Today we will complete what we started in previous articles ("The great confectioners of the twentieth century", "Soldiers of Fortune" and "Wild Geese", “Bob Denard: The King of the Mercenaries” and “The Nightmare of the Presidents”) a story about the famous "condottieres" of the XNUMXth century.
The last expedition of Bob Denard
Robert Denard turned out to be the most active of the famous commanders of mercenary detachments, other "condottieres" who began their journey simultaneously with him in the 60s, with a large historical the scenes came off much earlier. Even at the age of 66, Denard felt so confident that in September 1995 he again went to the Comoros. There, at that time, the pro-French president Said Johar ruled, whom the "king of mercenaries" who didn’t age, decided to "resign." For this purpose, Denard gathered only 36 Merseners, but they were veterans who had previously served with him in the Comoros and "could have walked from the landing site to the presidential palace with their eyes closed." On a ship bought in Norway, this small detachment reached the main island of the Republic of Gran Comor, captured the capital (the city of Moroni) and freed more than 200 soldiers and officers of the presidential guard, who were serving their sentences after the unsuccessful 1992 coup. President Saeed Mohammed Johar was arrested in his villa, captain Ayyub Kombo was put at the head of the republic, who transferred power to the interim government four days later.
That is, Denard was “in shape”, and the next coup he got was no worse than before. He did not take into account only the reaction of the French government, which the veteran really did not like such “arbitrariness”.
This time, the French in the framework of the operation "Azalee" sent against Denard a small frigate of the class "Le Floreal de Lorient" (sometimes these ships are classified as corvettes) and 700 legionnaires of the DLEM unit (de Legion etrangere de Mayotte), supported by the commando of Djibouti and the soldiers of the second parachute regiment of the marine corps (only about a thousand people).
Realizing that they simply did not have a chance against such forces, Denard and his people did not show any resistance. They were arrested and taken to Paris.
However, the interim government of Comor continued its work, and six months later, one of the princes who led it, Mohammed Taki, was elected president of the Republic of Comoros. Thus, despite the arrest of Denard and his people, in general, this coup can be considered successful - but not for Denard himself.
In France, Denard was again put on trial, which lasted until 2007. In 2006, one of the former heads of foreign intelligence of France, passing as a witness (his name was not disclosed), made a statement:
In July 2007, the court acquitted Denard on three counts and sentenced him on one episode, sentencing him to four years in prison. However, for health reasons, Denard did not end up in prison. Some later wrote about Alzheimer's disease, which Denard allegedly suffered at the end of his life. But look at this photo in which we see him in the courtroom:
Before us is a well-preserved elderly man with a strong-willed and intelligent face, not at all afraid: he seems to be holding back a sarcastic smile with difficulty.
Three months after the verdict was passed (October 14, 2007), 78-year-old Denard died in his house in one of the suburbs of Paris; acute circulatory failure was named the cause of death. He was buried in the church of St. Francis Xavier.
In the last years of his life, Denard led the association of former mercenaries with a very interesting name: “The World is Our Country”.
It is curious if this name was known to the author of the text of the song of the Jam group?
There were - a fairy tale, steel - come true, your walls will not help ...
We are not the first weapon - the generation of immortals.
Steel stacks on endless roads.
And the drunken demon laughs, the mirrors spill crookedly,
We can live beautifully - we need peace ...
And preferably all.
Denard had 7 wives who bore him 8 children. 4 years after his death, he became the protagonist of the French film “Mr. Bob” (2011), which takes place in the Congo in 1965.
Among the characters in this film was Jean Schramm.
The Fate of Jean Scarme
Since 1968, Schramm lived in Belgium and did not take a personal part in the operations of mercenaries, but in the 80s. advised Latinos (for example, his services were used by far-right organizations in Bolivia).
However, the past nevertheless overtook him: in 1986, a court in Belgium sentenced him to 20 years in prison for the long-standing murder of a white planter in Congo (the Belgians were not interested in the murders of blacks). For some reason, Shram didn’t want to sit in a comfortable and comfortable Belgian prison, instead he went to his friends in Brazil. Here he wrote and published his memoirs, which he called "Revelation." He died in December 1988, at the age of 59 years.
