Mercenary 'Mad Mike' Hoare dies aged 100 in South Africa

2020-02-03 17:51
Mike Hoare sitting in front of a birthday cake. (Roy Reed, Family handout, AFP)

Mike Hoare sitting in front of a birthday cake. (Roy Reed, Family handout, AFP)

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One of Africa's best-known mercenaries who fought in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led a failed coup in the Seychelles, Mike Hoare, has died aged 100, the family said on Monday.

Nicknamed "Mad Mike", Hoare died on Sunday in South Africa where he had retired.

Born in 1919 in India to Irish parents, he was educated in England where he qualified as a chartered accountant.

He attended a small-arms and an officer training course during the British army during WWII and went on to serve in India and in Burma.

The fervent anti-communist then emigrated to South Africa in 1948.

"The well known adventurer and soldier of fortune, Lieutenant Colonel 'Mad Mike' Hoare, died in his sleep and with dignity aged 100 years at a care facility in Durban on 2 February 2020," the family said in a statement.

Getting more out of life by living dangerously

His son Chris, said Hoare "lived by the philosophy that you get more out of life by living dangerously, so it is all the more remarkable that he lived more than 100 years".

Hoare shot to fame in the 1960s when he led some 300 soldiers in the DRC to crush a communist-inspired rebel uprising.

His soldiers' nickname "Wild Geese", inspired the title of a 1978 film about mercenaries in Africa which starred Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris and Hardy Kruger.

In 1981, Hoare led a group of mercenaries that planned a coup to return to power the pro-Western founding president James Mancham to power in the Seychelles archipelago.

The group entered the country disguised as a beer-drinking tourist party called "The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers".

However, their plan came undone when an airport inspector found a weapon in their luggage and a gunfight broke out.

The men then hijacked an Air India flight and forced the pilot to take them to Durban in South Africa to escape.

Hoare was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 20 years.

But he only served nearly three years in jail before he relocated to France where he lived for 20 years.

Hoare returned to South Africa in 2009.

Hoare is survived by five children.

His peers from the heyday of mercenaries in Africa include the likes of Frenchman Bob Denard and his "affreux" ("the frightful ones") and Belgian "Black Jack" Schramme.

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