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Thread: Jadotville

  1. #1
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    Angry Jadotville

    Just been reading an interesting book written by a former irish army officer.The book is a humourous account of life in the army of the 50s and 60s,except for an epilogue dealing with the Irish Army in the congo.
    I am sure we have all heard of Niemba,some will know of the tunnel,and maybe even more have heard of the Airport..
    But what of Jadotville? It appears to have been conveniently erased from irish military memory.
    The short story is of the 35th Irish Batt surrendering to the Katangese.
    The long story is one of betrayal and bad judgement by the UN,the heroism of irishmen who held off a superior numbered enemy,and the bravery of an officer who agreed to a ceasefire when it was apparent that the UN would not have the balls to come to the surrounded irish units assistance.
    The unit arrived home to a heroes welcome,and were met by a torchlit parade down the streets of Athlone. 5 irish soldiers died,many more wounded.More than 50 opposing forces were killed,and after the surrender,the captors wanted to know where the rest of the irish bodies were buried. They could not believe that the irish could suffer an onslaught as they had recieved from small arms and mortar fire without many more casualties...
    Why has this episode faded into a faint memory? Books have been written about battles where no shots were fired,and medals have been issued to people for flying a desk..
    What of the heroes of Jadotville? Anyone know more?

  2. #2
    C/S sledger's Avatar
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    Farel' whats the name of the book?

    Read an account of the Jadotville battle in Raymonds Smiths book under the Blue Flag, seems that the Irish company put up a hell of a fight despite been surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned, and ran out of food and water if memory serves?? (LONG TIME since I read the book) also I seem to remember that the rest of the Irish Battalion tried several times to break through to the surrounded company on their own without any other support. :flagwave:

  3. #3
    Chief of the Diet Tribe Groundhog's Avatar
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    The book is called Tough at the bottom. I didn't think much of it myself. The author was a Captain so he wasn't really at the bottom. He seems to have spent a lot of his military career propping up the bar in the mess and he was full of praise for a man of my acquaintance who, to be blunt, is a langer. For some raeson the Jadotville thing preys on his mind a lot and he wasn't even there.

    Anyway regarding Jadotville, nobody celebrates disasters. Do the French have a Waterloo day? And I doubt you'll ever walk into a British Army Barracks called Isandlwana. The Paddies at Jadotville held out while it was practical. Once it became impractical they surrendered and lived to fight another day. THere was and will never be any motivation for dying for the UN or for some bunch of foreigners who couldn't give a shit about you anyway.

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  4. #4
    Sergeant Major
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    tend to disagree i think it is a good read especially the bit when the COS rang the barracks.
    Officer: "hello"
    COS: "this is the Chief of Staff, whom am i talking to?"
    Officer: "this is Ho Chi Minh"
    COS: "Excuse me, this is the COS who is that?"
    Off: "it's Ho Chi ****ing Minh"
    COS: "do you know who i am, i AM THE CHIEF OF STAFF!"
    Off: "do you know who i am?"
    COS: "no"
    Off: "fine good luck so" and hung up

  5. #5
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    I see in news section that this event is again under scrutiny. Has anyone more details of the event?

  6. #6
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    Congo bravery revisted

    Fine Gael Defence Spokesman Dinny McGinley TD has today (Tuesday) welcomed moves to re-examine the bravery of Irish soldiers who fought at Jadotville, whose heroism has never been officially acknowledged.

    "I welcome the Minister for Defence's reply to my Dáil priority question today, that a submission from a retired Army Officer who served at Jadotville is to be examined by a Board of Military Officers.

    "The essential elements of the Jadotville Siege are simple and straightforward. A Company of the Irish Defence Forces, comprising roughly 150 men with only light arms, and outnumbered by at least 20 to 1, held their positions for five days against sustained artillery and aerial bombardment.

    "During that time they inflicted casualties of over 300 on opposing Katanga Forces and held their positions until they ran out of ammunition, food and water. While a number of attempts were made to relieve them, even by Gurkhas, none were successful. The members of A Company showed tremendous courage, bravery and valour. As the Daily Mail stated at the time 'they fought like
    tigers'.

    "It is unbelievable that this glorious episode has been airbrushed out of Irish Military history. Unfortunately, many of these men have gone to their graves without their valour and courage being recognised.