The Thousand Lives of Roger Folk
Roger Folk (Fulk in another transcription) was a constant partner of Denard and actively collaborated with him in subsequent years. Together with him, as we recall from a previous article, he fought for the “Imam King” al-Badr in Yemen in 1963. Then, in combat against the new republican authorities, in addition to them, SAS staff members on vacation were involved, and funding went through Saudi Arabia.
In 1967, Volk led the Mercer detachment in Biafra, the oil-rich Nigerian province inhabited by the Igbo people. He also called Bob Denard here, and the other “authoritative” fighters, then promoted by Volk, were German Rolf Steiner and Welsh native Taffy Williams.
Rolf Steiner was born in Munich in 1933 and was the son of one of the pilots of the squadron of the famous "red baron" Manfred von Richthofen. Behind the 34-year-old Steiner was a service in the first parachute regiment of the Foreign Legion, the war in Indochina and Algeria. He was also a member of the OAS and participated in one of the assassinations of Charles de Gaulle, was arrested and was under investigation for 9 months.
In Biafra, Steiner quickly went uphill: having begun his service as a company commander, he finished the commandos (Black Legion), the commander of the 4th brigade he had created himself, whose emblem was skull and crossbones, and the motto was the phrase “My Honor is Fidelity”.
The beginning of a mercenary career was so successful for him that he continued it in Uganda, but was betrayed by the new authorities of this country and spent three years in Sudan, where he was kept in an iron cage in the middle of a prison yard, starved and tortured. Steiner returned to Germany with an invalid. Here he wrote the book "The Last Condotier."
Rolf Steiner was an atypical mercenary: he called himself an “adventurer” and claimed that he fought not for money, but for conviction. Indeed, he didn’t leave Biafra with the other Volks mercers, and the journalist France Soir then wrote about the rest: “They need one more to create a good title for the film and hundreds to create an army” - you probably guessed that he hinted to The Magnificent Seven. And in the future, Steiner could have avoided arrest if he agreed to testify against his friend - Idi Amin, chief of the General Staff of the Ugandan army.
Another Volk subordinate, Taffy Williams, was born in Wales, but spent his childhood and youth in South Africa.
And earlier he served with Mike Hoar in the Congo - in the famous Wild Goose Battalion (Commando-5). In both Congo and Biafra, he became famous for his absolute fearlessness, personally led the soldiers into attacks under machine gun fire, and his subordinates considered him “spellbound”. In Biafra, he served in the Steiner Black Legion and very highly evaluated the fighting qualities of the rebels subordinate to him, stating:
Williams worked out his contract in Biafra completely and left this province the last of Steiner's “Magnificent Six”. Therefore, he is often called the "ideal mercenary." Many believe that it was Taffy Williams who became the prototype of the main character of F. Forsyth's book “Dogs of War”.
Taking the opportunity, let us say a few words about other famous Biafra “volunteers”: pilots Carla von Rosen and Lynna Harrison.
Karl Gustav von Rosen was a count, the son of a famous Swedish ethnographer and nephew Karin Goering (nee Fock) - the wife of Hermann Goering.
During the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935), he served in aviation The Red Cross and during one of the missions received chemical burns from mustard gas used by Italians. Then, on the Douglas DC-2 airplane he bought, converted into a bomber, in 1939-1940. he fought as a volunteer on the side of Finland. After the outbreak of World War II, the British refused to accept him for service because of kinship with Goering. Later, von Rosen was a personal pilot of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, whose plane was shot down on the night of September 18 in the Congo. Karl von Rosen was then ill, and therefore the plane was controlled by another pilot - also a Swede.
After the outbreak of war in Nigeria, he, with the support of French intelligence, delivered 5 Malmo MFI-9 aircraft converted to attack aircraft to Biafra: the famous squadron “Biafra Children” was created (another version of the translation is “Biafra Babies”), which surprised everyone with its bold and efficient actions.
In 1977, Ethiopia and Somalia started a war for the province of Ogaden.
