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Congo Crisis 1960

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  • Congo Crisis 1960

    Today, 30th June, is Independence Day in the Congo. Thought I'd give a little run down on the events leading up to and following on from that date. There was quite an Irish involvement- 6,000 Irish troops served there with the UN, Roger Casement was instrumental in ending the Congo Free State in the early 1900s, Mike Hoare from Dublin was a Katanga mercenary and Conor Cruise O'Brien was the UN Sec General's man in Katanga during the early years of the Congo Crisis.

    1908- The Congo became a Belgian colony. Prior to that it had been the personal property of King Leopold II of Belgium run since 1885 through a dummy corporation of which he was chairman and sole shareholder. The purpose of this was the rape of the country’s natural resources. Sir Roger Casement as British Consul in Leopoldville investigated human rights abuses in the Congo in 1904.

    1955- Prof A J Van Bilsen published a treatise called Thirty Year Plan for the Political Emancipation of Belgian Africa. Belgium had been called on for some years now to free the Congo under Article 73 of the UN Charter.

    1959- Riots in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa)in January. Joseph Kasa Vubu arrested. Further rioting in Stanleyville in October leading to the arrest of Joseph Lumumba.

    1960- Faced with increasing instability in the country, a conference was convened in Brussels involving all the Congolese parties. The Belgians wished to avoid the same problems as France was facig in Algeria at this time. Lumumba was released from prison to attend. The Belgians conceded independence but wanted a 3 to 4 year lead in period. The Congolese demanded immediate independence and elections were scheduled for May.

    May 1960- Elections. Lumumba’s MNC-L Party won a quarter of the seats nationally, followed by the PNP (The Parti National du Progrès). The PNP was supported by the Belgians. These were the only two parties to fight elections in more than one province. The others were organised on tribal lines and gained some power in their own provincesas follows;

    Leopoldville- Parti Solidaire Africain (PSA led by Antoine Gizenga).
    Kasa-Vubu’s ABAKO (Association de Bakongo) was runner up by a narrow margin.

    Katanga- Confédération des Associations Tribales de Katanga (CONAKAT led by Moishe Tshombe) defeated Jason Sendwe’s Association Générale des Baluba de Katanga (BALUBAKAT)

    Kivu- Centre de Regroupement Africain (CEREA led by Anicet Kashamura) defeated Lumumba’s MNC-L

    Kasai- MNC-L and MNC-K were neck and neck with MNC-L winning the support of UNC and COAKA (Coalition Kasaienne)

    Eastern Province- MNC-L won a clear majority defeating PNP.

    Equator Province- PUNA (Jean Bolikango) and UNIMO ( Justin Bomboko) shared a narrow victory.

    In the national parliament, Lumumba formed a coalition of MNC-L, UNC and COAKA (Kasaï), CEREA (Kivu), PSA (Léopoldville) and BALUBAKAT (Katanga). In opposition were PNP, MNC-K (Kasaï), ABAKO (Léopoldville), CONAKAT (Katanga), PUNA and UNIMO (Equator) and RECO (Kivu).

    24 June 1960- In a deal to form a government Joseph Kasa-Vubu was elected President and Patrice Lumumba elected Prime Minister.

    30 June 1960- The Republic of the Congo becomes an independent country. King Baudouin of Belgium arrives in the country to formally hand over power. The entire thing became a PR disaster.

    5 July 1960- Army mutiny in Leopoldville. The army was still officered by Belgians because there were no qualified Congolese. This caused resentment amongst the rank and file, not helped by the fact that their GOC, Lieutenant General Émile Janssens, was a neo-fascist. To add to their woes the government gave everybody in the public service a pay rise- except for the army. The soldiers mutinied and attacked their officers and any European they came across. Thousands of refugees fled to Brazzaville and Stanleyville. The Belgians sent their army in to protect the refugees which the Congolese said was a violation of their sovereignty. To quell the army, everybody was promoted by one rank. But now they had nobody in command.

    11 July 1960- The Province of Katanga seceded from the country under Moishe Tshombe. Tshombe was backed in this secession by Belgian businessmen, 6,000 Belgian troops and white mercenaries hired by his government. Among the mercenaries was 4 Commando, commanded by Dubliner Mike Hoare. The stated reason for secession was to escape the chaos in the rest of the country but the real reason was that Katanga was the location of most of the Congo’s mineral wealth in copper, cobalt and uranium (which was used in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs).

