The Ulster Defence Regiment
was an infantry regiment
of the British
which became operational in 1970, formed on similar lines
to other British reserve forces but with the operational role of
defence of life or property in Northern Ireland against armed
attack or sabotage. The UDR, a military force, replaced the
("B-Specials") along with a separate police
reserve, to assist the regular Armed Forces. It was the largest
infantry regiment in the British Army, formed with seven battalions
and an extra four added within two
The regiment consisted overwhelmingly of part-time volunteers until
1976 when a full time cadre was added. Recruiting from the local
community at a time of intercommunal strife, it was accused of
sectarian attitudes and collusion with loyalist
paramilitary organisations through
most of its term. The regiment was intended to be nonpartisan
, and it began with Catholic recruits
accounting for 18% of membership. However, in time suspicion and
disenchantment among the Catholic community grew, and Catholic
membership settled at around 3%.
In 1992 the Regiment was amalgamated with the Royal Irish Rangers
to form the Royal Irish Regiment
According to Joseph Ruane and Jennifer Todd, the ethos of the
Northern state was "unashamedly and unambiguously sectarian,"
although Senia Paseta argues that discrimination was never as
calculated as nationalists maintained nor as fictional as unionists
claimed. The Northern Ireland civil
which began in the mid-1960s attempted to
achieve reform by publicising, documenting, and lobbying for an end
to abuses in areas such as housing, unfair electoral procedures,
discrimination in employment and the Special
. Their main demands had been for measures to bring
an end to the religious discrimination, their catch-cry being
‘one-man, one-vote.' The summer of 1968 then saw the first of a
series of civil rights marches while in Britain, concern was raised
at these reports of gerrymandering
job discrimination and triumphalist use of British national
symbols. The security forces were and remained disproportionately
Protestant and frequently sectarian.
Internationally, there was concern with civil and minority rights
with Northern Ireland part of this international trend. The
Ireland Civil Rights Association
therefore secured much wider
international and internal support than traditional nationalist
protest. According to the authors of Northern Ireland:
1921/2001 Political Forces and Social Classes
, the one area
which exemplified the formation of the northern state was the
constitution of the security forces. They say that the strategy
pursued by the Unionist middle class along with the British
governments diplomatic strategies were responsible for the
establishment of a sectarian-populist flavour in the Northern
Ireland. With the formation of the Northern state, the
establishment of an independent paramilitary force had been
anticipated. This populist Protestant self-assertiveness and
official endorsement would shape the Catholic attitudes to both the
security forces and the state.
Disbanding of the Ulster
or "B Specials" was therefore one of the
demands of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. The
security forces membership heavily overlapped with the Orange Order
, likewise the ruling Ulster Unionist Party
, and were
therefore according to Constantine Fitzgibbon
, the armed
branch of the Order, which he says controlled the new mini-state.
Together, the B Specials and the RUC were viewed by many
nationalists as the “Protestant armed wing of the Protestant
political establishment.” Many in the RUC, and virtually all the B
Specials, were according to Ruane and Todd, defenders of the
Protestant community first, defenders of the protestant state
second, and normal policemen third. The clashes between marchers
and loyalists they say, forced them to take sides, undermining any
claims they had to be normal policemen. As the civil rights
campaign began it was attack by loyalist mobs, the RUC and B
Specials looked on or actively took part in the attacks.
Following the 1969 Northern
policing in Northern Ireland was reviewed by the
The Ulster Defence Regiment was created in 1970 by Act of Parliament
recommendations from the Hunt Report
The report was commissioned by the Government of Northern
to: "examine the recruitment, organisation, structure
and composition of the Royal
(RUC) and the Ulster Special Constabulary
and their respective functions and to recommend as necessary what
changes are required to provide for the efficient enforcement of
law and order in Northern Ireland."
The report, presented in October 1969, recommended that the "R.U.C.
should be relieved of all duties of a military nature as soon as
possible". Further a "locally recruited part-time force, under the
control of the G.O.C., Northern Ireland, should be raised"... and
that the "force, together with the police volunteer reserve, should
replace the Ulster Special Constabulary." The report recommended
that it be replaced with a force that would be "impartial in every
sense" and remove the responsibility of military style operations
from the police force." ,
The British Government
the findings of the Hunt Report and published a Bill
in November 1969 to begin the
process of establishing the UDR.
