The tunnel at Elizabethville



It was too big for a pm so I made a thread out of it instead. by the way I was wrong the battle of the tunnel took place after the mutilation of those nine Irish soldiers.

The Second Battle for the Tunnel Elisabethville, Congo.

On the morning of Saturday, l6th Dec. 1961 the Tunnel was stormed by Irish UN Troops in Elizabethville, one Irish Officer was killed and another Irish soldier died in the assault. The Achievement of the 36th Bn in capturing this vital communications link controlling the railway running north to Jadotville and the road to the Swedish and Irish Camps was undoubtedly, the outstanding feat of the renewed fighting in Elizabethville. It meant that the Katangans had no hope of bringing in re-enforcement's from the north by rail.

Following a Mortar Barrage, the Irish troops of A and B Coys launched their assault. B Coy were under Comdt Bill O'Callaghan (this Officer served in Ennis for over 12 years) The 36th Battalion were commanded by Lieut.Colonel Mick Hogan (this officer was a frequent visitor to Ennis before the l960s.) The Irish soldiers were going against two companies of Katangans, who were in the tunnel itself, firmly entrenched in both sides of it and also concealed in carriages of the train standing on the line. The tunnel was a complete bombproof shelter. An infantry assault was called for and the brunt of this assault was now to fall on the shoulders of the unseasoned troops of the 36th Bn., who found themselves pitched into a major battle almost before they found their feet in the Congo.

They went on towards their objective, knowing in their hearts that it would be death or glory for them on this grey, murky morning. They were young men and they were filled with that strange feeling of tension that comes just before the guns begin to blaze. Deep down they might wonder what was the purpose of it all, why they were fighting Katangans when there was no clash of ideologies as in the Korean War, no personal hatreds - why blood should flow in the quelching mud of that morning. And their hates, their loves and their fears were the same as the ordinary soldiers on any side in any war down the centuries. And like all good soldiers on any side in any battle they might ponder but they knew it was not for them to weigh the big issues but to take their commands without question and fight the battle unflinchingly.

They were in the open ground now and it was sodden, saturated ground. They sank low in it and even crawled on their bellies in it as they picked their way onwards. The driving rain had soaked them through to the skin but their eyes were narrowed and set on the strong point ahead and they forgot their discomfort and thought only of the victory that must be theirs.

The leading Platoon was now in full cry and did not falter even as they saw their leader (Lt.O'Riordan) fall mortally wounded. The drove the Katangans out of the railway carriages. The Katangans now re-grouped their forces and launched a counter attack but the Irish knew that the Tunnel was now theirs and they did not intend to relinquish it. They stood firm against all attacks.

Meanwhile fighting was raging fiercely at other points in Elizabethville-The Swedes spearheaded by armoured cars, advanced on Camp Massart, the gendarmerie stronghold, like the Irish they too were hampered by the rain, which turned the Kampemba river into a raging torrent and bogged down the armoured vehicles. The Katangan gunners tried hard to halt the advance but by 10.30 hours the first Swedish troops smashed thro the gates. The Swedes also broke into the camp at other points and bitter hand to hand fighting followed, the gendarmerie, lead by white officers, defended with great courage as they retreated inch by inch. In the end they had to be smoked out of some of the buildings. Five Swedes were wounded two seriously.

The Gurkhas in the fourth phase cleared the airport road and when moving into the suburbs of the city, clashed with Katangans near the stadium, knocking out an armoured car.

As the fighting neared the presidential palace, Mr.Tshombe fled the capital and arrived at the mining town of Kipushia, near the Rhodesian border. The Federal Prime Minister had offered Mr.Tshombe and his Ministers refuge. By nightfall on Saturday, December, 16th the Katanganise forces were beaten and demoralised and the United Nations had restored the freedom of movement the needed and were more or less in control of the city.

On Sunday, December 17th, Mr.Tshombe returned to the capital and sent a radio message to President Kennedy that he was ready to hold discussions with Mr. Adoula. " Please arrange an immediate end to hostilities" he appealed. Fighting still continued for some days yet as UN Armoured cars patrolled the debris-strewn city but on the 19th December Mr.Tshombe and the American Ambassador arrived at the UN Air Base in Kitona for vital talks, in the meantime U Thant ordered his Commanders in the Congo to agree to a temporary cease-fire.

