In this article we will begin the story of the famous condottieres of the twentieth century and the amazing African adventures of the "wild geese" and "soldier of fortune". Among them were soldiers of the French Foreign Legion, who in the second half of the twentieth century found a new area of application for their talents.
“We are no longer your monkeys”
This история It dates back to June 30, 1960, when a new state was formed on the territory of the former Belgian Congo - the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At the independence ceremony, Patrice Lumumba said, addressing the King of Belgium Baudouin: "We are no longer your monkeys." A phrase that just kills with its spontaneity and is completely unthinkable at the present time.
Congo Declaration of Independence: King of Belgium, Baudouin, resembling the Latin American dictator, next to DRC President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Lumumba
In our country, when they hear the word “colonizer,” they usually represent an Englishman in a cork helmet and shorts, an African-beating man, bent under the weight of a bag. Or a soldier from this photo:
But even the British considered the French stupid and narrow-minded racists:
Frenchman in Africa
However, the Belgians, perhaps, surpassed everyone: they were pathologically cruel - to the point of caricature.
African subjects of the Belgian king Leopold II
Caricature of Leopold II (XIX century)
But look what paradise pictures of life in the Congo were painted by the Belgians themselves (propaganda poster, 1920s):
Meanwhile, workers on the rubber plantations of the Belgian Congo were dying faster than in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The Belgians used to oversee the Negroes with other Africans who cut off the hands of the negligent workers. They then sent them to the Belgian colonial officials as a progress report. As a result, the population of the Congo from 1885 to 1908. decreased from 20 to 10 million people. And in 1960, there were as many as 17 university graduates in all of Congo ... for 17 million local residents. Three of them held small administrative posts (the remaining 4997 vacancies were held by the Belgians).
Later it turned out that the Congo also has rich deposits of copper, cobalt, uranium, cadmium, tin, gold and silver, and the Belgian province of Katanga, the Belgian Jules Cornet, who conducted mineral resources research at the end of the 11th century, called it “geological sensation”. And the Belgians were not going to give up their economic interests in the Congo. French and British companies, also active in Katanga, were in solidarity with the Belgians, so on July 1960, XNUMX, the governor of this province, Moise Chombe (and part-time prince of the African people Lund) announced her withdrawal from the DRC.
In a confrontation with the central authorities, he decided to bet on the Belgian officers remaining in the Congo, as well as on the “mercenaries” - mercenaries, whom the Katanga newspapers modestly (but proudly) called Affreux - “Terrible”.
Belgium, France and the United Kingdom did not dare to recognize the new state, but provided Chombe with all kinds of assistance.
Katanga rebels, 1960
And then the province of Kasai declared independence.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo literally fell to pieces, ended with a military coup of the Chief of General Staff Mobutu (a former sergeant who immediately became a colonel), the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (who had previously sought help from the USSR) and UN intervention, which sent an entire army to the Congo. This conflict was also complicated by the crash when landing in the city of Ndola (currently part of Zambia) aircraft, which was the UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld (September 18, 1961). Investigation of the circumstances of the disaster involved six commissions. Finally, in 2011, experts came to the conclusion that the plane was still shot down. In January 2018, a statement was issued by the Belgian paratrooper P. Copens, in which he claimed that his compatriot Jan Van Riessegem, who was flying the Majister training jet train converted into a light attack aircraft, made the attack. Riessegem then served in the troops of the unrecognized republic of Katanga.
But let's not get ahead.
French pastry chefs
In 1961, French Minister of Defense Pierre Messmer sent two very interesting men to Katanga: the current officer of the Foreign Legion Roger Fulck and former Navy Major Gilbert Bourgeau, who were led by thousands of “volunteers” (among them there were many former legionnaires and legionnaires vacationers) took charge of European mining and chemical companies in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). Fulk and Bourgeois did not suspect then that they would become one of the most famous and successful confectioners of world history, and one of them would also be famous for creating the famous mercenary recruitment company, known as the "Soldiers of Fortune".
This "brigade" was led by Captain (later Colonel) Roger Faulques, who was called the "Man of a Thousand Lives", and later became the prototype of the characters of Jean Lartegi's books Centurions, Praetorians, and Hounds of Hell.
Like many other officers of the Foreign Legion, Fulk was an active member of the French Resistance, after the allies landed, served in parts of Free France, receiving at the age of 20 the rank of corporal and Military Cross (Croix de guerre).
Roger Fulk in his youth
Croix de guerre
After the war ended, Fulk, in the rank of super-lieutenant, entered the Third Regiment of the Foreign Legion. Then he ended up in Indochina - already with the rank of lieutenant: he fought as part of the First Parachute Battalion, where at that time the still-famous Pierre-Paul Janpierre was serving. For the first time, Fulk was wounded in 1948, and during the battle at Khao Bang (1950) he received four injuries at once and lay in the forest for three days until he was discovered by Vietnamese fighters. As a seriously wounded (actually dying), he was transferred to the French side. Fulk was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor, he was treated for a long time and still returned to duty - already in Algeria, where he was subordinate to his old friend Janpierre, becoming the scout of the First Parachute Regiment. Under the leadership of Fulk, several underground cells of the TNF were defeated.
