The Angola Conflict 1975/76
MISSIONARY TO MERCENARY
Michael (Mick) Wainhouse
From a church up bringing to the horrors of war in Angola
Gerry McLaughlin & Terrance Aspinall
This story is an on going project and we are still researching for information about Mick and especially his very early years. We would also like to get in touch with him if its possible. Any information would be well received by us. You can either E-mail me or leave a message in the Guest book. All feed back will be treated as private and will not be publish without the full permission of the person supplying the information. Thanks for your time and hope you enjoy the read so far.
I became interested in the name of Mick Wainhouse after reading an article in the London Evening Standard newspaper way back in 1976. It described how a small group of close ex army friends, Costas Georgiou (Col Callan), Mick Wainhouse, Nick Hall and Charley Christodoulou, became mercenaries for hire and went to fight in Angola a war torn country on the West coast of Southern Africa. Something deep within kept asking, was this the same Mick Wainhouse I had grown up with and sat beside at school just a few years earlier? During which time the Mick I knew had always wanted and had always planned to visit Africa as a Missionary, to spread the word of God and to save lives. Whereas this particular Mick Wainhouse had gone to Africa as a Mercenary, instead of saving people, he was killing them. Somehow I found it hard to get my head around the fact that If this really was my old school friend from way back, what had happened to change his life so dramatically. It was as if he had taken a complete 180 degree turn in his life.
Most of my efforts to find out more of Mick came to nothing and as the newspaper stories dried up, I found myself forgetting all about him. Just occasionally his name came up at different times, but because I had no further information of his where a bouts, I guess I have to be honest and admit that he was forgotten.
Until that is many years later and out of the blue an unofficial old school friends reunion was held. (Gerry need a few details here) To my delight and interest Mick’s name was repeatedly brought up during several conversations with my old school friends. Sadly they left more questions unanswered than answered. However, as we all parted the reunion, I was none the wiser as to what had actually happened to Mick and I still craved to know where he was and could I get in touch with him. After all we both had a lot of catching up to do, as a lot of water had passed under the bridge since we said our final farewells when we both left school.
A couple of years later and quite by chance I was surfing the internet and I came across a web site that had information about Soldiers of Fortunes and Mick’s name was given a small mentioned. I left a message in the guest book asking if the owner would get in touch with me. To my surprise within a couple of days an E-mail arrived and the site owner passed on to me what information he had. Unfortunately, he could not tell me what had finally happened to Mick or where he might be living. However, he did explain some of the exploits Mick had got up to while serving in Angola. He had read somewhere that Mick had been evacuated to a hospital in Kinshasa suffering another severe bout of dysenteric fever, towards the end of hostilities in Angola. After handing over command of his reconnaissance patrol to the newly arrived American mercenary Gastavo (Gus) Grillo. Gus was later captured and was one of the 13 mercenaries the Cuban backed government placed on trial, and he was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. It was also suggested that if Mick was still alive, there was a good chance that he would be using an alias name, and might have made his way to South Africa. They were in favour of what was happening in Angola at the time, and wanted to see the Cubans thrown out.
The web site owner seemed very interested in helping me find Mick and a steady stream of E-mails passed between us, mainly with me filling in all the gaps of Mick’s early life, and of how we had grown up together at the school we had both attended.
It was 1963. The Beatles had only just started their stellar career and had had their first couple of hits. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was to come four years later. They hadn't written and released most of their classics.
Bob Dylan was in his early years but hadn't written most of his classics either e.g. his classic Like a Rolling Stone. The Rolling Stones were just about to break. Perhaps the greatest era of popular music was just about to break on us – but it was very early days yet.
John Kennedy was the President in the USA. It would be another two months before he was to embark on his fateful day in Dallas. The following year, Harold Wilson and the Labour party would out the Tory party of Sir Alec Douglas-Hume.
This was the very start of a dawning new age. The times they were a-changing according to Bob Dylan. It really felt as if something very new was happening. There was a great outbreak of optimism about the future.
The class barriers were starting to break down. The days of the starched shorts and the formality were about to be overtaken by a new more informal age.
It was the year that Mick Wainhouse was to start out on his vocation to the priesthood. Everything seemed so bright to him. He had delighted his parents by choosing the priesthood. Fr. Tavano, who was the recruiter for the Verona Fathers, an Italian order who were an offshoot of the Jesuits, had come to his school and sold the idea of a missionary career to the boys at the school.
Fr. Tavano would have made a great salesman. He sold and he sold and he sold. He could have made you buy anything. But what he was selling was a vocation to the priesthood. He wanted young boys to leave their parents, their brothers and sisters and their friends behind and go to a strange new place in another part of the country and give their life to God. Several of the boys put up their hands and volunteered. Young Mick Wainhouse was one of them. He was only 11 years old but when he heard what Fr. Tavano was telling him about the idea of the priesthood, his vocation came very suddenly.
That was what he wanted to do with his life. Going to Africa was a great attraction. Also, the life at the college where he would go seemed great, according to what Fr. Tavano was telling him.
He didn't know what happened to the other boys who volunteered. Perhaps they had a second think about it. Perhaps (and far more likely) their parents told them that there was no way that they were sending them off to some other part of the country at the age of 11 in the days when communications weren't that great.
Mick's parents tried to talk him out of it – but he was determined. They were rather proud, though, that they were going to have a son become priest – but they would miss him terribly as he would only be allowed home for Christmas and the summer holidays. The thought of Africa was calling him to the priesthood. He would spend his life helping the poor people of Africa and bring them to God.
All summer long he was looking forward to it. He couldn't wait. Eventually the great day came. His mother went with him. She took him up on the train to Mirfield on the great journey that would eventually lead him to the priesthood.
As far as he was concerned he had already received his vocation. He had been specially chosen by God. He was one of the chosen ones. The others hadn't been chosen but he had. Life was great. It was just a shame that it was going to take so long. He would be in his early twenties by the time that he would make it to the priesthood – but the priests knew best. They knew what training and education he would have to go through to prepare them for the priesthood.
I've heard people say that Jewish people have a Chosen People Complex. I can't say whether they have it or not. But Mick knew the complex existed. He had it in spades. He was special to God – very special. God could have chosen anybody. There might be better and smarter people than Mick, but no, it wasn't them God wanted. It was him.
It was something that the priests would keep repeating over and over to The Boys – that they were special, that they were chosen and that God had specially picked them out from all the rest. It made him and the other Boys feel pretty good about themselves. They were in God's Great Battalion. They were God's Paratroopers.
.What Fr. Tavano didn't tell him or any of the others, although he must have known, very few of the boys who were 'called' made it to the priesthood. Some of them changed their minds as they got older, especially after puberty kicked in. However, many of the boys were unceremoniously dumped, often for little reason at all. This was to happen to Mick years later. He didn't want to go. He wanted to be a priest. He wanted to go to Africa. However, after an incident where he nipped out with a couple of the other boys in 5th year to go for a couple of beers, he was expelled with immediate effect.
The Holy Spirit had left him as he had sampled his first beers. However, that was all down the line.
It was a glorious late summer's day in mid September when Mick arrived with his parents at the college. The parents were allowed to stay still 7 o'clock on the first day. Then they had to tearfully say farewell to their 11 year old sons and leave them to start on their great journey to the priesthood.
Once the parents had gone the boys started to talk and bond. Mick had a walk around the grounds. It seemed great. There was an old house and a new house which were connected. The old house was where the Bronte Sisters went to school. It was beautiful. The parents had been very impressed by it. Little did Mick know then that the only time he would ever be allowed to go into the 'old house' part of the building would be to clean it, go to the library, or watch TV once a week. The old house was reserved for the Fathers. Many of them had their bedrooms there. That is where they ate. It was where they lived. It was where they had their Common Room and their TV. The Boys were confined pretty much to the rather ordinary 'new house' part of the building. The Fathers and The Boys didn't live together. They lived separately but came together for school lessons and mass mostly.
There were two exceptions to this. The priest who was in charge of the Junior Boys and the priest who was in charge of the senior Boys had to live amongst them. They were usually young, junior priests who hadn't long been ordained yet and who hadn't been to the missions. The rest of the priests only engaged with the boys when they had to. The Fathers had purloined the best part of the house to live and hang out.
They even had a far superior diet. It was even said that they had chicken every Sunday, something that the Boys never, ever saw. They ate mostly Spam and sausages and only got a piece of proper meat on Holidays of Obligation – which didn't come too often. It was only a small piece of pork but it was a special treat that they got on those feast days – some feast. The soup that they got regularly was made form dandelion leaves which the nuns, who cooked, picked from around the grounds. It was heavily laced with pepper which made it very hard to drink. However, no one complained. You couldn't. But Mick wasn't to know much of that on his first day.
After having a look around the building and around the spacious grounds he thought it might be an idea to take a short walk around the neighbourhood just to get his bearings. He discussed doing this with another of the new boys, Mick Palmer, that he had already struck up a relationship with. One of the second year boys overheard them.
“You can't go out of the grounds” he told them.
“On the first day?” asked Mick.
“No, never”, said the older boy.
The walls were only a few feet high – but they might have been 40 feet high with guards and spotlights as far as The Boys were concerned. There was a mental barrier erected which they couldn't cross.
After all, if they wanted to become priests they would have to obey the rules and do whatever they were told. As they say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – and the Fathers had absolute power of the young 11-year-olds who had been put into their hands. It seemed that the only times The Boys were allowed out was to go on a weekly walk and every second week they would be taken by bus to Heckmondwike Baths every second week. Even then they were heavily supervised. On the walk the Head Boy would be at the front and the Father in charge of the juniors would be at the back.
For the Baths trip, the bus would take them there, they would have to stay inside the building and then the bus would take them back again. They were not allowed to go into shops and buy sweets or indeed anything else when they went out. They didn't have any money anyway.
