61st Anniversary of the Niemba Ambush

Today the annual ceremony to mark the 61st Anniversary of the Niemba Ambush took place in Cathal Brugha Barracks.

Ollie O’Connor, ONE CEO welcomed all those in attendance.

The 33 Inf Bn was dispatched on 16th August 1960 to the Congo, this was following a further UN request for more troops. 33 Inf Bn was located in different parts of Albertville, except for A Coy, which was located in Kamina.

A few short months later on 8th November 1960, Lt Kevin Gleeson (Terenure) commanded an 11-man patrol from No 2 Platoon, A Coy, 33 Inf Bn. Lt Gleeson was assisted by Sgt Hugh Gaynor (Leixlip), and his NCOs Cpl Peter Kelly (Templeogue), and Cpl Liam Dougan (Cabra). The rest of the patrol was made up of Pte Matthew Farrell (Swords), Tpr Thomas Fennell (Donnycarney), Tpr Anthony Browne (Rialto), Pte Michael McGuinn (Blackhorse Ave), Pte Gerard Killeen (Queen St.), Pte Joseph Fitzpatrick (Charlemont St.) and Pte Thomas Kenny (Ballyfermot).

The Niemba Ambush was the first-time Irish soldiers were involved in a combat engagement since the ending of the Civil War in 1922. And that the Niemba Ambush was, and still remains, the greatest loss of life overseas in a single incident for the Irish Defence Forces.

Ollie O’Connor, ONE CEO said, “I want to especially welcome the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice on 8th November 1960 in Niemba, the families of others who have since passed away, and all of our Congo Veterans that have joined us today. I also wish to mention Joe Fitzpatrick, a survivor of the ambush and to remember Tommy Kenny who also survived the ambush but who passed away in the past week. May he Rest in Peace.”

Ollie thanked Lt Col Dave McNamara, OC 7 Inf Bn and Fr. Bernard McKay Morrisson for their outstanding support.

Wreaths were laid by the following, Cllr Mary Freehill, on behalf of the Lord Mayor of Dublin; Lt-General Seán Clancy on behalf of the Defence Forces; Ms Jacqui McCrum, Secretary-General, Dept of Defence on behalf of the Dept of Defence; National President of ONE Mr Diarmuid Higgins on behalf of ONE; Brig Gen Shay Ó Giolán (Retd), President of ARCO, Michael Colton, Chairman IUNVA; Capt Charlie O’Rourke (Retd), from the 33 Inf Bn; Comdt Luke Foley, President of RACO; Mark Keane, President of PDFORRA; Comdt (AR) Eugene Gargan, President of RDFRA, Lt Col Ken Martin (Retd), President of the Royal British Legion; Bryan Gildea, President Naval Association; Paul Hoey, French Foreign Legion Association; Chief Superintendent Patrick Mc Memamin, on behalf of An Garda Síochána. The families and guests present were invited to lay a wreath along with other veterans’ associations.

This was followed by a one minute’s silence, and then by ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ played by members of the Army School of Music. The National Anthem played by a military bagpiper concluded the event.

“Cuimhnímis – Remember Those Who Served”

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