Sgt P. MULCAHY DSM Branch of ONE
With the Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony & Mass for the 60th anniversary of A Coy 36 Inf Bn this Sunday we look at one member whom our branch in McKee Bks is named after.
Sgt P. MULCAHY DSM Branch of ONE
Who was Sgt Paddy Mulcahy?
Paddy was a ‘Gunner’ to the core serving only in the Artillery Corps during his service from the Emergency in 1943 to his final Unit, 36 Inf Bn ONUC. Paddy’s Military Service commenced during the Emergency with 1 FAR from Jan 1943 to Nov 1945. In November 1946 he re-enlisted in the PDF and saw service with Depot Artillery, 2nd Field Artillery Regiment and 6th Field Artillery Regiment. During his service with the Artillery Corps, he became fully competent and qualified in a variety of weapons and was promoted Sgt in April 1958.
In his younger days, he was a versatile sportsman and excelled at Hurling and Boxing at both Command and All Army level. He successfully completed the IABA Coaching Course and became a recognised Boxing Coach throughout the Defence Forces.
In November 1961 he was selected for Overseas Service with ‘A’ Coy 36 Inf Bn and during the preparatory training in the Glen of Imaal and Cathal Brugha Bks. Paddy quickly established himself as a very competent and popular NCO and was held in very high esteem by his superiors and subordinates alike. He departed Dublin on 18 November 1961 as a member of the Advance Party of 19 Officers, 24 NCOs and 7 privates. It took them all of 4 days to reach their destination in Elizabethville. The main body of the 36th Bn deployed to the Congo in twenty separate chalks from 05 to 24 December 1961. They did so in the full knowledge that hostilities were inevitable.
36th Bn were informed they were going into a warlike situation in Elizabethville. The Battalion Chaplains Rev Frs Cyril Crean, HCF, and Colm Matthews CF imparted Absolution after which personnel left on the last leg of their journey for the flight to Elizabethville on 7 December 1961. While coming in to land, they received a very hostile reception with one of the Globemasters receiving 40 hits from ground fire resulting in one engine knocked out and two outboard fuel tanks punctured but the aircraft landed safely with no injuries. They eventually reached their destination – Leopold Farm, where they took over various positions and trenches from the 35th Bn.
It should be noted that the 36th Bn went out as Peacekeepers but quickly became Peace Enforcers and were then on Active Service as were the 35th Bn they were replacing. (The exploits of A Coy 35 Inf Bn are now widely known for their valiant and courageous exploits at the Battle of Jadotville). During the following days ‘A’ Coy were subjected to constant sniper, machine gun and heavy mortar fire and strafing from the air.
On Fri 8 December Paddy was wounded by shrapnel from the mortar that killed Cpl Mick Fallon. He received a painful wound to his right forearm when a mortar fragment passed through the body of his Gustaf and lacerated his arm. Having received medical attention, he insisted on re-joining his section.
On Tue 12 December he was wounded a second time by mortar shrapnel and died from his wounds on Sat 16 December, aged 36, on the day that the legendary Bn-In-Attack at the Battle of the Tunnel took place. Two further casualties occurred, those of Lt Pat Riordan and his radioman Pte Andy Wickham who were killed in action leading the assault and capture of the tunnel.
Paddy’s death was a tremendous loss to his comrades and to his wife Marie and their four young children – Danny, Philomena, Margaret and Paul.
As a result of his bravery, leadership and devotion to duty, Paddy was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) with the following citation:
“For distinguished service with the United Nations Force in the Republic of the Congo, in displaying leadership and devotion to duty to a high degree. Although painfully wounded during hostilities in December 1961, he refused to leave his platoon and subsequently, whilst looking after his men, he received the wound from which he died.”
It is also now very clear from the Unit History in the recommendation of his CO Comdt Joe Fitzpatrick for the award of the DSM that “looking after his men” as quoted in the citation was in fact the act of withdrawing from a secure trench position to assist the cook with feeding his men. It was at this time while walking towards the cook that a mortar fell behind him and caused the severe wound from which he later died.
Paddy’s sons, Danny and Paul later followed him into the Defence Forces. Paul pursued a career in the Ordnance Corps and served overseas in Lebanon. He retired from 2 Grn AOC as Sgt Artificer in March 1999.
Danny served in the S&T Corps and overseas in Lebanon, Somalia, Zagreb in the former Yugoslavia with ECMM and in Ethiopia with EUMS. He retired as BQMS in January 2009.
In 1998, The Military Star was awarded posthumously to Sgt Patrick Mulcahy DSM and was accepted on behalf of the Mulcahy Family by his son, CQMS Danny Mulcahy, from the Minister of Defence, Mr Michael Smith TD and Chief of Staff, Lt Gen David Stapleton at a ceremony in Collins Bks Dublin.
The Mulcahy family have generously loaned Paddy’s medals and other memorabilia to the Soldiers and Chiefs Exhibition at the National Museum, Collins Barracks.
Down through the years’ the Artillery Corps has always remembered and honoured Sgt Paddy Mulcahy as one of their own, from the erection of a small plaque in the oratory at Magee Bks in 1965 to as recently as 2021, when the Artillery Corps once again remembered the Gunner with honour and pride when 2 Bde Arty Regt named their recruit platoon of 2021 as, not just a number as had been the practice heretofore but gave the platoon the designation, the Sgt Paddy Mulcahy DSM platoon.
Paddy’s name also lives on in the ONE through the Sgt P. Mulcahy DSM Branch which was formed in McKee Bks in the mid-seventies under the chairmanship of Paddy Dunleavy (Ex Grn S&T). The branch was named in remembrance of Paddy and the naming was influenced by Paddy’s service in the Bks for most of his career with 2 FAR and the fact that he was the first Artilleryman to lose his life on active service overseas. The aforementioned Danny and Paul Mulcahy are now members of the Branch.
Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony of A Coy 36 Inf Bn at the UN Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery this Sunday 12th Dec at 9:45am followed by Mass at 11am in the Grn Church McKee Bks in remembrance of members of A Coy 36 Inf Bn.
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