At the start of each term they had to hand their money in. All money they had in their pockets was taken from them and entered into a book. That came as a bit of a surprise to Mick who had been given some money by his parents and relatives. They could use the money to buy whatever was in the Tuck Shop on a Saturday, like soap or toothpaste. They were allowed to buy sweets – but only one shilling and three pence worth. There were 12 pennies in a shilling so this was the equivalent of 15 old pennies. The Tuck Shop was only open on a Saturday. A bar of chocolate was sixpence. A bar of toffee was three pence. So, as you can see it wasn't very much. Even if you had lots of money you couldn't spend it on sweets.
The college Tuck Shop had a monopoly on The Boys cash. They couldn't spend it anywhere else. Mick often wondered why you couldn’t buy more, or spend any money when you were out on the walk. At the end of term you were allowed to take home whatever you had left. They checked in the ledger and gave you whatever was left after your spendings at the Tuck Shop.
Once you had eaten all of your sweets, that was you for the week. Some boys tried to ration what they had for the week. There weren't very many who could do that and they were the envy of the rest as they whipped out a bar of toffee or a penny caramel on a Tuesday. There were even some boys who would always buy a packet of Polo Mints, costing tuppence ha'penny, amongst their Saturday buys.
Polo Mints were wrapped in silver paper. They would eat the Polo Mints immediately on the Saturday morning but they would keep the wrappers in their pockets and take them out to sniff during the week. I wonder if they are now all drug addicts somewhere in the country. But that was the only sweets they were allowed all week and that was the only times they would be allowed out of the grounds, i.e. on the weekly walk and on the fortnightly trip to the swimming Baths.
It was an enjoyable first evening at the college despite the revelation that The Boys couldn't leave it at all.
There was evening mass followed by supper, some free time which they spent in the Recreation Room, which held table tennis and snooker / billiard tables, then a night time thought from a priest, a wash and then it was time for bed.
You were not allowed to speak after lights out at 10 o'clock. In fact you were not allowed to speak whilst washing and at many other times of the day. There were only set times when you could speak at all.
You may think that this was to impose discipline. More likely it was because the priests had absolute control over The Boys and they could make them do what they want, impose any rule that they liked – and as they didn't really like noisy children they simply put in place rules that stopped them doing it for large swathes of the day.
The dormitory was quite formidable and held more than 50 boys as well as the Head Boy who slept at the bed by the only door. The priest in charge of the junior boys, Fr. Pinkman would patrol up and down the dormitory for a while to make sure that there was no talking and that the boys were getting to sleep.
A myriad of thoughts rang through Mick's mind as he lay there in bed that first night. It was the first might he had ever spent away from his parents and family. He missed them. However, this was a great opportunity and he was setting off on the great voyage which would take him to the priesthood and to Africa. He turned his head on the pillow and went to sleep.
It seems that only about one-in-twenty of the boys who get their 'vocations' actually make it in the end. “Many are called but few are chosen” was a saying we were to hear on many's an occasion. However, Mick was not to know that yet.
As he lay in bed, on that first night, he knew with a certainty that one day he would be in Africa.
The Daily Grind
Life at the school was one long grind and became quite boring at times because of the regimentally of the routine. It was as though each day had been set out by a military minded person and not a humanitarian religious teacher. The routine took in the whole of the day with every single minute of the twenty four hours being accounted for, and rigidly enforced, with punishments for those who tried to buck the system, every weekday was the same. It went:-
06:35 - Bell goes and everybody gets up and washes. Bedclothes pulled down
07:00 - Mass
07:45 - Bedclothes pulled up, get changed into shorts, T shirts and plimsoll footwear and run around the building down to the seniors playground followed by PE in the cold morning air
08:15 - Breakfast
09:00 - School starts
13:00 - School finishes
13:00 - Lunch
13:40 - Work
14:15 - Recreation
15:00 - Study
16:00 - Meditation
16:20 - Tea
17:00 - School starts again
19:00 - School finishes
19:00 - Supper
19:40 - Recreation
21:00 - Evening Service
21:40 - Wash and get ready for bed
22:00 - Lights Out
It was a little different at the weekend when we were granted the luxury of being allowed a lie in bed till the un-godly hour of 7am.
Later in life Mick would have fitted in well with the regimented life of 1st Para especially after the grounding he had experienced at the Verona Fathers School. The spartan food would have also have been an ideal preparation for him. Mick was tall for his age and even the smaller boys went a bit hungry.
The rules were very strict. The order was Italian and many of the priests at Mirfield were Italian including the Father Rector. Some of them expressed Fascist sympathies. After all, this was only 18 years after the end of the Second World War. They liked rules. Indeed, they liked very strict rules.
There was a priest in charge of the junior boys, a Father Pinkman, who was later to be moved from his duties after some of older boys led a deputation to the Spiritual Advisor to prevent him doing to the new junior boys what he had done to some of them in the juniors. Let's leave it at that!
It was only really during Recreation, Work and Mealtimes that you could talk to one another. Even during Supper they would get a guy to read from a book for a while before the two priests, the one in charge of the Junior Boys and the one in charge of the senior boys, rang a bell to say you could talk. Even when the book reading finished they sometimes delayed ringing the bell and even made motions as if to ring it before pulling back. It was all about power and control.
The books were always boring and they would be about things like Good Manners and Etiquette. We were dying to talk. When the book reading had ended everyone had their eyes on the two priests to see when they would ring the bell and they could then start chatting with their pals.
Great swathes of the day were spent with The Boys unable to talk. It was a great release when they could. As you can imagine a lot of whispering was done. You couldn't talk in the corridor. Whistling was completely banned.
The senior Boys and the junior Boys were not allowed to talk to each other even though they often encountered each other. They would be in the Refectory at the same time but with the juniors on one side of it and the seniors on the other. They would also be in church at the same time, but with the seniors on one side of the church and the juniors on the other. They had separate recreation Rooms and had separate dormitories.
When young guys join the Parachute Regiment, many of those who do may have come from home comforts to a strictly regimented regime, but for Mick it would have been very much a home from home.
Mick used to team up with a guy called Mick Palmer who was in the same year as he was. When he moved up to second year the two of them teamed up with a guy called John 'Titch' Carey who was from Doncaster.
The three of them were inseparable. As you can guess 'Titch' was one of the smaller Boys. It was strange to see them walking around together. Mick was slightly above medium height, but it was like seeing a Little, Medium and Large walking around. Mick was very much a gentle giant, though. He seldom got into any trouble or scrapes. He was a nice guy and I don't think anyone disliked him at all.
It still seems very strange that he later joined the Parachute Regiment, went to Northern Ireland and his regiment were involved in the Bloody Sunday massacre of unarmed Catholics on a peaceful protest march.
An embargo has been put on the names of the Para’s who were actually engaged on Bloody Sunday, so we won't know whether Mick was there on that fateful day or not, but as he was in the regiment and there at the time of Bloody Sunday, it is almost certain that he was.
It is even more strange to think of him as one of the big four Angolan Mercenaries. Indeed Colonel Callan, Costas Georgiou, even made him his captain. It seemed totally unlike the Mick Wainhouse that we all knew and liked.I do remember one year, though, when the school decided to have a bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night. There were no fireworks, just a bonfire, but we didn't get much fun and this was a real bonus.
Life had become a bit more liberal in my 3rd year and Mick's 4th year after the appointment of Father Fraser, from Glasgow, as Father Rector. Some of the Italian Fascist inspired rules had been taken out.
There had never been a bonfire before. Why would Italians celebrate Guy Fawkes night. If they have been told what it was all about they would have allowed it even less. Perhaps it had been explained to them and that's why we had never had one before.
Unfortunately we had to leave, when it was time for evening service and bed. However, I couldn't resist it. With a guy called Maurice Eaton, I got up out of bed after the priest, Fr Hicks, had finished his walking about, went downstairs and climbed out of a window to go and have another look at the bonfire.
To my surprise we were soon joined by Mick Wainhouse, Mick Palmer and Titch Carey. We threw fresh wood onto the bonfire. However, we wanted more action than that. Mick suggested that we go over to the farm, get some petrol, put it in bottles and toss them onto the fire.
I must confess I was more than a little nervous of this suggestion as, if we were caught, we would be instantly expelled. As well as being out after lights out, we would also have been stealing from the Verona Fathers' farm.
I remembered that in first year a boy had been caught stealing. We were given a spine chilling talk by Father Pinkman who started by saying “We have a thief among us”.
They found out who it was and the Boy was instantly expelled. He had stolen one of the other Boys' money, a fiver given to him by his mother. It was to pay for his keep. The boy who had it stolen reported it missing. It was taken from his desk. A fiver was a lot of money in those days. The priests gave the money back again to the Boy who had had it stolen. He asked how they had managed to get it back. “Don't ask” he was told. It's almost certain that what they had done was had a massive search of all the Boy's lockers and desks whilst we were engaged elsewhere. They wouldn't have given a second thought to the impropriety of doing that. I bet they did it all the time.
The Boy who did it was instantly expelled. We never saw him again. We weren't told that the thief had been caught but we could put two and two together.
So, I was pretty nervous. Mick’s idea sounded great but I didn't think it was worth the risk.
However, Mick did. He and one of the others, probably Mick Palmer, went over to the farm and brought back bottles full of oil. We put rags in them like Molotov Cocktails or Petrol Bombs and tossed them into the fire. I think I had read somewhere about how to make them.
Probably the next time Mick would see them would be when he was serving in the Para’s in Northern Ireland, when they came raining down on the them tossed by rioting Catholics in the Bogside and elsewhere.
It was what he suggested next, though, that made me gulp. He suggested that we would go back to the farm, take a couple of the hens there, bring them back and roast them on the fire.
This was so unlike him. I was shocked. Indeed I was extremely nervous about it. We had got away with the oil. They probably wouldn't notice the oil missing and even if they did they wouldn't think “some of the Boys must have stolen it, put it in bottles and chucked it on the bonfire”.
