The Siege of Jadotville

  • An Irish Army officer, living in Castlebar, who served on a UN peacekeeping mission which came under attack in Congo in 1961, has welcomed the establishment of a review group over the issue of medals for gallantry. 

    Noel Carey was the youngest of 10 Irish Army officers at Jadotville when the mission was attacked by an army of more than 3,000 mercenaries. 

    Ireland's 35th Battalion 'A' Company held off the attack for five days despite being ill-equipped and outnumbered, before they were forced to surrender. 

    They suffered no fatalities, but inflicted a significant number of casualties on the enemy.

    The action of their commanding officer, Commandant Pat Quinlan, is cited in military textbooks worldwide as the best example of the use of the so-called perimeter defence.

    Last night, the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney told the Seanad that the issue of medals for gallantry for the Irish troops involved in the siege of Jadotville will now be considered by an independent group of experts. 

    Mr Coveney said that from 13 to 17 September 1961, the men of A Company were under almost constant attack and at the end of the siege were taken prisoner before being released on 25 October.

    He said that in 1962 and 1965, a constituted medals board considered the issue of the awarding of medals, but none were awarded for any citation which mentioned Jadotville and despite a subsequent review, the board was not prepared to alter its findings.

    Noel Carey, now in his eighties, is one of the soldiers recommended for distinguished service during the siege.

    The group of external experts will include ex-military officers, a historian and an academic to examine the full details of the case. 

    Earlier this week, Noel spoke to Midwest Radio’s evening Edition programme giving us forensic detail on his memories of the siege, almost sixty years ago.

  • Castlebar resident Noel Carey, now in his eighties, is the last surviving officer of the Siege of Jadotville, that occurred back in 1961, when he was part of an Irish Battalion deployed to the Congo as part of an United Nations peace mission.

    A movie on the historic battle entitled 'Jadotville' starred actorJamie Dornan.

    Jamie liaised with Noel as he prepared for his role as Commnading Officer, Pat Quinlan in the film. 

    There have been many TV documentaries produced on 'Jadotville' , and Noel has featured as a guest on many of these. 

    Noel served in the Irish Defence Forces for over 20 years, mainly with the 6th Infantry Battalion in Athlone.

    He was a young Platoon Commander with A Company of the 35th Irish Battalion which deployed to the Congo in 1961. A Company ended up fighting a heroic battle against mercenary soldiers and Katangese soldiers for over five days at Jadotville.They endured artillery, machine gun fire and numerous attacks by both day and night during this time. They were also attacked and bombed and machined gunned from the air.

    The events at Jadotville received little publicity at the time and it was really with the publication of Declan Power’s book, The Siege of Jadotville, and the subsequent film starring Jamie Dornan that the members of A Company finally got the recognition they deserved.

    At a special ceremony held in Custume Barracks, Athlone, in 2017 the surviving members of A Company 35th Battalion were presented with the Jadotville Medal by the Minister for Defence and the Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Noel has been telling Midwest News about  some of what occurred sixty years ago now…