Thursday, 1 September 2011

Siege at Jadotville

The extremely popular Siege at Jadotville by Declan Power will shortly be making its ebook debut, on Here's a little reminder of how the book was first received back in October 2005, with an excerpt of a review by Don Lavery in the Irish Independent.

"Author Declan Power, himself a former soldier and now a journalist, has written a superb account of a bitter infantry battle where the Irish peacekeeping soldiers were attacked by thousands of troops led by experienced mercenary officers who had served in World War 2, Indochina and Algeria.

The Irish who were subjected to intense fire from small arms, artillery and air attack, fought back from their trenches. Waves of up to 600 enemy soldiers attacking at the time were mown down by the Irish using everything from elderly Vickers machineguns to modern FN rifles.

Inflicting at least 300 dead and twice as many wounded on the attacking Katangan force the Irish had no heavy weapons, no artillery support, apart from a few small 60mm mortars, and no air cover despite repeated UN promises.

The new book shows the absolute folly in sending the Irish company to Jadotville, a small mining town to protect people who later turned on them. The single company had replaced two companies of UN troops in Jadotville in a tactically dangerous position.

Two key figures in the affair, head of UN operations Conor Cruise O'Brien, and Lt Gen Sean McKeown, the Irish general commanding the UN forces, later agreed the order to send the company to Jadotville came from UN HQ in New York. 

When the Irish positions in Jadotville came under siege young Irish soldiers fought off the attacks thanks to the leadership of their tough commander, Comdt Pat Quinlan and his NCOs.
Repeated rescue attempts by Irish and Indian troops to break through to the besieged outpost failed, the promised UN fighter jets never appeared in the skies over Jadotville, and after days of intense fighting the Irish surrendered.

'Seige at Jadotville' has a few minor errors such as describing an attacking Fouga plane as a jet fighter – in fact it is an armed trainer – or referring to elderly Irish armoured cars as Vickers 1945 vintage vehicles when they are home built Ford armoured cars armed with Vickers machineguns.

These aside the book is well written and researched using veterans words and reminisces to describe the battle in stunning detail. It outlines the bravery and professionalism of the Irish soldiers in contrast to the bungling of their military and political masters who sent them to Jadotville and left them to their fate.

The book is a welcome addition to the small number of books written about the Congo operation and should be required reading for officers taking the Army's Command and Staff course, as well as the Cabinet table."

- Dan Lavery Irish Independent October 1, 2005

Siege at Jadotville is available from the Maverick website and will be available as an ebook from in the coming days.

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