However, they would notice that the hens were missing. Mick and Titch were asking him what they would have to do. “We'll wring their necks and put them on the edge of the bonfire” he said, “and then we'll eat them”. I was appalled. I had no great wish to have a couple of hens killed. I wanted even less to see them having their necks wrung. And what if we got caught?
“Who'll wring their necks?” someone asked.
“I’ll do it” said Mick.
I begged him not to do it. I told him that we'd all be in terrible trouble, but he was really up for it and thought it a great idea. He would definitely have done it, but by now the other two were having cold feet as well and talked him out of it.
Incidentally, I don't think that we ever tasted chicken in the whole time we were at the school. That was reserved for the priests, although we did get boiled eggs. So, it would have been a real treat to taste some chicken, which we would have seen as a delicacy.
Incidentally, Maurice Eaton and myself were caught going back in the window by the priest now in charge of the senior boys, Father Hicks. He thought of himself as a bit of a psychologist, although I think he had only read books on the subject.
.He told us off and then let Maurice Eaton go. He kept me back. He said that it was because he saw remorse in Maurice Eaton's eyes. He hadn't seen any in mine at all, he told me in a highly accusatory voice. I then tried to look suitable remorseful.
He was right, though. I wasn't sorry at all. I was only sorry that I had been caught. Mick, Mick and Titch had left before us. I think Mick had lost interest once killing of the hens was overruled.
Father Hicks must have been watching for a while because he was waiting for us to come through the window. If we'd stayed on and killed the hen and cooked it he would certainly have seen that.
I suspect that we would all have been expelled. Mick's life would probably have taken a completely different path if he had been expelled whilst in the 4th year rather than in 5th – but we'll never know that. He didn't do it in the end.
Letters were always sent home to the Boys' parents when they got expelled, and they didn't pull any punches.
It must have been a shock to Mick's parents when they got the letter telling them that their son who was going to be a priest had been booted out for drinking.
However, if the letter had said that he was being kicked out for stealing a couple of hens from the farm, wringing their necks and roasting them on a bonfire they would have been shocked and appalled.
“What sort of son do we have that would do this?” they would have thought.
Micks Teenage Years
For some unknown reason in 1969 Mick had a complete change around in his life when he suddenly joined the Parachute Regiment based at Aldershot, and while training befriended Costas Georgiou a Greek Cypriot who was born in Cyprus during 1951. At that time Cyprus was still a British Colonial Protectorate. In 1963 Costas family moved to London in an effort to get away from the troubles in their homeland. Although they were British citizens they were still not treated like one as they tried desperately to set up a new home in London and settle in. It was a time when a Greek militant movement known as Ennosis wanted to annex the island with Greece.
During that time London was made up of several different ethnic groups and most Londoners only needed a small excuse to dislike somebody, which is why most ethnic groups usually tend to stick together for support and live together. In 1969 while still at the tender age of 18, Costas also disappeared and joined the Parachute Regiment.
The full on training that is well known of the Parachute Regiment brought the two together and they became very close friends. They were constantly seen together even while outside the training barracks in the nearby town of Aldershot, Both Mick and Costas were excellent shots and marksmen, but neither obtained any rank above that of private. Although it has to be added that Costas picked up best machine gunner, best self loading rifle shot and voted the best all round recruit. Because of his excellent training record and all round fitness, he was rewarded with one of the unit’s top jobs by being made bodyguard to the Commanding office for a short time. Although it has to be said that Mick was always a close second behind Costas during their training. It’s also noted that unlike Costas who like to be bathed in Glory, Mick preferred the background not wanting to stand out.
After passing out from their training at alders hot they were both posted to the 1st Battalion who were at that time based in Northern Ireland, at a time when the troubles were escalating.
During their stay on hostile soil they joined forces with two other Parachute Regiment members, namely Nickolas Hall, known as Nick to his friends and Charles Christodoulou. It was common place to see all four of them together. It was also noticed that once they had settled in they were four very bored young men in their twenties and were constantly in trouble with the authorities from antics they got up to in order to beat that boredom.
Not much is known about Charles Christodoulou during those early days other than he was a Greek Cypriot and he’s believed to have been a cousin of Costas Georgiou, although he had been brought up in Birmingham, where he lived amongst the Greek community.
Even less is known of Nick Mervyn Hall, he seems to have appeared from nowhere, but was very close to Costas, who even trusted him when it came to money matters. This is hard to understand, because Costa’s could be ruthless towards anybody who he felt had cheated him or he disliked. Although it’s also quite clear that they knew each other well before they joined the Parachute Regiment as both had come from the same area of London.
Like many soldiers before them who had served in Northern Ireland, they disliked the situation they found themselves in. They resented the restrictions placed upon them by Westminster, in their treatment of prisoners, especially after watching many of their comrades being killed and injured around them. Therefore, in order to offset the boredom they would agitate the Catholic population, by throwing stones at them whenever possible, in order that they might be able to wade into the mob that would usually gather after such incidents, and serve out some of their own so called justice.
Their relief of boredom came to a sudden halt when both Mick and Costas were captured within 24 hours of robbing a local Post Office. In which they used military weapons. The total haul of the robbery was estimated to be worth only £93, so they certainly did not do it for the money. Two other accomplices were never captured, but it’s assumed that they were the other two members of the gang of four as they had become commonly known.
When Costas and Mick were eventually brought to trial they were found guilty and both sentenced to 5 years in jail. This triggered a tirade of verbal abuse from Costas, and only ended after he had threatened to kill the officer who had arrested him. Mick who was quieter by nature just accepted his sentenced of 5 years jail gracefully, and went quietly to serve his time.
Just before the trial Costa’s was examined by a Dr. Alex Lyons, a psychiatrist who came to the conclusion that he was ‘a textbook example of an aggressive psychopath’. In his report to the court he also described Costa’s as ‘a wild dog on a leash’. He also observed that Costa’s had ‘very ambitious leadership qualities’ and that he indulged in fantasies in which he saw himself as the leader of a conquering army. The leadership role was to become true just a few years later.
Nick Hall’s time in the Parachute regiment ended at around the same time that Costa’s and Mick were released from prison. His down fall took a slightly different route when he was selected as a bodyguard for the Intelligence Officer within the unit. A job he must have been quite good at, because he was later promoted to undertake intelligence work by himself, watching known Irish terrorists. At that time Hall was also sympathetic towards the Protestants and was eventually caught selling the Ulster Volunteer Force (a protestant extremist group), military weapons. For his troubles he was sentenced by a district court martial to two years imprisonment, followed by a dishonourable discharge. It’s assumed that Nick Hall was also a physically fit very keen military minded person, because bodyguards are not picked from the ranks of the everyday soldier. Something about him must have stood out to even be considered.
While Charlie was the only member of the gang to see out his full time in the Para’s, which is quite extraordinary really because more than once he was pronounced as being unstable by a military doctor. Charlie was a very withdrawn character and was easily led by others around him. Even the army said he was follower rather than a leader. Strange he never attracted the nick name of sheep, because the services are well known for their nick names. Far from it, his nick name was Charlie ‘Kebab’ and at one time he also went by the alias name of Charlie Caldwell, although for what reason nobody seems to know.
These four young very loyal males would mould themselves into a tight knit group that would later become world famous, but for all the wrong reasons and certainly not for their own good. Their exploits and deeds that took place over a short period of time, is still remembered to this day, but once again for all the wrong reasons. It was others who tried to follow them, trying to cash in on what they had set up, that brought the whole thing tumbling down like a house of cards.
After finishing their sentences both Costas and Nick moved back to London and together they set themselves up as builders and decorators in the Charing Cross area. It seems they also made a successful go of the business, because work came in quite easily and they were never short of money that was splashed around at weekends.
Mean time Mick went to live somewhere in Surry, although not a lot is known as to how he survived or of where he worked. What is known is that during the occasional weekend he traveled to London and met up with Costa and Nick. At some time or other Mick must have picked up the trade of a plaster, because there were times when he helped Costas and Nick if they were dropping behind on some of their building work.
During this time Charlie had returned to his home town of Birmingham and set himself up as best he could, but could not keep away from his old friends and on several occasions all four met up for a few rowdy parties. During these times they would always reminisce about their good times together and of how the adrenalin flowed whenever they went into action against the Mobs on the streets of Ireland. It was plain they were all in a rut of boredom and hated it. All of them agreed that it was action they need, to get the adrenalin flowing once again, but for now all they could do was just talk about it.
Around this time Costas and Charlie attended one of John Banks ISO (International Security Organisation) meetings, just to see what he was up to. After leaving most of their military details with Banks, they left not expecting it to go any further, both though he was a bit of a scam artist, and treated him with contempt, laughing him off. On the other hand Banks more than likely saw them as rivals and did not want them around him.
Banks had also served in the Parachute Regiment and had also been given a dishonorable discharge in 1969. His discharge papers read ‘Services no longer required’ He was a bit of a showman who was always trying to milk a dollar out of somebody. At this particular time he was trying to cash in on David Sterling’s reputation. David was the founder of the Special Air Service in Northern Africa during the Second World War and was well respected throughout the military community. Although by this time we was a civilian and had set up a respectable security company called Watchguard that was making big money, after recruiting some of the top ex military personnel in Britain. He was even obtaining work from the British Government.
Banks was attempting to set up a security company to rival Sterling’s, by recruiting and using ex Parachute Regiment personal, as bodyguards and to fight other people’s wars, where ever they could be found. However so far his plans were not materialising, because not only was he struggling to recruit other team members, but he was also a little short on finding other peoples wars. Banks also made claims that at one time he had worked for ‘Watchguard’ David Sterling Security Company. He has also claimed that he was involved with the laughable ‘Hilton Assignment’, a failed attempt to release many prisoners from a Libyan prison known as the Hilton. To then arm them to form the basis of an army to try and over throw Colonel Ghadaffi. Although some claim he was not involved. To give you a little idea about his character, two of his own staff at one times agreed that somebody should bump him off.
