New Netflix Film Does A Good Job Of Honoring Irish UN Peacekeepers Besieged in Congo

Belgian Paratroopers During the mission
Belgian Paratroopers During the mission

Tadhg Quinn was effusive in his praise for the recently released film that tells the unknown story of A company, a UN force composed of 155 Irish troops sent to the Congo in 1961 on a peacekeeping mission that came dangerously close to being a bloodbath.

It all came back, said Quinn. Describing The Siege of Jadotville as “brilliant,” he did have some criticism of exaggeration in the film, but generally, the story was good.

He was 19 years old then, about the same age as his comrades. The oldest was Commandant Quinn, 42.

The UN was there as a peacekeeping force, intervening in the Katanga conflict in the African Congo. Under siege at Jadotville, outnumbered and fighting against troops many times their number for four days in sweltering heat, they ran low on food, water, and ammunition.

Each man only received one spoon of water from the water in the trenches until it ran out. Quinn told his family of that and the time he sucked pineapple juice out of a can.

But the film spends a little time on the months the men were in captivity following the siege. After returning home, their battle would be purposefully ignored until John Gormon, a member of A Company, started campaigning for acknowledgment.

Despite their efforts, the reputations both of the men and the Commandant were sullied. Quinlan didn’t see public recognition until almost a year after his death.

The way Quinlan was treated was absolutely despicable, said Quinn.

The film does leave a flattering picture of Conor Cruise O’Brien, who was in charge of the men, and in addition, was special representative to the Secretary-General of the UN (later a government minister), and his associates.

But it does put the Katanga conflict within the context of the overshadowing Cold War. O’Brien was apprehensive the conflict could have led to World War III.

Were forgotten emotions triggered by the film?

“Having been there I knew what they were experiencing,” Quinn said. He did feel irritated because of why it occurred. It should never have happened.

The Siege of Jadotville will be released to Netflix on October 7, reported.

Quinlan is portrayed by Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan. Direction is by Richie Smyth, production by Alan Moloney with screenwriting by Kevin Brodbin.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE