Daniel Gunther

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Military person

Cpl Daniel Gunther (January 13, 1969 - June 18, 1993) was a Canadian serving with the Royal 22e Régiment in Bosnia, attached to the UN Protection Force. He was the third Canadian fatality in that UN peacekeeping mission and the accuracy of the military's reporting of his death caused some controversy[1] and he was the only Canadian soldier killed by hostile fire between 1993 and 2004.

Gunther was decapitated[2] by Muslim militiamen[3] on in Buci, a village about 20 kilometres northwest of Sarajevo[4] on June 18, 1993, 40 minutes after a ceasefire was supposed to start.[5]

Reports about his death varied, eventually causing controversy.[6] U.N. officials said it was unclear who was responsible, but the Bosnian army said he was killed by a Serb mortar round.[7] The Canadian Forces' Significant Incident report described it as a "deliberate attack", however the army originally indicated by press release that the death was accidental, i.e. he had been hit by a mortar while exiting his M113.[8]

The official military account wasn't publicly challenged until December 1993, when the Ottawa military magazine Esprit de Corps got two anonymous calls from soldiers with a different view of events. Scott Taylor, the magazine's iconoclastic publisher fed the tips to Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun to bring the soldiers' accounts into the public eye, stating that it was an anti-tank rocket that had killed Gunther, implying it had not been a simple misfortune, but a deliberately aimed warhead that killed the Corporal driving a marked UN Peacekeeping vehicle.[9]

In 1994, Esprit de Corps Template:What? criticized the fact that information given to his family about the nature of his death differed from the unanimous, but classified, conclusions of an internal board of inquiry. National Defence attributed the error to initial information provided from the war zone.[9] Canadian historian, and former head of the Canadian War Museum, Jack Granatstein has cited Gunther's death as an example of a general policy by defense headquarters to limit publicizing details.[10]

Canadian Forces documents about circumstances surrounding his death are preserved in the National Defence Headquarters Directorate of History and Heritage.[11]

He was posthumously awarded the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal and was mentioned in Roméo Dallaire's award-winning novel Shake Hands with the Devil. Canada did not lose another soldier to hostile fire after Gunther's 1993 death until Cpl Jamie Murphy was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.[12]


  1. Leyton-Brown, David (1999). Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs 1993. University of Toronto Press. p. 128. ISBN 0802047017. 
  2. "Risks". http://www.lermuseum.org/en/canadas-military-history/1945-to-present/peacekeeping/risks/#footnote3. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  3. Taylor, Scott (1999). Canada at War and Peace: A Millennium of Military Heritage, Volume 3. Esprit de Corps Books. pp. 155-158. 
  4. "Father killed in ceasefire". Medicine Hat News. Canadian Press. June 19, 1993. http://newspaperarchive.com/ca/alberta/medicine-hat/medicine-hat-news/1993/06-19. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  5. "Fighting threatens ceasefire". Del Rio News Herald. Associated Press. June 20, 1993. http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/5955087/. Retrieved June 3, 2014. "Fighting threatens cease fire SARAJEVO, Bosnia- Herzegovina (AP) — Skirmishes between Muslims and Croats threatened a new cease-fire Friday, but fighting eased in Serb-dominated regions. A Canadian U.N. peacekeeper was killed in fighting near Sarajevo, 40 minutes after the noon cease-fire was supposed to silence guns across Bosnia. Cpl. Daniel Gunther, 24, of Val-Belair, Que., died in Buci, about 12 miles northwest of the Bosnian capital in an area of high Muslim-Croat tension. U.N. officials said it was unclear who was responsible." 
  6. Taylor, Scott; Nolan, Brian (1997). Tarnished brass: crime and corruption in the Canadian military. Seal Books. pp. 237-238. ISBN 0770427677. 
  7. "CLASHES BETWEEN CROATS AND MUSLIMS THREATEN NEW CEASE-FIRE IN BOSNIA". Deseret News. Associated Press. June 19, 1993. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/295989/CLASHES-BETWEEN-CROATS-AND-MUSLIMS-THREATEN-NEW-CEASE-FIRE-IN--BOSNIA.html?pg=all. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  8. Rempel, Roy (Jan 2003). The Chatter Box: An Insider's Account of the Irrelevance of Parliament in the Making of Canadian Foreign and Defence Policy. Dundurn. p. 159. ISBN 1550024256. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Cain, Patrick (Summer 1996). "In the line of fire:Corporal Daniel Gunther was 24 when he was killed in Bosnia. Why did it take so long for the truth about his death to come out? An investigation into military coverage.". Ryerson Review of Journalism. http://www.rrj.ca/m3710. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  10. Ward, John (November 8, 2003). "Remembrance Day made more human by recent deaths in Afghanistan". Afghanistan News Centre. Canadian Press. http://www.afghanistannewscenter.com/news/2003/november/nov92003.html. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  11. "Leadership in the Canadian Forces". Canadian Archival Information Network. http://archivescanada.accesstomemory.org/leadership-in-canadian-forces. Retrieved June 3, 2014. "Series consists of documents relating to leadership in the Canadian Forces, and regarding the Board of Inquiry into command control and leadership of CANBAT 2 in Bosnia, the Haiti Board of Inquiry into leadership relationships with the Military Police and events surrounding the mistreatment of Haitian detainees, and the circumstances surrounding the death of Corporal Daniel Gunther in 1993." 
  12. "The fog of war: Casualties of friendly fire". Quick Facts - Indepth: Friendly Fire. CBC News Online. October 22, 2003. http://www.cbc.ca/news2/background/friendlyfire/fogofwar.html. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 

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