Bank’s first company was known as ‘Agency Bodyguard’, which barely got off the ground, then there was ISO (International Security Organisation) the one Costas and Nick went to see him about, followed by SAS (Security Advisory Services) and later he became involved with B.A.B. which stood for Bishop-Aspen-Best but to those in the business it also stood for “Bullshit And Bollocks”.
During all this time Mick manages to stay in the background and is not involved in any decision making what so ever. It’s as though he’s just along for the ride and is not bothered as to where the journey is going to take him. He certainly seems to keep a low profile where ever he is, and with what he’s doing. It’s as though he was purposely trying to stay invisible, which must have been quite an achievement. Being quite tall and lanky his body shape did not lend its self to not standing out in a crowd. He also seems to have no problem in leaving Costas to make all the decisions, and to abide by them. It’s also worth noting that at no time has any member of the group fell out with each other, it’s as if they all know their place in the pecking order and stick to it. They are in fact a very happy family.
Costas was a very physically fit guy, who could often be seen running around the streets of Charring Cross usually very early each morning. Four miles per day was just an average run for him. He prided himself as having a good body shape and would often show of his physique at any opportunity. It’s thought that one of his reasons for continually training was to attract the girls, but others suspect it was also to intimidate the males in his area, as he still felt like a second class citizen in London and always believed that he had not been accepted as a local. Anybody who confronted him usual came off worse. It’s also widely believed that for several months Costa’s was dating Rona Angelo (Alias Oriana Agathangelou) one of Charlie’s cousins, who lived in London at the time.
Nick Hall was not about to sit back and do nothing, even if it meant that he would go it alone. At that time (late in 1975) the war in Angola was grabbing most newspaper headlines around the world and Nick started reading everything he could on the subject. He realised that the war was between the FNLA/UNITA and the MPLA although the Cubans had joined in (under secret Russian orders) by sending some of their troops to joined the MPLA. In Nick’s eyes this made the FNLA the underdog, and over night he wanted to help the underdog. His hardest problem was knowing how to make contact with the FNLA leaders. No problem, he simply rang up the Sunday Times Newspaper, and they passed him on to the guy who was writing all the stories he was reading. Through Martin Meredith the writer, he learnt that the FNLA had a representative in Britain. This turned out to be a Dr Donald Bedford who at that time was living in Leeds. Nick wasted no time in taking a train ride to Leeds to meet up with him.
It also turned out that Bedford was not a doctor, but had been a PT instructor in the British Army, apparently he had worked in a hospital at one time and then while in Angola he had saved a few lives patching up the wounded, and that’s where he picked up the title of Doctor. Bedford had worked in Africa for many years as a volunteer for a humanitarian aid group. During that time he had treated several Angolan combatants wounded during fighting against the Portuguese. Because of his unquestioned help he had won their trust and friendship, this also included Holdern Roberto, the leader of the FNLA. He had been involved with the FNLA since 1970, and after independence, Bedford became the official emissary for Roberto in the UK.
Nick was also impressed that it was the FNLA that were trying to stop the Russians and the Cubans from taking over the country, and was amazed that none of the so called western countries seemed to be interested, officially that is. President Kaunda had described the Russians and Cubans as “The plundering tigers and the savage cubs”. The end result of the meeting was that Nick was very impressed with his credentials and manner and set up a meeting that would include all his friends.
From that meeting Nick had to return home and sell the idea to his three friends, while Bedford had to return to Angola and sell the idea of white mercenaries fighting for the then President Holdern Roberto. After all it was common knowledge he had already lost face in the Third world, following the military intervention of his unexpected ally South Africa.
.Quiet by Chance Bedford rang Costas flat while he was on his own, and trying to prove to Nick that he was the leader of the group he made arrangements to travel to Leeds and see him on his own. This conversation was kept secret from the other three members of the group. In Leeds he met up with Bedford who had a bodyguard with him whose name was Colin Taylor. Costas was informed that President Holdern would like to take them up on their offer, but that Costas would have to go out first on his own. Once there he would be able to look around and a position would be found for him that suited his military training. However, there was a catch, to prove their loyalty towards Roberto he was asked to burn down the London office of the MPLA.
After talking it over with the other members of the group, on the 6th November Costas and one of the others set fire to the office on the top floor of 12 Little Newport Street. This act of faith toward Roberto led to the group being accepted.
With this incident and with Nick doing his best to find a current war, so that they could all participate in, it’s becoming quite clear that these two were the ones with ambitions, while Mick and Charlie were probably just going along for the ride.
Just before Costas departed for Angola he had a quiet drink with Nick to discuss what they would all do and to how they would handle problems that came their way. In order that their families did not catch a lot of flak from the press, Costas decided to change his name to Callan, after the latest popular television program of the same name, later he added Tom as a Christian name. Apparently Nick ribbed him about his choice of surname, but known Costas might get upset decided to keep away from the subject.
Costas and Colin Taylor flew out of Heathrow Airport on 28th November via Belgium, while Don Bedford flew out later on his own, all three met up at the Palace Hotel in Brussels before continuing together to Angola.
.Costa’s, who by now was using the alias of Tony Callan, Colin Taylor and Don Bedford, all arrived in Kinshasa on 2nd December 1975. Unfortunately, they’re arrival did not go smoothly, as Callan was stopped by a customs officer after being accused of smuggling in to the country, medical supplies that were found in his luggage. This was equipment he was carrying for Don and was needed by the FNLA bush hospitals that Don was also looking after. Having paid the usual bribes, which were normal practice in most African countries during that time, they were all allowed to pass through and enter the country. However, but not before Callan was asked to treat one of the customs personnel with sever tooth ache.
Later they were to meet up with President Holdern Roberto and he explained the predicament he and his followers were in, and what he hoped their presence was going to do to help the situation. Right from the start Callan explained that he was not there for the money. It was a cause that he and his friends believed in, and were only too pleased to help out.
Callan met up with another Mercenary, a Portuguese know as Madeira, a 26 year old ex-boxing champion on the run from the Portuguese police, who had been operating in Angola for quite some time, and knew exactly what was going on. Quite by chance an emergency cropped up and Callan grabbed a gun and along with Merdia and another Portuguese Mercenary they rushed off to sort it out. Something they did successfully. Roberto was so impressed that he made Callan up to the rank of Colonel. This action made Callan the second most senior ranked officer in Roberto’s army. It’s believed that at last Callan had reached a position of leadership he had craved for many years. A position he was surly going to exploit to its full.
On 5th January, Mick, Charlie and Nick Hall also arrived in Kinshasa to be greeted by the now Col Callan, Bedford and Roberto.
Nick Hall must have stood out right from the start and impressed Roberto because he made him his personal body guard. During many conversations with Roberto, Hall convinced him that he needed to recruit at least a thousand other white Mercenaries and further announced that it would cost him at least a $1000 per recruit, to be able to arm and get them on the front line to fight for him. Roberto was so impressed that he put the wheels in motion for Nick to start recruiting. It certainly seems possible that Nick became the brains behind the recruitment of Mercenaries because Reberto would not have trusted a total stranger with a lot of money, although if Hall was to do a runner with the money Roberto still had Callan, Mick to reap his revenge with. It’s thought that one of the main reason Roberto trust all four of them was because they were not there looking for money. They were there to help a situation that they believed in.
Roberto confided in Nick that there was not a lot of order amongst the Angolan Soldiers and that many were deserting. While others looted and were constantly on large drinking binges, couple to the fact that they were still all armed. It was a concoction for trouble and that you could certainly not approach a group of them in that state, because there was simply no discipline. Perhaps this is what Callan realised from the start and knew he had to rule his position with an Iron fist. He had to stamp his authorities on them right from the start, and fear is one of the best ways to do this.
Within one week of leaving the UK, Nick Hall returned with $25000 plus expenses in his pocket to try and recruit 25 more Mercenaries, who hopefully would arrive back in African within the week. This became a bit of a problem for Nick having wasted time on a couple of bad leads from old friends while trying to recruit ex service personnel. In desperation and with time running out, Nick finally got in touch with Tom Geraghty from the Sunday Times, the same newspaper reported he had rang months earlier. Tom was always sniffing around for a good story, and thinking that he might be on to something he gave Nick the contact address of John Banks. Then sat back to wait for a story to unfold before him, of which he would hopefully have the scoop.
Enter John Banks on to the scene, who could not believe his luck. For a couple of years now he had been trying to drum up a couple of wars, so that he and his friends could make some big money from them and to also satisfy their immense appetite for action. Now Instead of sitting around the bars of London, just talking about what they had done in the past, along with what they would like to do in the future. Now it was all being placed in front of them on plate.
Nick met up with Banks in a London Hotel, although playing save Banks had a couple of his Hench men nearby just in case. However a deal was struck as Nick was in a bit of a corner, having nowhere else to go to find his 25 recruits in four days. It’s also believed that Banks knew this and struck a hard bargain. A couple of his henchmen did not like Nick, although it could be put down to them being jealous and envious of his position and of all the money he was about to splash about. A couple described him a young twenty year old pimply kid and treated him with contempt. However, Banks had to hold them back because he had to prove himself and deliver the first 25 guys within four days. A hard job considering it was a weekend, but he came up with the goods.
It’s also widely accepted that Nick also managed to gain entry to the American Embassy, seeking assistance from the CIA, and that a deal was struck between them. However, details have never been revealed as to the extent that they became involved, but it is known that towards the end of the fighting, several Americans mysteriously turned up in Angola on the front line.
It must also be reported that Tom Geraghty from the Sunday Times got word of the meeting and tried to mussel in, but Bank’s henchmen soon threw him out of the hotel after they rejected an offer of going with them. However, it did not stop him as he kept with the story just hoping for the big break he knew would eventually come in the end. Keeping these deals quite is very hard. Even word of mouth around the streets of London amongst military personal is hard to keep secret, especially when money is being offered. Tom was an old crusader and knew that if he bided his time, it would come to him in the end.
