|Irish Army||Baluba tribesmen.|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Lt. Kevin Gleeson †|
|Casualties and losses|
|9 killed.||25 killed
The Niemba Ambush took place on November 8, 1960, when an Irish Army platoon in the Congo was ambushed and decimated by local tribesmen. Ireland had deployed Irish troops as ONUC peacekeepers during the Congo Crisis.
On 8 November, an eleven-man platoon from the Irish 33rd Battalion arrived at a nearby bridge over the Luweyeye River. The bridge had been damaged by locals, and their mission was to repair it. They were forced to leave their vehicles when they encountered a blockade on the road. While clearing it, they were surrounded by about 100 Baluba tribesmen armed with bows, poison-tipped arrows, spears, clubs, as well as some guns. The patrol attempted to greet them peacefully, but was hit with a barrage of poison-tipped arrows.
The platoon leader, Lieutenant Kevin Gleeson, was overtaken and beaten to death while covering the retreat of his men. The Irish soldiers retreated behind trees on either side of the road and returned fire with their Gustav submachine guns, Lee Enfield rifles and Bren light machine guns. The Baluba advanced on them, and the Irish were cut off from their vehicles. Despite taking heavy casualties, the Baluba managed to kill most of the Irish soldiers in hand-to-hand fighting.
The remaining Irish troops regrouped by a ridge but were surrounded, and continued to fire, but were overwhelmed. All but three of the soldiers were killed. The remaining three managed to escape but one of them, trooper Anthony Browne, reached a nearby village and gave all the money he had to the women of the village in hope they would get him help, but was instead beaten to death by the village men. His body was recovered two years later. The two surviving soldiers were found by other UN troops the following day.
A total of nine Irish soldiers died: Lt. Kevin Gleeson of Carlow, Sgt. Hugh Gaynor of Leixlip, Cpl. Peter Kelly of Templeogue, Cpl. Liam Dougan of Cabra, Pt. Matthew Farrell of Jamestown, Dublin, Tpr. Thomas Fennell of Donnycarney, Tpr. Anthony Browne of Rialto, Pte. Michael McGuinn of Carlow, and Pte. Gerard Killeen of Rathmines. Some 25 Baluba tribesmen were also killed.
The bodies of the Irish dead were flown to Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, where they lay in state. Lt. Kevin Gleeson's coffin was placed on a gun carriage, while those of the rest were placed on army trucks. Following a funeral procession through Dublin, they were buried at Glanesvin Cemetery. For his conduct during the ambush, 19 year old Tpr. Browne was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry, Ireland's highest military award. A stone commemorating Lt. Gleeson can be found in his hometown of Carlow.
- "RTÉ Television - War Stories".