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Joined 5 Comando in Salisbury - from Bancroft in N. Rhodesia to Kamina in the Congo and was of the earlier ones. We were formed into Comado's of 40 and I got into 53 Cdo, with an elderly WW2 Sgt as our Lt. and  a young SA Parabat instructor as the main Sgt.The Commandos were to be sent to different parts of the country that were still held by Government troops (A.N.C.), the communist backed rebel army controlled more than half the country.We were flown to Bukavu in Kivu Province with instructions to repel the rebel army (Simba) and then repel them from the area and towns they controlled, a tall order as we were equipped with old top loading SA FN 300's , no other weapons or vehicles.

We achieved our goal by eliminting the Simba and  securing Kivu Province by managing to equip ourselves with captured machineguns,mortars, automatic weapons ,armoured -car and many vehicles. This was achieved through excellent leadership, but came at a cost as only 13 of our Cdo. weren't killed or wounded.Of the survivors 3 suffered severe PTSD and 4 committed suicide.


The second contract was to clear the Northern part of the country, from where we had ended the first contract in the east, along and below the borders of the Sudan and Central African Republic then down to Stanleyville, which is where the main force had ended the 1st contract. An interesting but not very exciting road trip through mainly dense forest, but with some fun in getting our vehicles over large rivers on homemade rafts and the inevitable ambush.


The third contract is based on Lake Tanganyika where I was involved in the formation of the Navy under the auspices of the CIA, they supplied the boats and weapons, while 5 Cdo. supplied the men, I was the CO.

 The western shore of the Lake from Albertville (half way up) to Uvira(top) was under Simba control - their last stronghold ,and they were being supplied from Tanganyika on the Eastern shore. The Navy's task was to cut the supply route and transport 5 Cdo. up the Lake to attack the Simba. We moved them and their vehicles up the Lake, put them ashore where they successfully took on the Simba. I then left the Congo.

Curly's Story by Hugh Gurnell

SKU: 9781990960116
  • Author - Born Springs S.A., educated- boarding, in Swaziland and N Natal.Mining in Welkom, N Rhodesia then mercenary in Congo. Married then 1 year in Spain, back to Welkom to qualify and then spent my life managing mines and mining operations in SA and Zimbabwe.Retired to Gordons Bay C.T. 

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