    14 July 1960- The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 143 demanding the withdrawal of Belgian troops and calling for UN military support for the Congolese Army. Amongst those requested to provide that support was Ireland. Backed by the UN Lumumba demanded the immediate removal of Belgian forces and threatened to seek assistance from the Soviet Union if they did not leave.

    15 July 1960- 1200 UN troops had arrived in the country. Within a month they would number 14,000 from 24 countries. They only add to Congo’s problems because they have no firm mandate. Lumumba assumes that they are to be used to invade and subdue Katanga. The UN Secretary General Dag Hamerskjold, refuses t allow this since the secession of Katanga is an internal Congolese matter and UN intervention is forbidden under Article 2 of the UN Charter.

    19 July 1960- Dáil Éireann passes the Defence Amendment No 2 Act 1960, to allow armed Irish troops serve overseas.

    22 July 1960- The UN SC adopts Resolution 145 affirming that Congo should be a unitary state and again calling for Belgium to withdraw its forces.

    27 July 1960- 32nd Irish Battalion departed Baldonnel Aerodrome for the Congo. The United States Air Force provided the transport. The poor soldiers were sent off to equatorial Africa in the same wool uniforms that saw them through Irish winters.

    8 August 1960- South Kasai seceded from the Congo calling itself, the Mining State of South Kasai with Albert Kalonji as President and Joseph Ngalula as PM. The capital was Bakwanga. South Kasai is rich in diammonds by the way. Lamumba requested assistance from the USSR who provided aircraft to airlift troops into Kasai. In a bloody campaign thousands died and quarter of a million refugees fled the area.

    9 August 1960- The UN SC adopts Resolution 146 which allowed UN forces to enter Katanga whilst forbidding their use to intervene in or influence the outcome of any internal conflict.

    5 September 1960- President Kasa-Vubu sacked Lumumba on state radio. Lumumba responded by sacking the President. Kasa-Vubu appointed Joseph Ileo as PM but parliament supported Lumumba. The UN closed down the airports it controlled as well as the radio station. This at least halted the movement of troops to South Kasai.

    12 September 1960- The forces of Joseph Mobutu (who the US was now backing following Lumumba’s cosying up to the Soviets) placed Lumumba under house arrest. He was quickly freed by the army.

    14 Sept 1960- Joseph Mobutu (with CIA assistance)seized power in a military coup. Parliament and the constitution were suspended and Lumumba placed under house arrest with UN protection. All Soviet advisors were expelled. In response Vice PM Antoine Gizenga formed a pro-Lumumba government in Stanleyville. The Congo had now split into 4 regimes- Mobutu in the west, Gizenga in the east, Tshombe in Katanga and Kalonji in Kasai.

    3 October 1960- CS Felix Grant from Clonmel becomes the first soldier of the Irish army to die on overseas service.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 4 July 2008, 16:21.
    Say NO to violence against Women

    Originally posted by hedgehog
    My favourite moment was when the
    Originally posted by hedgehog
    red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

  • #2
    27 October 1960- Col Justin McCarthy died in the Congo. At this stage there are approximately 1500 Irish troops in two battalions (32nd and 33rd) in the country. That figure comprised over 20% of the Irish regular DF.

    8 November 1960- 9 Irish soldiers are killed by Baluba tribesman at Niemba. They are; Lt Kevin Gleeson, Sgt Hugh Gaynor, Cpl Liam Duggan, Cpl Peter Kelly, Pte Matthew Farrell, Tpr Anthony Browne, Tpr Thomas Fennell, Pte Michael McGuinn and Pte Gerard Killeen.

    10 November 1960- Pte Patrick Davis dies whilst serving with ONUC.

    27 November 1960- Patrice Lumumba escapes house arrest and attempts to travel to his supporters stronghold in Stanleyville.

    1 December 1960- Lumumba is captured in Kasai by Mobutu’s soldiers and imprisoned in Thysville Barracks.

    24 December 1960- Cpl Liam Kelly dies whilst serving with ONUC.

    January 1961- Lt Gen Sean McKeown, Chief of Staff of the Irish DF is appointed Force Commander of ONUC. He takes over from Swedish General Carl Von Horn who had commanded since July but who was now in poor health and unable to command.

