18 September 1961: Some 150 Irish soldiers quartered near the town of Jadotville Congo were led away into captivity OTD 60 years ago.

Catalpa

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18 September 1961: Some 150 Irish soldiers quartered near the town of Jadotville Congo were led away into captivity on this day. They had been besieged for five days in their isolated position and their CO - Commandant Patrick Quinlan - had concluded that their position was hopeless. The night before he had agreed with the besiegers to lay down arms and accept their offer of ‘protection’. As dawn broke that morning the men of ‘A’ Company awoke to a new reality, rather than been respected Peacekeepers of the United Nations they were effectively POWS of the breakaway Congolese province of Katanga.

It was a sorry saga and one that should never have happened. Reports had reached UN Headquarters in Elizabethville in early September that the White population in Jadotville were been subjected to harassment and molestation. It was decided to despatch a Company of UN soldiers to maintain order there and keep the peace - a mission that fell to ‘A’ Company of the Irish Army to carry out. However on arrival Comdt. Quinn was told by both Black and White residents that their presence was not required - as there was no trouble there to subdue. But the situation was tense - very tense. They were clearly not wanted there and they were refused entry to the town and their position was encircled by the Katangese forces.

Then un-beknownest to the Irish garrison the UN HQ in Elizabethville had decided to engage in what turned out to be a ham fisted attempt - Operation Morthor - to disband and disarm the Katangese rebel government of Mr Tshombe in that city. Retaliation was swift and brutal. The first the Irish in Jadotville knew that things and gone from tense to outright warfare was when on the morning of Wednesday 13th September as Mass was being heard the Katangese Gendarmie launched a series of attacks on their positions.

For the next five days the Irish held their ground even though they were surrounded by thousands of their enemies. If they had one factor in their favour it was that the Katangese Gendarmie were not a professional fighting force but a heavily armed police one. Still they had enough weaponry in machine guns, mortars and the assistance of a jet fighter-bomber to make the Irish know that they were a lethal threat to them. They also had the assistance of White officer mercenaries. But the biggest factor that made the situation hopeless if they were not promptly relieved was a very simple one - WATER! For without that no man can last more than a few days and expect to survive. In the heat of the Congo that was even more so. The besiegers cut the mains into the camp and after that it could only be a matter of time.

Relief attempts were soon organised from Elizabethville but the problem was there was only one road that led from there to Jadotville. Progress was made along it until the relief column reached the bridge over the river Lufira. Here the Katangese had blocked the bridge and lined up men along the riverbank to stop any force from breaking through. The Irish along with allied troops from the Indian and Swedish armies did all they could to storm the bridge but each attempt was beaten back. By Sunday it was obvious that the bridge could not be taken with the forces available. Rescue by air was out of the question as the enemy had air superiority in that they had one aircraft and the UN had none!

Serious negotiations began on Saturday when the Mayor of Jadotville Mr Munongo proposed terms. There would be a Ceasefire & joint patrols, the water would be turned back on, the jet would be grounded and the UN allowed to patrol the town. But it quickly became clear that the terms were not going to be kept.

We played a delaying game as long as we could on that Sunday, hoping against hope that reinforcements would arrive as we negotiated a definite ceasefire. I hoped that we would get a written ceasefire but soon Munongo was demanding surrender and only surrender terms, otherwise the final onslaught would begin. I realised that our situation had become hopeless and that there was no prospect of relief arriving in time. I knew too that if I continued my men would be massacred by a vastly superior force so I agreed to the terms.

Commandant Patrick Quinlan

Under the Blue Flag by Raymond Smith

Thus ended the ‘Siege of Jadotville’ where the Irish Army held off thousands of enemies for five long days. The men were held in captivity until 25 October when they were handed back to the UN in a prisoner exchange. Their conditions of captivity ranged from good to fair to bad and sometimes to the point that their lives were in immediate danger - but they all made it out alive.

However surrender and captivity is never an easy burden for any soldier or Army to bear and when the men returned home there was a stigma attached to them by some - none more so on the head of Commandant Patrick Quinlan. He had been put in an impossible situation by UN HQ and was effectively ‘up the creek without a paddle’ in Jadotville. There is no doubt his career suffered as a result and it is only in recent years that it is accepted that the decision he had to take was the correct one. For at the end of the day all the men he led in battle made it back home. There are now only a few survivors left of those events so long ago but finally their grit, courage and determination has at last been recognised for their heroic stand at Jadotville back in 1961.
 
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Mowl

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I remember it slightly. The crowd who captured them were called the Baloobas.

Many of the black tribes girls get pregnant. One old soldier explained to me years later about how the soldiers felt. It wasn't just shaking the bag, he exclaimed
it was love"
 

The Field Marshal

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Ireland by taking sides in a civil war in the Congo betrayed its military honor.

Her unfortunate soldiers were not peacekeepers but peace enforcers acting at the behest of one party to that civil war.
Ireland’s political leaders of the time literally dropped our army in the mud and then sullied brave officers like Quinlan who saved his men from extinction.
The political dogs behind all this were the Fianna Fáil party anxious to lick the arse of the USA and the UN.
 

Vengeful Glutton

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I think the Baloobas massacred a few Irish troops. I don't know if there was evidence of ritual torture (or just plain ol' torture), but I'd be surprised if they didn't find some means of enjoying the bloodletting.

I read Mike Hoares accounts of his adventures leading mercenaries in the Congo and he described in macabre detail some of the atrocties committed by the indigenous folk (Simbas).