Bernadette Devlin would not support the
new regiment and from the outset condemned it as a "reincarnation
of the B Specials," In a debate at Westminster Jeremy Thorpe MP
pointed to the fact that a "substantial majority" was to be
recruited from former B Specials and questioned if this was "likely
to increase the chances of general acceptance in Ulster?"
a direct reply Roy Hattersley
out that this was due to "necessity" and that the vast majority of
the Specials were "men who have given good and honourable service
to Northern Ireland." When asked in Parliament if there was an
automatic right of transfer for B Specials, Denis Healey
replied that there wasn't but that
applications would be treated on the grounds of suitability.
debate in the lower house at Stormont, John Hume objected to the
fact that Lt-Col Stephen Miskimmon, the commandant of the B
Specials had, in his final letter to each individual member of the
force, enclosed a form to be completed if the individual concerned
wished to join the RUC Reserve] or Ulster Defence Regiment.
Sir Robert Porter
that these forms were not application forms and had been to
ascertain if members of the B Specials had any previous military
experience and wished to join the new force. He also said that Hunt
had expressed the hope the members of the B Specials would join
"one of the two new forces". The Ministry of Defence issued a
statement which said that Miskimmon's forms were to be ignored and
only the official forms accepted as applications. It further stated
that any future letters of such a nature must be cleared with the
MoD. This was, however, only one of a number of errors which
diluted Catholic confidence in the integrity of the new
debate in the House of Commons at Westminster on 12 November 1969, the possible
role which the B Specials would play in the development of the
[then] proposed Ulster Defence Regiment was debated.
then Minister of State for Defence Roy
stated to the house:
, MP, later in
the debate asked:
The Belfast Telegraph
disagreed. In editorials several days apart its pages declared: "In
no sense can the new Regiment be regarded like the old USC, as a
vigilante force and a law unto itself. Inevitably the members of
the new force will be provided by present B Specials and just as
inevitably it is already being smeared in some quarters as simply
the old force in new uniform. Every effort must be made to ensure
that this is not so. No-one must be able to put a denominational
tag on the UDR and if one of the senior officers in the force
happened to be a Roman Catholic, so much the better.... The
establishment of this new force should be regarded as a turning
point in the life of the community."
Some politicians called for a full implementation of the Hunt Report
which recommended a more neutral
name, a reduction in the proposed size of the force and a ban on
the recruitment of B Specials' county commanders as UDR battalion
such as Constantine
Fitzgibbon, recorded the extreme levels of violence employed
against Catholics by the B Specials in particular, comparing them
to Adolf Hitler's SA.
B-Specials he says, became, for the Catholic minority in the North
of Ireland and for Irish nationalists in all Ireland, “the most
hateful symbol of Orange oppression in the Province.”
The Ulster Defence
Regiment Act 1969
received the Royal
on 18 December 1969, and was brought into force on 1
January 1970 by Statutory
, 1969 No. 1860 (C. 58), The Ulster Defence Regiment
Act 1969 (Commencement) Order 1969, providing the legal framework
for the regiment to be raised.
General Sir John
, KCB DSO
(5th Royal Inniskilling
) was appointed as the first Colonel
and the first regimental commander was Brigadier Logan Scott-Bowden CBE DSO
(A veteran of the Normandy Landings at Omaha Beach).
The Belfast Telegraph
reported on the 18 February 1970 that the first two soldiers
reported as signing up were a 19-year-old Catholic, James McAree
and a 47-year-old Protestant, Albert Richmond.
The response from the B Specials was mixed. Some felt betrayed and
resigned immediately, while others grasped the new opportunity and
made application to join the UDR as soon as forms were available.
The B-Specials had another option open to them after disbandment:
to join the newly-formed RUC Reserve. According to John Potter many
did so, especially in Belfast, where he noted that the B Specials
had received more training as, and were more akin with, policemen,
in contrast to the border districts where the B Specials had
operated in a more military fashion. In Belfast he says, during the
first month of recruiting, only 36 Specials applied to join the UDR
compared to a national average of 29% - 2,424, one thousand of whom
were rejected, mainly on the grounds of age and fitness. Around 75%
of the men of the Tyrone B Specials applied and, as a result, the
6th Battalion started life as the only battalion more or less up to
strength and remained so during its history. The border counties in
general followed this pattern. It also meant that former B Specials
dominated these battalions. The story was different for Belfast,
Londonderry, Down and Antrim, he said, where the figures were
markedly more balanced with a high proportion of Catholic recruits.
