Congo (ONUC) Collection – release of records at the Military Archives


As part of our commitment to preserve and make available Ireland’s documentary military heritage, the Military Archives is pleased to announce the release of 454 administrative records from Ireland’s peacekeeping mission to the Congo, 1960-1964.

These records have been carefully appraised and catalogued by archivist Linda Hickey over the past 9 months. A quantity remains closed in accordance with criteria laid down under the National Archives of Ireland Act 1986. This is primarily for purposes of data protection, as they relate in a personal capacity to individuals still living. The Military Archives is committed to public access to records, and closures are reviewed every five years under the terms of the Act.

The Congo, a former Belgian colony, became an independent republic on 30th June 1960. Twelve days later, the Congolese Government requested military assistance from the United Nations to maintain its territorial integrity. Ireland was one of the countries requested by the United Nations to provide troops to the proposed mission, known as Opération des Nations Unies au Congo, or its abbreviation ONUC. They accepted the request and on 19th July 1960 the Irish government passed the enabling legislation and activated the 32nd Infantry Battalion. On 27th July 1960 the first element of 32nd Battalion took off from Dublin set for the Congo. This was the beginning of a four year commitment to service in the Congo where over 6000 Irishmen served, and 26 lost their lives, between 1960 - 1964.

This collection is organised by battalion / group. The various contingents are divided into 10 series: 32nd Infantry Battalion, 33rd Infantry Battalion, 34th Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Group, 35th Infantry Battalion, 36th Infantry Battalion, 37th Infantry Battalion, 38th Infantry Battalion, 39th Infantry Battalion, and 2nd Infantry Group. Material for Armoured Car Groups/Squadrons that served in the Congo are held with the respective Infantry Battalion / Group with which they served. Within each series the files are arranged according to the record type, these being Administrative, Establishment and Organisation, Operations, Finance, Medical, Discipline and Security, Training, Recreation and Logistics.

The listing can be found at this link and files may be accessed by appointment at the Military Archives Reading Room.