Séamus McDermott, Corporal (retired), enlisted in the Defence Forces in 1957 and trained in the Army Apprentice School in Devoy Barracks, Naas where he qualified as a carpenter and joiner. After his apprenticeship he served with 4th Field Company, Corps of Engineers in Custume Barracks, Athlone. He volunteered for service overseas and in June 1961 he went to the Congo with the 35th Infantry Battalion. He took part in Operations Rampunch and Morthor and was part of Force Kane, the attempted relief of Irish prisoners at Jadotville. Cpl McDermott served in the Defence Forces until September 1962 and after his military service he worked as a woodwork teacher and guidance counsellor. He was interviewed for the Military Archives Oral History Project on 13th October 2016.

In this clip Corporal Seamus McDermott recalls the evening that he volunteered for a mission to the Congo in September 1960. He remembers that after volunteering, he and some colleagues went to the cinema in Athlone. There, they saw Pathe News show footage of the Congo and only then realised the danger of where they were heading to. He later travelled to the Congo with the 35th Battalion.

In this clip, Corporal Seamus McDermott remembers an ambush in the Congo in 1961. He remembers that on the return to Elizabethville, their convoy was ambushed when a Swedish armoured personnel carrier was bombed and machine gun fire opened up on their bus from the side of the road. He describes the ambush which occurred when they were returning to their camp from attempting to get to Jadotville (where Commandant Pat Quinlan and his men were under siege). Corporal McDermott describes the injuries which were sustained by both the Irish soldiers and Gurka Indian soldiers during the ambush.

In this clip, Corporal Seamus McDermott recalls being moved to Leopold Farm (Congo) and outlines some of the operations his unit were involved with. He recalls being sent with a section to check the identification of tribes who were looking for refuge from the United Nations. Corporal McDermott speaks about the establishment of refugee camps for Baluba tribes people.

Here, Corporal Seamus McDermott reflects on the emotions of being under fire in trenches in Albert Park, where the UN (United Nations) forces were based. He recalls an incident when he was in a trench with Private Smullen from Athlone when a bullet was fired between their heads. This incident occurred on the 13th September, which was the first day of the Siege of Jadotville as well as the first day of Operation Morthor.

In this clip, Corporal Seamus McDermott reflects briefly on the conflict in Katanga and outlines the wealth of the area and how this was central to the conflict there. He also speaks about the political dynamics at play.

In this short clip, Corporal Seamus McDermott reflects back to September 1960 and his personal feelings of excitement about going to the Congo, despite the warning given to him by others.

Here, Corporal Seamus McDermott describes life in a military camp under the constant threat of fire and offers one example of how military personnel kept themselves safe while using the toilet at night time.

In this piece of audio, Corporal Seamus McDermott discusses his family's feelings on his tour and reflects briefly on the Niemba Ambush (November 1960) in the context of his own experiences later. He speaks about his own personal feelings on leaving for the Congo.

In this piece of audio, Corporal Seamus McDermott speaks about 'Operation Rumpunch' on 28th August 1961, a surprise operation aimed at capturing foreign mercenaries. He recalls the preparations for this operation and outlines the purpose of the UN force in Congo. He outlines the change from peacekeeping to peace enforcement and the objective of arresting mercenaries. Seamus recalls vividly the operation which commenced in the middle of the night.

In this clip, Corporal Seamus McDermott remembers the Congo in 1961, when he was part of a UN force attempting to relieve the Irish unit involved in the Siege of Jadotville. He outlines how during the operation, a Fouga plane, flown by a mercenary, was regularly bombing their position. He speaks about one occasion when the plane dropped bombs on their location, which led to the death of three Ghurkha Indian soldiers. He states that the UN force had blown up roads and were ready to proceed with the next phase of their operation when they were advised that a ceasefire had been arranged at Jadotville and they were being called back to Elizabethville.

Here Corporal Seamus McDermott speaks about his preparations for a tour to the Congo in 1960. He states that 'there was very little preparation from a military point of view' with the 35th Battalion. He recalls the journey to the Congo on the Globemaster plane, which was the first time he was ever on a plane. He also recalls a parade at McKee Barracks before they left which was reviewed by the then Taoiseach Seán Lemass and Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.

Here, Corporal Seamus McDermott outlines the conditions of their camp in the Congo (1961) which was initially shared with Swedish forces. He describes an issue with large rats in the camp. He discusses his early interaction with the native Congolese and also remembers a native child that got bitten by a snake in the camp and was saved by the Irish soldiers, who administered care.

In this piece of audio, Corporal Seamus McDermott discusses in detail his involvement in the second patrol which attempted to reach Jadotville, where a company of Irish soldiers were under siege. He details the requisition of at least sixteen buses which were used in order to go on a patrol towards Jadotville and explains that he was sent on this patrol. He outlines the instructions that he and other officers were given before the patrol and the various issues that they might face. The patrol included 150 of B Company of Southern Command as well as Indian forces. He also recalls a Fouga jet (flown by a mercenary) bombing their position on the road to Jadotville.

In this piece of audio, Corporal Seamus McDermott offers his memories of the Congo in 1961 and discusses 'the Tunnel', which was later the scene of a battle involving Irish soldiers in December 1961. He also discusses some of the reasons for the conflict.

Here, Corporal Seamus McDermott outlines the significance of the Tunnel which separated the airport at Elizabethville from the town. He suggests that the first 'Battle of the Tunnel' was led by the 35th Battalion when they defended the tunnel from gendarmerie who wanted to take it over. A major battle occurred at the Tunnel in December 1961 when A Company of the 36th Battalion recovered the Tunnel from gendarmerie who had taken it over.

In this piece of audio, Corporal Seamus McDermott recalls arriving in Athlone Army Barracks in September 1960 at the same time that the tours to the Congo were being organised. Seamus explains that he and his friends were just apprentice engineers but that they immediately volunteered for the Congo but were refused as they had just joined the Engineer Corps. However their names were kept on the list and Seamus was called for a tour to the Congo in 1961 with the 35th Battalion.

In this clip, Corporal Seamus McDermott reads aloud a prepared statement regarding 'A' Company, 35th Battalion (Siege of Jadotville). He wrote this in order to express his pride in 'A' Company and affirms that any negative comments which were made were entirely wrong. He laments that many of the men died before they were given any credit. He also rejects the term surrender and claims that the men were 'victims of a Katangan treachery'. He states two of his friends, Bill Reidy and Corporal Jimmy Lucy, a footballer from Kerry, were both involved in the Siege of Jadotville.