Volunteering for Congo – July 1960
Interviewed for MAOHP - 15/12/2017
Reference Code: IE_MA_MAC_006_MAOHP_010_E
Location(s): Duncannon Fort
In this clip, Company Sergeant Joe Mallon outlines how he was selected for the 32nd Battalion tour of the Congo in 1960. He recalls going on the first ever summer camp to Wexford to Duncannon Fort. After two days in the Summer Camp and that a Muster Parade was ordered. Lieutenant Dan Duffy then read out that United Nations had requested the Irish Government to send a battalion to the Congo informed the assemble that those who wanted to Volunteer for the tour to step forward. Joe outlines how quickly they ended up in the Congo from the moment they heard about it. The Muster Parade was on the Monday and by the Friday (27 July 1960), they were on the Globemaster plane towards the Congo. Duncannon fort was built on this site by Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. The present fort was built in 1587–88 under the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 to defend Waterford from possible invasion by the Spanish Armada. In July 1960, Irish troops were sent to the Congo as part of the United Nations force. The Belgian Congo became an independent Republic on 30 June 1960. Soon after, the the Congolese government requested military assistance from the United Nations to maintain its territorial integrity. On 28 July 1960 Lt-Col Murt Buckley led the 32nd Irish Battalion (including Joe Mallon) to the newly independent central African country. From 1960 to 1964, 26 Irish soldiers lost their lives in the Congo.