The results at 3 UDR were best in this respect. The battalion
commenced duty with 30% of its numbers as Catholic.
Original application form to join the
By the end of March 1970, the number of accepted recruits was 2,440
including 1,423 ex B Specials and 946 Catholics.The breakdown for
each area was:
The table above shows the number of B Specials who joined the
regiment before it began duties. By 1 April 1970, only 1,606 of the
desired 4,000 men had been enlisted, and the regiment began its
duties much under strength.
According to Potter, a number of former members of the B Specials
felt aggrieved at the loss of their force and were not prepared to
join the UDR. In some cases he says, they even booed and jeered
passing UDR patrols and that most resistance was by the B Specials
in County Down where the District adjutant of the Specials actively
campaigned in an effort to persuade B Specials not to apply for to
Potter wrote that unless the numbers of recruits from both
communities reflected the demographics of Northern Ireland, it
would never become the model which Lord Hunt intended it to be.
Whilst Catholics continued to join the regiment he says, the
numbers were never sufficiently high enough, except in 3 UDR. The
3rd (Co. Down) Battalion was, and remained according to Potter, the
unit with the highest percentage of Catholic members throughout the
troubles, beginning with 30%. In 3 UDR some sections he suggests,
were staffed entirely by Catholics and this led to protests from
the B Specials Association that in 3 UDR "preference for promotion
and allocation of appointments was being given to Catholics". This
he suggests can be explained by the fact that the local Territorial Army
of Royal Irish Fusiliers
been disbanded in 1968 and the vast majority of its members had
joined up en-masse.
The new company commander of C Company was the former company
commander of the TA unit and according to Potter, was amazed to see
that virtually all of his TA soldiers were on parade, in the TA
Centre, in the exact same drill hall as they had previously used,
for the first night of the new regiment. He noted according to
Potter, that there were some former B Specials in the room and made
the observation that they did not initially associate with the
others - not on the grounds of religion but because the former TA
soldiers all knew each other socially and sat together on canteen
breaks whereas the B Men kept to their group of comrades but within
a week both groups had melded together.
Many Catholic recruits found themselves reporting for duty in B
Specials drill halls according to Chris Ryder and in some cases the
new Catholic recruits were cold-shouldered or ignored and generally
made to feel unwelcome to the point where they resigned. Despite
this he says, many Catholics stayed in the regiment but following
there was a
general outcry by nationalist politicians because no Protestant
paramilitaries were interned: only Catholics suspected as members
of the IRA. Austin Currie
prominent SDLP MP (whose own brother was a member of the regiment),
on 18 August 1971 publicly withdrew his support for the regiment,
and noted that for some time the IRA had been discouraging
Catholics from joining but following Operation Demetrius more
serious intimidation began to emerge.
The first serving Catholic to be killed was 32-year-old part-time
Private Sean Russell of 7 UDR, who was shot in 1970, in front of
his wife and children, by members of the Irish Republican Army who
burst into his home in the predominantly Catholic area of New
Barnsley, Belfast. The last was part-time Private William Megrath
of 11 UDR who was shot dead in July 1987 as he drove through the
area of west Belfast on
his way home from his civilian job. The worst period he notes was
in the fourteen months following internment
when seven Catholic soldiers
were killed by the IRA. In that period, they numbered 7% of the
regimental strength he says but in terms of the numbers of UDR
soldiers killed by the IRA the percentage was 28%.
The Belfast Telegraph
reported that, as a result of IRA
pressure and disillusionment with the government's attitude towards
the minority community over internment, 25% of Catholics in the
regiment resigned in 1971, 50% of those in the months following
The regiment attempted to halt the exodus of Catholics in a number
of ways Potter notes, including allowing battalion commanders to
appear on television (normally not permitted for the rank of
Lieutenant Colonel at that time), with appeals to religious and
political leaders and the implementation of extra personal-security
measures. Although the Ministry of Defence never
admitted to any intent on the matter, he comments that when
Brigadier Scott-Bowden's term as Commander UDR finished in 1972,
his successor was Brigadier Denis Ormerod, a Catholic whose
mother's family came from the Republic of Ireland. His second-in-command (Deputy Commander UDR),
Colonel Kevin Hill, was also Catholic, as was his successor Colonel
Paddy Ryan, whose father lived in Donaghadee, Co Down.
