Mike Hoare: not mad, sometimes bad, and often dangerous to know
He was a mercenary almost be accident, gaining fame in the Congo and infamy in the Seychelles. And he lived to 100
“Mad Mike” Hoare, who has died aged 100, was an Irish accountant who became the world’s most famous mercenary; the success of his campaigns in the Congo in the 1960s endowed his calling with unprecedented prestige and glamour, but his career as a “soldier of fortune” ended in a humiliating anticlimax when a botched attempt to overthrow the president of the Seychelles in 1981 landed him in jail.
Hoare’s adoption in his 40s of a new career as a leader of mercenary forces probably owed at least as much to the influence of well-placed business contacts as to any evidence of military prowess during his service in the army. He had been running a number of small businesses in South Africa when, in 1961, he was introduced to the Congolese politician Moïse Tshombe.
When Tshombe hired him in July 1964 to crush the Simba rebellion, which was backed by Cuban forces led by Che Guevara, Hoare was unknown to the wider world; by the time the campaign was successfully completed 18 months later he and his unit, 5 Commando, were internationally famous...