May 16th 1943 Vicinity of the Sutjeska River
After the retreat from the Neretva the war raged on at the Sutjeska. Raphael and Mišo still under the command of Nikola were running through a patch of trees carrying an injured partizan. “Come on men were almost to our movement” shouted Nikola”. “Bet you can’t wait to get back with Marija-Elena, can you Mišo?” jokingly asked Raphael to Mišo who replied “Shut up Raphael, just because she rejected you doesn’t change a thing”. The rain was pouring down blocking their view but Nikola knew where he was going and without him his squad would have been lost.
“Here we are men, I’ll report to Tito” marked Nikola. “Are you coming?” Mišo asked Raphael who gladly accepted. “Ivana, she was blonde as well?” asked Raphael forgetfully “War can make you forget can’t it my friend, but I’ll never forget Ivana and Natalija” responded Mišo. “You boys alright?” asked Marija-Elena and both men said yes. “Who’s this?” asked Mišo while he left down another injured partizan “He’s Ivan, he’s a tank commander” answered Marija-Elena “Ivan-Pavel” the man corrected her “and I’m here because I injured my arm”. Raphael asked how and both Marija-Elena and Ivan-Pavel said he was shot “Got out of my tank to have a look, my co-commander brought me back into the tank and brought me here” explained Ivan-Pavel. “We better get some sleep” said Mišo “God knows what will happen tomorrow”. Marija-Elena and Mišo lay together and Marija asked him about his wife, daughter and his farm life. It would have seemed Mišo started to cry, but he didn’t.
The next morning a selection of partizans were told to attack an Ustasha recon squad not that far from the current position, they were also told it would be very easy and the Ustashas were lightly armed. Among the selected was Mišo but not Raphael. “Are you ok with Mišo going out like that?” Raphael asked Marija-Elena “I’m not even worried” she replied “That’s good” stated Raphael. “Anyway how are you?” Raphael asked “fine just feel a bit sick, that’s all really” “Aha the nurse feels a bit sick” jokingly remarked Raphael.
Meanwhile up in the hills Mišo and four others were searching for the small recon squad. They seen them and readied their weapons. “FIRE” the squad leader shouted and the Ustashas were killed in seconds. The group then started to head back to the camp but were confronted by the SS. “Where do you think you’re going?” asked the leader “drop your weapons”
At the camp things were getting anxious. “That’s it I’m going looking for them” stated Raphael “With who?” asked Nikola “You and a few others” responded Raphael. “I’ll leave a note for Marija-Elena” Raphael said and he and Nikola started organising a search party.