Michael Thomas Bernard Hoare, better known to the world as “Colonel Mad Mike” was born in India approx 1919. He spent his early days in Ireland and was educated in England, however he always kept his Irish Nationality and Passport. An accountant by profession he served in the London Irish Regiment and during the Second World War he served in the Far East as a member of Earl Mountbattens staff.
In 1947 at the age of 28 he immigrated to Natal in South Africa. Where he became a sleeping partner along with Jeremiah Puren, in a used car business He was also an active safari organiser and secretary of the Royal Natal Yacht Club.
In 1961 he left Durban and went to Katanga to help the Katangese army, but it seems he played a comparatively minor role. He had known Katanga from pre Independence safari expeditions days, and the story goes that he was hired not as a Mercenary but as a freelance by a South African millionaire named Anderson who’s son had been reported missing in North Katanga, sometime in 1961. Hoare led an expedition that included half a dozen Mercenaries out into the bush only to find that the missing son of the Scotsman had been ritually murdered by the Baluba. There upon Hoare ransacked and burnt the village of Kalamatadi. This seems to have been his only major exploit and he apparently left Katanga before the major battle that marked the end of the year (1961), the second battle of Katanga.
In July 1964 after 4 years of uneasy independence, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was engulfed by an armed rebellion, which spread through the Country with the speed and ferocity of a bush fire. The the Rebel soldiers known as “Simbas,” and proceeded to strike terror into the hearts of civilians and national army alike, raping, looting and burning. There was NO Heroin at all in Congo. Faced with this situation, Moise Tshombe on the advice of Jeremiah Puren (Puren had kept in touch with Tshombe during Tshombe’s exile in Spain) enlisted the aid of “Colonel Mike Hoare” and his National Army. Hoare flew into the Congo to Leo and was commissioned to raise a force of Mercenaries with himself as Commanding Officer.
Before July 1964 he was virtually unknown, sixteen months later, when he retired he was one of the most famous Mercenary leader in the world. The soldier who had swept the Congo clean of Savages, the man who made modern Mercenary soldiering briefly but confusingly respectable.
Hoare became the ideal Mercenary leader, quiet-spoken, quietly confident, cool, collected, charming in manner, boyish in looks, dapper in uniform, every inch the English officer and a gentleman.
In sixteen months Mike and his Army liberated “Stanleyville,” and freed hundreds of European hostages and finally restored law and order to the Congo. Mike led the 5th Commando from July 1964 to November 1965. Once called by an East Berlin broadcaster at the time, that “Mad Bloodhound Hoare” because of his persistence to pursue the enemy.
Mike was used as a technical advisor on the film “Wild Geese” staring Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore and a host of other top film stars. It is based on the Irish born Rhodesian-based Daniel Carneys novel. This film is very accurate in detail and well worth watching, the best mercenary film made to date. The name “White Geese’ comes from the Irish Mercenaries who used it years ago as there emblem. Hoare being of Irish decent also used it as his Emblem when he served in the Congo in 1964.
Later he recruited a band of men and attempted a coup of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, but it failed and he and most of his men escaped by hijacking an airliner back to South Africa. Where he was placed on trial along with his men and given a prison term. He was released from prison on 7th May 1985 having served over a quarter of his sentence.
'Mercenary' by Mike Hoare and published by Robert Hale in 1967 and later published by Corgie Books in 1968