Mad Mike Hoare

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Mad Mike Hoare
Birth nameThomas Michael Hoare
Born (1919-03-17) 17 March 1919 (age 100)
British India
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Rank Colonel
Unit London Irish Rifles
Wars
Mercenary career
Nickname(s)"Mad Mike"
Allegiance
Battles

Thomas Michael "Mad Mike" Hoare (born 17 March 1919) is a British mercenary leader known for military activities in Africa and his attempt to conduct a coup d'état in the Seychelles.

Mercenary soldier who fights for hire

A mercenary is an individual who is hired to take part in a conflict but is not part of an army or other-governmental organisation. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. In the last century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Coup détat Sudden deposition of a government; illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus

A coup d'état, also known as a putsch, a golpe, or simply as a coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.

Contents

The epithet "Mad" Mike Hoare comes from broadcasts by East German radio during the fighting in the Congo in the 1960s. They would precede their commentary with "The mad bloodhound, Mike Hoare". [1]

East Germany former communist country, 1949-1990

East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic, was a country that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. It described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state", and the territory was administered and occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II — the Soviet Occupation Zone of the Potsdam Agreement, bounded on the east by the Oder–Neisse line. The Soviet zone surrounded West Berlin but did not include it; as a result, West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR.

Early life and military career

Hoare was born in British India [1] and was educated in England. He joined the London Irish Rifles at the outbreak of World War II, and served as an officer in India and Burma. He was promoted to the rank of major. After the war, he trained as a chartered accountant, qualifying in 1948. [2] He subsequently emigrated to Durban, Natal Province in the Union of South Africa, where he later ran safaris and became a soldier-for-hire in various African countries.

British Raj British rule in the Indian subcontinent, 1858-1947

The British Raj was the rule by the British Crown in the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947. The rule is also called Crown rule in India, or direct rule in India. The region under British control was commonly called British India or simply India in contemporaneous usage, and included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom, which were collectively called British India, and those ruled by indigenous rulers, but under British tutelage or paramountcy, and called the princely states. The whole was also informally called the Indian Empire. As India, it was a founding member of the League of Nations, a participating nation in the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936, and a founding member of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

London Irish Rifles

The London Irish Rifles (LIR) was a volunteer rifle regiment of the British Army with a distinguished history, and now forms 'D' Company of the London Regiment and is part of the Army Reserve.

Congo Crisis (1961–65)

Mike Hoare led two separate mercenary groups during the Congo Crisis.

Congo Crisis 1960–1965 war fought in the Congo

The Congo Crisis was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo between 1960 and 1965. The crisis began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo Crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union and the United States supported opposing factions. Around 100,000 people are believed to have been killed during the crisis.

Katanga

Mike Hoare's first mercenary action was in 1961 in Katanga, a province trying to break away from the newly independent Republic of the Congo. His unit was called "4 Commando".

State of Katanga unrecognised historical state in Africa

The State of Katanga, also sometimes denoted as the Republic of Katanga, was a breakaway state that proclaimed its independence from the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville on 11 July 1960 under Moise Tshombe, leader of the local Confédération des associations tribales du Katanga (CONAKAT) political party. The new Katangese state did not enjoy full support throughout the province and was constantly wracked by ethnic strife in its northernmost region. It was dissolved in 1963 following an invasion by United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) forces, and reintegrated with the rest of the country as Katanga Province.

A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman provincia, which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The term province has since been adopted by many countries. In some countries with no actual provinces, "the provinces" is a metaphorical term meaning "outside the capital city".

Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) former country in Africa

The Republic of the Congo was a sovereign state in Central Africa that was created with the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960. From 1960 to 1966, the country was often known as Congo-Léopoldville in order to distinguish it from its north-western neighbour, also called the Republic of the Congo or Congo-Brazzaville. With the renaming of Léopoldville as Kinshasa on 1 June 1966, it was known as Congo-Kinshasa until 1971.

During this time he married Phyllis Sims, an airline stewardess.

Simba rebellion

In 1964, Congolese Prime Minister Moïse Tshombe, his employer in Katanga, hired Major Mike Hoare to lead a military unit called 5 Commando, Armée Nationale Congolaise (5 Commando ANC) (later led by John Peters; [3] not to be confused with No.5 Commando, the British Second World War commando force) made up of about 300 men most of whom were from South Africa. His second-in-command was a fellow ex-British Army officer, Commandant Alistair Wicks. The unit's mission was to fight a revolt known as the Simba rebellion.

