by Mike Hoare
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Pub Date 30 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 09 Nov 2022
Pen & Sword, Greenhill Books
‘I make no apologies for being a mercenary soldier. Quite the reverse. I am proud to have led 5 Commando. I am proud to have fought shoulder to shoulder with the toughest and bravest band of men it has ever been my honour to command. I am proud that they stood when all else failed.’
In July 1964, four years after gaining independence from Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo came under threat from an armed rebellion that spread rapidly through the country.
To suppress the rebels and bring the unrest and bloodshed in the country under control, Congolese officials enlisted the help of mercenary leader Mike Hoare. Working alongside military officials, Hoare assembled a band of several hundred men that became known as ‘5 Commando’. In Congo Mercenary, Hoare tells the story of the role that these men played in the rebellion, describing in gripping detail how this band of mercenaries were recruited, trained, and how they swept through the country. His team undertook four campaigns in just 18 months during which they fought rebels, liberated Stanleyville, freed European hostages and brought order back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Hoare’s experiences in the Congo and his involvement in suppressing the Simba rebellion were hugely significant from a political and a military standpoint. His influence, however, did not stop there. This account of his time in the Congo was first published in 1967 and had a huge cultural impact, as well, contributing to the glorification of the mercenary lifestyle in magazines and pulp novels, and even inspiring the 1978 war film The Wild Geese starring Richard Burton and Roger Moore.