Ormerod admitted in his memoirs
that his religion and appointment as the senior Catholic Army
officer in Northern Ireland helped him considerably in his rapport
with Catholic religious leaders but that, conversely, these
appointments also created unease with Protestants and he was
visited by a number of concerned politicians including, notably,
A UDR checkpoint
The primary function of the regiment was to assist the Royal Ulster Constabulary
"guarding key points and installations, to carry out patrols and to
establish check points and road blocks" against "armed
guerrilla-type attacks".Patrols and vehicle checkpoints
on public roads were
designed to hinder the activities of paramilitary groups.
As the force was initially predominantly part-time the presence of
its members was mostly felt during evenings and weekends. It was
expected to answer to general call-outs, and was mobilised on a
permanent basis on several occasions such as Operation Motorman
to provide manpower
assistance to the police and Army.
As the regiment evolved into a predominantly full-time unit it
assumed more duties previously assigned to the police or Army in
support of Operation Banner
1980, the full-time element had become the majority and the
regiment's role had expanded to include tactical responsibility for
85% of Northern Ireland supporting the Royal Ulster
is the term now applied
to the policy by the British
to reduce regular Army troop numbers in Northern
Ireland and bring local forces into the front line as a result of
international opinion about British soldiers being used in what
could viewed as a "colonial occupation". Also known as
"Criminalisation", "Normalisation" or "Police Primacy". One of the
major changes in policy was to return control of internal security
matters to the Royal Ulster Constabulary which had effectively been
under the command of the Army since the Scarman and Hunt reports
which called for the restructuring of the severely-undermanned
force of 1969. In a report commissioned in 1976, recommendations
were made which included:
- An increase in the establishment of the RUC and RUC
- The creation of RUC "mobile support units".
- An increase in the conrate establishment of the UDR to enable
it to take over tasks from the regular Army.
- The UDR to provide a 24-hour military presence.
Despite the rapid induction of 300 extra recruits to the UDR and
the raising of operations platoons, the scheme was hampered by the
shortfall of conrate officers in the UDR who could take on the role
of operations officers. It also placed a heavier demand upon senior
NCOs trained as watchkeepers in the operations rooms, or "comcens"
(an abbreviation for communications centres) at UDR bases.
The term "Ulsterisation" was coined by the media. The then
Assistant Chief Constable of the RUC, Jack
, summed it up when he said, "Ulstermen need to learn to
live together and be policed by Ulstermen. If they have to kill,
let them kill each other, not English soldiers."
Unlike the B Specials, who were controlled by the Stormont
in Belfast, the new regiment would be under the
direct command of the General
(GOC) Northern Ireland, the commander of the
British Army in the province. Throughout the existence of the
regiment, policy was decided in conjunction with a six-man
committee (three Protestant and three Catholic) chaired by the
. Its brief was
"to advise the G.O.C. General Officer Commanding, Northern Ireland,
on general policy for the administration of the Ulster Defence
Regiment, in particular on recruitment policy; and on such specific
matters as the G.O.C. might refer to the Council."
A working committee was then set up at Army Headquarters, Northern
Ireland (HQNI) under the chairmanship of Major General A. J.
Dyball. The team also included a staff officer from the Ministry of
Defence (MOD) in London, a member of the Ministry of Home Affairs
Lieutenant Colonel S Miskimmon, the USC staff officer to the RUC.
As a result of their discussions they advocated a strength of 6,000
men (2,000 more than the Hunt recommendations), combat dress for
duties, a dark green parade uniform, county shoulder titles and a
"red hand of Ulster
" cap badge.
The rank of "volunteer" was suggested for private soldiers. They
also recommended that each battalion should have a mobile force of
two platoons equipped with Land Rovers
fitted for radio and that they would also carry "manpack" radio
After presentation to the Ministry of Defence, a Government White
Paper was produced which confirmed the agreed aspects of the new
force and its task as:
The force would be commanded by a regular army brigadier.
