THE CONGO CRISIS
During the Congo Crisis, at the initial stage of the crisis,whites in the Congo became targets.
One white man, Major Eric Bonde, was part of the Swedish United Nation’s mission to Congo. He was shot by Baluba warriors. Baluba warriors at that time used a lot of old muzzle loaded rifles and muskets. These items were not as powerful as the modern-day rifles.
After given first aid, Major Eric returned to the fight against the invisible enemies in the jungle.
From 1960 to 1964, the Swedish Army sent a total of nine battalions to Congo. Moreover, in the initial stage of the Congo crisis, whites in the Congo became targets during the riots.
Dag Hammarskjöld assessed that it was important to have “white” United Nation troops in the country. Therefore, he requested that Sweden and Ireland would send a battalion each.
His ultimate motive was that they would more easily win the confidence of the whites than soldiers from African states.
The first Swedish battalion arrived in Congo directly from Gaza on 22 July 1960. During the first days, the Swedes were patrolling in Leopoldville. However, they guarded Kinshasa Airport in the city.
Swedes, like other United Nation troops, had difficulty knowing who were friends and who were enemies. Most importantly, the fighting they engaged in did not always have an apparent rational reason.
In August, the Swedes moved to Elizabethville in Katanga. At Elizabethville, they were ended up in their first combat situation. Hence, they suffered their first loss in connection with the escort of a rail road transport.
The trains,which were carrying Katangan Baluba prisoners, were attacked by Baluba warriors. Baluba warriors were nationalist group who supported the central government against the break out government.
In practice, at that point, the Swedes fought on the same side as the Belgian-led Katangan gendarmerie. These group would later become the United Nation’s worst enemy.
Congo Crisis became by far the most serious international task the Swedish Armed Forces faced during the Cold War. Besides, it was the first time in 140 years that Swedish forces were forced into battle.
During those years in Congo 40 Swedish soldiers were injured and 19 were killed. As late as 2004, it was alleged that the corpses of two killed Swedes were eaten by locals. Purportedly because cannibalism was believed by Africans to be a way to assimilate the victim’s strength.
The event was considered very sensitive to the United Nation and the Congolese government. So the incident was covered up.
A total of 6,334 Swedes served in the Congo during the years 1960-1964.
Source : Rarehistoricalphotos.com