Frame from the movie "The Wild Geese", 1978
In the previous article ("The great confectioners of the twentieth century") we started meeting people who were destined to enter history as the most famous and successful commanders of mercenary units of the twentieth century. It is genuine surprise at how they managed, with such small powers, to exert such a serious influence on the modern history of some states. And these were not the heroes of the works of ancient authors, Icelandic sagas or chivalric novels, but our contemporaries (the last of these condottiers died recently, February 2, 2020), but some have already managed to become characters in novels and feature films.
In today's article, we will continue our story. And we’ll start it from the time the “vacationers” Roger Fulk and Robert Denard appeared in Katang, who, as we recall, came to defend this rebellious province of Congo (and the mining and chemical enterprises located on its territory) from the central authorities of this country.
Fighting of the Fulk legionnaires in Katanga in 1961
After the resource-rich province of Katanga announced its withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Belgium, fearing the nationalization of the United Mines of Upper Katanga, actually supported Moise Chombe, the head of the rebels, the country's president Kasavubu turned to the UN for help (July 12, 1960) . The UN functionaries, as usual, made a half-hearted decision, on the principle of "neither ours nor yours", which did not satisfy either side. The presence of the Belgian military in Katanga was not recognized as an act of aggression, but the independence of the newly emerging state was not recognized. The conflict, according to UN officials, should have been transferred to a sluggish phase, and there, perhaps, it itself will "resolve" somehow. Unions of peacekeepers began to arrive in the Congo, but relations between them and the armed formations of both sides somehow did not work out right away. So, the Irish battalion, who arrived in Congo at the end of July 1960, was ambushed on November 8 by the Balub tribe who fired at the aliens from ... bows. Eight Irish were killed at once, the body of another was found two days later. And in the DRC government, there was a struggle not for life, but for death, which ended with the dismissal and arrest of Lumumba, his release, re-capture and, finally, the brutal execution in Katanga, where he was transferred in the hope that this “gift” to Tshomb at least somehow will contribute to the attenuation of the rebellion. It turned out even worse, and very soon the civil war flared up with renewed vigor, and the Congo actually fell into four parts.
At the beginning of September 1961, the Irish battalion of the UN peacekeeping force approached the city of Jadoville, located in the interior of Katanga. The official purpose of arrival was to protect the local white population. Here, the Irish were not at all happy, and the whites turned out to be Belgians - employees of the same company, because of which it all began. And so the Irish were not even allowed into Jadoville - they had to set up camp outside the city. And on September 13, soldiers of Roger Fulk and local military formations arrived (they were below all criticism, so the mercenaries became the main striking force). During the 5-day battles, 7 white mercenaries and 150 blacks were killed then (which is not surprising: many of the Africans fought with bows).
At home, the surrendered Irish (157 people) were initially considered cowards, but then compatriots changed their minds, and in 2016 they shot the heroic film “The siege of Jadotville” (“Siege of Jadoville”) dedicated to these events.
The basis of the script for this was the Declan Power documentary, The Siege of Jadoville: The Forgotten Battle of the Irish Army. The main role was played by Jamie Dornan - the idol of masochists, the performer of the role of the rich pervert Christian Gray (“Fifty Shades of Gray,” “Fifty Shades of Darker” and “Fifty Shades of Freedom”).
Jamie Dornan in the movie The Siege of Jadauville
And here's what the real captain looked like, Pat Quinlan, whose role went to Dornan:
And this is Guillaume Canet in the role of Roger Fulc, a shot from the movie "Siege of Jadoville":
And - the real Roger Fulk:
Later, Fulk developed a plan to defend the rebellious province of Katanga and led its defense, which the forces of international forces could not break through. Katanga was divided into 5 military zones, the main battles unfolded outside the city of Elizabethville (Lubumbashi). Despite the overwhelming advantage of the enemy, using heavy artillery and Aviation, mercenary units with the support of local residents (including Europeans) put up fierce resistance. Robert Denard proved himself especially then, who, commanding a battery of heavy mortars, successfully and quickly changing positions, literally terrorized the detachments of the advancing "peacekeepers".
Bob Denard in Katanga
Elizabethville was nevertheless surrendered, and this caused the fury of Fulk, who believed that the city was still possible and needed to be protected. He left Congo, vowing now never to obey the orders of the Africans, and his deputy, Bob Denard, became the commander of the French mercenaries. But soon he left Congo - in front of him was a “job” in Yemen.
Despite the capture of Elizabethville, it was not possible to subjugate Katanga: a ceasefire was signed on December 21, 1961 (and this province will fall only in January 1963).
