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The Siege of Jadotville: Film

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    The Siege of Jadotville: Film

    It is great to see this incident being brought out into the light after 55 years.

    Ireland's first UN mission was conducted very naively by the Lemass government of the day and especially our UN representative Conor Cruise O'Brien. Poorly equipped and clad (for the conditions), the Irish contingent of 155 men fought bravely for six days under the command of Pat Quinlan against up to 3,000 local and French/Belgian mercenaries but were forced to surrender due to lack of water and ordnance.

    'A Company' were eventually exchanged in a prisoner swop and no Irish soldier lost his life (despite inflicting 1,300 casualties on the attacking Katangese forces).

    It would seem that the surrender of the Irish contingent was viewed as shameful at home, not so much but the army but by our politicians.

    Put quite simply, the Irish soldiers were sent into a Cold War quagmire where they had no possibility of success. It entirely was due to Commander Pat Quinlan's tactical military nous along with accurate marksmanship using mortars, 303s and FNs that allowed the company to hold out as long as they could.

    I recall as a kid, this engagement being spoken of in hushed terms.

    Last edited by NiallGK; 22nd-September-2016, 00:58.
    If your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.

    #2
    Yes I dimly recall it and the shadow of embarassment that surrounded it. I remember being told that this or that person "was in the Congo" - and this meant that they had some dark secret. Although I was instinctively sympathetic to anyone caught in a situation like that so far from home, to my shame I never revisited the story. So I really hadn't a clue what actually happened until i jeard and read the stories and interviews around this movie.
    Edit: I also recall being bawled out of it by my ma, calling me a Baluba.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie as I think it's an episode we can all be very proud of - especially in the light of the surrender of UN forces in 1995 that enabled the mass executions at the "UN safe city" of Srebrenica of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys.
    Last edited by rathbaner; 22nd-September-2016, 14:13.
    Munster – Champions of Europe 2006, 2008, 2019.

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      #3
      I saw a headline last week in the news that the men who served on this tour and were engaged in defending this attack were recently and fittingly honoured with a Presidential Unit Citation.

      This attack on our troops serving with the UN took place in 1961.

      Why the bloody hell did it take so long to do this?


      The cynic in me will tell you why, because it never would have happened but for their correct portrayal in the new film being released.

      That is a disgrace imo.

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        #4
        I recall it being discussed, but not in hushed tones. My Mum's side of the extended family had an 'tradition' of having men serve in various armies, including the modern Irish one. Dad's side also have a fair scattering of men who would have served in earlier times, with the British army up to & including WW1. My Dad gave me a book written about the Congo by a well-known Irish journo (Indo, I think) Raymond Smith who was a foreign/pol cor out there at the time; "The Fighting Irish in the Congo". It was a fascinating read for a young lad like me in the late 70's having grown up on comics such as Warlord, Victor & Battle-Action or the Commando series of mini books; to see Irish troops seeing action rather than reading ****e about WW2.

        Think Smith also wrote a book called Under the Blue Flag or somesuch about the broader UN involvement in the Congo.

        Anyway - the tones weren't hushed in our house and political weakness and the lack of preparedness/need to compromise for political reasons impacting on the health & safety of 'the poor bloody infantry' was a theme openly bandied about in our gaff. We knew all about Trooper Browne, Niemba, the Balubas , the Mercenaries etc. The troops were shamefully treated by the establishment when they came home.

        I certainly cannot help but wander the magnificent boulevards of Brussels with a somewhat jaundiced eye, knowing what much of the opulence was built so savagely on. The 'Brits' were pussycats by comparison with what the Belgians did in the Congo.

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          #5
          Looking forward to seeing this as my father was in the Congo..grew up with a Baluba arrow hanging in the hallway. We even had a Swahili-English dictionary published for the troops.

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            #6
            Originally posted by Red October View Post
            I certainly cannot help but wander the magnificent boulevards of Brussels with a somewhat jaundiced eye, knowing what much of the opulence was built so savagely on. The 'Brits' were pussycats by comparison with what the Belgians did in the Congo.
            I think the same when I hear the justification of WWI referring to 'Little Belgium' although technically it was the King's colony and not the country's..the Belgians have a nasty history in the Congo.

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              #7
              Sounds like a great story will definitely go to see it. Great to get publicity on Ireland's generally positive role as a 'military' force and Ireland's role in generally trying to uphold international law/morality.

              ...always however feel a bit uneasy when speaking of Western bravery in general when the Westerners have much better firepower than the locals. I'm assuming that is the case here?
              Last edited by AdolphusGrigson; 22nd-September-2016, 15:15.
              ​​​​​​#GiveLeinsterTheHCupNow

              Originally Posted by mr chips
              AG gets the responses he does because he is a journalist..

