The Siege of Jadotville, with “Fifty Shades of Grey “star Jamie Dornan in the lead role, tells the story of how 157 Irish soldiers, led by Comdt. Pat Quinlan, fought a battle against a force of Katangan soldiers for five days in the Congo.
The 157 Irish soldiers formed “A” Company of the 35th Infantry Battalion which was part of the United Nations force (ONUC) that was tasked with keeping the peace in the newly independent Congo. What seemed like a standard peace keeping mission, ended up in a desperate life or death fight, which put the Irish soldiers against a well-armed force, which consisted of over 3000 Katangan troops supported by European mercenaries who were combat hardened from the Second World War and the Korean War. The Irish soldiers were outnumbered 20 to one. At the end of the battle, it was discovered that the Irish soldiers had killed over 300 soldiers, while suffering no fatalities.
Comdt. Quinlan negotiated a series of ceasefires to create time for the arrival of reinforcements and supplies which never managed to get through. After five days of almost continuous fighting and without water and ammunition, Comdt. Quinlan negotiated a ceasefire and he and his men were held as prisoners of war for five weeks before the UN negotiated their release. The battle and more importantly the bravery and professionalism displayed A Coy 35 Infantry Battalion were not acknowledged and with time this action was forgotten.
2021 is the 60th anniversary of this engagement. The Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (ONE), which is a registered charity for veterans of the Defence Forces, wish to recognise this very significant milestone. This is a great opportunity not only to acknowledge their courage but also to show support and remembrance for our comrades and espouse the Charity’s motto “Cuimhnmis”. (Remember Those Who Served). To mark the momentous battle of Jadotville, and at the same time raise funds to assist our homeless veterans who may have experienced trauma and suffer from PTSD, ONE have organised a “Virtual Challenge”.
The overall aim of the Virtual Challenge is to complete a total of 24,000km. This is approximately equivalent the round trip from Athlone in County Westmeath to Jadotville. This will be achieved by totalling the combined effort of all participants over a given time frame, 29th June – 3rd July 2021. We have chosen this time frame to mark the five days that our comrades were in battle. The cost to each participant is €30, plus a booking fee. On completion of the event, each participant will receive a Medal, a Snood and a “Certificate of Completion”.
To give everyone the opportunity to be part of this very exciting and worthy cause ONE has decided to open the Virtual Challenge to all. If cycling is not your thing you can Walk, Run, or even Swim to clock up your kilometres.
Hurry up and register at www.jadotvillechallenge.com to help us to Honour our Veterans and provide more assistance and facilities for our comrades. Remember EVERY KILOMETRE counts.