Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Niemba

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Niemba

    In a Dail debate following the tragedy the exchange below took place. Were the rifles mentioned lee-Enfields or FN?


    Dáil Éireann
    Volume 185
    24 November, 1960
    Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers.
    Congo Ambush.



    26. Mr. Sherwin asked the Minister for Defence the fire power of the eleven-man patrol which was recently ambushed in the Congo; if they possessed wireless; if so, if it was used; and what the time of the ambush was, and the time that help arrived at the scene.

    Minister for Defence (Mr. K. Boland) Kevin Boland


    276

    Minister for Defence (Mr. K. Boland): The fire-power of the eleven-man patrol recently ambushed in the Republic of the Congo was:-2 Bren guns; 4 Gustaf sub-machine guns; [276] 4 rifles. The medical orderly accompanying the patrol did not carry firearms.

    The patrol did not carry wireless equipment.

    The action commenced at approximately 3 p.m. local time on 8th November. The first search party left Albertville at 10.30 p.m., arrived at Niemba at 3.45 a.m. and was on the scene of the ambush about first light on 9th November.

    Mr. Sherwin Mr. Sherwin

    Mr. Sherwin: Arising out of the Minister's reply, there is grave disquiet among the public that a body of men--

    A Deputy A Deputy

    A Deputy: Speech.

    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan

    An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is making a speech.

    Mr. Sherwin Mr. Sherwin

    Mr. Sherwin: Is the Minister aware that there is grave disquiet--

    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan

    An Ceann Comhairle: That does not make a question out of a statement.

    Mr. Sherwin Mr. Sherwin

    Mr. Sherwin: --that a body of men alleged to have the latest firearms could have been overwhelmed by a primitive body of any number with bows and arrows and it is felt that the men were not fully armed or armour protected? I would ask the Minister will he ensure that in future every man will have a maximum fire power in his possession not only in regard to automatic arms but armour protection because--

    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan

    An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is making a speech.

    Mr. Sherwin Mr. Sherwin

    Mr. Sherwin: Well, Sir, one would want to make a speech to have one's case realised.

    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan

    An Ceann Comhairle: This is Question Time and not speech-making time.

    Mr. Sherwin Mr. Sherwin

    Mr. Sherwin: There is grave disquiet that a body of men could be overwhelmed--

    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan

    An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is not asking a question.

    Mr. Sherwin Mr. Sherwin

    Mr. Sherwin: --by the use of bows and arrows--

    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan


    277

    [277] An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is not asking a question.

    Mr. Sherwin Mr. Sherwin

    Mr. Sherwin: --and the public would like an explanation of it and why they had no wireless.

    Mr. K. Boland Mr. K. Boland

    Mr. K. Boland: This was the type of situation which had been met on many previous occasions and it was always possible to avoid hostilities by making it clear that the troops were United Nations troops and there was no reason to believe that things would turn out differently on this occasion. However, it turned out that the small patrol concerned was attacked by a vastly superior number of the Baluba tribesmen who were, it is true, armed with primitive weapons, but the patrol would appear to have had very little chance owing to the vastly superior number of tribesmen involved.

    Mr. Russell Mr. Russell

    Mr. Russell: Could the Minister say if every possible precaution will now be taken to ensure that a repetition of this tragedy will not occur? Have the fire power and the arms generally of these units been increased to provide for a situation which apparently was not foreseen?

    Mr. K. Boland Mr. K. Boland

    Mr. K. Boland: It was pointed out previously that the United Nations Commander is responsible for the operation of the troops and he had no reason to believe that a thing like this would happen. It has happened and I am quite sure all the precautions which it is necessary to take will be taken.

    Mr. Russell Mr. Russell

    Mr. Russell: Have the precautions been taken? It is all right for the Minister to say that he is sure the precautions will be taken. Can the Minister say that all the precautions have been taken?

    Mr. K. Boland Mr. K. Boland

    Mr. K. Boland: I am aware that there has been a re-assessment of the situation by the military commanders concerned and of course this patrol was adequately armed. They carried as much fire power as it would be reasonable to expect a small patrol to carry.

    Mr. Carroll Mr. Carroll


    278

    [278] Mr. Carroll: Will steps be taken to ensure that in future the patrols will have radio facilities available to them?

    Mr. K. Boland Mr. K. Boland

    Mr. K. Boland: A patrol such as this would not normally carry wireless equipment. It is extremely doubtful if it would have been of any avail in the circumstances prevailing on that occasion.

    Mr. Lindsay Mr. Lindsay

    Mr. Lindsay: Will the Minister use his good office, through prior consultation with Deputies who put down questions of this kind, to ensure that the least possible publicity will attach to them and thus save the feelings of bereaved relatives and, accordingly, allay the fears of those who have left their loved ones in the Congo?

