Mike Hoare was a dangerous man: he was a 'dreamer of the day'

Here's an apt quotation from TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia): "All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."

Mike Hoare was a dreamer of the day. He acted on his dream. His dream was that he would go to the Congo and stop the Reds there. No way was he going to sit and watch the communists come south and grab the gold in South Africa, as well as strategic command of the sea route around the Cape.

Very few men put their hands up to join him, of course. He was unusual … in a polite sort of way. This is how I describe him in the Introduction to the biography on Mike's whole life, 'Mad Mike' Hoare: The Legend:

Not everyone agreed with the usual description of Mike Hoare – an officer and a gentleman. Some said there was a bit of pirate thrown in. A few said he was mad. One of his officers said he was ruthless.
But everyone agreed he was that rare breed, someone who 'got off his backside and did something about what he believed in'. He believed that the communists were going to take over the Congo and then the countries to the south, including his adopted country, South Africa. He wasn't going to have his children and grandchildren growing up speaking Russian, no sir, so he took the fight to the Reds …

Although he was also called a 'gentleman adventurer', Mike described himself as 'a genuine adventurer', saying adventure had motivated nearly everything he had done. He identified with Sir Francis Drake, and relished the idea of bringing Spanish booty back for the queen who would make you a knight. 'You were respectable – even though you were a thief,' he said.

He had got off to a good start during World War 2 when he was called 'the best bloody soldier in the British Army'; after the war, he embraced the then popular philosophy that you get more out of life by living dangerously. This enigmatic and sometimes sentimental swashbuckler was, by contrast, also a literary man who loved words, paper, writing, books and Shakespeare.

He found relevance in the lines from George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman where Mendoza says in Act III: 'Sir, I will be frank with you. Brigandage is abnormal. Abnormal professions attract two classes: those who are not good enough for ordinary bourgeois life and those who are too good for it. We are dregs and scum sir, the dregs very filthy, the scum very superior.'

Was he mad, or just adventurous, or both? Was he 'dregs very filthy', or 'scum very superior'?

Chris Hoare
Mike Hoare in 4 Commando in the Congo, 1961.

Go to our Order Form for some of Mike Hoare's books, and Chris Hoare's 'Mad Mike' Hoare: The Legend. Or send your postal address, postal code and tel or cell number to chris@madmikehoare.com for a quote.

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