The Irish Government earlier this month remembered the 55th anniversary (1961) of the Siege of Jadotville when a lightly armed Irish Army UN peacekeeping force held of a much larger contingent of rebel soldiers and mercenaries supported by aircraft during peacekeeping duties in the Congo.
Their courage and resolution undoubtedly avoided a bloodbath in the town.
For many years the siege was forgotten. The Irish deployment to the Congo was the first such peacekeeping operation by the Defence forces although since that time Defence Force personnel have been deployed globally on numerous missions including a long standing deployment on the Israel-Lebanon border.
Coincidentally a film celebrating the siege will start viewings on Netflix from October 7th it stars actor Jamie Dornan. Initially the film will only be available on Netflix (US).
The Defence Forces press release is below:
‘Minister Kehoe Marks the Courageous Actions of Irish Soldiers at the Battle of Jadotville in September 1961
On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Siege of Jadotville, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D. today hosted an event in Custume Barracks, Athlone marking the collective actions of the men of “A” Company, 35thInfantry Battalion and its attachments at the Siege. The Minister presented a Unit Citation to the Company in recognition of their bravery and heroism. A copy of the Citation was presented to each member or next-of-kin of the Unit. This is the first time a Unit Citation has been awarded within the Defence Forces. In marking this unique occasion, Minister Kehoe has also commissioned an insignia recognising the professional performance of the men of “A” company.
Speaking at the event the Minister said “I am very pleased to present this Unit Citation which recognises the bravery and courage of “A” Company during the Siege of Jadotville whilst cut-off from support and reinforcements.”
The Minister also said “The United Nations Operation in Congo was the first peacekeeping mission in which significant numbers of Irish soldiers took part. A total of 6,000 Irish soldiers served in the Congo from 1960 until 1964 and I want to take the opportunity to recall the contribution of all who served in the various Irish contingents over the course of this long Mission”
The Minister concluded by saying “Ireland can be justifiably proud of all our brave men and women who have contributed to the cause of peace and security. Our continued participation in United Nations missions illustrates the very positive and practical difference that small countries, like Ireland, can make in the world’s trouble spots”
pp Celtic League Military Monitoring.