Photos African wars

A legionnaire of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment armed with MAT-49 submachine gun kicks open a door during combat and rescue operation in Kolwezi, Zaire, May 1978. The operation resulted in the liberation of 3,000 Zairean and 2,200 European hostages

Sharpshooters of the French Foreign Legion's 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e REP) in Kolwezi, Zaire during Operation "Léopard". 19 May 1978.

Paratroopers of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e REP) prepare to jump into Kolwezi, Zaire to defeat FNLC rebels and rescue European and Zairean hostages held by the rebels. May 1978
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Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, commander of UN forces in Rwanda, speaks to reporters from the UN headquarters in Kigali, June 1, 1994. Dallaire would receive the Order of Canada for his efforts to stop the Rwandan Genocide and protect civilians.
Francisco Daniel Roxo was a big-game hunter and safari guide in sub-Saharan Africa who found himself on the front lines of one of Africa's most brutal military conflicts, and ended up forging one of the greatest modern military legends in the history of both the Portugese and South African armies. A twenty year vet of ferocious bush war fighting, Roxo commanded a hand-picked commando unit of elite African soldiers known as "The Infernal Column" that struck fear into the hearts of his enemies. He’s also one of those rare guys who's received the Medal of Honor of two different countries – he was the first foreign-born soldier to ever receive the South African Honoris Cruz, and the Portuguese government issued him two Cruz de Guerras

Danny Roxo was born in the mountains of Northern Portugal on February 1, 1933. At the age of 18 he moved to Mozambique, which was a Portuguese colony at the time. In 1964 rebel forces in Mozambique rose up and revolted against Portuguese rule. When Roxo's poacher teams started animorphing into terrifying raiding parties of AK-toting Marxist revolutionaries, Roxo grabbed his elephant gun and sprung into action immediately. He got together the guys who worked with him – other hunters, wilderness guides, and trackers, and recruited them into a makeshift reconnaissance unit that could go into enemy territory, scout out troop positions, and report back to Mozambican Government forces.

Roxo trained his guys hard, drilled them day and night in live-fire situations, and built the Infernal Column into the most feared unit of the Portuguese military in Africa -- which is impressive considering that they weren't technically part of the Portuguese military. Roxo received two Cruz de Guerras for his service across various guerilla campaigns, Communist forces put a $100k bounty on his head, and, when the fighting finally came to an end in 1974, Roxo claimed that his unit had more confirmed killed than the entire rest of the Portuguese Army combined.

In 1974, Roxo took his wife, his kids, and any of the Coluna Infernal guys who wanted to come, and he fought his way out of the country towards South Africa.

He enlisted in the South African Defence Forces, applied for Special Forces, and successfully made it through the grueling Commando training school even though he was 41 years old

He was sent to Angola and was tasked with bringing his unique talents to fighting the Cuban and Soviet-backed Marxist rebels who threatened the Angola–South African border. Using similar tactics as the Coluna Infernal, Roxo and his battle-scarred vets conducted sabotage, espionage, and rescue missions deep behind enemy lines, trying to help refugees flee the civil war that now raged across Angola while also fighting to keep the conflict contained within the borders of that country.

The action that made Roxo a legend in South Africa came in December of 1975, when he was ordered to recon a bridge in advance of a South African push north into Angola. An ambush on the bridge by Cuban and Angolan troops was the start of an intense battle at the end of which Roxo had killed eleven enemy soldiers single-handedly, fought his way off the bridge, re-organised his team, and fearlessly led his guys through a raging war zone of artillery, mortar, and RPG fire. The Communist forces suffered between 100 to 200 casualties during the course of the fighting for Bridge 14.

On August 23rd, 1976, Sergeant Roxo was on a scouting mission into enemy territory when his MRAP hit a mine. Two men in the truck died in the blast, but Roxo was thrown from the vehicle, which flipped and then landed on him, crushing his spine and his legs. His men ran to his side, called in medevac, and tried desperately to lift the armoured vehicle off him, but it was no use.