This was a large ego trip for Bank’s, as he finally found himself in a position of immense power. His dream was also becoming a reality, it being a position he had also craved for many years. With two people who did not like each other both being placed on high pedestals of power within the same organisation it seemed that at some point in time, if and when they eventually met the fireworks would fly.
If the last meeting between the two was anything to go by, it was plain that neither thought much of the other and that they were bitter rivals and each was a threat to the other.
It’s quite evident what John Banks intentions were once he’d established himself near the top of the pecking order of the Holdern Reberto organisation. He would take over total control of the Mercenary side of the operation. Banks knew what was at stake. As far as he was concerned it amounted to very big Dollars. He had watched a similar operation as it had developed in the Congo just few years earlier, when the famous South Africa Mike Hoare had led a Mercenary force against rebel leaders, and some of the guys had walked away with big money in their pocket. Some had even looted banks for money and Diamonds. He saw Nick Hall as a weakling and that later he could brush him aside quite easily, after all he also had some pretty hard men on his books. Some of the guys would have done anything for a small amount of money.
Whatever was written about Callan later, at least he was on the front line putting his money where his mouth was and fighting for nothing. Whereas Banks had all the mouth and was using it but from the luxury of his London hide away. He certainly wasn’t leading from the front, but he was certainly reaping the rewards while others suffered.
If Nick was the brains behind the recruitment drive in the UK, Callan was certainly the Braun to whip the local fighters into shape. Although his overzealous approach almost ended his stay before it had even begun. One evening Callan and four other Mercenaries paid Daniel Chipenda a visit to see if he and his men could be trusted. Daniel was a former MPLA leader who had changed sides after becoming disillusioned with the MPLA autocratic President Dr. Agostiho Neto. His loyal troops were know to only be fighting as a means of being able to loot whatever they wanted.
During the meeting things got a little out of control when Callan contemptuously told him that the blacks were useless fighters. All hell was let use and Daniel ordered his body guards to grabbed Callan, and for a time he was going to have him shot. However, some fast talking was done and phone calls were made. This ended with Nick and Colin Taylor arriving on the scene to calm everybody down. Eventually they let Callan go, and all three of them were allowed to leave safely.
One of the first orders that Col Callan gave, was to make Mick Wainhouse up to the full rank of Captain, which demonstrates the loyalty and feelings he had towards his old friend. It also stands out that he chose Mick above the other two as they remained un-titled.
Mick soon became known as Captain Mick, by most of the black African fights, and most had no problem serving alongside him, preferring his style of leadership to that of Col Callan. This must have been part of Mick’s humanitarian side coming to the surface. After all while at school Mick had always wanted to go to Africa as a Missionary and to be able to help people, and here he was with half his dream realised, only instead of helping the locals, he was here to kill them. I guess there is the possibility that maybe he did not want to be seen as a bit of weak type of guy, and like Charlie he was just being lead along for the ride. However, when it came to a fire fight, he had to shoot back in order to survive, after all in these types of skirmishes its kill or be killed.
Once again Mick demonstrates his truly amazing ability to be able to blend in the background, even while in a prominent public position, especially, when you take into consideration his tall lanky body frame and a distinguishing quif of hair in the front of his fore head. For some reason they had all taken their converted Red Parachute Regiment berets with them and were wearing all the time.
Only the strong survive in situations like this and he who hesitates loses. Decisions have to be made in micro seconds and once it’s made you cannot go back on it. In this world there is no such thing as hindsight only dead bodies, and there were many of them to be seen littering the county side during the short time that the FNLA tried to hold back the Russian backed Cubans. Most thought it was the Russians way of fighting a war by proxy, letting someone else do the dirty work for them. They were definitely calling the shots and priming the guns while allowing Cuba to fire the bullets and also to attract the criticism for doing so. You can also imagine that in the end when the oil rights were to be divided up, Russia would be at the negotiation table expecting a large slice of the cake.
While there is quite a lot of information available as to what Col Callan, Shot Gun Charlie and Nick Hall got up to, there is precious little still known about Captain Mick, which must leave many as with myself, wondering why.
If Col Callan was well known as a psychopath in Northern Ireland, it soon became common knowledge in Angola that Charlie was not far behind him in the cruelty and sadistic department. Because of some of his earlier exploits in Angola he soon inherited the nick name of ‘Shot Gun Charlie’. Mainly, because of his liking for the shot gun, and because he was never seen without one. He earnt a reputation as a guy you did not mess with and you certainly did not want to upset. It’s reported by others that on several occasions after some of the African fighters had upset him they mysteriously disappeared in the jungle the following day. You could not miss him as he was always walking around with a sawn off shot gun in his hand and usually pointed up in the air while resting on his shoulder. One rumor has it that at one time he stuck the barrel in a black African’s mouth and pulled the trigger, although that was nearing the end of his rein in Angola.
They were all billeted in a small long building on stilts. Callan had a room to himself at the far end and next to him Charlie and Mick shared a room, although most evening all three would sit talking and drinking in Charlie and Mick’s room.
The days soon turned in to a regular routine that consisted of both Charlie and Mick accompanied by a couple of black Angolans patrolling the area in two separate heavily armed vehicles. After Callan had received reports that the Cubans were working their way inland towards them and that they also had Russian tanks pushing ahead of them. While Callan, usually remained in the Palace, as the camp had been named just outside of Sao Salvador.
By mid January the new recruits arrived in Sao Salvador, but not the 25 Callan was expecting. Because of a couple of drop outs at the last moment the final number was cut down to 22. This upset Callan and when he finally inspected those who had been on the road for almost two days without sleep or a change of clothing, he blew his stack at them. This was strange because these guys had turned up to support the Angolan cause and here they were being abused, just because he hated Banks. At one time Callan got himself into such a state that a couple of the merc’s even planned on killing him before disappearing back to Zaire and a flight home. Killing him would have been the only way to stop him going after them.
If Callan’s reception astonished the new recruits, it was nothing to what awaited them from Captain Mick. A little later the mercs were sitting around having a drink of coffee in walked a very tall Englishman with a moustache, looking every inch an officer in the British Army. His first words were “You Bastards! It’s no good you sitting there thinking you’re going to get away with all that long hair. We had this problem with the porks (Portuguese merc’s) and they’re all got haircuts now. We’ll soon have your hair off too and have you looking like proper soldiers!” Quote from Fire Power.
One of the mercs told him that they had left England at a moment’s notice, some never even had time to pack and that they had been on the road for over two days without sleep or decent food. With that Mick turned around and walked out the building. Leaving the guys all looking at each other wondering who the hell he was, and what rank he was. Most thought he was a high ranking officer and were later very surprised to learn that he was just an ordinary Para who had been thrown out with a dishonorable discharge, and here he was with the rank of Captain.
Dave Tomkins reports that at one time he witnessed Callan and Mick interrogating an FNLA soldier. Callan was using a walking stick to poke, probe and later beat the man senseless. The beating took place in the main hut where all the mercs were billeted. After the beating both Callan and Mick dragged the badly beaten still bleeding soldier along the floor down the hallway of the headquarters through the dining room to a small room behind the kitchen and closed the door securely behind them. There then followed a half hour of the guy screaming at the top of his voice. The screaming had a profound effect of the newly arrive merc’s and most questioned each other as to what type of army they had signed up to. Later a couple of Black Angolans appeared with mops and buckets to clean up the room, while the FLNA soldier was never seen or heard of again. Most of the mercs felt uneasy about the incident, and worried about their survival to the extent that none of them even asked what it had all been about.
Not long after the new mercs had settled in, Callan received a report that a group of black Angolans had mutinied at the nearby garrison at Quiende. He dispatched two Land Drovers and a group of mercs to go and try to put down the rebellion. Callan lead in one of the vehicles and was accompanied by Mick, Peter McAlesse and Sammy Copeland. For some reason just as they were leaving President Holdern Roberto turned up in his range Rover and joined in. The rest of the mercs followed in a truck. Upon their arrival at Quiende it was quite easy to see that the place was in utter chaos, with nobody in charge. Callan divided his men into small groups and they worked their way through the garrison, forcing everybody out and on to larger open area that was used as a parade ground. The mercs fired many shots over the heads of the muteness’ soldiers and it did not take them long to heard all the soldiers on to the parade ground, where they were divided into two groups and disarmed. The end result was four very large heaps of weapons of all makes, models and size, from many countries of origin. Most of the mercs could not understand why the soldiers gave up their weapons so easily, after all the mercs were well out numbers. Until that is one of the mercs went behind the church where he found Callan with a newly acquired Kalashnikov AK45 in his had still smoking. While on the ground in front of him lay the bodies of 20 of the garrison leaders, most were dead but some were still breathing, but all were dead within just a few minutes. It’s quite apparent that many of the soldiers had witness the massacre and gave up hoping to save their own lives.
Holdern Reberto was very impressed by the way the mercs had secured the garrison, but asked that Callan did not execute any more as he needed them to fight for him. However, he did allow Callan and his mercs to loot the garrison for weapons, ammunition and a couple of vehicles, to help him try and hold back the Cubans who were still expected to turn up on their door step sooner or later.
Callan learnt that somebody in Sao Salvador was passing radio messages to the MPLA and so he dispatched Shotgun Charlie and Sammy Copeland to snatch him. He was brought back to the camp and severely beaten. By a miracle he was still alive, Mick and Sammy took him to the Quiende Bridge, a favorite place to dump the bodies. There they re-tied his hands behind his back and in the centre of the bridge made stand on the edge as there was no guard rail. A disagreement then started between the two mercs as to who should shot him. Mick won the day, but with Sammy holding his head pointed to a spot on the side of his forehead where he should shoot. Mick drew his pistol and fired. The force of the bullet striking the Angolans head knocked it out of his hands, and the body fell forwards splashing in to the river below, and they both watched as the body disappeared under the bridge below them. It’s reported that Copeland said “That’s was good, wasn’t it”, feeling pleased with himself.
