Members of the Irish Naval Association at the Siege of Jadotville ceremony at Collins Barracks Dublin on Sat. 22nd Oct 2016
In 1961, a troop of 150 Irish soldiers were posted to the town of Jadotville, Republic Of The Congo. They landed in scorching temperatures. Under Commandant Pat Quinlan, they contained up to 3,000 opposing forces over a period of six days – without one Irish fatality. Known as the Jadotville Siege soldiers, the troop are to receive formal recognition at a ceremony to mark the 55th anniversary of the event at Collins Barracks, Dublin on Saturday 22nd October 2016.
On the morning of Wednesday, September 13th, while many of the Irish troops were attending open air mass, a combined force of Katangans, white mercenaries, Belgian settlers and local Luba tribesmen entered the UN compound hoping to take the Irish off guard. They moved rapidly, but luckily were spotted by an alert sentry who fired a warning shot. Machine gun fire was aimed in the air from a jeep on the compound and the attackers retreated. Quinlan then ordered his men to take up positions in the newly dug trenches.(commandant Quinlan realising how vunerable his men would be in the open position, ordered his men to dig trenches). All fell silent as the Irish remained in the trenches, vulnerable in number and in sweltering heat.
Hours later, the attackers approached. They came from all sides, in waves of approximately 600, heavily armed. They also had air support in the form of a Fouga Magister trainer jet fitted with under wing bombs and machine guns. The Irish Battalion was inadequately equipped with light personal weapons, a small number of antiquated water-cooled Vickers machine guns and mortars. The Irish defended their position for nearly 6 days and inflicting over 300 casualities on the attacking force and no loss to the Irish and with ammunition running out and little food and water, a truce was called. When the Truce was agreed Commandant Quinlan to save his men ordered they lay down their arms as agreed in the truce negotations. The Irish Peace keepers were arrested and interned for 5 weeks before their release was negotiated. They returned home not as hero's but treated as cowards because they had surrendered.
But surely this was a great show of courage despite the odds. See below a Netflix Free viewing of the recently released Film of the siege