42 years is a long time to look back but even to day I still remember most of those who took part, some are still with us and some are not.
This is laziness, dragged this from IMO. Cross checked story with a mate in mil archives to be sure it was authentic.
Thanks for that.
Do you know who mutilated the Irish soldiers?
I was under the impression that is was not the Katangans, though I could be wrong.

The Christian, anti-communist, pro-Western Tshombe was elected president of Katanga in August of 1960, and declared that "we are seceding from chaos." Favoring continued ties with Belgium, Tshombe asked the Belgian government to send military officers to recruit and train a Katangese army. The Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and his successor Cyrille Adoula requested intervention from United Nations forces, which they received.

When Lumumba was turned over to Katangan officials in early 1961, he was executed; some say that Tshombe ordered the killing, others that (despite his detestation of Lumumba) he tried to prevent it. It took the United Nations two years to force Katanga back under Congolese rule.

In 1963, UN forces succeeded in capturing Katanga, driving Tshombe into exile in Northern Rhodesia, later to Spain. In 1964 he returned to the Congo to serve as prime minister in a new Coalition government, but was dismissed from his position the following year by President Joseph Kasa Vubu. In 1966, Prime Minister Joseph Mobutu, who had staged a successful coup against President Kasa Vubu a year earlier, brought charges of treason against Tshombe, who again fled the country, and settled in Spain.

In 1967, he was sentenced to death in absentia. On June 30, 1967, a plane he was traveling in was hijacked to Algeria, where he was first jailed and then kept under house arrest until his death from heart failure in 1969.


Secession of Katanga

On 11 July 1960, with the support of Belgian business interests and over 6000 Belgian troops, the mineral-rich Katanga province in the south declared independence under the leadership of Moise Tshombe, leader of the local CONAKAT party. Tshombe was known to be close to the Belgian industrial companies which mined the rich resources of copper, gold and uranium. Katanga was one of the richest and most developed areas of the Congo. Without Katanga, Congo would be an impoverished economy. With Belgian assistance Katanga's Gendarmerie was converted into an effective military force. At the core of the Katangan forces were several hundred European mercenaries many of which were recruited in Belgium. Almost from the beginning, the new state faced a rebellion in the north in Luba areas. This was led by a political party called Association of the Luba People of Katanga (BALUBAKAT). In January 1961, Katanga faced a secession crisis of its own when Balubakat leaders declared independence from Katanga. Throughout the period of the secession, Katangan forces were never able to completely control the province.

UN launches Operation Morthor

On 9th September, when it became clear that Tshombe's mercenaries were still in control of the Katangan gendarmerie, the UN launched Operation Morthor (Hindi for "smash") to terminate the Katangan secession by force. Operation Morthor was a political and military fiasco. It went badly from the start. Katangan gendarmes put up a strong defence which allowed Tshombe and other government officials to escape. On 13th September Tshombe fled to Ndola in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) from where he urged the gendarmerie to continue resistance. Reports of UN attacks on civilian installations came from Elizabethville and caused anger in Europe. A battalion of 155 UN troops were attacked and trapped in Jadotville. Katanga made use of a Fouga Magister jet, piloted by a Belgian mercenary, to strafe the battalion and prevent resupply.

Death of Dag Hammarskjöld and Military Standoff

In the midst of Operation Morthor, Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld decided to intervene personally and negotiate a ceasefire with Tshombe. His plane crashed en route to Ndola causing the death of all on board. The next day the besieged UN battalion at Jadotville, surrendered to the Katangan Gendamerie after running out of water and ammunition (See Siege of Jadotville). A ceasefire was quickly agreed and on September 20th and Tshombe returned to Elizabethville. The UN troops remained in Katangan custody until 25th October when a prisoner swap was agreed. On 30th October, Congolese government forces attacked Katanga but were repulsed with heavy casualties.

UN Operation Grand Slam Ends Katanga Secession

Throughout 1962, Tshombe maintained the independence of Katanga. In August, UN Secretary General U Thant proposed a plan that Katanga become an autonomous region in a federal state. Tshombe initially agreed with the proposal but agreement was never concluded. In December 1962 the UN launched Operation Grand Slam on Katanga political and military infrastructure. This proved to be a decisive attack and by January 1963 Elizabethville was under full UN control. This ended the secession of Katanga.