Moïse Tshombe Democratic Republic of Congo Prime Minister

Moïse Kapenda Tshombe was a Congolese businessman and politician. He served as the president of the secessionist State of Katanga from 1960 to 1963 and as prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1964 to 1965.

No. 5 Commando was a battalion-sized commando unit of the British Army during the Second World War.

Simba rebellion 1964 rebellion in Congo

The Simba rebellion of 1964 was a revolt in Congo-Léopoldville which took place within the wider context of the Congo Crisis and the Cold War. The rebellion, located in the east of the country, was led by the followers of Patrice Lumumba, who had been ousted from power in 1960 by Joseph Kasa-Vubu and Joseph-Désiré Mobutu and subsequently killed in January 1961 in Katanga. The rebellion was contemporaneous with the Kwilu rebellion led by fellow Lumumbist Pierre Mulele in central Congo.

Later Hoare and his mercenaries worked in concert with Belgian paratroopers, Cuban exile pilots, and CIA-hired mercenaries who attempted to save 1,600 civilians (mostly Europeans and missionaries) in Stanleyville from the Simba rebels in Operation Dragon Rouge. This operation saved many lives. [4] Hoare was later promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the Armée Nationale Congolaise and 5 Commando expanded into a two-battalion force. Hoare commanded 5 Commando from July 1964 to November 1965. [5]

Speaking on the conflict, he said, "I had wanted nothing so much as to have 5 Commando known as an integral part of the ANC, a 5 Commando destined to strike a blow to rid the Congo of the greatest cancer the world has ever known—the creeping, insidious disease of communism.” [6]

Later, Hoare wrote his own account of 5 Commando's role in the 1960s Congo mercenary war, originally titled Congo Mercenary [7] and much later repeatedly republished in paperback simply as Mercenary (subtitled "The Classic Account of Mercenary Warfare").

The Wild Geese

In the mid-1970s, Hoare was hired as technical adviser for the film The Wild Geese, the fictional story of a group of mercenary soldiers hired to rescue a deposed African president. Colonel Alan Faulkner (played by Richard Burton) was patterned on Hoare. At least one of the actors in the film, Ian Yule, had been a mercenary under Hoare's command, before which he had served in the British Parachute Regiment and Special Air Service (SAS). [8] Of the actors playing mercenaries, four had been born in Africa, two were former POWs and most had received military training.

Seychelles affair (1981) and subsequent conviction

Background

In 1978, Seychelles exiles in South Africa, acting on behalf of ex-president James Mancham, discussed with South African Government officials launching a coup d'état against the new president France-Albert René, who had "promoted" himself from prime minister while Mancham was out of the country. The military option was decided in Washington, D.C., due to United States' concerns over access to its new military base on Diego Garcia island, the necessity to move operations from the Seychelles to Diego Garcia, and the determination that René was not someone who would be in favour of the Americans.

Preparation

Associates of Mancham contacted Hoare, then in South Africa as a civilian resident, to fight alongside fifty-three other mercenary soldiers, including ex-South African Special Forces (Recces), former Rhodesian soldiers, and ex-Congo mercenaries. [9]

Hoare got together, in November 1981, a group of white, middle class mercenaries, and dubbed them "Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers" (AOFB) after a charitable English social club of the 1920s. In order for the plan to work, he disguised the mercenaries as a rugby club, and hid AK-47s in the bottom of his luggage, as he explained in his book The Seychelles Affair:

We were a Johannesburg beer-drinking club. We met formally once a week in our favourite pub in Braamfontein. We played Rugby. Once a year we organised a holiday for our members. We obtained special charter rates. Last year we went to Mauritius. In the best traditions of the original AOFB we collected toys for underprivileged kids and distributed them to orphanages ... I made sure the toys were as bulky as possible and weighed little. Rugger footballs were ideal. These were packed in the special baggage above the false bottom to compensate for the weight of the weapon. [10]