    "I am asking the Minister to make sure that any review will be completed in the shortest possible time, and that the bravery of these men should be recognised - 43 years is too long a period to have been overlooked and ignored."

    Could this be the start of this country acknowledging the bravery of Defence Forces personnel on UN service.

    Also, did anyone see The Star today. ARW given 'Best of Irish' award by the paper for work in Liberia. It was picked up on behalf of the Wing by Colonel Padraig O'Callaghan, Director of Operations.

  7. #7
    Western Commando
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    The book is called Tough at the Bottom, it starts out quite well but to be honest the author seems a fool, spent all his time gambling on dog racing and dodging work. A lot of the later stages of the book are about settling scores with other Officers and talking up his role in the DF, which bearing in mind the fact that he retired a Capt, wasn't that impressive. Adjt of the GMH in the Curragh seems to have been his peak. He also relates a story about a Bank strike which is disgraceful.

    Officer: "hello"
    COS: "this is the Chief of Staff, whom am i talking to?"
    Officer: "this is Ho Chi Minh"
    COS: "Excuse me, this is the COS who is that?"
    Off: "it's Ho Chi ****ing Minh"
    COS: "do you know who i am, i AM THE CHIEF OF STAFF!"
    Off: "do you know who i am?"
    COS: "no"
    Off: "fine good luck so" and hung up
    This is a prime example. Like the lighthouse/Battleship story, it’s funny when you hear it the first time, and then you realise its BS. The chances of the CoS ringing a random phone on spec, and a random Officer picking up? The chances of any senior letting such shite remain unpunished? Unlikely, especially given the individuals who held the position of CoS in the 70s and 80s.

    However, the part on Jadotville is good, and it gives the side of a story that should have been told a long time ago.
    Last edited by Western Commando; 29th May 2004 at 02:44.

  8. #8
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    I got this news story(dont know where its from) by email on the 4-10-01
    Soldiers say Congo
    campaign not recognised

    Four former soldiers from Westmeath are to make representations to the Minister
    for Defence, Mr Smith, for formal recognition of the sacrifices made by those
    who survived a six-day siege and imprisonment while on UN duty in the Congo.
    The men are aggrieved that on the 40th anniversary of the infamous battle of
    Jadotville, they have not received a medal or even a certificate in recognition
    of their efforts.
    The four are Sgt Bill Ready (60), Gunner Tom Cunningham (62) and gunner John
    Flynn (58) from Mullingar, and Sgt Bobby Allen (73), from Collinstown. During
    the 1961 battle, they survived aerial bombardment and heavy artillery fire for
    six days and nights. They were forced to surrender after their water, food and
    ammunition ran out.
    The four described the lack of official recognition as "disgraceful". Sgt Ready,
    who was shot in the attack, said: "We have been forgotten about by the Army, the
    Minister and the system."
    They are particularly aggrieved that their company commander, the late Lieut Col
    Pat Quinlan, had not been recognised either. "He saved our lives, but he was
    treated very badly. Even at this late stage, even though he has passed away, he
    should still be acknowledged," Sgt Ready said.
    The veterans' campaign for official recognition has been backed by local senator
    Mr Donie Cassidy, who said he would raise the matter with Mr Smith.
    However, the anniversary of the battle has been marked by the UN Veterans'
    Association and the Mullingar-based veterans group, Post 20, which presented
    them with a plaque and tankard.
    The UN Veterans' Association has also commissioned a special medal, designed by
    Mullingar man and Post 20 development officer, Mr Eddie Robinson, which it hopes
    will be presented to all UN peacekeeping veterans, including members of the
    Defence Forces, the Garda Síochána and civilian personnel.
    Mr Robinson said it was disgraceful that the veterans were being honoured
    locally but not by the Department of Defence."They put their lives on the line
    and didn't get any recognition, not a medal, not even a certificate."
    He also said the contribution by Lieut Col Quinlan was not properly rewarded by
    the Army. "He finished up as a lieutenant colonel, but he should have been
    promoted to a higher rank in recognition of his actions and gallantry. He saved
    the whole company. He was never above anybody. He was a great man."

  9. #9
    The Man on the Telly combatlogo's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what their gripe is? Do they want a special medal for being in a firefight or for the whole Congo campaign? Does the Army issue awards for other Peacekeeping ops?

  10. #10
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    Basically the Military authorities have considered these events a failure,in spite of the Huge losses these men inflicted on the enemy before surrendering,after a resupply convoy decided not to bother going to their aid.
    Read some of the above thread,and the many links to get more details.
    Many in the DF got DSMs for less. Most of the DSMs and MMGs given to irish military were awarded for actions with the UN.

  11. #11
    Captain Truck Driver's Avatar
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    Originally posted by combatlogo
    I'm not sure what their gripe is? Do they want a special medal for being in a firefight or for the whole Congo campaign? Does the Army issue awards for other Peacekeeping ops?
    Yes and no. If the mission is a UN mission, then all who complete a
    tour of duty (or in the case of an Irish soldier who was wounded in
    the Leb a few years ago, and was repatriated home early, a specified
    min. period) qualify for the UN award for that mission.
    The DF awards the UN Peacekeepers medal once, usually on completion
    of the first UN mission.
    For acts of gallantry, the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) and the
    MMG (Military Medal Gallantry - the DF's highest award for bravery)
    are also awardable...
    "Well, stone me! We've had cocaine, bribery and Arsenal scoring two goals at home. But just when you thought there were truly no surprises left in football, Vinnie Jones turns out to be an international player!" (Jimmy Greaves)!"

  12. #12
    C/S goc132's Avatar
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    There is one other award available and the is the Military Star but you have to have been killed in action,this is now the highest award in the Defence Forces.

    If you die of natural causes or a traffice accident you do not quailify. So you can only die one way to get the medal!


  13. #13
    C/S Cosantor's Avatar
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    Here a radio documentary that was aired on Jan 21 2004 on RTE Radio 1 about the incident, very interesting.........

    These Guys are Bloody Heroes in my Opinion!!!


    http://www.rte.ie/radio1/evening/doc...one/21jan.html

    http://www.rte.ie/radio1/evening/doc...rams/21jan.ram

  14. #14
    Captain Truck Driver's Avatar
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    Originally posted by goc132
    There is one other award available and the is the Military Star but you have to have been killed in action,this is now the highest award in the Defence Forces.

    If you die of natural causes or a traffic accident you do not quailify. So you can only die one way to get the medal!

    Sorry, Andy, forgot that one, as it's a relatively new award.
    However, as far as I know, the MMG STILL ranks highest in priority
    on the DF medal list. Maybe Groundhog can confirm this ???
    "Well, stone me! We've had cocaine, bribery and Arsenal scoring two goals at home. But just when you thought there were truly no surprises left in football, Vinnie Jones turns out to be an international player!" (Jimmy Greaves)!"

  15. #15
    C/S goc132's Avatar
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    Hi TruckDreiver
    I reckon the Military Star is now the Highest ranking award but I would like it confirmed.:confused:

  16. #16
    Starship Captain Erwin's Avatar
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    The Military Star was struck in order to commemorate those soldiers who had died in service overseas & was awarded to their surviving relatives.Obviously it is a posthumous award as such,but it doesn't rank above the MMG.
    Live long and prosper!

  17. #17
    roylalor
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    Jadotville

    I'm researching a book on this engagement by an Irish company under U.N. leadership in the Congo in 1961 and would welcome any information or contacts.
    Roy Lalor

  18. #18
    airborne daddy ex pat 007's Avatar
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    try the search function:D ,, heres a good thread:
    http://www.irishmilitaryonline.com/b...ght=jadotville

  19. #19
    Chief of the Diet Tribe Groundhog's Avatar
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    as far as I know, the MMG STILL ranks highest in priority
    on the DF medal list. Maybe Groundhog can confirm this ???

    Sorry about the delay. MMG it is.

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  20. #20
    Commander in Chief hptmurphy's Avatar
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    Would somebody like to point out to the guy in the First picture SGT Bob Allen that as he is wearing a DSM it should be above all of his other awards and not below as he wears it. The DSM is the senior award and as with all senior awards it is worn on the extreme right....everthing else is worn to the left of and below the senior award.

    Hvaing read some on Jadotville...I don't think it was a military disaster just a well executed deploymnet which failed because of service and supply. The guys who took part in the action have nothing to ashamed of ...but in fairness given that it was the first decent scrap the irish army had since the civil war I don't think it deserves the controversy it has generated...these guys were only doing the job they were paid to do. The were let down by the command structure and eventhough there was a credible support attempt this was also thwarted from above. Yes they did well to get out alive a succeeded in holding of superior numbers.......but it was hardly the Alamo!
    Time for another break I think......

