United Nations Operation in Congo
July 1960 – June 1964
July 27th 1960 marked a watershed when the first element of 32 Inf Bn, the first complete unit from the Defence Forces to serve overseas, took off from Dublin bound for the Congo. After gaining independence from Belgium the previous month the Congo descended into something approaching anarchy.
With Belgian nationals being subjected to random attacks the Belgian government sent troops to their former colony and refused to remove them until the safety of their nationals could be guaranteed. Prime Minister Patrice Lamumba emerged as de facto leader but failed to unite the country. The army mutinied and Katanga province took the opportunity to declare its independence. This led to civil war in Katanga, between the secessionists, led by Moise Tshombe, and the supporters of Lamumba, mainly Baluba tribesmen.