The Seige of Jadotville

A movie review by Don Thomas.

The movie is based on the true story of A Company, 25th Infantry battalion of the Irish Defense Forces. It takes place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sept. 1961. A Company is part of a larger UN Peace keeping force sent to the Congo during its Civil War and is Ireland's first international military deployment.
A Company, under the command of Commandant Pat Quinlan, is deployed to the small mining town of Jadotville as a protection force for the local settlers. As soon as they arrived Commandant Quinlan has the men dig defensive positions and site the few support weapons that he has which consisted of a couple of water cooled Vickers machine guns and 60mm mortars.


Commandant Pat Quinlan, played by Jamie Dornan.


Soon after the small force of 155 Irish soldiers were attacked by a 3000 mercenary and militia force. For five days A company held off repeated attacks killing over 300 of the attacking force. But with no chance of a relief force and no food, water and ammunition left, A Company had to surrender. And they were held as POWs for a month and then released. Though the Irishmen had many wounded there were none killed. The men credit the leadership of Commandant Quinlan for holding their position and saving so many lives.


There are many who liken their stand to that of the Battle of Rorke's Drift where 150 British soldiers held off over 3000 Zulu warriors. But unfortunately, the exploits of A Company was never recognized by the United Nations or their own country. This was due to their surrender and not to bring to light the political and strategic errors of the United nations itself. In 2004 the Irish Defense Ministry finally recognised the Soldiers of Jadotville and cleared Commandant Quinlan of any allegations of soldierly misconduct. Sadly it was nine years after his death in 1997.


I found the movie was historically correct and would give it a four out of five. If anything it shows how so-called peace keeping missions can turn very violent on short notice. And a lesson that since 1961 has repeated itself many times and governments are still willing to send their troops on UN missions that lack a clear cut mandate and mission, without the troop numbers and proper equipment to make the system work.

All photos courtesy of IMDb.