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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Carlow Militia

Pte. Michael McGuinn from Staplestown Road

Source: Terry Curran

Armoured vehicle ZD 17 of the Irish 38th Battalion in action in the Congo in 1961.

Congo 1960

Congo 1960

Niemba Ambush

The 'Niemba Ambush took place on November 8, 1960. Ireland had deployed Irish Army troops as ONUC peacekeepers during the Congo Crisis. On 8 November, an eleven-man Irish platoon was patrolling a nearby bridge over the Luweyeye River, where they were ambushed by Baluba tribesmen armed with bows and poison-tipped arrows, as well as some guns.

The patrol was first hit with a wave of poison-tipped arrows. Some soldiers were wounded and bludgeoned to death, while others were hit and died minutes later. The Irish soldiers returned fire with Lee Enfield rifles. The remaining Irish troops regrouped by a ridge but were surrounded, and continued to fire. All but two of the soldiers were killed, and the survivors escaped and were found by other UN troops the following day

The platoon commander, Lieutenant Kevin Gleeson from Carlow, was killed in the action along with Sergeant Hugh Gaynor, Corporal Peter Kelly, Corporal Liam Dougan, Private Matthew Farrell, Trooper Thomas Fennell, Trooper Anthony Browne, Private Michael McGuinn, Private Gerard Killeen.

Twenty-five Baluba tribesmen were also killed. For his conduct during the ambush, 19 year old Tpr. Browne was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry, Ireland's highest military award. A stone commemorating Lt. Gleeson can be found in Carlow town.

The Irish troops wore heavy "Bull's wool" uniforms, boots and leggings, all unsuitable for the hot climate and conditions. Coupled with this, their radio equipment did not work, so they used a short wave radio owned by missionary priests to contact HQ in Dublin. Popular stories which came back told of Baluba tribesmen who were seen wearing the boots and jackets of the Irishmen who died. Despite this first experience, the tradition of UN service is still strong in the Irish Army.

Source: Wikipedia

The survivors were Trooper Thomas Kenny and Private Joe Fitzpatrick.

802900 Pte. Michael McGuinn age 21. 33rd Battalion 2nd Field Engineer. Coy.
He came from Staplestown Road, Carlow.
Date & Place of Death: 08 November 1960, Niemba

You can also read more about Niemba Ambush on

Sent in by Terry Curran c2011

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