An Overview of the Book of “The Lost Passage”

Memories of the sapper narrators of 14th Imam Hossein Division

Fereydoon Heidari Molk-Mian
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Some feathers scattered and floated between barbed wires on a brown background in a dazzling and special mixture, evoke the concept and purpose which is emphasized in book cover of “The Lost Passage”. At the back of the book that there are separated pieces of barbed wire on the same brown background sporadically contain an excerpt from the text of the book, part of which we read:

“... We were combat engineers of battalion. Due to darkness of the night and the dust that surrounded the area that night, the navigation was not done properly and we went the wrong way. After one hour walking, we arrived behind the barbed wire of Iraqis. We did not find the road that had already been identified. The battalion's commander ordered to open the way. We checked the left and right side of the field for some meters, but we did not find the passageway. Because we lingered and went left and right, the battalion commander found out that we had lost the passageway. He said, “The road must be opened.” The battalion was detained behind us. Everybody had been frightened. The sound of gunfire and artillery in the area grew momentarily. We didn't have much time until issuance of order of the operations. I neutralized the first landmine that was a flare. I wanted to neutralize the second one, the enemy's machine gun started shooting on the opposite side. The plain was flat and we had no parapet...”

The destruction unit (combat engineer) is one of the main units in each military unit. When iraq's imposed war on Iran began, the military and Basij organizations, in military training, only explained structure and function of explosive weapon or familiarized individuals with a few pieces of these supplies. Gradually, the military and defense organizations of the IRGC and Basij were formed and became coherent. During this formation, in addition to using knowledge and experience of the army forces (Artesh), the Basij forces managed organizations with their initiatives and operational experiences. The destruction unit was one of these organizations.

Regardless of the book cover of “The Lost Passage”, it can be said that the book has a special print and binding and layout: before the content, the eight opening pages are colored, and in the first page, the name of Omnipotent is an impression of the book “Toofan al-Boka’a”, which is a lithography for the Qajar era. Up to page six is devoted to book title, ISBN, and copyright page. The seventh page includes a beautiful description of Gholamhossein Ebrahimi Dinani: “Love is always new”, and the eighth page included the dedication: “For those who were pioneer and through passing obstacles showed us the way to traverse hardships, and patience, resistance, and sacrifice were their creed.”

An interesting initiative in publishing the book “The Lost Passage” is inclusion of three sheets between pages 8 and 9, each of which is one-third smaller than the other sheets and respectively are a short description of the author, the book, and the publisher. After the content is the introduction, and then, respectively, text of the memories, photos (black and white with relatively acceptable quality along with captions), the bibliography, postscript (familiarity with narrators), and military glossary.

This book merely reflects only narration of sapper narrators of 14th Imam Hossein Division; narrative of the nights of operations during the eight years of the holy defense until accepting the Resolution; narrative of brave men who advanced to the back of Iraqi trenches in the deep darkness and under the moonlight, and paved the way for the attack and passing the warriors. In this book, the memories are compiled based on chronological process of events of the war and the unit of destruction, and each memory is named according to the subject. In the first memory of each operation, the name and description of the operation are mentioned in the footnote.

The martyrs whose names are mentioned in the memories are briefly introduced in the footnote. Also, at the end of the book, there is, in alphabetical order, a brief introduction of the narrators whose memories are mentioned in this book.

In the first memory, titled “In the Turbulence of Defense”, it narrates of groups of displaced persons who flowed to the central provinces of the country, and groups of the revolutionary forces who were passing the tortuous roads of the south so that if it is possible to reach with at least one G3 gun the southern cities of the country and especially to Ahvaz, because the war headquarters had been stationed at Ahvaz Jundishapur University, and guiding and dividing forces was done there. It was late December 1980. The war atmosphere was felt more everywhere in the country, especially in Khuzestan...

The next memory points to the fact that at the war headquarters, when they learned of the forces' work experience and information, according to their experience, they considered some of them good for being sapper and introduced them to the relevant section to be trained. Then, they even took them directly to the enemy's minefield and showed them rows of mines and explained to them: “You have to learn, firstly, they plant mines in regular rows, and second, how to neutralize mines with bayonets... jab from the side in this way, and slowly wherever the bayonet hits, slowly empty around it and its surface, because if you hit top of the land mine, it explodes.”