On Thursday 22nd January while attending the usual 8 am morning inspection on the parade ground, Mick lost his patients and temper with the bugle boy who was trying to play the FNLA national anthem. The instrument was already in a bad condition, having kicked around for many years, and so its sound was very poor, added to the fact that the player was only a beginner. Mick grabbed the bugle from his hands and started hitting him over the head with the instrument. When he finally gave it back to him the instrument was so badly knocked out of shape that a first class player would have struggled to get the correct notes from it. Plus the fact that the bugler was now even more nervous of making a mistake that eventually came. After which Mick punched the guy in the face repeatedly.
At one time Shot Gun Charley had bragged to Chris Dempster that Col Callan and Captain Mick had killed between them a total of 167-1/2 pro FNLA civilians. The half being the time when he and Captain Mick only a few days earlier had taken a prisoner out to the Quiende Bridge, their favorite dumping ground for what had become known as the Bridge treatment. Once there Captain Mick had stood the prisoner against the bridge parapet with his hands tied behind his back. Shot Gun Charlie then pressed his pistol up against the prisoners skull and pulled the trigger. However, it did not go off. In frustration he pulled the trigger again, but still it did not fire. Becoming enraged Shot Gun Charlie started firing the pistol repeatedly, but its only sound was the clicking of the hammer hitting the bullet. By now the hysterical prisoner took matters into his own hands and jumped into the river below. However, Shot Gun Charlie and Captain Mick were not going to be denied there execution and started firing in to the water, Charlie with an Israeli Uzi machine pistol and Mick with his AK 47. Being at night it was quite dark and neither were sure if they had actually hit the prisoner, or if he had managed to somehow swim away with his hands tied behind his back, and so he was counted as a half.
Shot Gun Charlie also mention a few of the other times that they had killed some of the other 167 Angolans. On another occasion while Shot Gun Charlie and Captain Mick had been beating a couple them in their bed room and were about to leave them, believing them to have learnt a lesson. When in walked Col Callan who drew his 9mm Browning pistol and emptied his magazine in to both Angolans. As if that was not enough Col Callan then used the Angolans own weapons and fired in to their already lifeless state.
Then of course there was the story I’ve mentioned earlier, when Shot Gun Charlie want to test the effects of his newly acquired Spanish double barreled shot gun. That had a dual trigger action with ornate scalloping on the breach. Charlie wanted to try it out on a live target. He called an Angolan over and ordered him to open his mouth. He then stuck the barrel in his mouth and fired both barrels. The rest can be left to your imagination, a kid of three would have been able to tell you the results.
During another occasion after Col Callan had taken delivery of a brand new Smith & Wesson 44 Magnum, which at that time was one of the most powerful hand guns in production, and he wanted to know just how powerful it was when fired at a live target. It’s reported that he leaned out of his bedroom window and called over the very first soldier who happened to walk past, ordering the man to report to him. Col Callan then shot him in the face at close range, blowing his brains out the back of his head.
Callan was ruthless and as time went on he seemed to enjoy his rough justice treatment he dished out to the local Angolan soldiers. One could be forgiven for believing that Col Callan sometimes might have believed that they were the enemy and not the MPLA, who he should have been killing. Once during a walk around the camp at night he found a soldier asleep on guard and ordered him to strip naked and left him stood to attention on the freezing cold parade ground all night. The FNLA were not very large in numbers and one would think that when it came to action they would need every single man they could lay their hands on. After all Nick Hall was in the UK trying to recruit people to fight for them and Col Callan was killing them faster than Nick and Banks could find recruits. Even if the Angolan Soldier was not as well trained as most Western trained soldiers, they would have been very handy in a fire fight as many had been involved in this war for a couple of years. It must also be considered that Col Callan’s treatment did nothing for the Angolans moral and that’s why the FNLA had such a large number of deserters. Not only were they losing soldiers, but there was a good chance that they would have also changed sides and joined the MPLA, and to end up fighting Col Callan’s little bunch of murderous thugs. Not to mention the white merc’s in the group, who were also beginning to wonder just who the enemy really was, and on a couple of occasions some of them thought about and even planned on getting out and make their way to Zaire and the British Embassy, to try and get a ticket out of the country. It was also realised that if they were ever to carry out their planned escape they would also have to kill all three of their leader, otherwise they would run the risk of being chased down and executed by them, probably by a bullet in the back of the neck.
It must also be noted that most of the action seen so far by Col Callan’s little bunch had only been small skirmishes, just driving around eyeing up the situation. There had been no full scale fighting of the enemy and especially the western trained Cubans, who had been reported as heading their way. Sooner or later it was going to happen, and when it did Col Callan was going to need all of the help he could get, and to be able to trust them. At times like that he did not want to be watching his back for a so called friendly bullet.
Many of the first contingent of British mercs who had arrived was already having serious doubts about the emotional and mental state of their so called leader. Who by now had also realised that he had only been an ordinary soldier in the Parachute Regiment and had no leadership quality’s at all, other than to lead by terrorising the people he commanded. And the same could also be believed of his two friends in arms who at that time seemed just as unbalanced, having no regard for fellow soldiers other than to punish them at every opportunity.
On one occasion as Col Callan, Captain Mick, Shotgun Charlie and a couple of other mercs including Dave Tomkins, were heading out to set up an ambush on the Samba road, when they picked up an Angolan civilian from the side of the road. Col Callan did not like his use of the word Comrade, especially as he was very anti Communist. After questioning him they found out where he lived and headed towards his village where they searched his house, but nothing was found indicating that he had a connection with the MPLA. By this stage Col Callan was losing interest in him and after saying that he knows too much, handed him over to Captain Mick. Accompanied by Dave Tomkins and Joe Akoo, Captain Mick took him out in to a field behind the man’s hut where he drew his pistol and shot the Angolan in the head, as he hit the ground Mick pumped a further two more shots into his lifeless body.
During the night a couple of the guards had reported hear funny noises but had no idea what it was. Upon day break a couple of them went for a walk into the field where the so call spy had been shot and found that his body had disappeared. They could only assume that his family had taken him in the night to bury him somewhere.
It’s beginning to sound like Captain Mick killed anything that moved or at least anything that resembled a Black Angolan. However, there was one occasion when he felt sorry for a guy picked up by the side of the road and let him go. Several vehicles of mercs were speeding down the Damba road to lay an ambush, having received a report that the Cuban tanks were approaching. Just before they arrived at a position where Col Callan wanted to set up the ambush, he ordered Captain Mick to question a suspicious looking guy standing by the side of the road, while he would proceed towards the ambush point. Captain Mick apprehended the man and under took a quick brief body search. Finding nothing he questioned the man about whom he was and where he was going. To Captain Mick’s amazement the guy admitted to being an MPLA soldier who had just deserted, and to prove it he removed his cap and produced his ID card that had been issued in Luanda. One of the mercs was all for killing him there and then, but for some reason Captain Mick was in a different frame of mind and in a hurry to get to the ambush point as fast as possible not wanting to miss the action. To everybody’s amazement Captain Mick told them to leave him along and ordered them all back in to their vehicle and headed off at break neck speed to meet up with the others at the rendezvous point. Leaving the Angolan standing by the side of the road bewildered and wondering what all the fuss had been about, and what he should do next. At that particular moment in time he was also one of the luckiest Angolans alive.
However, his haste to join in on the ambushed was all in vain, because after taking up a fire fight position alongside all of the other mercs by the side of the road. The tanks did not appear. At one time several of the mercs made public a point of view that nothing was coming. However Col Callan over ruled them and was insistent that he could actually hear them, although he was the only one. He forced them to stay in an ambush position for a very long period of time. So long in fact that the enemy might have been pre-warned by the loud snoring coming from some of the more tired mercs, using the occasion to catch up on a little sleep. This being the third time in three days that some of them had laid an ambush.
One morning Dave Tomkins walked in to Captain Mick’s room and found him huddled on the floor with his clothes and a blanket he was wrapped in soiled with the effects of dysentery, he was also sweating and was barely conscious. Dave assumed he was just suffering from Malaria, and did nothing to help him. Later in the day when Col Callan returned to the camp he was alarmed with Captain Mick’s condition and believed he was actually dying. He then ordered Chris Dempster one of the mercs to take him to Maquela in one of the trucks and to then radio for a plane to ‘casevac’ him to Kinshasa, where he would receive proper medical care.
All this came at a bad time for Col Callan, as contact with the enemy was hoting up and becoming more frequent. Fire fights were becoming more common and he needed as many mercs as possible, especially people he could trust to carry out his orders. He had no belief in the fact that Banks was going to come to the party and send out another larger group of mercs to help him hold back the Cubans.
The journey to the airstrip did not go without incident. About 10 km out of the town of Quibocolo the vehicle blew a front tyre. With no help available Chris limped the vehicle in to the next village arriving just as the flat tyre was threatening to wrench the wheel from its axle. By then the cab of was oven hot and Captain Mick was slumped in the front passenger seat unconscious and delirious. Chris had to carry him from the truck and placed him in the shade under a tree. He then spent a considerable amount of time trying to locate a spare tyre, but he found nothing.
Later Chris was relieved when one of his own trucks turned up and they were able to get Captain Mick on board.
This journey did not go smoothly either and after half an hour it lost its breaks and they were only able to stop it when they tried to go up a steep hill. This just happened to be where Col Callan and the President Holdern Reberto were also parked alongside the road.
Col Callan wasted no time in checking on his friend and was alarmed at his condition. After a quick chat with the President, Col Callan talked him into taking Captain Mick along with him in his Range Rover making sure he was delivered to the hospital in Kinshasa.