The paradox was that at the beginning it was Somalia who was the USSR’s ally, and the Soviet Union, diligently and not sparing efforts and means, actually created a modern army in this state. And then Ethiopia announced a “socialist orientation”, and Somalis found support from the USA, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and some other Arab countries. Now in this round of the Cold War, Soviet leaders were on the side of Ethiopia, whose army “made a depressing impression”. The formula for victory was simple: Soviet weapon, instructors, advisers plus revolutionary Cuban soldiers (18 thousand people), transferred from Angola and Congo. And some more Yemenis and Karl von Rosen suddenly found himself on the Soviet-Cuban-Ethiopian side. Cubans then lost 160 people, the USSR - 33 "military specialists." And on July 13, 1977, during the attack by Somali partisans, Karl von Rosen was killed.
Lynn Harrison, a Canadian of Irish descent, began his pilot career as a fighter pilot - the youngest in the Air Force of post-war Canada (served from 1954 to 1964). To his colleagues, he remembered the phrase: "If this aircraft has fuel and you hear the noise of the engine, I can control it."
While serving in the Sinai Peninsula, he at one time served as the personal pilot of the UN Under-Secretary-General, Ralph Bunch.
Harrison became interested in collecting “classic” airplanes (and could afford this pleasure). By 1964, he had acquired 45 cars, among which were, for example: Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, Hawker Hurricane, Fokker D.VII, Morane-Saulnier MS.230, Supermarine Spitfire, Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, Vought OS2U Kingfisher, Vought F4U Corsair, Mustang P-51, B-25 Mitchell.
In 1964, Harrison founded the Canadian Aviation Museum, in 1966 he was the organizer of an air show in Los Angeles.
During the Civil War in Nigeria, he became a pilot of the Biafra Children squadron. As you know, this rich collector was then the last to think about money.
Harrison then participated in the Football War between Honduras and El Salvador (July 6-14, 1969). These were the last battles between piston aircraft in history. Contradictions between these countries have been growing for a long time, the direct reason for the outbreak of hostilities was the defeat of Honduras in the second qualifying match of the 1970 World Cup. The “lucky” national team of Salvador then lost all matches in this championship and did not score a single goal.
In 1980, Lynn Harrison attempted to make a television film about the Voodoo cult in Haiti, but it all ended with the beating of a film crew by local peasants in a cemetery while trying to unearth the grave of an alleged zombie. In 1991, Harrison returned to Haiti as an adviser to the dictator of Haiti, Raul Sedras. In 1992, he became the US Consul in this country, together with Pat Collins assisted in the reorganization of her army. In 2010, he retired and remained in Haiti.
Harrison is also known as the director of aviation stunts in some films.
Lynn Harrison is one of the few and now surviving participants in the events of those years.
But back to Folk, who did not win laurels in Biafra and preferred to withdraw his people ahead of schedule, citing a poor supply of weapons and ammunition, which was a violation of the contract. After that he “retired” and, enjoying universal respect, lived in France. In 2010, he was even an honored guest at the main festival of the Foreign Legion in honor of the Battle of Cameron.
Volk died in Nice on November 6, 2011 (at the age of 86).
One Hundred Years of Mike Hoar
After returning from Congo, Mike Hoar seemed to have retreated from the "big deal" and even made a trip around the world on a yacht. Whereas in the USSR and countries of the socialist camp, the commander of the “Wild geese” and his subordinates were written exclusively in “black”, then in the West he had a pretty good reputation as a man who saved thousands of innocent Europeans from reprisal.
He also tried to “find a job” during the civil war in Nigeria (which was mentioned above), but failed to agree on payment for his services. But his former Commando-5 subordinates, Alistair Wicks and John Peters, then made good money by recruiting pilots: Wicks recruited them for Biafra, and Peters for Nigeria. But for Wicks, it all ended sadly: his plane with several tons of Nigerian dollars was detained in Togo, the money was confiscated, and Wicks and his pilot spent 84 days in prison.
Still, he was bored of leading the life of a “honored pensioner,” and in 1975, many claim to be involved in the recruitment of mercenaries, who later went to Angola. Imitating Robert Denard, in 1976 Hoar organized the Wild Goose Club, a mercenary office, many of which later ended up in Rhodesia.
