Chartered accountant turned mercenary dies at 100
Soldier of fortune ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare, who was infamously excluded from ICAEW after a failed coup d’etat in the Seychelles in 1981, died in South Africa aged 100 this week.
Accountants are often unfairly labelled dull or risk-averse, but clearly no one told that to former chartered accountant and infamous mercenary Michael “Mad Mike” Hoare.
From serving as a British army captain in North Africa during the second world war to conducting mercenary operations in the Congolese province of Katanga, Hoare lived a life unlike many accountants.
Hoare qualified as an ICAEW member in 1948 after the second world war and remained a member throughout his mercenary activities. This was a sore point for the institute, which was unable to expel him because his controversial mercenary operations in the Congo were surprisingly not sufficient grounds for exclusion and he always paid his membership subscription on time.
But the end of Hoare’s mercenary career also spelled the end of his ICAEW membership. In 1981 Mad Mike attempted to overthrow the socialist government in the Seychelles. Hoare and his mercenary team’s plan collapsed before they left Seychelles International Airport. Disguised as a Johannesburg beer-drinking club, the men didn’t make it through customs after one of the men accidentally joined the “something to declare” line and an officer discovered an AK-47 hidden beneath the false bottom of their luggage.
A fight broke out which led to the Hoare and his team hijacking an Air India Boeing aircraft and forcing the pilot to fly them to South Africa. Hoare was later found guilty for his role in the hijacking.
Not only was Hoare sentenced to 10 years in prison, of which he served three, but now with a criminal record, the institute had enough reason to exclude him in 1983. “If there’s one thing that bloody hurts, it’s that,” joked Hoare about his ban.
Although Hoare’s name is synonymous with his military career and mercenary adventures, accountancy was part of his life before all of that. He started his training soon after leaving Margate College before the outbreak of WWII.
Whatever his skills as an accountant, Hoare’s mercenary activity will be what he’s remembered for. Aside from the Seychelles debacle, the most notorious episode saw Hoare lead his 5 Commando unit along with Belgian paratroopers to rescue over 1,000 civilian hostages held by Simba rebels in Stanleyville in Operation Dragon Rouge.
Hoare’s 5 Commando strikes were driven in part by his desire to “rid the Congo of the greatest cancer the world has ever known—the creeping, insidious disease of communism”.
His life even inspired the 1978 film The Wild Geese, where Richard Burton’s Colonel Faulkner’s character was reportedly based on Hoare.
It’s tough to think of anyone else who demolished the dull accountant stereotype as completely as Hoare, who is a shoe-in for induction to AccountingWEB’s Born Dull?! pantheon.
In recent years, though, AccountingWEB’s Born Dull?! coverage has seen other numbercrunchers shirk off the staid stereotype and become real-life action heroes. The most recent was Chris Norman, the former partner at Deloitte who collected France’s highest honour for valour – the Legion d’honneur. Along with three off-duty US servicemen, the former Deloitte enterprise risk services partner threw caution to the wind and tackled an armed terrorist on a train bound for Paris in 2015.
Assuming that he “was probably going to die anyway” Norman told a press conference: “I’d rather die being active, trying to get him down, than simply sit in the corner and be shot.”
It’s a fitting tribute to Hoare, who lived by the philosophy: “You get more out of life by living dangerously.”
Which, as his son pointed out to CNN, “makes his hundred [years] all the more extraordinary".