On Thursday 29th January Banks and Colin Taylor arrived on Sabena flight 1288 in Kinshasa along with a further 96 mercs to help bolster up Col Callan army. The new arrivals were all taken to the president’s residence and kitted out with clothing and weapons. Within a couple of hours of their arrival they received their first casualty when one of the new recruits was struck down by the heat with a heart attack, he was later transferred to a hospital in Athens.
President Roberto was very so pleased to see the new guys and at that time he was also very impressed with what Col Callan and his original mercs had accomplished. They had shown no fear when it came to fighting. Although they had only been in the country a few weeks, they had shown the enemy they were not to be messed with. It was also strongly believed that they had played a large part in holding the Cubans back. Intelligence at that time showed that the instead of just pushing forward they were now trying to gain information before any advance. The Cubans also knew of the newly arrived English mercs and feared them. With a further 96 mercs arriving on the scene they were not sure what they were up against, and we’re not going to advance until they knew their strengths and weaknesses.
Reberto promoted Banks to a Major in the FNLA Army and also gave him the go ahead to return to the UK and recruit a complete battalion of mercs as soon as possible. Although he was a little upset that Banks had not delivered the 100 mercs he had requested. To be honest considering the short time he’d had to recruit them, it was amazing he came up with as many as he did. Usually these things do take a little time to get it all together.
During his brief visit to Angola Banks was using one of his best friends Cecil ‘Satch’ Fortuin as his personal body guard. However, In order to try and please Roberto and increase the number of mercs delivered. When Banks left Angola, without warning he deserted his friend leaving him behind, a move that would haunt Banks for the rest of his life.
When the 96 mercs left the UK the news was starting to break in the press and many people were starting to ask questions as to what was going on and was the government involved. One newspaper reporter managed to board the bus taking the mercs to London Airport, but when it was discovered he was thrown off.
Most of the new recruits had been offered £150 per week for a 6 month contract, and about 30% had no military experience what so ever. Many had been out of work and the offer of money had been too good an offer to refuse. Some had even been recruited while in a pub, and most had been told that they would not be fighting, simply but training the FNLA Army. Their Passports were also taken from them to stop them deserting and returning to the UK. It’s also believed that Banks was personally getting around £200 bounty money per recruit.
Captain Mick had ended up in the Mama Yemo hospital in Kinshasa suffering from dysentery and a bad bout of Malaria. Although he had no recollection of how long he had been there and even less of what care he had received. However, once he was up and walking around he was surprised to meet up with Douglas ‘Canada’ Newby another of the early mercs. Canada had been around even before Col Callan and his friends had been on the scene. There was another surprise for Captain Mick when Canada took him down a couple of corridors to a small ward on its own and showed him Dave Tomkins lying on a cot.
Apparently Dave had been up to his usually tricks of playing around and setting up explosive booby traps. This time he was using hang grenades and was placing them around what was to be an ambush position by the side of the main road. After setting up a couple successfully, and was walking away to look for another likely position. His last one exploded while he was only 15 feet away. The blast blew him over and shrapnel tore into his lower buttocks, tearing a large hole in the flesh. It had taken a couple of days to get him to the hospital and most of the time he had entirely relied on Canada to help him. The hospital was very dirty and most of the other patents lay in cots still wearing their street clothes that were soiled with blood and dirt. Even in the Hospital Canada had done his best to keep Dave cleaned up and looked after him. There were not too many drugs available and just a few bandages. Bit of a laugh when you realise that Banks had been telling all of the new recruits that if injured they would received the best of medical attention from some of the best hospitals in Africa. In fact Canada had been so disturbed by the hospital conditions that he later moved Dave in to the Intercontinental Hotel, and looked after him until he was fit to return to Sao Salvador. Even though Captain Mick needed support while he was walking he discharged himself from the hospital to meet up with Nick Hall.
While back at Maquela early one morning Col Callan lined up all the new recruits and gave them a briefing of what was happening and to what was expected of them. This was the first time that most of them had realised that they were now members of a very small force that were vastly outnumbered by a superior armed MPLA and the Russian backed regular Cuban soldiers they were expected to fight against.
There followed a heated argument with many of them as they demanded an acclimatisation period they had all been promised when they signed up. Some were also demanding evidence that their wages was being sent back to their families in the UK, as promised by Banks. While others reminded him that they were told that they would not have to fight and were only there to help train the new black Angolan recruits. After trying to calm the mercs down, Col Callan divided the men into three groups. His plan was to deploy killer groups to harass the advancing enemy at every opportunity. Something he described as a hit and run, tactic hoping to demoralise the enemy. The principle targets being the Cuban tanks that he hoped would be knocked out by the shoulder fired 106mm anti tank rockets he had a large stock of. Instead of greeting his plans with joy, many of the new recruits showed signs of descent that started to infuriate him. He then ordered all of the men who did not want to fight to form a group on their own over to one side.
Callan had waited for a few weeks for the new men, and now they were refusing to fight and it did not take him long to become infuriated and enraged by the situation that was starting to develop before him. Some of the earlier recruited mercs started to sense that Callan was going to blow his stack and start shooting. Therefore, they remained silent not wanting to agitate him further and push him over the top, worrying what might happen next.
Callan walked past all of the recruits refusing to fight asking of their past military combat service. Most he found had no previous combat experience and he ordered them over to another spot. This group included two sub-mariners recruited by Banks. However, there were a few ex British army people amongst them who were completely disillusioned with the venture by the lack of equipment that were expected to fight with. This group finally ended up containing 23 men, who had little or no previous military experience. Many were civilians who had been promised safe jobs. Callan then disarmed the group and stripped them down to their under pants, as was usual when Callan was about to execute people.
For some reason he must have had a change of mind because he gave them a set of fatigues to wear and told them to get dressed. They were to be assigned to non-combatant duties back at Sao Salvador. Although laughing, he told them that if they want to try and leave and head back to Zaire, they could try.
.As the non combatants were driving to Sao Salvador they found themselves in a situation where they believed they were being attacked by an advancing column of Cubans and opened fired on the suspect vehicles with a rocket and small arms fire. Believing they had won the day the Non-combatants drove back to report their kills to Col Callan.
However, as it turned out they had actually opened fired upon a column of their own men, and had not waited around to check out the damage they had caused or who they might have killed. When Callan found out the mistake he demanded to know who had fired the rocket, and one of the non combatants Philips Davies aged 23 put his hand up. Callan just walked up to him drew his pistol, and shot him in the side of the head. He immediately asked the others to undress down to their under pants. An order that most of them by now knew exactually what was coming next, have been told earlier by some of the original mercs. There then followed a time as some of the original mercs were asking for Callan to release certain non-combatants to help them, to which surprisingly Callan allowed. Although these were lies as they did not know them, it was just a way of trying to save some of the condemned men. Eventual Callan ended up with around eleven recruits he promised he would kill for shooting at some of his best soldiers. He then handed them over to Sergeant Major Copeland, telling him to take them away and that he knew what he could do with them.
About three miles out of Maquela, Copeland ordered the condemned men out of the truck they had been transported in. “Come on you bastards, get out” he shouted loudly. Copeland then lined up his five man execution squad. Then turning to the condemned men he told them “this is it, you’re all going to die”. “But first I’ll give you all a chance to run”. He then ordered them to face away from him and to start running. For a brief moment nobody moved, but eventually one started to run followed by another, then all of a sudden most started to run. However four of them refused to run, three just strolled along as if out for a day’s walk in the park. While the one remaining who just happened to also be the oldest of the condemned men, totally refused to move.
Once the leaders of the group were about thirty meters away, Copeland started firing with his Israeli built Uzi sub machine gun. His bullets started hitting some of the men and dropping them. By the time his magazine was empty half of the condemned men were hit and lying around on the ground, and as he changed his magazine he stared shouting at the other members of the firing squad to start shooting. A couple of the squad had set their gas regulators on their Belgium FN rifles, as a deliberate way of jamming their weapons, so they did not have to join in. They were also worried that Copeland who by now was in an excited rage might well shoot any of the squad who refused to join in the execution.
However there was one of the squad who seemed to enjoy what he’d been ordered to do, “claiming it was as good as a turkey shoot” laughing as he was shooting. After a couple of bursts from his gun he was heard to shout a couple of times that he had got one. One of the condemned men actually managed to get almost 100metres away, but Copeland hit him with his second magazine burst. He then turned his attention to the three guys strolling down the valley only a short distance away. This left only the guy who had refused to run standing just in front of Copeland staring at him defiantly. Many of the wounded were crying out in pain and agony, while others were pleading with their killers to please finish them off quickly. However, Copeland being the sadist he was, even denied their requests, and taunted them further.
By this time members of the squad had possibly realised what they had been part of and that there could be action taken against them later. A few of them shot at the wounded condemned men hoping to put them out of their misery as quick as possible. To the amazement of the squad as they were walking around the dead checking them out they found one alive hiding amongst a rather thick bush, who had not been hit by any of the none aimed rounds from the execution squad. Copeland played a game with him, shouting out that they had all been killed and pretended to walk back to the truck. Then at the last minute he swung around shouting “I can see you” and putting a burst of bullets into the bush.
There has always been a bit of confusion as to how many were actually killed that day one figure mention is that it was eleven while others have said that the number might have been as high as fourteen. Also when the bodies were finally discovered by the MPLA soldiers, they had claimed that the bodies had been mutilated after they were shot. However, it’s more than likely they were unaware that Copeland was using 9mm Parabellum bullets that are designed to tare rather large holes in the flesh, and can quite easily tear off a limb very easily.
Later two members of the firing squad returned to the site to bury the executed men, but were stopped by Col Callan who just happened to be driving past at the time.