And in the late 70's. Michael Hoar acted as a consultant for The Wild Geese (1978), which was written based on Daniel Carney’s novel The Thin White Line.
In this film, the role of Sergeant Donaldson was played by actor Ian Yule, who had previously served with Crazy Mike in Commando 5, and the role of Allen Faulkner (Mike Hoar became one of his prototypes) was played by Richard Burton himself.
Other celebrities included Roger Moore and Richard Harris.
But it was Hoaru, the only one of this merry company of mercenaries of the revolutionary Katanga, who was destined to go to jail.
In 1981, Hoar decided to shake antiquity and undertook to fulfill the order of the South African government to organize a coup in the Seychelles. It is curious that Hoar acted then in the interests of the legitimate president James Manchem, who in 1977 was expelled by the “Socialist of the Indian Ocean” France Albert Rene.
November 24, 46 fighters of the Hoar squad gathered at Johannesburg Airport. Among them were three veterans of the famous Commando-5 ("Wild Geese") - they became Hoar's deputies. The second group of fighters was represented by former members of the SADF (South African Defense Force, South African Defense Forces) reconnaissance and parachute regiments. The third - veterans of the Rhodesian unit "Scouts Selousa", specializing in the fight against partisans.
Finally, the Rhodesians from the private military company SAS (Security Advisory Services), created in 1975. Its founders, John Banks and David Tomkins, deliberately took the name, the abbreviation of which was identical to the abbreviation of the famous British special forces Special Air Service.
They all went on the road under the guise of members of the club of former rugby players with the frivolous name "Order of beer foam blowers" - AOFB. But Hoara then failed the inappropriate behavior of one of his fighters, who had obvious mental problems.
The first unpleasant incident occurred in the city of Ermelo, where, in the absence of Hoar, the mercenaries slightly “went over” in the bar of the Holiday Inn and one of them beat a visitor who did not like him. Hoar ordered the poor fellow to pay, and the scandal was avoided. On November 25, a squad of "rugby players" arrived at Pointe Larue Airport (Victoria City) on Mahe Island.
And then the times were so idyllic that they carried dismantled Kalashnikovs in their sports bags.
Further does not lend itself to a reasonable explanation.
The penultimate of the mercenaries in the bag (in which, we recall, a disassembled machine was hidden) turned out to be prohibited fruits. It was them that the customs officers discovered.
Subordinate Hoara, apparently, was very fond of lychees, and therefore, instead of calmly parting with them and going to the bus, he began to bicker. And when the angry customs officer, after all having taken the fruits, began to write him a fine, made a scandal with shouts: “You searched me because I was Creole”, I ran into a full search. The rest of the Hoar people were real professionals. The former paratrooper Kevin Beck, who was standing next to this psychopath, assembled his assault rifle in 15 seconds, the rest, who had already managed to board the bus after hearing the noise, were ready in half a minute. But everything didn’t go according to plan, they had to enter into an unequal battle right at the airport, which they still managed to capture (at the same time, Hoar’s fighters burned a police armored car). But further actions became impossible due to the arrival of additional forces, including army units. Realizing that they had nothing more to do in the Seychelles, Mike and his guys hijacked an Indian plane and went back to South Africa on it, where they were arrested for 6 days. The world press “dubbed” this operation “The Tour with the Coup”.
For the attack on the airport and the hijacking of the airliner, Hoar was later sentenced to 20 years (served 33 months). During this time, Hoar received many letters of support from former hostages released by him in the Congo, their friends and relatives. Here is what was written in one of them:
Upon his release, Hoar began to write books and memoirs: “Mercenary”, “Road to Kalamata” and “Seychelles scam”.
In this photo, Mad Mike is 100 years old:
Recall how he was at 25:
Finally, at the age of 59, on the set of the film “Wild Geese”:
Old age does not spare even such heroes of the era.
Michael Hoar died on February 2, 2020 in Durban, South Africa, in the first hundred years of his life, and his death was reported by media around the world.
In the next article, we will talk about another hero of this era, David Stirling, who became the founder of the Special Airborne Service (SAS) and the first private military company - Watchguard International.