The Search

“PRCN-01-62: The helicopter leaving for Albertville carrying Pte. Kenny”

The search patrol left Albertville and a message was sent to Niemba with orders that two NCOs and ten men be ready to join the patrol. The reinforced search patrol left Niemba at 04:30 along the route taken by Lt. Gleeson and his men. At approximately 06:30 on the morning of 9 November the search patrol arrived at the bridge that Comdt. Hogan’s patrol had stopped at on 7 November. One of the medical officers who accompanied the search patrol, Comdt. Heaney, describes seeing a number of empty casings and clubs scattered on the road. In the bush area, approximately 40 yards in from the road, four bodies were discovered. During this initial search, Pte. Fitzpatrick came out of the bush on to the road. He was in shock but told the group that he was a member of Lt. Gleeson’s patrol. The group had to return to Niemba but returned later that day with a reinforced patrol led by Comdt. Hogan. Later on, approximately 30 yards further into the bush a fifth body was found. These five bodies were later identified as Lt. Gleeson, Sgt. Gaynor, Cpl. Dougan, Cpl. Kelly and Pte. McGuinn.

 On the morning of 10 November a wounded Pte. Kenny was seen by the patrol, a few miles north of Kamanda. After he was treated, a helicopter was called and Pte. Kenny was brought to the hospital at Albertville. Following a rendezvous at the village of Tondula, the patrol pushed on to the ambush site. According to Capt. Crowley (A Company), a search party consisting of Irish and Ethiopian troops was organised. Capt. Crowley and Comdt. Hogan consulted a sketch prepared by Pte. Fitzpatrick. Having advanced approximately 600 yards from the bridge, three further bodies were found. They were identified as Pte. Farrell, Pte. Killeen and Pte. Fennell. 

“DOPS-TEMP-4885-001: Telex Messages between Director of Plans and Operations, Army Headquarters and Irish Liaison, ONUC Leopoldville”


When the patrol returned to Niemba, Comdt. Heaney was called to attend to a wounded Pte. Hughes. At the same time there was an alert when a rooftop post opened fire on some movement observed in the bush. There were bursts of fire from several other posts. Comdt. Heaney was then called to attend to a wounded Pte. Shields who had been accidentally shot by a ricochet bullet. Later that night there was another alert and fire once again broke out. Pte. Davis, who had been manning the Bren gun on the veranda of one of the bungalows was accidentally shot. He was immediately attended to by Medical Officer Comdt. Burke. Pte. Davis was brought to Albertville but died before reaching the hospital. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery alongside the victims of the Niemba Ambush.



Comdt. Hogan was informed by Col. Byrne that he intended to evacuate the post at Niemba on Friday 11th November. He also told Comdt. Hogan that a large search party was to be sent from Albertville on Saturday 12th to resume the search for Tpr. Browne, who was missing, presumed dead. Tpr. Browne’s remains were not to be found until almost 2 years after the date of the ambush, 7 November 1962. On 6 October 1962, Officer Commanding 37th Battalion Lt. Col. O’Broin wrote to Plans and Operations, Army HQ informing them of a report stating that the remains of Tpr. Browne were known to be in the bush near the village of Tundula.



Army HQ responded with directions to form a party to recover the remains. Details of this location were given by M. de Bruyn who was, at the time of the ambush, State Prosecutor in Albertville.

The following party proceeded to Albertville tasked with finding Tpr. Browne’s remains: Comdt. Gallagher (37th Battalion), Comdt. McMahon (ex-Legal Officer, 33rd Battalion, sent out especially from Ireland), Comdt. Heaney and Capt. Lavery (both part of the advance party of 38th Battalion, who had been part of A Company 33rd Battalion). The search began with hostility from some villagers and an administrator from Niemba who was annoyed that he hadn’t been informed about the mission. He denied that the remains of an Irish soldier were there.

However, after being informed that the party knew the remains were there and that they intended to stay until they were found, the administrator agreed to speak to the Chef de Village. The next morning, Wednesday 7 November, the party returned to the search area with the administrator. The party agreed to attend a meeting with the Chef de Village. After a lot of discussion, the villagers agreed to show the search party the location where the heaviest fighting took place.

The party began to search the heavy bush and after following the administrator, they found Tpr. Browne’s remains. According to the search party’s report, the remains were found approximately two miles from the scene of the ambush. Tpr. Anthony Browne’s remains were flown home along with the remains of Cpl. Michael Nolan. Nolan was killed in Elizabethville in September 1961 and subsequently buried there. Tpr. Browne was posthumously awarded the first Military Medal for Gallantry (An Bonn Míleata Calmachta). He is buried beside his comrades in the Congo plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.

“OS-ONUC-33INFBN-07-06: Congo Publicity, another Press cutting reporting on the remains of Tpr. Anthony Browne and Cpl. Michael Nolan’s repatriation”



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