Their opponents, the national guard weren't much better. Apparently they'd tie a Simba prisoner to a pole in a small pen and bind his hands and feet. Then they'd let a few chimps loose. Contrary to popular belief, they're not as cute and cuddly as the Tarzan movies made out. They're very aggressive and quite vicious. Anyhoo, that was just the starters. Then they'd boil the lad alive.
 

HouseCarl

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I remember it slightly. The crowd who captured them were called the Baloobas.

Many of the black tribes girls get pregnant. One old soldier explained to me years later about how the soldiers felt. It wasn't just shaking the bag, he exclaimed
it was love"
Tis only natural.
 

Mowl

Member
Tis only natural.
It may have been only natural, but soldiers are trained not to fraternise with friend or foe. They were trained to be outstanding men of stiff principles
and in breaking that rule they let down the Irish nation which was at that time a land of Saints and Scholars.

Such departure from strict military code of honour would have normally met with resentment among the local Baluba warrior males to see their women's
virtue compromised. However, and as luck of the Irish would have it. Paddy was not too particular. It was first come first served and the local chieftain's
mature warriors were actually relieved to get their less desirable overweigh bucket faced daughters off their hands.
 
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Mowl

Member
I think the Baloobas massacred a few Irish troops. I don't know if there was evidence of ritual torture (or just plain ol' torture), but I'd be surprised if they didn't find some means of enjoying the bloodletting.

I read Mike Hoares accounts of his adventures leading mercenaries in the Congo and he described in macabre detail some of the atrocties committed by the indigenous folk (Simbas).

Their opponents, the national guard weren't much better. Apparently they'd tie a Simba prisoner to a pole in a small pen and bind his hands and feet. Then they'd let a few chimps loose. Contrary to popular belief, they're not as cute and cuddly as the Tarzan movies made out. They're very aggressive and quite vicious. Anyhoo, that was just the starters. Then they'd boil the lad alive.

You paint such a horrific picture, it make me squirm. The boiling alive needed a metal pot, they hardly made that themselves. The Chimp thing is
equally horrific. Unless the las happened to be gay in which case a good time would be had by all.
 

Catalpa

Member
SW Member
You paint such a horrific picture, it make me squirm. The boiling alive needed a metal pot, they hardly made that themselves. The Chimp thing is
equally horrific. Unless the las happened to be gay in which case a good time would be had by all.

Stop the trolling Val .....
 

Myles O'Reilly

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I think the Baloobas massacred a few Irish troops. I don't know if there was evidence of ritual torture (or just plain ol' torture), but I'd be surprised if they didn't find some means of enjoying the bloodletting.
There was enjoyment of bloodletting the night of Niemba. I wouldn't call it ritualistic but it was torture nonetheless.
 

Ultima Thule

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The Congo seems to be one of the most wretched places on Earth, yet, the old film footage shows a very advanced society, built on exploitation no doubt, but I believe Irish soldiers were amazed how at that time it certainly looked more modern than the Ireland of the 1960s. Has anyone heard that story out of the Congo, how a member of the Jameson family serving in the British Army and out with Livingstone or Stanley (not sure which) went off on his own and brought a young African girl and presented her to cannibals so they could kill, butcher, cook and eat her while he stretched it happening.
 

Vengeful Glutton

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SW Member
You paint such a horrific picture, it make me squirm. The boiling alive needed a metal pot, they hardly made that themselves. The Chimp thing is
equally horrific. Unless the las happened to be gay in which case a good time would be had by all.

Mild compared to some of the other things I've read. Read Hoares book, Congo Mercernary.

Firepower
is another horrific read. It's about the conflict in Angola.
 

Vengeful Glutton

Member
SW Member
The Congo seems to be one of the most wretched places on Earth, yet, the old film footage shows a very advanced society, built on exploitation no doubt, but I believe Irish soldiers were amazed how at that time it certainly looked more modern than the Ireland of the 1960s. Has anyone heard that story out of the Congo, how a member of the Jameson family serving in the British Army and out with Livingstone or Stanley (not sure which) went off on his own and brought a young African girl and presented her to cannibals so they could kill, butcher, cook and eat her while he stretched it happening.

Belgian Administrators, Architects and Engineers modernised it. It was supposed to be a very nice place to live until the 60s.

Never heard that story, but there's quite a few about captured mercenaries being cannibalised by the local lads (after being tortured).
 

Mowl

Member
Mild compared to some of the other things I've read. Read Hoares book, Congo Mercernary.

Firepower
is another horrific read. It's about the conflict in Angola.
I don't think I could read it. It is so horrific, I might freak out. I am from a place which is a fine example of civil society. I am a model farmer
 

Mowl

Member
The Congo seems to be one of the most wretched places on Earth, yet, the old film footage shows a very advanced society, built on exploitation no doubt, but I believe Irish soldiers were amazed how at that time it certainly looked more modern than the Ireland of the 1960s. Has anyone heard that story out of the Congo, how a member of the Jameson family serving in the British Army and out with Livingstone or Stanley (not sure which) went off on his own and brought a young African girl and presented her to cannibals so they could kill, butcher, cook and eat her while he stretched it happening.
You see the Irish did not really know much about Africa except for the collection box for the black babies. There was Tarzan on the TV, but back then it was in black and white. You could not see blood or the colour of Jane's clothes. Tarzan could talk to the wild animals. I suspect he was not in the Congo area, if he was
he would have done something. Colour TV raised awareness. Like with snooker.

I remember as a boy I felt such pride in our own Irish soldiers. Ordinary men like ourselves doing extraordinary things.
 

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