Rural Insurgencies in Eastern Provinces

In early 1964, a new crisis broke out as Congolese rebels calling themselves "Simba" (Swahili for "Lion") rebelled against the government. They were led by Gaston Soumialot and Christophe Gbenye who was a radical former member of Gizenga's African Solidarity Party. The rebellion affected Kivu and Orientale provinces. By August they had captured Stanleyville and set up a rebel government there. As the rebel movement spread, discipline became more difficult to maintain, and acts of violence and terror increased. Thousands of Congolese were executed, including government officials, political leaders of opposition parties, provincial and local police, school teachers, and others believed to have been Westernized.

In July 1964, Moise Tshombe replaced Cyrilla Adoula as prime minister of a new national government with a mandate to end the regional revolts. Tshombe had been the leader of Katanga when that province tried to secede. It was therefore highly ironic that he was chosen to lead the Congolese central government in a war against another rebellious province. Among his first moves, Tshombe recalled the exiled Katangan gendarmerie and recruited white mercenaries, integrating them with the ANC. Some of these mercenaries had fought for Katanga when Tshombe was leader of the breakaway province.

By early August, 1964 the Congolese, with the help of groups of white mercenaries under their own command, was making headway against the Simba rebellion. Fearing defeat, the rebels started taking hostages of the local white population in areas under their control. Several hundred hostages were taken to Stanleyville and placed them under guard in the Victoria Hotel.

Operation Dragon Rouge

The Congolese government turned to the United States for help. In response, the US Strike Command sent a task force to Leopoldville.

Washington and Brussels tried to come up with a rescue plan. Several ideas were considered and discarded, while attempts at negotiating with the Simbas failed.

Eventually it was decided to mount a daring rescue operation. On November 24, 1964, a squadron of planes including five US air force C-130 transports dropped over 300 Belgian paratroopers at the airfield at Stanleyville. Once the paratroopers had secured the airfield and cleared the runway they made their way to the hotel, prevented Simbas from killing the hostages, and evacuated the hostages via the airfield. Over the next two days over 1800 American and Europeans were evacuated as well as around 300 Congolese.

The operation coincided with the arrival of ANC and other mercenary units at Stanleyville which was quickly captured. It took until the end of the year to put down the remaining areas of rebellion.

Tshombe's prestige was damaged by the joint Belgian-US operation which saw white mercenaries and western forces intervene once again in the Congo. In particular Tshombe had lost the support of both Kasa-Vubu and Mobutu.

During the Congo Crisis Col Mike Hoare organised and led two separate mercenary bands:

Major Mike Hoare's first mercenary action was in Katanga, a province trying to breakaway from the newly independent Congo. The unit was called "4 Commando".

Congolese Prime Minister Moïse Tshombe recruited "Colonel" Mike Hoare to lead a mercenary unit called "5 Commando" made up of about 300 men most of whom were from South Africa. The unit's mission was to quell a breakaway rebel group called Simba. Later Hoare and his mercenaries worked in concert with Belgian paratroopers, Cuban exile pilots, and others who raced frantically to save 1,600 civilians (mostly Europeans and missionaries) in Stanleyville from the Simba rebels in Operation Dragon Rouge. This operation was very successful and saved many white European missionaries from possible torture and execution at the hands of the rebels.

An interesting incident involving Colonel Hoare was when it was discovered that a mercenary under his command had raped and killed a young girl. There was a military tribunal for the man. Two officers recommended that the man be executed, while a third recommended 35 lashes with a cat o' nine tails as punishment. In the end the sentence by Hoare was for the offenders's big toes to be severed, as he had enjoyed playing professional football. Hoare personally shot off the man's toes with an automatic pistol. This and many other incidents are recorded in the book "Congo Mercenary, London: Hale (1967), ISBN 0-7090-4375-9".

(I just brought the last copy on amazon)
I'l have to look up the details

To be sure I'l have to canvass for info but if I'm right it was Baluba tribesmen.
In short it seems from the brief and scanty bits of info I have in front of me that the patrol cmndr mucked up and the only reason anyone survived the attack is because tpr Anthony Browne distracted and led them away from the site of the ambush. He got a an MMG with distinction for that but unfortunately never lived to see it.
It seems that in the midst of the whole crisis 3 local tribes had decided to have a bit of an oul tribal war with one another.
It has been years since I read up on all of that, fascinating history.

Indeed it is,
While I love and study the military history of Ireland (our last 40 years especially) and the recent military history of Europe my favorite will probably always be ancient Rome. As for Congo, I realy should know more but I don't.
I can however source more if you want.
I bring you

The siege of Jadotville:
Background and brief:
In 1961, during the United Nations intervention in the Katanga conflict in the Congo, central Africa, a company of Irish UN troops was forced to surrender to troops loyal to the Katangese Prime Minister Moise Tshombe. The contingent of Irish UN troops was sent to protect the Belgian colonists and local population in Jadotville (now called Likasi) where they were attacked and eventually forced to surrender, by those they were sent to protect.

