Valour and Courage: The Kindu Massacre 11 November 1961 by Lieutenant Colonel Tan Siew Soo (Retired)
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
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Stories Of Valour
Courage
Nuffnang
Miscellaneous
No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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The Kindu Massacre 11 November 1961 by Lieutenant Colonel Tan Siew Soo (Retired)
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The 13 Italians and their Names

Make no mistake, the Kindu massacre or incident was a day of ignomy and infamy for the Malayan Special Force, our army, and the country. The responsibility fell squarely on Maj David Daud Yassin, OC B Company 6 RMR, the designated Kindu Garrison Commander.

I first met Captain David Daud in September 1960, a graduate of RMA Sandhurst, he was a flamboyant person driving a MGA sports car when he visited us at the Government Mess A chalet (now Wisma LTAT) where we stayed prior to departure for the Congo.

A brief background. The Congo during that period was basically divided into three factions: (1) Mobotu's faction (pro-West), the central government, occupied slightly more than a third of the western portion of the country; (ii) Gizenga's faction (left-leaning) occupied roughly another third in the eastern Congo, and (iii) Tshumbe's faction (pro-West business), occupied less than a third, the southern part of Congo.

Kindu was strategic with a port, rail and airhead in Gizenga's eastern Congo. It was first occupied by a company of Nigerian (5QONR) ONUC troops. One day, a Nigerian platoon was ambushed by the Congolese near their Officers' Mess. The officer, a Lt Ben, a Sandhurst graduate was known to some of our officers, was killed, with many wounded.

The Nigerian Officers' Mess was a nice villa located on the road from the airport to Kindu town. After that ambush, the Nigerian contingent withdrew and was replaced by the Malayan Special Force (4RMR plus C Sqn 2 Recce) in March 1961. When we took over that Officers' Mess was rejected outright by our CO, Lt Col Ungku Nazaruddin simply because it was indefensible.

We opted to live in tents by the airport. Four months later in July 1961, B Company 6 RMR arrived to take over from D Company 4 RMR. Major David Daud, who led B Company 6 RMR, chose that empty villa as his Officers' Mess. The battle group of 4 RMR and C Squadron 2 Recce had already moved south into Nyunzu, then to Albertville (Kalemie) in northern Katanga.

In October 1961, the balance of A Squadron 2 Recce commanded by the Squadron 2 I/C Captain Maurice Lam, arrived at Kindu from Stanleyville, the stronghold of the Gizenge faction. Lam had discreetly kept a Ferret at the garage behind the Officers' Mess out of view from the road. A Squadron 2 Recce was the most overstretched unit in the Congo, one troop and tactical SHQ in Elisabethville, half troop in Kamina and the remainder now in Kindu.

On 11 November 1961, two Italian Air Force C119 arrived at Kamina to airlift two Ferrets under Sam Low that were stranded since 13 September, into Kindu. They arrived around noon on that Saturday. After unloading the Ferrets, the 13 Italian air crew were ready to fly back to Leopoldville. Their last words to A Squadron were whether they had anything to be sent to Leopoldville.

Then Major David Daud arrived and invited them for lunch at the Officers' Mess. During this period, there were big movements of Congolese troops belonging to the Gizenga faction, passing through Kindu, en route to Stanleyville. They had gone south to attack Kongolo, a strong Tshombe garrison town. Instead of defeating the Katangese, they were soundly trounced by the Katangese led by white mercenaries.

Imagine the low morale state of this rag-tag rebellious army. It was during this lunch when part of this group of Congolese soldiers passing by in front of the Officers' Mess, saw the Italians and accused them of being Belgians (Note: in the Katangese army, there were many Belgian officers) and demanded for them to be handed over. When the commotion started, Captain Lam signalled Sam Low and Neville Siebel to take out the hidden Ferret.

With Sam driving, and Neville commanding, the sight of the Ferret appearing out of no where stunned the Congolese. A decisive command decision by Major Daud could have saved the Italians but he ordered Neville to go to the airport. Once the Ferret disappeared, the Congolese stormed into the Officers' Mess. They assaulted the Italians, captured some weapons from our guard section and looted the Officers' Mess.

Neville could not accept the situation and he came back with four of his own troop's Ferret armoured cars. At this juncture, the situation could still be saved. Most of the Italians who were badly beaten up were being taken to the Congolese trucks. What was the action of Major Daud? He came in front of Neville's Ferret and shouted "Don't shoot!", and once more ordered them to return to the airport. The fate of the 13 Italians was sealed.

In his annual report, the ONUC Supreme Commander stated that their "enquiries into the... tragic events at Kindu" was not the fault of the MSF. Nevertheless, the Kindu massacre of the 13 Italians remains a blot on the history of the MSF, the army and the country. Fourteen months later, it was still in the mind of our senior most officer, Major General Tunku Osman Jewa. As Brigadier of the Army, he first visited MSF in Leopoldville on 16 January 1961.

On 15 January 1963, on his last visit, he addressed all officers of 2 RMR and C Squadron 2 Recce at the Bukavu Officers' Mess. 2 RMR A Company and B Company, together with C Squadron 2 Recce, were getting ready to mount a major operation on 17 January 1963 in Kongolo to round up all Katangese soldiers. In his pep talk, and I remember this distinctly, the General said, "If any one of them were to go against Major Daud, I would give him all the medals I could get." That sums up the big frustration of the Kindu incident.

The aftermath.

The following awards were bestowed: Captain MSC Lam, the PGB
2/Lt Neville Siebel, the PGB
2/Lt Sam Low Tang Yeow, the KPK (mentioned in dispatch)
WO2 Wong Swee Choon, the KPK

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:54 PM  
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