Irish Battle on UN service - Jadoville, Congo - 1960s

Discussion in 'Ireland (ie. Irish Defence Force)' started by Cabbage_man, Jan 13, 2010.

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  1. I’ve just spent the last 10 days on the island of Ireland (north and south). While in the south I gave the natives a bit of grief about the state of their army. All light hearted banter... I know they are a professional bunch these days. However I was surprised to learn about a week long engagement Irish UN troops were involved in while serving in the Congo in the 60’s. Just referring ‘Wikipedia’ about it. Made interesting reading but I know a lot on that site is utter bollocks. Has anyone any one heard about this ‘battle’? Did it happen as described on Wikipedia?

    Link below.

    Fellow who told me about it said the forces there saw it as an embarrassing episode of their military history as the troops surrendered, despite fighting off a superior force for the guts of a week until supplies were spent and after inflicting significant casualties on the enemy. I do not see what problem the Irish commanders had?

    Unless there was more to it and this web page is a load of sh*te! Any of you Irish boys on here (preff ex IDF) know about this? Cheers
  2. Have a look at the IMO thread on the subject,


    Considering they were rather poorly equipped and held out for as long as they did against a vastly superior (numerically, at least) force, they did rather well. Sounds like leadership at the top was the problem.
    Once they got back home to Ireland they were treated rather badly by the military authorities (after all, who wants to remember a defeat?) and there was (I think) a pretty serious punch-up in the Curragh between guys who had been at Jadotville and those who had stayed at home.
    The Irish soldiers who were at Jadotville were based in Athlone and were mainly from the west of Ireland
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  3. I've just read through the article and it is pretty accurate as to what happenend. The coy was detached there several hundred miles form the rest of the battalion and the reason why this occoured has never been full answered. The Coy Comd recognised the difficulty of his position early on as he was told in no uncertain terms by the Belgian settlers that they didnt need protection and that the UN troops were not welcome there. Sencing th4e mood and there vulnerable position he ordered the coy to dig in. This was a vital decision which undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his men. Comd Quinlan had been regarded as somewhat of a martinet by others because of his zeal but he proved to be a very capable commander. I attended a lecture recently by one his platoon commanders who said that he had resented his constant criticism of the young officers during pre deployment training but then recognised that the OC's insistance on high standards and proffesionalism piad off (as it always does).

    Some parts of the Wikipedia article are somewhat ammatureish. It calls the Vikars "antiquated" but in fact it was then fairly current being used by the British army for another seven years. The men were armed with the .303 Mk4 Lee Enfield Rifle and the Bren which were perhaps reachingtheir sell by date. In fact this problem had been recognised and the battalion was issued with theFN FAL while still in threatre!

    The treatment of the troops and their OC by the army afterwards was disgracefull. The had infact held out aginst huge ods for days and only surrendered when food water and ammunition scales had reduced to nearly zero. All relief efforts had been abandoned and to fight on would have only meant the death of large numbers of his men. It should not be thought that the mens morale had gone. According to the Pltn Cmdr i spoke to he and his fellow Lts wanted to carry on as did most of the men but the OC took a more rational approach.
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  4. Believe it was a battle, there is very little available information wise and as some else said the rest of the DF wasn't impressed.

    They suffered no fatalities but suffered artillery fire & airstrikes.

    There was a book about it about it a couple of years ago.
  5. Fairplay to them. Sounds like they fought well.

    The account on wikipedia does indeed read very poorly.
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  6. They had no hope of resupply

    2 relief columns were sent but couldn't break through (Indian Gurkas were involved in one).

    I'll try and look out the book and give some more info
    Its an excellent read!!!

    The wikipedia site is fairly accurate however the Irish didn't surrender, their was a ceasefire and the terms were not honours, the Irish ended up in captivity as a result.

