HOTCHKISS M201 (1959) - 2REP

Steve Wady's 1959 Hotchkiss bears the insignia of 2REP. The vehicle (as seen here fitted with radial tyres) is pretty much as it would have looked serving in Zaire with 2REP in 1978.

Operation 'Leopard' was launched on 18th May when 2REP were dispatched on a mercy mission from Corsica to Zaire via Chad to rescue three thousand European residents caught up in the looting of Kolwezi by Katangan 'Tiger' rebels from Angola.

On the 19th May 500 men (the initial number was limited by the lack of available Zairian Army transport planes) were dropped over Kolwezi. The town was largely secured within two hours during which over 100 rebels were killed.

A second wave of Legionnaires was dropped the following day and the operation to clear rebels from the town was soon completed. Patrols were sent out in jeeps ( some armed with AA52 machine guns ) and the surrounding area was cleared by the 25th May.

The operation was completed at a human cost of five Legionnaires killed and twenty wounded. The majority of hostages were released, though sadly the Legionnaires reached the Impala Hotel too late to save those held inside who had all been shot by the Katangese.

2REP were replaced by an African Multi-National Force on the 8th June and returned to their base in Corsica.

HHotchkiss M201s with the Foreign Legion in Chad.