Mike Hoar vs. Simba and Che Guevara
As we recall from the article "The great confectioners of the twentieth century", in the summer of 1964, an uprising of the Simba movement began in the vast territory of northeastern Congo. So the "rebels" called themselves ("lions"), and other Congolese called them "fables" - "forest people", which clearly indicates the level of development of these rebels: "civilized" peoples are not called "forest".
Congo, mid-1964, territories controlled by rebels Simba (highlighted in pink) and Qwilu (highlighted in orange)
On August 4, 1964, rebels captured the city of Albertville (now Kisangani). They were held hostage by 1700 white settlers. When Mike Hoar’s detachment and Congo government’s army units approached the city in the fall of 1964, the rebels announced that in the event of an assault all the “whites” would be killed. The situation was resolved after Operation Red Dragon, during which 545 paratroopers of the Belgian army landed 24 white and 1600 Congolese on November 300, landed at Stanleyville Airport. Simba managed to kill 18 hostages and injure 40 people. And on November 26, the Belgians carried out the operation "Black Dragon" - the capture of the city of Paulis.
Belgian paratroopers in Congo
Warrant Officer of the First Battalion of the Belgian Parachute Regiment, 1964
After that, the Congo army and the Hoar battalion began to storm the city and oust the rebels from its environs. Until the end of the year, Hoar’s fighters took control of several dozen villages and the city of Vatsa, freeing another 600 Europeans. During these operations, Hoar was injured in the forehead.
Mike Hoar's fighters and the white hostages they freed
Nevertheless, Hoar was dissatisfied with this operation and therefore took decisive measures to strengthen the discipline and combat training of his soldiers, he paid special attention to the selection of candidates for sergeant and officer posts.
Despite such successes, the Congo authorities did not regularly supply ammunition and food supplies to the Hoar detachment and even allowed a delay in salaries. As a result, at the beginning of 1965 (after the expiration of the contract) almost half of the mercenaries left Commando-4, and Hoar had to recruit new people. Having signed a new six-month contract with the government of this country, Mike Hoar formed his famous battalion of "wild geese" - Commando-5.
Mike Hoar (left) and Commando-5 fighters
Mercenaries Commando-5 are fighting with the squad "Simba"
It was in Congo Hoar that he earned his famous nickname, becoming Raging Mike (Raging Dog in the original version). Africans so called him for his constant desire to destroy those responsible for the reprisals against white settlers. The executions of the killers, according to the "fighters against colonialism," were a terrible violation of their rights "to freedom and self-determination," and Hoar, from their point of view, was a real messenger and a scumbag. Well-known principle: “But for what?” When whites were killed, it’s, as they say, “God himself ordered” ...
How serious and solid the man was Mike Hoar can be judged by the fact that, in addition to the infantry, then he had at his disposal several boats, a gunboat, a helicopter, 34 B-26 bombers, 12 T-28 fighters and a helicopter. The pilots of his squadron were mercenaries from South Africa, Rhodesia and Cuba (emigrants from among the opponents of Fidel Castro), and there were many Poles among the flight mechanics. Especially Hoar then singled out precisely the Cubans:
“These Cubans were the toughest, most loyal and single-minded soldiers I have ever had the honor of commanding. Their commander, Rip Robertson, was the most distinguished and dedicated soldier I have ever met. Cuban pilots got up in the air so that few people could compete with them. "They dived, fired and dropped bombs with such energy, with such pressure that this decisiveness was transmitted to the infantry, which later appeared with might and main in hand-to-hand combat."
The Cuban pilot Gustavo Ponsoa, in turn, “crumbles in compliments” Hoaru:
“I'm proud that Mad Mike still appreciates us. And we, in turn, have a very high opinion of him. This man was a real fighter! But when I remember those African cannibals that we fought in the Congo - those that Che allegedly commanded, the “mighty Tattoo” ... oh god, my goodness! ”
Mike Hoar and Mobutu (still Lieutenant General)
Yes, in April 1965 a detachment of black Cubans arrived to help the Sims, commanded by the same “mighty Tatu commandant” - Che Guevara.
Che Guevara in Congo: operation planning
Speaking directly and bluntly, Simba were terrible scumbags, but worthless warriors. Abdel Nasser, whom Che Guevara met on the eve of his “business trip,” spoke directly to him about this, but the Cuban decided that with a commander like him, even Simba's “jackals” would become real “lions”. But immediately it became clear that these rebels had no idea about discipline, and Che Guevara was furious when, in response to orders to dig trenches and equip combat positions, the “lions” mockingly answered:
“We are not trucks and not Cubans!”