    However, with no food, no water, no ammo resupply, transport to evacuate, no hope of reinforcement/relief and extremely poor comms, I don't think they had much choice?!
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  8. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

  9. Seems a movie is to be made about the siege at Jadotville this year. Cmdt Quinlan is to be played by the guy who played in the 50 shades of grey movie.
    There may be considerably less sex in this one. I hope.
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  10. If that's the case, then I hope the film displays the reality of the situation facing the blokes in Jadotville. Its sounds like they were between a rock and a hard place and the truth needs to be shown.
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  11. I was in N. Rhodesia serving in the N. R. Police in the early '60s and the Irish along with the Swedish, Indian and Ethiopian Army were sent by the UN to remove Tshombe, the self declared president of Katanga, a mineral rich province of the Congo, who had declared independence from the central Congo Govt, because he disagreed with Lumumba (the new communist inspired & backed president), because amongst other things, wished to kick all Europeans out immediately. Tshombe wished to retain them in order to carry on running the country whilst training up African replacements in due course. This was essential to keep the extensive mining & refining operations going.
    I was actually in charge of border patrols for a time between N.R. & Katanga, with a Sergeant and 20 Constables patrolling about 100 odd miles of border between Kipushi & just North of Mufulira. For quite a lot of the time we were reinforced by elements of the Federation of Rhodesia Army, including the early Selous Scouts who occasionally patrolled with me along the border in their Ferret Scout cars. The Rhodesian African Rifles had camps just inside the border near Kipushi & Konkola and the Rhodesian Light Infantry and a few Rhodesian SAS were based at Chingola, this was because it was suspected that after Katanga had been defeated the UN was going to try to kick us out of Rhodesia.. I actually was in charge of Tshombes escort from the border crossing to Ndola airport when he was finally defeated by the UN in 1963.
    I did & saw an awful lot of interesting things in those times, one thing that did strike me was the poor quality of the Irish troops and other UN element I came across at that time, which lead to this dreadful incident......
    Where 9 Irish soldiers were killed and allegedly eaten by the Baluba tribesmen that had attacked them.
    The Baluba along with several other tribes both in the Congo & N.R. had a history of cannibalism.
    One of the sick jokes going around at the time was "whatever you do dont eat the Irish stew!"
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  12. Interesting. A couple of points. The UN took no real action against -as opposed to endless negotiations with - Katanga until after Lumumba's death in 1961. Coincidence? I suspect not. Indeed, UN inaction was why he sent his army in half-cocked with hastily supplied Soviet equipment in 1960.
    I'm fascinated by the notion of the UN kicking whites out of Rhodesia when it could barely agree on quashing Katanga. It is strange what weird rumours can circulate.
    That the Irish army of the 1960s was of a relatively low quality is hard to dispute. It was a garrison force that had seen no action in 40 years and was mostly using the same equipment that saw it hopelessly unprepared in 1939. The first soldiers to arrive in the Congo were wearing bullswool and carrying .303s.
    That said, they, the Swedes and the Indians proved superior, man for man, to every force they engaged in every action they engaged in. Including those forces stiffened by large numbers of white mercenaries.
    Actions such as the failure to cross Lufira Bridge to relieve Jadotville seem to be down to confusion as to what, if anything, ONUC was trying to achieve. Certainly, when they decided they were indeed going to cross the Lufira two years later, the Indians pushed through very heavy resistance.
    Niemba occurred at a time when most still thought they were peace-keeping. Proper intelligence would have revealed that the Balubas were cheesed off with Tshombe, his white mercenaries, and by extension all white foreigners. Trouble was brewing. That said, the patrol commander was ultimately to blame for complacency, especially in ordering that the brens be left behind. However I'm not sure how this particular action is emblematic of the poor quality of the troops themselves, as opposed to their unpreparedness for what was coming and unfamiliarity with the land they found themselves in. Poor leadership and preparation by ONUC...well, welcome to UN missions.
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  13. Interesting,thanks. The UN, screwing things up since 1945.
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  14. I just read the Niemba link - I'd never heard of that incident before. Cheers ex_colonial.

    Scary. Very scary. Getting chopped up by Africans is not a nice way to go.