    Mr. Corish Mr. Corish

    Mr. Corish: The newspapers will take care of that.
    .
    .
    .
    With 50,000 men getting killed a week, who's going to miss a pigeon?

    Guns don't kill people, bullets kill people.

  • #2
    I think the first and second batallion went out with 303s,but they were replaced during the first tour..
    I occasionally work with a veteren of the first chalk,but once he gets started he usually tells the story in real time....


    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

    Comment


    • #3
      Lee Enfields mostly, I think. But Tpr Browne had a Gustaf SMG.
      sigpic
      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

      Comment


      • #4
        Groundhog, 'don't want to be contradicting you just for the sake of it, but I thought, I read somewhere that Trooper Brown had a Bren.
        "We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey"
        Radio transmission, siege of Jadotville DR Congo. September 1961.
        Illegitimi non carborundum

        Comment


        • #5
          His citation says that he covered a comrades withdrawal by firing his SMG so........................................

          At least as far as I know. But I have been wrong before.
          sigpic
          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

          Comment


          • #6
            http://sunset.ennis.ie/article.php3?id_article=180
            On 8th November 1960 a Platoon of Irish UN Troops set out on what should have been a normal Patrol, nine of them died at the hands of the Balubas. Two of the Platoon survived to tell the story of the ambush. They were Trooper Thomas Kenny and Private Joe Fitzpatrick.

            I think I could give no more graphic description of the ambush than to quote in full, the interview which Private Fitzpatrick give when in hospital in Albertville. In the same ward in the bed beside Fitzpatrick lay the other survivor Thomas Kenny.

            "We were on a routine patrol. It was normal to go down the road leading south from Niemba and find a roadblock that had to be cleared.

            Balubas were always doing this and we used to curse them almost good-naturedly while, in the hot sun, pulling down their handiwork - usually heavy logs piled across the road.

            But this time they had done a more thorough job. They had pulled to pieces a wooden bridge across a small river, and it was taking us a lot more time than usual to put it right.

            We had noticed lately that the parties of Baluba we met were getting more sullen and hostile. We never had more trouble than an odd arrow shot our way and we had always managed to bring about a peaceful end to our meetings with them.

            So we were not at all expecting what happened this time. There we were, working away at that bridge with our Platoon Commander, Lt. Kevin Gleeson, and Sergt. Gaynor supervising, when someone called out there were Balubas coming down the road behind us. I looked up and there were about a hundred of them carrying bows and arrows, spears, panga knives and clubs.

            Lt.Gleeson told us to stop working and be on alert with our weapons. Even then we did not expect trouble. We thought it would be another parley and then they would go away.

            Lt. Gleeson walked towards them alone, holding up his right arm in sign of peace. They called out "Jambo" which is an African word meaning "I greet you in peace"

            I looked away for just a moment for some reason or other and heard a shout from the lads. Then I saw Lt.Gleeson staggering with an arrow in his shoulder. I heard him yell, "Take cover, lads get behind the trees.

            We did just that and withdrew into the trees on each side of the road. Most of the boys took cover on the opposite side of the road that I did - that is really how my life was saved, because the major Baluba attack went that way.

            The air was suddenly black with a shower of arrows, and the Buluba let out blood-curdling yells that sounded like a war cry and rushed down the road like madmen, jumping in the air and waving their weapons.

            I don't know who give the order to shoot, but we seemed suddenly all to be shooting.

            I saw Lt. Gleeson killed. He didn't really get off the road. He fired into the Baluba with his sub-machine gun, covering us, looking quickly back over his shoulder to make sure we had taken cover. Then he turned and ran for the trees himself.

            But they overtook him and ran him down. Some had outflanked him and cut off his attempt to get to cover. A lot of them reached him at the same time and they were howling like animals. Our Officer went down under a hail of blows from knives and clubs.

            I don't know what I was thinking at the time but I have plenty of time to think since and that sight was the most awful memory of it all. Lt. Gleeson was a wonderful man and we loved him- we all loved him.

            From that moment it all became very confused. The fight spread out among the trees. I could not see most of it. But there was a terrible noise, shouts, shooting and screaming.

            The Baluba seemed to be everywhere, crushing through the bushes and giving their sort of high pitched battle-cry.

            I heard our lads yelling, too. I heard one of them swearing. I remember I recognised his voice and I called out his name.

            I heard another Irish voice say! Oh my God! and it ended in a sort of sob.

            I saw about 12 Baluba in a hand-to-hand fight with one of our lads, who was using his rifle like a club. I feared to shoot for hitting him. Then I realised he was going to be killed anyway if I did not shoot and I fired two long bursts and saw three Buluba fall.

            The rest of the Baluba ran away and I went to the lad who was my friend. He was still alive but could not answer when I spoke to him. He had three arrows in his body and was terribly cut with knives or spear wounds.