So, his body crushed, knowing his death was imminent, Danny Roxo lit a cigarette, smoked the entire thing, and then died. As his commanding officer put it, "Roxo, in keeping with his dauntless character, decided to make the best of things, lighting a cigarette and smoking it calmly until it was finished, then he died - still pinned beneath the Wolf. He had not complained once, nor uttered a single groan or moan, although the pain must have been excruciating."

He was 43 years old. He’s still considered a legend in South Africa and Portugal today.
South African Quick Reaction Force (QRF) members prepare to deploy in support of troops engaged with enemy forces in Kiwanja, DRC, 2013. Tanzanian SF Lt. (middle) would be killed 10 minutes later in a firefight with M23 rebels. South African SF and engineer in the foreground.

South African SF on patrol in Bangui, Central African Republic, 8 January, 2013. In March they would fight the biggest battle since the 80's when 3000 rebels attack the town defended by only 236 SA paratroopers and SF who fight them to a ceasefire in 2 days. SA lost 15 for 500 enemy dead.
UN armoured vehicles operate near Bangassou Cathedral in the south-eastern Central African Republic on August 22, 2017
Liberian Civil War, 1992. AFL soldiers under pressure from ECOMOG defend the Schieffelin front, 15 kilometres from Monrovia
Irish Troops with a Vickers .303 MG during the Congo Crisis of 1960.

View attachment 273238
Just a little later than 1960 in 1961 as these troops have the 7.62mm FN, earlier Irish contingents in 1960 had the .303 Lee-Enfield rifle

Location is known as "The Tunnel" in Elizabethville, Congo.

The Irish were ordered to take it from the Katangian Gendarmes and White Mercenary Forces.

Lt Pat Riordan DSM, Pte Andy Wickham both lost their young lives in the battle of the Tunnel, Elizabethville.


Looking towards the Vicker's gun emplacement on top of the railway bridge in Elizabethville.


Gunners view.


"By African standards, it was not much - a small but bloody skirmish outside a railway tunnel in a town now called Lumumbashi. Yet the Tunnel provided one of those turning points in Irish self-esteem which is almost impossible to understand today, now that Irishness is associated with an almost excessive self-confidence and international esteem. Forty years ago, the reverse was true.

By 1960, Irish independence seemed to have been a disaster. Ireland had actually grown poorer during the 1950s. A church-ridden culture of philistine authoritarianism and gombeen statism had crushed almost all enterprise. The country produced little but a handful of college graduates who joined the hordes of unlettered emigrants vomiting miserably on the Liverpool cattle-boats, which they shared with Ireland's third export. Irishness meant certain failure. It seemed as simple as that. Until the Tunnel.

High morale

Admittedly, it was courageous for the Government of the day to decide that the Army was sufficiently well-trained and equipped to undertake a peacekeeping mission in the Congo. In fact, it was neither. But what it had, almost uniquely in Irish life, was high morale: and that enabled it to embark upon a seemingly impossible assignment for which it had had, and could have had, absolutely no preparation. For nothing could be further from the Curragh and the Glen of Imaal than the rain forests of central Africa.

A composite battalion, the 36th, was specially put together and trained for its new role under Lt-Col Mike Hogan. It was sent out on its unique peace-enforcing duties in November 1961 to join UN units near the town of Elizabethville, in the breakaway province of Katanga. If they were in any doubt about the gravity of the situation they were in, it was dispelled soon after they arrived, when soldiers attending Mass came under mortar fire from mercenaries and Cpl Michael Fallon of A Company was killed.

The mercenaries and their allies in the Katangan gendarmerie, 150 men in all, were in possession of the railway tunnel, a vital approach to Elizabethville, from which they were able to put down harassing fire on the Irish troops by machine-gun and mortar. Both to implement their UN mission, and to suppress enemy operations against his men, Col Hogan decided to send in the 36th battalion to take and hold the tunnel.

"A" Company, mostly of Dubliners, under Cmdt Joe Fitzpatrick, was to lead the attack. "B" Company, under Cmdt Bill Callaghan, was to make the secondary attack. "C" Company, under Cmdt Dermot Hurley, was in reserve.