Another commander of the "vacationers" was Gilbert Bourgeois - also partisan during the Second World War and a veteran of Indochina. He was much better known as Robert (Bob) Denard.
He was born in China in 1929 - then his father, an officer of the French army, was in the service there. He spent his childhood in Bordeaux. Since 1945, Denard served in Indochina, in 1956 (at the age of 27!) He was already a major. But he was "asked" from the army after he, pretty much taking on his chest, crushed the bar: he decided that he was treated with insufficient respect there. He went to Morocco and Tunisia, served in the military police, and then became a member of the OAS and was arrested on suspicion of preparing an assassination attempt on French Prime Minister Pierre Mendes-France, spent 14 months in prison.
In an interview with the Izvestia newspaper, which G. Zotov took from him in 2002 (he later called this conversation the main journalistic success of his life), Denard said:
“Very often I found myself in a situation: if I do not kill, they will kill me ... And then there is no choice left. But never in my life have I shot a woman or a child. The same applies to revolutions: I did not commit them on my own whim, it was work. ”
Somehow I immediately recall the "immortal" line:
"Knife and ax workers,
Romantics from the high road. "
Romantics from the high road. "
So, Roger Fulk and his people then became subordinate to Tshomba.
Soldiers of Fulka, Katanga, 1961
And later, having parted with Fulk, Denard led his own battalion - "Commando-6."
Mike Hoar and the Wild Geese
Around the same time, Thomas Michael Hoar arrived at Chomba.
Michael Hoar was an Irish born in India (Calcutta) on March 17, 1919. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he entered the "London Regiment of Irish Riflemen", in which he quickly became a shooting instructor. In January 1941, he was sent to study at a military school in Droibic, the certification issued to him by the commander at the time read: “Strong-willed and aggressive character”.
At the end of 1941, Hoar with the rank of second lieutenant was sent to the 2nd reconnaissance regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division, which in April 1942 was sent to act against Japan. Hoar fought in Burma (Arakan campaign, December 1942-May 1943) and in India (Kohima, April 4 - June 22, 1944). He served in the long-range reconnaissance group of Brigadier General Ferguson, ended the war at the headquarters of the British troops in Delhi, at which time he was 26 years old, and he was already a major.
Michael Hoar, 1944
Demobilized, he received a diploma in bookkeeping, and in 1948 he moved to South Africa, in the city of Durban. He lived well: he led a yacht club, arranged a safari for wealthy clients, and traveled. He also visited Congo: he was looking for the son of an oligarch from South Africa who was missing in the jungle. At the head of a small detachment, he then boldly moved the unknown distances of Africa. And in one of the villages called Kalamatadi, he found a young man ... half eaten by cannibals. To make the customer pleasant, Hoar ordered the destruction of the cannibal village.
As you know, a person with such abilities and with such a character needed a lot more adrenaline than he could get in Durban. And therefore, at the beginning of 1961 he ended up in Katanga, where he headed the Commando-4 division. Why is "4"? This connection was the fourth in a row that Michael had commanded in his life. In total, 500 white mercenaries and over 14 thousand Africans were then under Hoar’s command. Among the first soldiers of Hoar there were many lumpen, he himself recalled:
“There were too many alcoholics, rowdy people and parasites who weren’t hired anywhere ... There were cases of homosexuality.”
But Hoar quickly put things in order, eliminating the most worthless and training the rest. The discipline in his units was always on top, and the methods of upbringing are simple and effective: with a pistol grip on the head for bickering, and once he personally shot one of his subordinates, who was very fond of playing football, his big toes as a punishment for raping a local the girls.
Much more famous was another Hoar battalion - "Commando 5", or "Wild Geese": in medieval Ireland they called mercenaries, and Hoar, as we recall, was Irish.
For this unit, Hoar even compiled a set of 10 rules: in addition to the usual military manuals (such as “always clean and protect your weapon"), There were such:" Pray to God every day "and" Be proud of your appearance, even in battle; shave every day. "
And the tenth rule was as follows: "Be aggressive in battle, noble in victory, stubborn in defense."
Preserved information about the "salary" of the first "Wild Geese" in the Congo: ordinary received 150 pounds a month, 2 pounds a day for pocket expenses, 5 pounds a day during the fighting. In the future, the payment for their “work” increased: at the conclusion of the contract for six months, they received (depending on the position and intensity of hostilities) from 364 to 1100 dollars a month.
Mike Hoare (left) with his personal bodyguard Sergeant Donald Grant in 1964
The most famous “goose” of this battalion was Siegfried Muller (Congo-Muller), a participant in World War II on the side of the Third Reich, who later wrote the book “Modern Mercenaries”, essays “Modern Warfare” and “Fighting in the Congo”.