    Round table talks are held in Leopoldville.

    17 January 1961- Lumumba is taken to Elisabethville in Katanga where he is publicly beaten and humiliated in front of the press. This is the last time Patrice Lumumba was ever seen in public. Three weeks later it was announced on state radio that he had escaped and been killed by local villagers. A Belgian enquiry in 2001 concluded that he was executed by firing squad commanded by a Belgian officer and his body burnt.

    Following Lumumba’s disappearance, the UN Security Council went into overdrive, with the USSR calling for the resignation of the Sec General.

    21 February 1961- The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 161, authorising all appropriate measures to prevent civil war in the Congo, including the use of force. ONUC interprets this to justify military operations to end the secession of Katanga.

    March 1961- Another conference was held in Madagascar which was boycotted by Gizenga and his Lumumbists. This conference suggested that the Congo be organised into a loose confederation of states, a move opposed by the central government of Kasavubu.

    April 1961- Moishe Tshombe was arrested for criticising Kasavubu.

    May 1961- A third conference in Eastern Province agreed to form a federal state. This wa srejected by the Katanganese.

    June 1961- Tshombe is released after agreeing to re-unite Katanga with the Congo.

    2 August 1961- Parliament elects Cyrille Adoula, a Lumumbist as PM. He would serve until June 1964.
    Say NO to violence against Women

    Originally posted by hedgehog
    My favourite moment was when the
    Originally posted by hedgehog
    red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head


    • #3
      24 August 1961- President Kasavubu signs Ordnance No 70, which called for the expulsion of non-Congolese officers and mercenaries not contracted to the central government. PM Adoula requests UN assistance in fulfilling this directive.

      28 August 1961- ONUC launches Operation Rumpunch. The operation is planned to capture as many mercenaries as possible in Katanga and to disarm the gendarmerie. The post office, telephone exchange, radio station and gendarme headquarters in Elisabethville are also captured. Whether by chance or because they have been informed of the coming operation the Katanganese have moved troops into position near Elisabethville airport on the night of the 26th August. The airport is guarded by a company of Irish troops who surround the Katanganese on the morning of the 27th and capture them along with two white officers. One of the white men is a Belgian, Major Mathys, one of those men on the UN list to be rounded up 24 hours later. In spite of this the Irish are ordered to release their prisoners. When Rumpunch is launched, Maj Mathys is nowhere to be found.

      Rumpunch itself is a combined operation involving Irish, Swedish and Indian troops which captures all of it’s objectives and 273 mercenaries. At Elisabethville’s Gendarmerie HQ, the Irish troops are amused to find one Belgian officer in bed with his Irish girlfriend when they burst in the door. Rumpunch is only partly successful, many mercenaries escaping by claiming to be civilians and the UN troops can’t prove otherwise because of lack of hard intelligence on them. To make matters worse the operation is halted before it is completed because the Belgian Consul undertakes to repatriate all the mercenaries. However he actually only expels the Belgian Army officers. Mnay of the expelled mercenaries later re-enter Katanga through Northern Rhodesia.

      30 August 1961- Cpl Luke Kelly dies serving in the Congo.

      3 September 1961- ‘A’ Company, 35th Irish Battalion takes over the town of Jadotville from ‘B’ Company and Swedish troops. Their mission is to protect the civilians in the town, who are in fact hostile to the UN. Jadotville is 90 miles from the Irish HQ.

      13 September 1961- The UN launches Operation Morthor in another attempt to round up the Katanga mercenaries. In addition, the central government had issued arrest warrants for Moishe Tshombe and several of his officials which the UN troops are authorised to execute. The Katanganese have been forewarned however and the Gendarmes put up some resistance. Tshombe escapes to Northern Rhodesia and Conor Cruise O’Brien, the UN Sec General’s special representative in the Congo causes a diplomatic storm by announcing the Katanga secession is over. The UN of course has no mandate to end the secession. Tpr Edward Gaffney killed.

      At 0700 gendarmes in Jadotville attack the Irish troops located near the town. Over the next six days the Irish would be attacked by gendarmerie ground forces and a jet fighter flown by a Belgian mercenary.