When news of the massacre reached President Holdern Reberto he could not reach Col Callan who had been wounded when his vehicle had been ambushed and as far as anybody knew he was listed as missing. Therefore Reberto got Nick Hall and Captain Mick to take him out to the site for a look for himself. What he saw disturbed him deeply and he immediately ordered a full enquiry. The outcome of which saw Copeland and Shot Gun Charlie both being court marshaled over the event. It’s surprising how Charlie was implicated because he had not been involved in the incident, in fact he was not even in the camp at the time. There was a consensus of opinions at that time that somebody had to be executed for the crime.
The court marshal found Copeland guilty and President Roberto ordered that he be executed immediately. Roberto for some reason had always had a liking for Charlie, who was acquitted of the crime, but was ordered to be stripped of his rank for un-professional soldierly conduct (unmilitary behavior). He was also ordered he spent six months fighting at the front for no pay, which was a bit of a laugh really as he was already fighting for no pay, as was Callan and Mick. It is also believed that Nick was being paid, as much of the money being used to recruit mercs was passing through his hands and he needed money for so called expenses. It’s also worth noting the Roberto ordered Nick Hall to undertake the court marshal. Up until that time his only experience of the procedure was when he was court marshaled while serving in the Parachute Regiment, when he was dishonorably discharged, way back in Northern Ireland.
There is also strong evidence that Roberto did not want to carry out the death penalty on Copeland, but by this time the CIA was involved and giving Roberto funds to recruit more men and purchase weapons. He had to be seen as a man who was keeping a strong hand on his men. By this time the worlds press was on to the story and he wanted them to know that he was in charge and in full control of his forces. It’s also rumored that if Charlie had have been executed, then Nick Hall would leave the area and return to the UK. Once before he had told Reberto that if things did not work out all four of the original mercs would change sides and join the MPLA.
While the argument raged as to Copeland’s fate he made a break for freedom and broke away from his captors and made a run for it. One of the guards opened fire and hit him several times bring him down. It was Captain Mick who gave him the ‘coup re grace’ firing three times into the back of Copeland’s head with his pistol.
Because of Copeland demise, this almost sealed Callan’s fate, who was still reported as missing and nobody knew where he was. Copeland being the Sergeant Major of the unit would be the only one who would want to mount a rescue mission to try and find him and his small team of men.
There is no indication or proof that Captain Mick was ever involved in the Maquela massacre, that Callan organised and ordered his men to carry out. It seems as if it was Callan’s way of trying to get back at John Banks, who was back in London, and who he despised. Trying to prove to him that the caliber of the Mercenaries he was sending out was of no use to him on the front line, because they had refused to fight. The main reason being that they all thought they were only going to Africa purely as military advisors. However, the more overzealous and adventurous ones would be allowed to join in the actual fighting if they choose.
One of the recruits was a submariner and would not have known what to do in a fire fight, and I’m sure that the FNLA did not have their own Navy, you certainly don’t have to be a brain surgeon to work out that they did not have a Navy let alone any submarines. This totally exposed John Banks as the man he really was, and as far as he was concerned it was numbers that counted. It did not matter what they did, all he was interested in was the fact that he would received a payment for each one he sent to Angola. He did not even have the worry of being on the front line. He slept most nights in the security of his own bed safe bed back in London. While others risked their lives on a cause they did not even understand and certainly did not know what was to be expected of them. Most were conned into signing along the dotted line with only a verbal from Banks and his recruiters that they were going as advisors and training staff, or at the least truck drivers. One poor soul went because he was a Russian interrupter and believed he would be of help, knowing that the Cubans were also using Russian advisers.
With Col Callan still missing in action the breakdown of communications started and some of the mercs were evacuated to Zaria and home to the UK. However on the front line there were still many joining in the fighting. Three fighting groups had been formed one commanded by Captain Mick, one by Canada Newby and the other by Shot Gun Charlie. This seemed to be a desperate attempt to hold back the Cubans who by now were getting the upper hand, and in the case of Captain Mick and Shot gun Charlie they wanted to find their long time friend Col Callan who had now been missing for several days.
On February the 11th Captain Mick was once again struck down with another sever bout of dysenteric fever and had to be evacuated to Kinshasa.
The two remaining groups joined forces when one of their vehicles broke down. On the 14th February as they all drove in the one remaining Land Drover, just a few kilometers from Cuimbain, to they were ambush and several of the mercs including Shot Gun Charlie were killed.
As for Col Callan, he had been shot in the leg during an earlier ambush, in which their vehicle had been destroyed. Those who survived with Callan had been carrying him on a make shift stretcher through the country side, as they tried in vain to make it back to their own lines and hopefully safety. In the end they had to hide in a local village as they awaited a rescue attempt that was never to come, as by now Copeland was dead, and he would have been the only one who wanted to find Callan.
Callan’s small group were not to be rescued and in the end the few who remained alive were eventually captured and taken prisoner, by the Cubans and imprisoned in the capital Luanda.
Although the worlds press described this group as a poorly assembled badly disciplined bunch of cut throat murderers. If you take a look at what they achieved in a small amount of time, it’s worth noting that they were later to be described by others who understand the situation they found themselves in, and to what they achieved with absolutely no official backing. Most of this group were extremely excellent fighters, but was too small to achieve a decisive victory. However, they still achieved accumulate and impressive results in their short campaign as guerrillas. During one of their ambushes on a column of MPLA, this small unit managed to kill 60 fighters from a group of 600 soldiers belonging to the MPLA and Cubans forces, destroying four T-34 tanks and four mobile rocket launchers known as “Katyusha”. One can only imagine what havoc a battalion of men like them might have achieved. And to be honest although Callan might have been a sadistic cold blooded murder, when it came to fighting he had no fear, and a lot of what he tried to achieve was working. The massacre was the start of the rot amongst his men. And soldiers will not fight knowing that they have to watch their back at all times. In situations like they were in, one has to be able to trust those around them 100%.
Despite his inferiority in terms of number of troops and military equipment Callan actually triumphed in a series of bloody skirmishes against the MPLA and Cubans and delayed them moving north. This small bunch was greatly feared, and the enemy would not move unless they had good intelligence as to what his group was up too.
However, by now the whole operation in Angola was crumbling as some of the mercs tried desperately to get out of the country. One is reported to have walked to Zaire on his own taking him over ten days. While some of the lucky ones were being flown out. By the 15th February the last of the mercs were gathered at Mamarosa just north of Sao Salvador and were ordered to fall back to the border with Zaire. By the 17th those remaining crossed over and in to the safety of Zaire. It’s also assumed that Captain Mick was already there in one of the Hospitals.
The breakdown of the FNLA army and its loosing of the war did not seem to have stopped Banks from making a bit more money, as he was still trying to recruit mercs for Angola as late as early March, although by that time with the bad newspaper reports being circulated daily around the world, it’s doubtful he received many applicants. It’s also known that over £500,000 was still sitting in a Brussels bank account to be used for the recruitment. However, what is not known is what eventually happened to the money.
Once the war was over the press tasted blood and daily they printed different versions of what had happened and if they didn’t have a story, then as was usual they made it up. Many of the British papers went along with the story that Callan had been considered a symbol of British imperialism. Allowing political leftists to express discontent, saying that while Great Britain had left the colonies, some irresponsible adventures like Callan and his friends still did damage to Great Britain in the developed world. The murder of 11 (14) of his fighters was a scandal in Britain, and indeed lead to an investigation of people who had been connected with the case, including Nick Hall and Dave Tomkins.
It must also be said that Britain’s hands were not as clean as the public has been lead to believe. Of the final 96 mercs who were recruited and sent to Angola, amongst time was at least three who were working for the government at the time. We must also remember that the CIA was also giving money to Holdern Roberto in an effort to stop the Cubans and to also keep the Russians out of the equation. It also worth noting, that Angola was sitting on top of an awful lot of oil. What a different story we might have read in the press had they won.
Many bad feeling of what had happen started to spring up as certain people were targeted for execution by many splinter groups and at one time while still in Zaire a bomb went off where Nick Hall was staying, luckily he survived the attack and managed to disappear from public view and to this day it’s not know what became of him. While others had their lives threatened on many occasions especially those members who had been on the Maquela massacre firing squad.
Eventual the Cubans took 13 mercs prisoner and on the 11th June they were all placed on trial in Luanda and the outcome was a foregone conclusion as some were sentenced to death while others were given long prison sentences. In the end Callan stood up and took full responsibility for his actions and was rewarded with the Death sentence by firing squad along with an American whose only crime was that he stepped off a plane after arriving in the country, to be captured almost at the bottom of the gangway. At one time an off the cuff remark by an officer of the court said that they had to kill him to rap America over the knuckles for their involvement in the financing of the FNLA.
One other story that did the rounds was that during the execution by firing squad, one of the condemned men almost survived the shooting. Apparently the six man firing squad must have mostly all aimed at the same people, leaving one unmarked. Because it was reported that at the exact time they fired one of the English prisoners Brummie Barker, must have passed out with shock and fell to the ground with no bullets in him. The firing detachment was then ordered to be marched away. Just as they were about to turn a corner and would have been out of site of the executed men. Brummie is reported to have sat up and asked what had happened. The local Angolans who had been left to clean up the mess ran over to try and protect him, but the Cuban officer heard him and turned around to have a look. He then walked back to drew his pistol and shot Brummie a couple of times in the head, killing him.
And what of Captain Mick, the report of him going to hospital seems to be the last time his name was mentioned and nothing else is know as to his fate, although at one time somebody is supposed to have reported that he was last seen running into the jungle, but of who reported it, is not known. One of the surviving mercs Dave Tomkins who made it safely back to the UK, has more than once reported that two of the original four made it back safely, but that both went on to lead very disturbing and depressed lives.
Because South African at one time had supported the FNLA during the war, my guess is that Mick probably made it to South African and has dropped out of sight and the publicity that would have undoubtedly followed him. To try and live a normal live, who knows he might have had another change of live and reverted back to the good Christian he once was, and turned his hand to his first love of wanting to go to Africa to become a Missionary and save lives.
© Copyright Gerry McLaughlin and Terrance Aspinall All rights reserved. 2008