            I tried gently to pull the arrows out of him but they would not come away because they were barbed. I stayed with him till he died ten minutes later.

            I could still hear the Baluba about me but there was no more shooting.

            I started to move through the bush, knowing that if they found me they would kill me.

            Suddenly there was a crashing to my right. I threw myself on the ground, rolled under a bush so that I was covered.

            I heard Baluba voices almost right above me- I think they were so close I could have touched the speakers.

            For one terrible moment I waited for the spear-thrust I felt sure must come. But then they moved away. They had not seen me.

            I lay there without moving for three hours till it became dark. Ants and other insects crawled over me.

            After it was dark I got up and moved towards the road but in such a way that I would miss the scene of the fight. I found the road and moved along it, keeping close to the trees. I felt ice cold and my teeth were chattering although I knew the night was sticky and warm. I wondered if I had malaria or fever, or something.

            I walked cautiously with my gun at the ready. The night was pitch black and I could just see the pale blur of the road. I began to tremble violently.

            I was jumping at every sound. I began to feel that I was being watched and followed. I stepped on a dry twig, which snapped, and my heart jumped at the sound. Suddenly I heard a distant singing. I came to a native village at the roadside where there was singing and shouting and I saw fires burning. They sounded terribly drunk. I felt certain that it was the people who had attacked us.

            For a moment I had a wild impulse to creep up on them and let them have it with every bullet left in my gun. Instead I moved back into the jungle on the opposite side of the road. I was getting terribly exhausted and several times fell over roots and things and collided with tree branches in the dark.

            I could hear frightening sounds and rustlings of animals about me, but I was past caring. I stumbled and put my hand on the branch of a tree to steady myself and yelled out aloud in pain and fright. The branch seemed alive with crawling insects. Something had stung my hand.

            I staggered a few more yards and sank to the ground. I felt dazed and my thoughts began to wander. I thought of my mother, and the coolness of Ireland, of the rain in the streets of Dublin and how peaceful it was there.

            I wished so much that I could get out of this God-forsaken country of filth, sweat and heat and savages. I think I prayed it might be so. I think I dozed or fell into a stupor or something then because suddenly it was getting light.

            Pulling myself to my feet I wandered slowly through the jungle again. Suddenly I heard the sound of a truck and heard Irish voices. I shouted and ran towards the lovely sound of it. I fell but got up and kept on going and came out on the road. It was a truck full of some of the boys from Albertville.

            I fell into their arms"

            PS A Patrol that later went out to search found all the missing bodies with the exception of Trooper Anthony Browne. An intensive search proved fruitless and he was officially posted "missing", presumed dead". It was not until a year later almost to the date that Trooper Brown's body was found.


            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

            Comment


            • #7
              So where were Brown's remains found? At the ambush site or had the been moved? A friends uncle died in that. Was revenge ever sought? Enacted?
              Meh.

              Comment


              • #8
                Goldie fish-thanks for the article.

                Anyone know what was the motive of the Baluba tribesmed for the attack?
                Anyone know how many Baluba were killed?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Very interesting article Goldie. Lets not froget Trooper Mullins form 1 Motor Squadron was also killed out there then the armoured car he was in was hit by an anti-tank round. There is a permeinant memorial stone for him in the remaining sector of Fermoy Barracks
                  Only the dead have seen the end of war - Plato

                  "Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory" Proverbs 11-14
                  http://munsterfireandrescue.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by yooklid
                    So where were Brown's remains found? At the ambush site or had the been moved? A friends uncle died in that. Was revenge ever sought? Enacted?
                    Trooper Browne survived the ambush and wandered in the jungle until he came upon some Baluba women who gave him up to a party of Baluba men, who murdered him.

                    His body was found quite some time later.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I didn't realise that. A couple of years ago one of the survivors caused some consternation by declaring that Tpr Browne didn't actually sacrifice himself for his comrades. Controversy didn't catch on though.
                      sigpic
                      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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well done Goldie thats the first time I've ever got such a detailed recollection of the events.
                        Covid 19 is not over ....it's still very real..Hand Hygiene, Social Distancing and Masks.. keep safe

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Dont thank me....Thank google


                          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Groundhog
                            I didn't realise that. A couple of years ago one of the survivors caused some consternation by declaring that Tpr Browne didn't actually sacrifice himself for his comrades. Controversy didn't catch on though.
                            That man said that it was a terrible burden to have people thinking that Trooper Browne saved his life when in fact this was not the case.

                            Officially, Browne is supposed to have fired his Gustav to cover that man's escape but this appears to be untrue.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              why wait 40 years before unburdening himself? sounds like typical Irish begrudgery to me.
                              sigpic
                              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

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X