      14 September 1961- An Irish/Swedish relief column heading for Jadotville is stopped by the gendarmerie defending Lufira bridge, withing sight of the surrounded troops.

      15 September 1961- Cpl Michael Nolan and Tpr Patrick Mullins killed.

      16 September 1961- Another relief column is beaten back at Lufira bridge, this time coming under attack from the fighter jet. On it’s way back to base the column is ambushed and sustains several casualties.

      The Irish Minister for External Affairs arrives in the Congo to investigate reports that over 50 Irish troops are dead at Jadotville.

      18 September 1961- UN Secretary General Dag Hammerskjold, in an attempt to medoate the crisis flies to Northern Rhodesia to talk with Tshombe. On the approach to Ndola airport his plane crashes killing him and 15 others on board.

      19 September 1961- The Irish troops at Jadotville, out of ammunition, food and water surrender to the Gendarmerie. 5 Irish soldiers have been wounded in the fighting. Gendarmerie casualties are reported to number 150 fatalities. The Irish would remain prisoner until 25th October.

      23 September 1961- More UN prisoners from Elisabethville are brought to Jadotville. They express amazement at finding the Irish soldiers alive as they are all believed dead.

      11 October 1961- All the Irish prisoners are moved to Kolwezi.

      13 October 1961- Mahmoud Khiary who has replaced Hammerskjold as chief negotiator agrees a ceasefire with Tshombe. Prisoners are exchanged and a UN withdrawal from Elsiabethville agreed. Tshombe hails this as a defeat for the UN.

      25 October 1961- UN prisoners released in Elisabethville.

      24 November 1961- The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 169 which is basically the same as the previous ones calling for the removal of white mercenaries.

      5 December 1961- ONUC launches Operation Unokat to reoccupy the positions in Elizabethville that they surrendered in October.

      8 December 1961- Cpl Michael Fallon dies.

      16 December 1961- Lt Patrick Riordan, Sgt Patrick Mulcahy and Pte Andrew Wickham killed.

      18 December 1961- Tshombe agrees to talks with the UN. The negotiations will last for a year.

      22 December 1961- Conor Cruise O’Brien arrives back in Ireland having resigned his post in the Congo.

      28 December 1961- Cpl John Geoghegan dies.

      30 December 1961- Government troops bring the South Kasai secession to an end after 4 months of fighting. Albert Kalonji is arrested.
      Last edited by Groundhog; 4 July 2008, 16:20.
      Say NO to violence against Women

      Originally posted by hedgehog
      My favourite moment was when the
      Originally posted by hedgehog
      red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head


      • #4
        14 January 1962- Congolese troops capture Stanleyville and end the year long secession of Eastern Province. Antoine Gizenga is arrested and imprisoned until July 1964 and again from October 1964 to November 1965. He is exiled from 1965 to 1992. He is currently PM of the DRC.

        7 March 1962- Cpl John Power dies.

        27 March 1962- Lt-Gen Sean McKeown stands down as Force Commander after 15 months. He was succeeded by Lt Gen Kebade Gebre of the Ethiopian Army.

        9 May 1962- Capt Ronald McCann dies in Congo.

        August 1962- UN Secretary General U Thant proposes that Katanga become an autonomous region in a federal state. Tshombe initially agrees with the proposal but never follows through.

        December 1962- UN forces led by Maj Gen Dewan Prem Chand of the Indian Army launch Operation Grand Slam to end the secession of Katanga.

        January 1963- Elisabethville falls to UN troops and the Katanga secession is over. Moishe Tshombe goes into exile.

        21 March 1963- Cpl John McGrath dies.

        28 Sept 1963- Comdt Thomas McMahon becomes the last Irish soldier to die in the Congo.

        January 1964- Three ex-members of Gizenga’s Parti Solidaire Africaine led a rebellion in Kivu and Eastern Provinces that became known as the Simba Rebellion. The three were Pierre Mulele, Gaston Soumialot and Christophe Gbenye. By August they controlled Stanleyville and formed a government. The rebellion included the mass executions of thousands of pro-government Congolese.

        June 1964- ONUC withdraws from Congo. 6,000 Irish soldiers served there, suffering 26 fatalities.