The possition:
Having had problems with transportation, the Irish UN troops were forced to deploy to Jadotville without their full complement of support weaponry. However, their commanding officer had the foresight to order digging of defensive positions before the attacks thus saving many lives.

The battle:
The initial attack occurred while many of the Irish troops were attending Mass. Expecting that the men would be unarmed during Mass, the first attackers moved rapidly in. They were quickly repelled by light machine-gun fire which alerted the entire company to the threat. This set the stage for a three-day battle. A combined force of mercenaries and Belgians with local tribesmen attacked the Irish. The UN soldiers had, for the most part, just light personal weapons and they held off a force in excess of 4000 armed with a mix of light and medium armament for several days. 5 Irishmen died and several were wounded and 55 attackers died in the siege. Among the most effective weapons employed by the Irish combatants was a small number of antiquated water-cooled Vickers machine guns.

Several attempts were made to relieve the Irish but they were held back by a supporting force of mercenaries who were brought in by the Belgians and Moise Tschombe, the premier of the breakaway province of Katanga. A feature of the failed attempts to relieve the siege was a series of battles at a bridge where the UN force were bombed by a Belgian jet fighter. Attempts to resupply water to the troops by helicopter succeeded, but the water was undrinkable because of contamination.
The Irish (A Company, 35th Battalion, led by Commandant Quinlan) inflicted over 300 casualties on the Katangans, while only 5 Irish troops were killed . In the end the Irish troops, having run out of ammunition and food and low on water surrendered to the Katangese. They were held as hostages for almost a month while the Katangese and their mercenary allies bartered them for prisoners in the custody of the legitimate Congolese Govt. of Kasavubu. The truth was that the U.N. had not the will to back up our troops properly (air cover would not have gone astray) and so surrender was inevitable.
The aftermath
False reports of the deaths of several Irish soldiers circulated in the media at the time of the attacks. One theory suggests that the Belgian fighter pilot mistook bed rolls for body bags as he overflew the battlefield.

The battle of Jadotville was not, until recently, given much recognition by the Irish state. A commemorative stone honoring the soldiers of A Company was erected in the grounds of Custume Barracks in Athlone in 2005.

Thanks to wikipedia for information which was cross referenced before posting some changes made to ensure quality on info (the account on wikipedia had one or two small mistakes).
To check and see what changes were made simply visit,
no changes were made based on personal bias of any kind.
Thanks for that.

Wow isnt it a surprise the UN sending in troops without the means to properly defend themselves into a confused situation where they just complicate things
Ain't it just

Was reminicse in a way (to me anyway) of what happened at Srebrenize and how the UN tried to blame the Dutch, now that was bollox in my books.
I'l get an account on the baluba attack on the patrol next.
Ain't it just

Was reminisce in a way (to me anyway) of what happened at Srebreniza (not sure about spelling and how the UN tried to blame the Dutch, now that was bollox in my books. I'l get an account on the baluba attack on the patrol next.
Shit double post, can you handle that Pardus, Oh thanks for allowing the editor for posts, mucho handy.
The entire Dutch govt resigned in shame over that about 5-6 years ago.

It was disgraceful, but the UN was ultimately to blame.
No argument here

That was one of the UN's worst blunders (whole Serb, Croat, Bsonian conflict from start to finish). I do believe they would be hard pressed to do worse.
At least Liberia got proper ROE :)
I know NZ wrote their own ROE in Timor first time around as the ROE presented was pathetic.

'Keep the UN out' is the best policy if you want to solve an issue.
Sounds good

I take it NZ have a habit of not taking shit of the kind of arseholes one tends to find in the various dumps and have not holes on the planet. I do believe it remains for the various nations when they do agree to UN duty ot insist on proper ROE. To often governments have been willing to accept the crappy ROE in the past and which left their soldiers at risk. Allthough this does appear to be a thing of the past.
Such operations as KFOR seem to be the better way, to get a UN mandate for intervention but for such organization's as NATO, the EU etc to set out the guidelines and do the job. In honesty so far the only highly succesful blue hat op I can put forward is UNMIL, which falls not under peacekeeping but that lovely description "peace enforcement". Always was a fan of the whole "be peaceful or else" approach.