The military units of the rebels Che Guevara politically incorrectly called "rabble", and this was the true truth.
The Cubans told the following about the method of shooting these rebels: picking up a machine gun, the rebel closed his eyes and held his finger on the trigger until he emptied the entire store.
Victor Kalas, one of the members of the Che Guevara expedition, recalled one of the clashes of Simba’s squad led by him with the “wild geese” of Hoar:
“Finally I decided to give a signal to retreat, turned around - and found that I was left alone! Apparently, I was alone for quite some time. Everyone escaped. But I was warned that this could happen. "
In August 1965, Che Guevara admitted:
“Indiscipline and lack of dedication are the main signs of these fighters. With such troops it is unthinkable to win a war. ”
Against this background, decadent sentiments began to spread among the fighters of the Cuban detachment. Che Guevara wrote about this:
“Many of my comrades dishonor the title of revolutionary. I apply the most cruel disciplinary sanctions to them. ”
Try to guess what disciplinary punishment Che Guevara considered "the most cruel"? Such, in his opinion, was the threat to send the "alarmist" home - to Cuba!
Some of the Cubans who died during the fighting in Congo had their passports, which caused a great scandal and accusations of Cuba and other socialist countries in the fighting on the side of the rebels.
As a result, Che Guevara still had to leave the Congo: in September he left for Tanzania, then, according to some reports, he was treated in Czechoslovakia for several months. Returning to Cuba, he began to prepare for an expedition to Bolivia - the last in his life.
And Mike Hoar on October 10, 1965 announced the liberation of the Fizi-Barak region.
On November 25, 1965, Mobutu came to power in Congo, who the very next day thanked Hoar with a letter of resignation - the British seemed to him too independent, independent and dangerous. In Commando-5, he was replaced by John Peters, whom Hoar called "crazy like a snake", and the last commander of the Wild Geese, who took office in February 1967, was Captain John Schroeder.
Three months later, in April 1967, this legendary division was completely disbanded. Now the main "star" of the Congo mercenaries is Bob Denard, who led the French-speaking Commando-1965 battalion created in 6.
But the actions of Mike Hoar and Commando-5 were so successful and effective and made such an impression that the name "wild geese" soon became a household name. Over time, many detachments of mercenaries appeared with similar emblems and names, and even parts of the armed forces of some countries are not ashamed of “plagiarism”. For example, the emblem of the combined unit of the Ukrainian Air Force “Wild Duck”, created in Ukraine from volunteers wishing to fight in the Donbas in September 2014:
The similarity is obvious. This name was proposed by one of the "volunteers", and later officially approved. The unit included military personnel of the Air Force of Ukraine, with the exception of the pilots and navigators themselves. The detachment fought in the Yasinovatsky district, near Avdeevka and the Donetsk airport. But let’s not talk about them, let’s return to the story of those who went to kill people at least for money and strangers to them, and not their compatriots for ideological reasons (but also for money).
The amazing adventures of Bob Denard
In 1963, Robert Denard and Roger Fulk ended up in Yemen, where they fought on the side of the monarchists (their employer was the “imam-king” al-Badr). However, a secret war against the new authorities of Yemen was then fought by Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The main role in this intrigue was played by people from British intelligence (MI-6), who attracted the notorious David Stirling (the first commander of the Special Airborne Service, Special Operations Executive, which will be discussed in another article), and sent to help these already very authoritative French four SAS employees on vacation. The curator of the operation was SAS Colonel David de Crespigny-Smiley. In his book Arabian Assignment, published in 1975, he pointed out a curious difficulty in recruiting Katanga veterans: they had many women and freedom to drink alcohol in the Congo, and they could not offer anything like that in Islamic Yemen.
A transition of a large caravan (150 camels with weapons and equipment) across the Aden-Yemen border was provided by British lieutenant Peter de la Billiere, future SAS director and commander of British forces in the 1991 Gulf War.
Peter de la Billire
Since then, Denar has been constantly suspected of tacit collaboration with MI-6 (and not without reason). Denar was in this country until the autumn of 1965 and not only fought, but also organized a royalist radio station broadcasting in Yemen in one of the caves of the Rub al-Khali desert (on the border with Saudi Arabia).