The first "volunteers" of the "Wild Geese" squad. With a sheet of paper in his hands - Siegfried Muller
On the basis of his recollections in the GDR, the film "Commando 52" was banned in the Federal Republic of Germany. And then the East Germans also shot the film "The Man Who Laughs", in which his former colleagues told about Muller. This film got its name because of the "company" smile, which became Müller's "calling card":
Müller was called "Prussian", "Landsknecht of imperialism", "executioner with experience" and "former SS man" (although he had nothing to do with the SS), and his character was "a collection of bad features of the German nation", but he proudly called himself "The last protector of the white West."
However, some consider him only a shame and a talented "self-PR man" who created a myth about himself - a heroic legend in which he appears as a true Aryan, an ideal mercenary and a super-soldier. And all his “iron crosses” and jeeps decorated with human skulls are called props and decorations of a vulgar operetta.
Siegfried Muller in Congo
In fact, Muller Hoar did not seem to justify hopes: he was appointed platoon commander, he was soon transferred to the post of chief of the rear base.
The Belgian (more precisely, the Flemish) Jean Schramm (also known as Black Jack) ended up in Katanga, who lived in the Congo from the age of 14. In the “best years” on its huge plantation (its area was 15 square kilometers), more than a thousand Africans worked near Stenvilleville.
Everything changed in 1960, when this plantation was devastated by supporters of Patrice Lumumba. A scar that had nothing to do with military affairs and did not serve in the army, leading a self-defense detachment, “partized” in the jungle for a while, and then created the “black and white” battalion “Leopard”, or “Commando-10”, in which Europeans served as officers and ordinary Kansimba blacks. Thus, Jean Schramm became the most famous and successful layman among all the commanders of hired detachments. In 1967, his name will boom throughout the world, and for a short moment, Jean Schramm will become known to Mike Hoare and Bob Denard.
The Comandante Tattoo and the Simba Movement
And in 1965, Congo was also visited by black Cubans led by a certain “commando Tatu” - to help comrades from the revolutionary movement “Simba” (“Lions”), led by former Minister of Education and Art Pierre Mulele.
Particularly frostbitten “lions” were teenagers 11-14 years old (youths) who practiced cannibalism, whose cruelty knew no bounds.
And Mr. Mulele, whom some European liberals then called the Black Messiah, Lincoln Congo and “the best son of Africa”, was not just a former minister, but also a “new school” shaman — trained in China with a Maoist and pseudo-Marxist bias (very fashionable in Africa at that time). He declared the murdered Lumumba a saint who should be worshiped in specially constructed shrines, and generously gave his adherents a potion of mugangs (local sorcerers) “dava”, making them invulnerable. According to him, this drug worked flawlessly: it was only necessary not to be afraid and not to touch women. To convince his people of the effectiveness of the “dava,” he used a simple trick with the “shooting” with blank cartridges of the rebels who had drunk the potion (which, incidentally, were not dedicated to the Mulele’s venture, so the “volunteers” trembling with fear had to be tied up so as not to scatter). The funny thing is that the opponents of Simba also believed in the "magic water of Mulele", who often surrendered without a fight or retreated, because they believed that it made no sense to fight people who could not be killed.
The problems of the Simba rebels began when they encountered Belgian paratroopers attacking them as part of the Red Dragon operation in Stanleyville (Kisangani) and the white mercenaries of Mike Hoar. At first, the "invincible" simba were not even afraid aviation. Gustavo Ponsoa, the Cuban pilot of the Hoar squad, recalled:
"Some even waved to us a second before our missiles smashed them."
But let's not get ahead.
Simbs posing with weapons from World War II, photograph of Life magazine, February 12, 1965
Meanwhile, under the name of the mysterious "Commander Tatu" was hiding none other than Ernesto Che Guevara.
Che Guevara in Congo
This "romance of the revolution", in fact, is rather difficult to reproach with sympathy for blacks, and he did not even hear about political correctness and tolerance. His answer to the question of Cuban businessman Luis Pons “What actions is the revolution going to take to help blacks” became truly legendary:
“We are going to do for black the same thing that black did for the revolution, that is, nothing.”
What can I say: this Argentine was able to “formulate” and speak with aphorisms.
Miguel Sanchez recalled that in Mexico, in preparation for landing in Cuba, Che Guevara constantly called one of his associates (Juan Almedia) "Negro." It sounded insulting in his mouth, and Almedia hit it very hard. Sanchez advised him: “Listen, Juan, when Guevara calls you El Negro, call him in response El Chancho (pig).”
This technique worked: Che Guevara got rid of him and made no attempt to “remember” and somehow take revenge either then or later.
However, class solidarity is paramount. Che Guevara honestly tried to teach his African "brothers" at least something other than a fun massacre of all whom they could reach. But miracles do not happen, and the legendary commandant did not succeed. But more about that in the next article.
In general, you yourself understand: when all these talented, experienced and authoritative people appeared on the territory of the Congo, it was a sin for them not to fight there, and hostilities began very soon. We will talk about this in the next article.