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Mike Hoare

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Thomas Michael Hoare (born 1920) (Mad Mike) is an Irish mercenary leader known for military activities in Africa and his failed attempt to conduct a coup d'état in the Seychelles.

Hoare was born in India. He spent his early days in Ireland and was educated in England. He served in North Africa as an Armour officer in the British Army during World War II, and achieved the rank of Captain. After the war, he emigrated to Durban, Natal Province, Union of South Africa, where he ran safaris and became a soldier-for-hire in various African countries.

During the Congo Crisis Mike Hoare organized and led two separate mercenary groups:

  • 1960–1961. Major Mike Hoare's first mercenary action was in Katanga, a province trying to break away from the newly independent Congo. The unit was called "4 Commando". During this time he married Phyllis Simms, an airline stewardess.
  • 1964. Congolese Prime Minister Moïse Tshombe hired "Colonel" Mike Hoare to lead a military unit called "5 Commando (Congo)" made up of about 300 men most of whom were from South Africa. His second in command was a young South African paratrooper Capt. GD Snygans. The unit's mission was to fight a breakaway rebel group called Simbas. Later Hoare and his mercenaries worked in concert with Belgian paratroopers, Cuban exile pilots, and CIA-hired mercenaries who attempted to save 1,600 civilians (mostly Europeans and missionaries) in Stanleyville from the Simba rebels in Operation Dragon Rouge. This operation saved many lives.

The epithet "Mad" Mike Hoare comes from broadcasts by Communist East German radio during the fighting in the Congo in the Sixties. They would precede their commentary with "The mad bloodhound, Mike Hoare".

Irish-born South African novelist Bree O'Mara (1968–2010) was his niece. She had written an unpublished account of his adventures as a mercenary in the Congo.