Jul 15, 2022 | Featured Articles

Between 1960 and 1964 up to 6,000 Irish soldiers served with the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 30 recommendations, mostly associated with Jadotville and Niemba, were disregarded for reasons that continue to remain an enigma. However, no explanation for this neglect has ever been offered to date, writes retired Garda Nick Cunningham.

During those years, a sizeable number of our troops discharged their duties way beyond what was expected of them and that bravery was acknowledged by their commanding officers.  Many of those recommendations were accepted by army chiefs and medals awarded.

The event at Jadotville was very different to the incident at Niemba, primarily because our troops at Jadotville were expecting to be attacked. They didn’t know what the attack may look like or when it might take place and they certainly didn’t expect that it would be as ferocious and determined as it turned out to be.

So, with their limited and aged resources they prepared, and they waited. At Niemba, the attack was unexpected, our troops were “ambushed”. In September 1961, 150 Irish soldiers of ‘A’ Company 35th Battalion under the command of Commandant Pat Quinlan was ordered to Jadotville. From the outset, his troops became quickly aware that their presence there wasn’t welcome.

At that point, they could have safely withdrawn, but their orders were to take possession of an abandoned school as their base and to remain until directed to withdraw. On 3 September 1961, they took possession of their difficult-to-defend base, where their only protection from attack was their leadership, bravery and a couple of scattered school buildings and vitally, the fox holes they dug, as ordered by their commanding officer!