakhmut, in Ukraine, as he volunteers for Project Konstantin
A former soldier who has sold up his belongings and business to help wounded troops in Ukraine has spoken of the dangers of life near the frontline.
Jack Bon Holly, from Stamford, is volunteering with humanitarian aid coalition Project Konstantin to help evacuate wounded soldiers and trapped civilians to safety.
After arriving in the wartorn country last month, he has been at the frontline in the Bakhmut region of Ukraine for more than three weeks.
Jack, who grew up in Rutland, has pledged to post regular updates for donors and supporters via his Facebook page.
“Two nights ago, the Russians were pushing very hard on the line not far from here, and I’ve got to be honest, it’s the first time I have felt genuinely scared while I’ve been out here,” he posted last week.
“There was small arms fire very close to us and although we needed sleep we decided for the first time that we had to put out sentries.
“So we worked two hours each at the entrance to our bunker, really waiting to be overrun.
“Fortunately, the brave Ukrainian warriors not only held them, but pushed them back and we’re safe.
“Since then the shelling has been very heavy in this area. Yesterday was hard. There were a lot of shells landing in our area.”
He added: “One of the things you quickly learn when you come out here is the different sounds.
“You can tell from the whizz whether it’s incoming or outgoing and you very quickly get an idea whether it’s going to land near you or whether it’s going to pass over, or even head in a different direction.”
Before leaving Stamford, Jack set up a fundraising campaign for medical supplies and to buy a 4x4 vehicle to use as a makeshift field ambulance for wounded troops.
In an emotional post, he explained how the Stamford Medivac 4x4 had already played its part in saving life.
“Last night after dark we had to do an evacuation,” he recalled.
“(It was) a brave wounded warrior who had lain for two or three hours with serious chest and abdomen injuries caused by shrapnel.
“We loaded him up and drove in the dark for about an hour to get him to a waiting ambulance, and all of this time he had no painkillers.
“We got him to an ambulance station where we were met by a doctor.
“That brave man who was conscious throughout, hardly made a peep over these rough roads. It’s difficult to explain the bravery of all the men we encounter.”
The following day Jack received encouraging news.
“The good news is that man is alive,” he said.
“The doctors have confirmed that without a shadow of a doubt if it hadn't been for the Stamford Medivac 4x4, and the speed and smoothness of the ride that the Nissan Pathfinder can provide, that man would be dead.
“So if you have contributed to our fund in any way whatsoever, whether you’ve done it financially, whether you have shared our posts, whether you have just told your friends about us, please be very proud of yourselves.
“Working together we have saved a man’s life, a man who wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the Stamford medivac 4x4.”
The strain that driving in a warzone puts the 4x4s under means they are in great demand and the fundraising drive continues to supply more – as well as aid.
Fiona Parker, from Stamford, is co-ordinating the campaign while Jack is away. Almost £9,000 has been donated so far.
“We have to keep Jack on the road,” she said.
“He needs money for fuel and new tyres, but he is really, really pleased with the support he has received.
“When he arrived at the front it was very hot, but Jack has managed to do things there that they never thought possible. He has brought comfort and stability, especially to the younger soldiers.
She added: “Even the slightest thing we can do here is a huge psychological help. A little bit of kindness goes a long way.”
Visiti www.gofundme.com/f/stamford-medivac-4x4-for-ukraine if you would like to donate.