Fighting

The fighting started prematurely when one of Hoare's men accidentally got in the "something to declare" line and the customs officer insisted on searching his bag. The rifles were well-concealed in the false-bottomed kitbags but the rifle was found and the customs man, running from the scene, sounded the alarm. One of Hoare's men pulled his own, disassembled AK-47 from the concealed compartment in the luggage, assembled it, loaded it and shot the escaping customs man before he could reach the other side of the building. The plan for the coup proceeded despite this set-back with one team of Hoare's men attempting to capture a barracks. Fighting ensued at the airport and in the middle of this, an Air India jet (Air India Boeing aircraft Flight 224), landed at the airport, damaging a flap on one of the trucks strewn on the runway. Hoare managed to negotiate a ceasefire before the aircraft and passengers were caught in the crossfire. After several hours, the mercenaries found themselves in an unfavorable position and some wanted to depart on the aircraft, which needed fuel. Hoare conceded and the captain of the aircraft allowed them on board after Hoare had found fuel for the aircraft. On board, Hoare asked the captain why he had landed when he had been informed of the fighting taking place and he responded that once the aircraft had started to descend, he did not have enough fuel to climb the aircraft back to cruising altitude and still make his destination.

Hoare's men still had their weapons and Hoare asked the captain if he would allow the door to be opened so they could ditch the weapons over the sea before they returned to South Africa, but the captain laughed at Hoare's out-of-date knowledge on how pressurized aircraft functioned and told him it would not be possible.

Investigation and trial

Four of the mercenary soldiers were left behind and were convicted of treason in the Seychelles. [9]

In January 1982 an International Commission, appointed by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 496, inquired into the attempted coup d'état. The UN report concluded that South African defence agencies were involved, including supplying weapons and ammunition.

Being associated with the South African security services, the hijackers were initially charged with kidnapping, which carries no minimum sentence, but this was upgraded to hijacking after international pressure. [9]

Hoare was found guilty of airplane hijacking and sentenced to ten years in prison. In total, 42 of the 43 alleged hijackers were convicted. One of the mercenaries, an American veteran of the Vietnam War, was found not guilty of hijacking, as he had been seriously wounded in the firefight and was loaded aboard while sedated. [9] Many of the other mercenaries, including the youngest of the group, Raif St Clair, were quietly released after three months in their own prison wing.

Aftermath

While still in prison, Hoare began signing up "Honorary Members" in "The Wild Geese". As the process required some information on former military service and military specialties, many reports called this a recruitment drive. Many thousands of active and former military personnel applied with Hoare, thus quite a database of potential mercenaries (contract employees) was developed, but none were ever called to serve with Hoare.

Hoare was a chartered accountant and member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Previously the Institute had said it could not expel him despite protests from members as he had committed no offence and paid his membership dues. His imprisonment allowed the ICAEW to expel him from membership in 1983. [2]

Hoare's account of the Seychelles operation, The Seychelles Affair, was markedly critical of the South African establishment.

Personal life

Irish-South African novelist Bree O'Mara (1968–2010) was his niece. She had written an unpublished account of his adventures as a mercenary in the Congo, [11] when she died on Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771.

Works by Mike Hoare

Literature

See also

Related Research Articles

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France-Albert René President of Seychelles

France-Albert René was a Seychellois politician who served as the second President of Seychelles from 1977 to 2004. He was nicknamed by Seychellois government officials and fellow party members as "the Boss". His name is often given as simply Albert René or F.A. René; he was also nicknamed Ti France.

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References

  1. 1 2 "A brief biography of Mike Hoare, listing some of his involvements around the world". www.mercenary-wars.net. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
  2. 1 2 "Cautionary Tales: Soldier of Fortune". Accountancy. ICAEW. 148 (1421): 113. January 2012. ISSN   0001-4664.
  3. "Wayback Machine". 29 March 2013. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. "Changing Guard". Time Magazine. 19 December 1965. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  5. Anthony Mockler, The New Mercenaries, Corgi, 1986, 111
  6. Mad Mike and his Wild Geese, Don Hollway, March 2019
  7. Hoare, Michael (1967-07-01). Congo Mercenary (1st ed.). London: Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN   9780709100966.
  8. "Help! Identify Toshs shorty FN from Wild Geese | Army Rumour Service". www.arrse.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "Cooked Goose – "Mad Mike" gets ten years". Time magazine. 8 August 1982.
  10. Hoare, Mike The Seychelles Affair (Transworld, London, 1986; ISBN   0-593-01122-8)
  11. Bree O'Mara's obituary The Times, 14 May 2010.