  21. #21
    C/S goc132's Avatar
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    Sgt Allens medals have since been mounted properly.:-patriot:

  22. #22
    roylalor
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    Jadotville

    I'm researching the engagement fought at Jadotville in 1961 by an Irish company under U.N. command. Any information/contacts would be very helpful. I particular I would be interested in unit histories, operational reports, wireless tranmissions, and personal papers of participants. I'm a teacher and writer with no connection to the defence forces and all information would be taken in the strictist confidence.
    Roy Lalor

  23. #23
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    Military archives are your best bet. www.military.ie has a good link to them

  24. #24
    Sergeant Major Thorpe's Avatar
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    Found this on a clean out of my files last night. Its a picture of the momerial to Trp. Mullins who was killed in the Congo. The Momerial stone is at the 13 Bn HQ in Fermoy
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  25. #25
    C/S sledger's Avatar
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    Ireland clears Congo soldiers of cowardice

    Ireland clears Congo soldiers of cowardice
    Sunday Times
    December 12, 2004
    Richard Oakley

    A GROUP of Irish soldiers, who were wrongly branded cowards in a largely forgotten battle in the Congo, are to be commemorated by the state after a 44-year-fight to have their bravery recognised.
    A report, to be published by the Department of Defence, will exonerate the men of wrongdoing and recommend that their efforts be officially recognised.

    The soldiers, members of the 35th battalion of the Western Command, endured a gruelling six-day fight against Belgian-led forces in the Battle of Jadotville while on United Nations duty in 1961. They held out against Katangan fighters despite being outnumbered by at least 20 to 1 and depleted supplies.

    Despite their bravery, they were accused of cowardice after Lieutenant-Colonel Pat Quinlan, their commanding officer, eventually took a decision to surrender. He had been given an ultimatum from the Katangan forces, who had breached a ceasefire, and decided to give up to save his men.

    For years, members of the 150-strong command have campaigned for their heroism to be acknowledged and for questions to be answered about why they were put in a dangerous position. Despite the odds stacked against them, they managed to kill 300 Katangans without sustaining any casualties themselves. When they returned home, however, they were taunted by fellow soldiers.

    Until this year, when Michael Smith, the then minister for defence, agreed to re-examine their role, they had had little success. The review came after the town council in Athlone, where many of soldiers were based, took the unusual step of writing to the minister following submissions from a number of soldiers and an extensive media campaign.

    A board of military officers was asked by Lieutenant-General Jim Sreenan, the chief of staff of the defence forces, to investigate the case and produce a report, which has now been passed to Willie O’Dea, the current minister for defence.

    “The report exonerates all the men involved. I will be publishing it soon and then we will decide how to commemorate these men,” said the minister.

    The outcome has been welcomed by John Gorman, 61, a veteran who has led the campaign to have their reputations restored.

    Fighting back tears this weekend, he said he was “thrilled” but upset that many of the men were no longer alive.

    “This is the best news I have heard in my lifetime,” he said. “We were badly treated. The record was never put straight, our story was never told properly and the truth about what we did was ignored. A lot of men are now in their graves not knowing that they were supposed to have done wrong.”

    Austin Berry, the mayor of Athlone, said: “This goes some way to make up for what happened to these men. It’s what they deserve. A medal should now be struck and each man and the families of those who have died should be publicly presented with it.”

    About 150 Irishmen from A company of the Western Command fought the battle against more than 4,000 Belgian-led Katangan forces.

    John Gorman was just 17 at the time. He said: “There were two Swedish companies there before us. Their commander pulled them out. The Irish B company was also withdrawn.

    “At the same time, A company was put in and there are questions to be answered as to why. We had old second world war guns and we were bombed from the air. Our supplies, including bullets, were running out and we had no water.”

    “We had killed 300 of the enemy and were hopelessly outnumbered. If this hadn’t happened, all our lives would have been lost.”

    All 150 Irish soldiers were later released. Quinlan has passed away and many of the survivors are now in their eighties and nineties.

    Dinny McGinley and Denis Naughten, the two Fine Gael deputies who joined the campaign, welcomed the move.

    O’Dea is to release the report on his return from a visit to Irish troops working for the UN in Liberia. The minister is to fly out tomorrow along with President Mary McAleese.

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