        July 1964- Moishe Tshombe is recalled from exile in Spain and appointed PM replacing Cyrille Adoula. Tshombe is ordered by President Kasavubu to put down the revolt in the Eastern Provinces. He immediately begins recruiting his old gendarmerie and re-employing white mercenaries.

        August 1964- The Simba rebellion is facing defeat. They take hundreds of white hostages and hold them in the Victoria Hotel in Stanleyville.
        Tshombe appeals to the US and Belgium for assistance.

        24 November 1964- In Operation Dragon Rouge 550 Belgian paratroopers led by Col Charles Laurent were dropped onto Stanleyville airfield from US aircraft. They clear the airfield and the route into the town and evacuate 1800 European and American hostages as well as 400 Congolese. 80 hostages are killed. Mulele flees to neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville.

        25 November 1965- With CIA assistance Joseph Desiré Mobutu overthrows President Kasavubu. Tshombe is exiled to Spain and Mobutu sets up a one party totalitarian regime that lasts until his death in 1997.

        July 1966- Amid rumours of the return of Moishe Tshombe his former gendarmerie and mercenaries rebel in Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville) This is the First Kisangani Mutiny. The mutiny is crushed.

        July 1967- Second Kisangani Mutiny is triggered by the news that Tshombe's airplane has been hijacked over the Mediterranean and forced to land in Algiers, where he is held prisoner. The mutiny is led by a Belgian named Jean Schramme. He and 1100 Katanganese hold out until November when they escape to Rwanda.

        1968- Pierre Mulele is lured back to the Congo with the promise of a pardon. As soon as he is back in the country he is arrested, publicly tortured and executed: his eyes are pulled from their sockets, his genitals ripped off and his limbs amputated one by one, all while he is alive. What is left is dumped in a river.

        29 June 1969- Moishe Tshombe dies in Algeria. His plane really was hijacked in June 1967 and he is held captive in Algeria until his death.

        Cyrille Adoula served as Ambassador to Belgium and to the US then as Foreign Minister from 1969 to 1970 when he retired from politics. He died in Switzerland in 1978.

        Mobutu’s regime with the help of the US, Belgium and France lasted for 30 years during which he raped the country’s wealth to the tune of $5 billion. He was deposed by Laurent Kabila in May 1997 at the end of the First Congo War which killed approximately 200,000 people. Mobutu Sese Soku died in Morocco in September 1997. The Second Congo War lasted from 1998 and ended officially in 2003, killing an estimated 5.5 million people. Sporadic fighting continues in the east of the country.

        Laurent Kabila was assassinated in Kinshasa in January 2001 and was succeeded by his son Joseph Kabila Kabange. 25 of the ringleaders of the assassination were sentenced to death in 2003. 64 others were jailed.
        Say NO to violence against Women

        Originally posted by hedgehog
        My favourite moment was when the
        Originally posted by hedgehog
        red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head


        • #5
          Badge of the London United Nations Veterans Association,

          Post One FELIX GRANT DSM UK.

          This Association regularly Parades in London at Commemorative events.

          My brother Kieron ex P.D.F. 21 year Veteran, living in London is the Post Secretary,

          anybody wishing for more info or wishing to join please PM me.

          Connaught Stranger
          Attached Files


          • #6
            From today's Irish Independent

            Leader of Congo battalion dies

            Friday July 04 2008

            Colonel Mort Buckley (above) has died. He led the first Irish infantry battalion to the Congo in 1960. Colonel Buckley, from Kerry, lived in Cloghan, Co Offaly.
            He died on Tuesday at the age of 93. He is survived by two sons and four daughters. His funeral, with military honours, will take place in Clonmacnoise this morning.
            Say NO to violence against Women

            Originally posted by hedgehog
            My favourite moment was when the
            Originally posted by hedgehog
            red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head


            • #7
              Colonel Mort Buckley.

              May he Rest In Peace.

              Connaught Stranger


              • #8
                I believe a reltive of mine, Bernard McAnaney, served in the congo.


                • #9
                  In todays Historical supplement to the Irish Times (Sat 01 Aug 2009)

                  the feature the breaking news story of the Niemba massacre

                  riveting reading
                  Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
                  Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
                  The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere***
                  The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
                  The best lack all conviction, while the worst
                  Are full of passionate intensity.