They were supposed to first learn theory and how to plant mines and minefields. After theoretical training, they also had to be trained practically to see directly the explosive power of an anti-tank or antipersonnel mine. Their distance with the Iraqis was about 100 to 150 meters. When they started to neutralize mines slowly in the field, Iraqis sometimes saw them and fired at them with calibre...

A narrator talks of an organization and degree they didn't have. It was the beginning of the war, and each of them did everything they could, and wherever they got into trouble, they went to brothers in Artesh. The training course they had passed at the 15th Khordad garrison in Isfahan had lasted only 20 days, and about combat engineering they had learned only how to work with grenades...

Another recalls of groups of Basij forces who were volunteer to deploy to the front, and that the barracks were not responding to train them. For this reason, IRGC commanders and training officials selected a number of the IRGC's official forces for coaching training. In general courses, Basij forces and even revolutionary guards, four types of mines were trained. In addition, they also trained American MK 2, Egyptian and Iraqi, and one type of egg grenades that had been seized. Sometimes, in the training plan, they also mentioned how to open passageways and how to create a harassment minefield. After a while, diversity of our mines and grenades increased, and they began professional combat engineering courses. In those courses, apart from training a variety of mines and grenades, the method of trapping with grenades under mines and how to neutralize it were added to their training courses...

The next narrator retells his memory of commanding Imam Hossein Brigade, which identified three axes in the siege of Abadan, and ordered the combat engineers detect these axes, two by two, one week before the operation. They had seven passages and three axes. Of the three axes, one was at the side of Darkhovin and one on the Abadan-Ahvaz Road. They also had an axis in Zolfaghariyeh. For detection, the intelligence forces were also with them. They were at the left side of Karun and their passageways were next to the river; that is, they had to go from their own embankment to the river, which was thirty to forty meters far from the Iraqi embankment. The Iraqis were on the other side of the river. At a passage next to the river, a group of warriors had dug a tunnel under the embankment, and they always commuted through the tunnel. The passageway was identified mostly at nights. They went regularly for detection every other night. In one of these detections, in which they had advanced to remove the passage blocks, a 60LD- mortar bomb struck near them. A quiver hit directly one of the guys and died a martyr there...

Of course, the most important cause of martyrdom or being a disabled veteran among the combat engineers was being exposed to mines and explosions. To do this duty, most veterans suffered injuries to the eyes, hands, leg, fingers or chest. Many other warriors were also faced 100% with death. They had chosen this red death with their eyes open and at their full discretion. It was not for nothing that the slogan was written on the top of trench of the destruction battalion: “Welcome to the trench of lovers of martyrdom!”

In the book “The Lost Passage”, according to a three-page content and long list of different headings, a narrative comes after another and memory follows another memory, each of which has a special message and shows the reader the enemy's minefields and night of operations:  Neutralizing Mine Under the Enemy's Feet, Lucid Dream, Passing Through the Furrow, Opening the Passageway on the First Night, Blasting in the Passageway, Martyrdom of the Commander, Wait in Ambush in the Tank, The Passage Which Was Lost, One Step to Death, The Miracle of Allahu Akbar, Opening of the Path With Amputated Leg, The Rescue Officer, etc.

“Conflict With the Iraqi Patrol" is heading of the final memory of this collection of narratives.

A happy ending of this selection of the warrior’s memories of destruction unit of Imam Al-Husayn Division is decorated with excerpts of martyr Hajj Qasem Soleimani who describes the combat engineers: “The word destruction and names of guys of destruction (sappers) for those familiar with the war remind the dark midnights. Human beings who they flogged fear and worry, and lips that under dim moonlight, inside thousands of death traps, are remembering God; the hands and feet that are impatient to fall to the ground; the beautiful eyes that look carefully and search and fall to the ground to protect other eyes. All of these are silent events that even the enemy doesn’t hear its sigh a few steps. A passage that draws passing through redness of blood, and is marked with the fallen corpse. Destruction means Nafl prayer behind trappings of death, and the prostration of thanksgiving after return; not to save oneself, but to have grace of vitalize. Destruction means the volunteer ending of one's life for the lives of others. Destruction means recitation of Komeil and Ashura, which was recited heartily, and there has been rare mystic who has experienced such a true intuition (presence). Destruction means walking in the nearest land of God...”

Hossein Ali Mohammadi Jazi has compiled and written for cultural department and Resistance Studies of Isfahan’s Hozeh Honari. Its first edition was published by Espaneh Publication in 150 pages and 200 copies with ordinary cover medium octavo with a price of 450,000  Rial in 1400 (SH).


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