Siege of Jadotville survivors awarded special medals at ceremony in Athlone

Over 30 members of 'A' company and family members of deceased members gathered to receive An Bonn Jadotville

Siege of Jadotville survivors awarded special medals at ceremony in Athlone

An Bonn Jadotville. Image: Richard Chambers

Survivors of the Siege of Jadotville have each been awarded a special medal at a ceremony at Custume Barracks in Athlone today.

The surviving men of 'A' Company, 35th Infantry Battalion - along with family members of deceased members - have received An Bonn Jadotville, the Jadotville Medal.

The siege happened after a group of Irish UN peacekeepers came under attack in the Congo on 13th September 1961. They managed to defend their post against air and ground attacks for four days.

Five of the Irish troops were injured during the siege, although all survived the battle.

It is estimated around 300 of the Katangese Gendarmerie attackers were killed, and hundreds more injured.

The soldiers were eventually captured on 17th September. They were released more than a month later.

More than 30 surviving members of 'A' Company - some of whom are now in their 90s - attended the ceremony in Athlone this afternoon:

The venue for today's ceremony - Custume Barracks - is considered to be the spiritual home of ‘A’ Company.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Paul Kehoe - Minister with Responsibility for Defence - said: "The retelling of the events at Jadotville does not and cannot reflect the incredible reality of what happened during the siege and its aftermath. It can only briefly suggest the courage you showed in your willingness to act and the bravery displayed in your every actions.

"Despite the overwhelming numbers opposing them, the men of ‘A’ company retained their resolve and remained unshaken during the attack."

Addressing the survivors, he added: "I feel truly privileged to have met you and to have talked to you about your experiences and the experiences of your loved ones."

The awarding of medals comes a year after the Irish soldiers were commemorated at a special ceremony in Athlone.

The siege gained fresh public attention following the release of a major film about the incident in October 2016.