Posted by Murrisk on September 11, 2002 at 19:08:40:
On June 30, 1960, Belgium granted independence to the Congo under Patrice Lumumba. Katanga under Moise Tshombe declared independence from the Congo on July 11, 1960. Ireland sent troops to serve with U.N. forces in the Congo on July 27.
On the morning of September 11, 1960, Conor Cruise O'Brien met with Tshombe and assured him the U.N. had no intentions of intervening in the internal affairs of Katanga or of using force in the settlement of any issue. Later that day he met with other U.N. officials and helped lay detailed plans for another surprise military attack on Elisabethville.
Conor Cruise O’Brien, assigned to the Congo as a member of Dag Hammarskjold’s staff, personally directed U.N. political operations in Katanga. The U.N. forces launched Operation Morthor (Hindi word for smash) against the Katangan rebels on September 13 . Moving under cover of darkness the U.N. peace-keepers stormed the communication and transportation nerve centers of Elisabethville. Katangan troops launched a counterattack on all fronts as full scale fighting spread to practically every sector of the city. Control of the radio station moved back and forth between forces as one of the obviously important military objectives. At this point, however, Operation Morthor began to fall apart amidst an appaling loss of life and charge and counter charge of indiscriminate slaughter. Tshombe called for total resistance--"a fight to the last round of ammunition." Five thousand Baluba warriors responded by joining the Katangese soldiers. Several hundred Bayeke warriors also came into the fight.
Nine Irish soldiers were are killed by Baluba tribesmen in an ambush at Niemba on November 8, 1960. The bodies were flown back to Baldonnel Airport in lead lined coffins by Captain Pat Barron of Seven Seas Airlines. Pat is a friend and almost a neighbour. His family hails from Cappoquinn County Waterford. Pat and his wife are presently on vacation in Cappoquinn.