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                #8
                Originally posted by zeno View Post
                I think the same when I hear the justification of WWI referring to 'Little Belgium' although technically it was the King's colony and not the country's..the Belgians have a nasty history in the Congo.
                That's a really good point - I wonder if the boul Roger Casement had a word to say on it?
                ​​​​​​#GiveLeinsterTheHCupNow

                Originally Posted by mr chips
                AG gets the responses he does because he is a journalist..

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by AdolphusGrigson View Post
                  ...always however feel a bit uneasy when speaking of Western bravery in general when the Westerners have much better firepower than the locals. I'm assuming that is the case here?
                  On the contrary. The Irish troops were confronted with field artillery, large 81mm mortars and even a jet fighter (flown by a French mercenary pilot). The Congolese forces were amply supplied with the most up to date equipment and were lead by French and Belgian mercenaries, most of whom had battle experience gained in WWII and French Indochina.

                  The majority of the Irish UN detachment were armed with vintage .303s. The FN rifle was in short supply at the time.
                  If your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by NiallGK View Post
                    On the contrary. The Irish troops were confronted with field artillery, large 81mm mortars and even a jet fighter (flown by a French mercenary pilot). The Congolese forces were amply supplied with the most up to date equipment and were lead by French and Belgian mercenaries, most of whom had battle experience gained in WWII and French Indochina.

                    The majority of the Irish UN detachment were armed with vintage .303s. The FN rifle was in short supply at the time.
                    That's sounds fair enough - but doesn't no deaths on the Irish side seems a bit unusual for such a battle? Whatever about the answer to that - it is very much a positive - even if the outcome was surrender.

                    Interesting how it would have played politically at the time, perhaps there was a feeling of humiliation at the surrender. Would be interesting if the Irish Time/Indo/RTE delve into their archives and tell us how they reported it.
                    ​​​​​​#GiveLeinsterTheHCupNow

                    Originally Posted by mr chips
                    AG gets the responses he does because he is a journalist..

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                      #11
                      According to a recent Irish Times report, the Irish soldiers negotiated a "cease fire". It only became a surrender when they were effectively abandoned by the UN Top Brass.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Piquet View Post
                        According to a recent Irish Times report, the Irish soldiers negotiated a "cease fire". It only became a surrender when they were effectively abandoned by the UN Top Brass.
                        There is nothing wrong with surrendering per se anyway - and from what seems to have happened here nothing wrong with it in those circumstances - pinhead dancing over the type of cessation of hostilities Shirley misses the main point. Perhaps there was a shame-of-surrender-thing going on at the time?
                        ​​​​​​#GiveLeinsterTheHCupNow

                        Originally Posted by mr chips
                        AG gets the responses he does because he is a journalist..

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by AdolphusGrigson View Post
                          There is nothing wrong with surrendering per se anyway - and from what seems to have happened here nothing wrong with it in those circumstances
                          Agreed.

                          Originally posted by AdolphusGrigson View Post
                          - pinhead dancing over the type of cessation of hostilities Shirley misses the main point.
                          I disagree, the point was they were abandoned by the UN and subsequently disowned by their superiors.

                          Originally posted by AdolphusGrigson View Post
                          The Perhaps there was a shame-of-surrender-thing going on at the time?
                          and for a long period afterwards. It seems to have been "career limiting" to meniton Jadotville in the Irish Army.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by Piquet View Post
                            Agreed.

                            I disagree, the point was they were abandoned by the UN and subsequently disowned by their superiors.



                            and for a long period afterwards. It seems to have been "career limiting" to meniton Jadotville in the Irish Army.
                            In relation to your disagreement - I probably didnt phrase that properly - I agree the facts as to whether it was a surrender or not is interesting and relevant in a military sense and important from an historical accuracy point of view, but the nature of the cessation of hostilities does not undermine the actions up to that point - and for me anyway whether it was a 'surrender' or not is very much a secondary point which deflects from the substantive point and seems to feed into surrender-is-bad narrative.
                            ​​​​​​#GiveLeinsterTheHCupNow

                            Originally Posted by mr chips
                            AG gets the responses he does because he is a journalist..

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Just to clarify, Quinlan when was asked for a second ceasefire (the first was to allow the Kangalese forces to collect their dead and wounded from the field of battle) he radioed to the UN base in Elizabethville for advice and was told that peace talks were ongoing and were preceding well.

                              Based on this, Quinlan decided to allow for a second ceasefire at the request of the Kangalese but when he met his opponent, he was informed that both he and his men were now prisoners or war (contrary to the Geneva convention). He had no choice in the matter as he had been abandoned by the UN brass.
                              If your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.

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