At dawn, in pouring rain, on December 16th, 1961 - 40 years ago last Sunday - the Army of the Irish Republic went into action for the first time on a foreign field. Their enemy were battle-hardened Katangans and South Africans who knew the terrain and were holding prepared positions. For the first few hundreds yards, the advancing Irishmen came under sporadic machine-gun and mortar fire, but as they approached their objective, it became more intense, both from the tunnel itself, and from flanking positions in railway carriages.

Fierce fire

The Irish assault was driven home against fierce fire. Leading the attack, Lieut Paddy Riordan, platoon commander, was killed. So too was Pte Andrew Wickham, a signaller, from Wexford. Sgt Paddy Mulcahy from Tipperary was fatally injured.

Six Katangan soldiers were killed. In the light of the next morning, Operations Officer Capt James Fagan saw a dead white mercenary lying on the road. "Who shot him?" he asked. "I did, sir," said a boyish Dubliner nonchalantly.

The men of the 36th Battalion had wondered how good they were. Now they knew. The tunnel was theirs. The thoroughly neglected Irish Army had produced a unit that could live up to the very best traditions of Irish soldiering down the centuries. Almost for the first time since Independence, a wholly Irish institution had been tested in the most trying international conditions, and had triumphed.

No wonder veterans of the Congo were treated as heroes; no wonder that the country, finally, had something to be proud of. So, in its own little way, the performance of the Army in the Congo was a turning point in Irish self-esteem. Here was an example of Irishmen, on the instructions of the Irish Government, and under Irish command, achieving a combat victory in the field.

Words are cheap

Two score years on, the Army is still - in public, anyway - verbally cherished, just as it was in the days after the assault on the tunnel; but words are cheap and guns are not. Governments have consistently behaved as if it is possible to have a standing army without paying for it; and even after three decades of war in the North, the Army has not a single troop-carrying helicopter, and still makes do with a few ancient and risible personnel carriers you could disable with a knitting needle.

With the decision on an order for troop-carrying helicopters soon to be announced, will this Government yet again go down the contemptible road of short-term political and economic expediency, instead of presuming that we have a duty to give our Defence Forces the equipment necessary to do its job over the longer term?

It was one thing for an economically backward country in 1961 to send an under-equipped 36th Battalion into action, and Lt Riordan, Pte Wickham and Sgt Mulcahy to their deaths. We have no excuses today for starving the Army of the resources it needs - aside, that is, from those traditional and frequently used escape clauses filed in the Department of Defence under "m": miserliness and moral torpor.

Source -

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Found this online which identifies some of the men.
Vickers gunner has the Red Shield with oakleaf flash of the Currach Command in Ireland.


Another view of the tunnel, the Irish soldier is armed with the 9mm Swedish Gustav sub-machine gun on the barrel sleeve was welded an attachment to take the Lee-Enfield Mk. 4 bayonet.
Irish soldier with gustav and bayo.jpg

Irish soldier in the Congo.

Another group shot from the Tunnel in Elizabethville, the sub-machine gun was usually carried by NCO ranks but also used by MP's, drivers and armored car crews.
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Wow, that's a great set of pics mate, THANKS for posting!! A little known conflict and battle brought to life!
Onitsha, Nigeria November 12, 1968. Biafran soldiers carry away the body of Belgian mercenary Marc Goosens after a failed attempt to capture the city of Onitsha during Operation Hiroshima.

Marc Goosens was Belgian army officer and military advisor to the Congolese government. He participated in the Yemeni Civil War by training Royalist forces.

Goosens took up combat and training roles during the Biafran War alongside several other European mercenaries such as Taffy Williams and Rolf Steiner who were reputed to be dedicated to the Biafran cause and struggle of the Igbo people.

Goosens was allegedly well liked by his fellow mercenaries and the Igbo men he commanded. Morale took a large dive after news of his death came about and helped push Rolf Steiner and several other mercenaries to "resign". Goosens left behind an adopted Igbo child.

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