In 1965, Denard returned to the Congo: first he served with Tshombe, who at that time was already the Prime Minister of this country and fought against Simba and the Cubans Che Guevara. At that time, he headed the Commando-6 battalion, in the rank of colonel of the Congo army, in which about 1200 French-speaking mercenaries of 21 nationalities served (including Negroes, but most were French and Belgians, there were a lot of paratroopers of the Foreign Legion). Then he fought against Tshombe, “working” for Mobutu, who took the modest title of “warrior going from victory to victory, which cannot be stopped” - Mobuutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu va Banga (there are different translation options, but there is one sense). However, he “did not deprive” his subjects in this respect: European names were banned, and now everyone could completely officially call themselves very pathos.
Sese Seko Mobutu (R) and General Likulia Bolongo (L)
Mobutu also declared himself "the father of the people" and "the savior of the nation" (where without it). And on the evening saver News the dictator was a subject seated in heaven, from which the actor, who was made up under him, solemnly “descended” to his subjects. The bovine cane, with which Mobutu always appeared in public, was considered so heavy that only the most powerful warriors could raise it.
Lake Albert, which was renamed in Congo to Mobutu Sesa Seko in 1973 (Uganda did not recognize this name, after the overthrow of Mobutu the former name was restored)
Mobutu did not go broke on Denar's expensive services: the dictator’s personal capital in 1984 amounted to about $ 5 billion, which was comparable to the country's external debt.
And at that time, Denara's old acquaintance, Jean Schramm, was fighting for Chombe: "nothing personal, just business."
But then Denard returned to Katanga again and, together with Jean Schramm, fought against Mobutu in 1967. Now we will tell how this happened.
Rise of the White Mercenaries
What is the epic and pathos title of this subtitle, is not it? Involuntarily thoughts come to mind about some Carthage of the Hannibal Barca era or Gustave Flaubert’s novel “Salambo”. But I did not come up with this name - that is what the events in the Congo are called in all textbooks and scientific works. It was then that the glory of Jean Schramm broke out with a supernova, whose name became known far beyond the borders of Africa. Two people challenged the powerful dictator Congo Mobut, and it was Scramm who bore the brunt of this unequal struggle.
Jean Schramm, forced in 1963 to leave with his people in Angola, returned to Congo in 1964, fought with the Simba rebels, and in 1967 he actually controlled the province of Mania, and did not rob her, as one might think, but rebuilt and restored the infrastructure destroyed by the war.
Mobut didn’t like all this, who in November 1965 made the second coup d'etat and was considered a “good” (American) “son of a bitch”, which, however, did not prevent him from flirting with China (he respected Mao Zedong very much) and maintain good relations with the DPRK.
The only advantage of this dictator was that, unlike some of his African colleagues, he “did not like” people (in the sense that he did not like to eat them). Cannibalism was fond of just in the rebellious provinces. But he loved to “live beautifully”, and even the “abacoste” french coats invented by Mobut (from the French a bas le costume - “down with the suit”), which were now prescribed to be worn instead of European costumes, for the dictator and his associates were made in Belgium by Arzoni. And the famous leopard hats of the dictator - only in Paris.
Mobutu in abacost and leopard hat
Sozacom, a state-owned company exporting copper, cobalt and zinc, transferred $ 100 to $ 200 million annually to Mobutu's accounts (as much as $ 1988 million in 800). In official reports, these amounts were called "leaks." And on a monthly basis, trucks drove up to the Central Bank building, onto which bags of national currency bills were loaded - for small expenses: these amounts were called “presidential subsidies”.
The diamonds that were mined in Kasai province were quite “fun”: Mobutu arranged excursions to the foreign guests at the storage of the state company MIBA, where they were presented with a small scoop and a small bag into which they could collect their favorite “pebbles” as “souvenirs” .
From Congo (since 1971 - Zaire, since 1997 - again the DRC), the guests left in an exceptionally good mood and invariably certified the dictator as a wonderful person with whom one could and should deal.
By the way, regarding the renaming of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Zaire: when this happened, there were jokes that students from all over the world should now be grateful to Mobut. After all, there was also the People's Republic of the Congo (now the Republic of the Congo), the former French colony with the capital in Brazzaville, which was constantly confused with the DRC.
In April 1966, Mobutu reduced the official number of the provinces of the Congo from 21 to 12 (in December of that year to 9, and abolished it altogether in 1967) and ordered Denar and his Commando-6, who was in his service, to disarm Shram's soldiers. However, Schramm, who was supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Pierre Harmel, and Denard, who was traditionally patronized by the French special services, preferred to come to an agreement. Their European bosses did not like Mobutu's pro-American position, while Denard suspected that he himself would be next on the liquidation list. It was decided to bet again on Moise Chomba, who at that time was in Spain. Denara and Shramma were supported by Colonel Nathaniel Mbumba, who led the former gendarmes of Stanleyville (Kisangani), who were dismissed during the “purges” initiated by Mobutu.
