Tag Archives: mad mike hoare

Vale, Ian Yule

One of the unsung great character actors of British/South African martial films, Ian Yule, passed away last week in Chichester, West Sussex, aged 87, where he had been retired since 2015 under the good auspices of the South African Legion and The Honourable Artillery Company.

Volunteering for the British Army as a gunner in the Royal Artillery, and later as a cherry beret-wearing Para, he fought in Korea before leaving the official military for one that was more unofficial— that of Mad Mike Hoare’s 5 Commando in the Congo. From there, he served in points further south, ending his active uniformed service with the SADF during the Bush War period.

Noted for his role as SAS mercenary private military contractor Tosh Donaldson in the 1978 film The Wild Geese— where he also served as a technical advisor alongside Hoare himself– Yule also appeared in Shangani Patrol (1970), Zulu Dawn (1979), and Shamwari (1982), among others, usually as a grizzled British NCO, which was probably an easy lift. In all, he would appear as a stuntman in another 50 films including Ben-Hur (1959) and The Longest Day (1962).

Mad Mike is still kicking

“Mad” Mike Hoare (center) somewhere in the Congo.

For those who are fans of Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner and grew up reading about the exploits of the various traveling warriors during the “Golden age of mercenaries” that was Africa in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, it may surprise you to find that the most resilient of the breed, Col. Thomas Michael “Mad Mike” Hoare, is still very much alive. A veteran of the London Irish Rifles in WWII’s Burma campaign, commander of 5 Commando in the Congo (there were no #1, #2, #3, or #4 Commando brigades), and the later Seychelles affair, he has lived a charmed life.

In fact, the Irishman is set to turn 100 next St. Patrick’s Day.

More here, in an interview with his son, at SOF (where else?).