Commando-10 Scarf was to capture Stenleville, after which, with the help of the approaching fighters of Denard and the gendarmes of Katanga, they took the cities of Kinda and Bukava. In the last phase of this operation, called the “Carillis”, Shram was to take control of Elizabethville and Kamina’s air base, to which Tshombe had to fly to demand Mobutu’s resignation.
Meanwhile, in Commando-6 Denara at that time there were only 100 white mercenaries (French, Belgians and Italians), in Commando-10 Scarme - only 60 Belgians. The soldiers of these detachments were blacks, and Europeans, as a rule, occupied officer and sergeant posts.
However, on July 2, the bodyguard of Tshombe, Francis Bodnan, hijacked a plane in which he flew to Congo and ordered the pilots to land him in Algeria. Here Tshombe was arrested and died after 2 years. It is still impossible to say with certainty whose mission Bodnan performed. Most researchers believe that he was turned over by the CIA, since Mobutu was considered the American "son of a bitch."
Denar and Shramm, who had not even managed to start the uprising, were left without “their” presidential candidate, but they had nothing to lose, and on July 5, 1967, Shramm, at the head of a convoy of 15 jeeps, burst into Stenleville and captured him.
An elite third parachute regiment was sent to Mobutu against him, the soldiers of which were trained by instructors from Israel. Denard, apparently doubting the success of the operation, acted indecisively and was late, and then was seriously wounded and taken to Salisbury (Rhodesia). The Scram squad and gendarmes of Colonel Mbumba fought for a week against paratroopers of the third regiment, and then retreated into the jungle. Three weeks later, they suddenly appeared near the city of Bukava and captured it, defeating the government troops there. At that time, only 150 mercenaries and 800 more Africans remained in the Shramm squad — the Mbumbu gendarmes, against whom 15 thousand people threw Mobutu: the whole world watched in amazement over the course of 3 months the newly-born “Spartans” of Shram fought for Bukavu and practically left undefeated.
When the fighting was still going on in Bukava, the recovering Bob Denard decided to find a new Congo leader, who, in his opinion, could well be the former Minister of the Interior, Munongo, who was detained in a prison on the island of Bula Bemba (at the mouth of the Congo River).
13 saboteurs recruited in Paris, led by the Italian combat swimmer Giorgio Norbiatto, traveled to the Congo coast from Angola on a trawler, but a storm that raged for two days disrupted their plans. The Denard detachment (110 white and 50 Africans) crossed bicycle paths (!) On forest paths (!) On November 1 and entered the village of Kingze, taking flight from a platoon of the government army and capturing 6 trucks and two jeeps. But in the future, luck turned away from the “mercenary king”: his detachment was ambushed while trying to seize army depots in the city of Dilolo (it was necessary to arm three thousand Katanga rebels) and retreated. After that, Mbumba left for Angola, where he continued the struggle against the Mobutu regime. In 1978, he was the leader of the Congo National Liberation Front (Katanga Tigers) and one of the organizers of the raid on the city of Kolwezi, which was repelled only by paratroopers of the Foreign Legion under the command of Philip Erulen (this will be described in one of the following articles).
Lieutenant General Nathaniel Mbumba in front of the Katanga Tiger ranks, 1978
And Schramm brought the remnants of his people to Rwanda.
Suppressed by defeat Jean Schramm and his people in Rwanda
Sharm accused Denar of the failure of this rebellion, who really acted somehow unusual for himself, strange and indecisive. However, it should be recognized that the plan for Operation Carillis looked very adventurous from the very beginning, and after the abduction of Moise Chombe, who had the support of the Congo, the chances of success became completely minimal.
In Paris, Denard founded the company Soldier of Fortune, which recruited young people who knew how to handle weapons well for African dictators (as well as for those who just wanted to become an African dictator). It is believed that the number of coups in which Denard participated in one way or another is from 6 to 10. Four were successful, and three of them were personally organized by Denard: it was not without reason that he was called the “king of mercenaries”, “the nightmare of the presidents” and the “pirate of the Republic” .
However, in an interview to the journalist’s question about Samantha Weingart’s book “The Last of the Pirates”, whose hero he became, Denard answered with irony:
“As you can see, I don’t have a parrot and a wooden leg on my shoulder.”
In the next article we will talk about the future fate of this famous French condottier.