Battalions were to be commanded by "local members of the
UDR Main Gate sign denoting which
companies are in barracks
were initially raised,
making it the largest infantry regiment in the British Army. Two
years later, four more battalions were added, taking the total to
eleven. Until 1976 the full-time cadre consisted only of a
"conrate" (so called because they had a "consolidated rate of pay")
whose duties consisted of guarding UDR bases and carrying out
administrative tasks. It was then decided to expand the role of the
regiment by raising full-time platoons
perform duties on a twenty-four hour basis. The first of these was
raised at 2 UDR under the command of a sergeant
. By the end of the 1970s the full-time
had been raised to sixteen platoons. As
these "Operations Platoons" were expanded to company strength,
eventually the conrate role was phased out with full-time UDR
soldiers undertaking their own guard duties and
The regiment was described in 1972 as:
- "Organised into 11 Battalions and 59 companies: there are two
battalions in Belfast and the remainder cover county or sub-county
areas. Seven of the eleven Battalions are commanded by Regular
Commanding Officers. In addition the Training Majors,
Quartermaster, Regimental Sergeant Majors, Chief Clerks, and
Signaller NCOs are also Regulars. There are a number of 'Conrate'
(full time UDR) posts in each unit, including Adjutants, Permanent
Staff Instructors, Security Guards, etc. Many of the officer and
senior rank Conrates are ex-Regulars. The remainder are
part-timers. Their main tasks are guarding key points, patrolling,
and surveillance, and manning Vehicle Check Points. They do not
operate in the 'hard' areas of Belfast, and are not permitted to
become involved in crowd confrontations anywhere. Men are armed
with self-loading rifles or sub-machine guns. The current strength
of the Regiment is 7910."
UDR march past
Initially, seven battalions
immediately making it the largest infantry regiment in the British
Army. Within two years, a further four battalions were added,
taking the total to eleven. To begin with, the regiment's
operational capability consisted entirely of part-time volunteers,
before a full time cadre was added in 1976.
The full-time element of the regiment eventually expanded to
encompass more than half the total personnel. The UDR was the first
infantry regiment in the British Army to fully integrate women into
its structure, when Greenfinches (so-called because of the
code-name used to identify them by radio took over clerical and
signals duties, which allowed male members of the regiment to
return to patrol duties. Greenfinches accompanied many patrols so
that female suspects could be searched.
By 1990, the regiment had stabilised its numbers at 3,000 part-time
and 3,000 full-time soldiers, with 140 attached regular army
personnel in key command and training positions. The standard of
training of the permanent cadre soldiers by this time was so high
that they were used in much the same way as regular soldiers and it
was not uncommon for regular army units to then come under local
command and control of a UDR Battalion Headquarters.
Uniform, armament & equipment
Royal Ulster Rifles cap badge
No4 Lee Enfield Rifle
An SLR rifle similar to those used by
the Ulster Defence Regiment
The Enfield SA80
Lynx helicopter similar to those used
by the UDR
Carl Gustav grenade launcher as used
by UDR boat sections.
On operational duty male members of the regiment dressed in a
similar fashion to regular army units. Camouflage jackets were worn
and headgear was a distinctive green beret with a gold coloured
"Maid of Erin" style harp, surmounted by the Royal crown (in later
years this was dulled down by blackening). Female "Greenfinch"
members wore rifle green skirts and combat jackets with the UDR
beret and cap badge. For ceremonial occasions the men wore the
standard British Army No.2 Dress uniform (also called
). The female "best dress" was a rifle green
jacket and skirt. The beret was retained as headgear. (The badge
was a direct copy of the Royal
cap badge with the motto removed from its base).
On the formation of Operations Platoons, narrow coloured slides
were adopted and worn on the shoulder straps in battalion colours
which indicated these were full time soldiers to the trained eye.
These were dispensed with as the Operations Platoons were merged
into full time rifle companies. Rank was the same as the
conventional ranks for infantry NCO's
and the insignia
was worn in the same fashion.
- Due to equipment and uniform shortages the early image of the
regiment was of a rag-tag bunch using World
War II weaponry, old army uniforms and carrying pockets full of
loose change in order to make reports from public telephone boxes.
Many of the soldiers were veterans of earlier campaigns with the
British Army or had been in the Special Constabulary and were
middle-aged, this earned them the public nickname of "Dad's Army"
after the sobriquet given to the Home Guard during World War II.
Separate reports from the army's "Soldier Magazine" from 1970 and 1977 illustrate the differences in age and
The most familiar weapon associated with the regiment was the
standard issue L1A1 Self Loading
, referred to as the "SLR". Other weaponry was available
however such as; the 9 mm Browning pistol
, the Sterling sub machine gun
L4A4 Light Machine Gun
and the L7A2 General Purpose Machine Gun
. Small stocks of
Federal Riot Guns
were also kept. These
were used to fire plastic bullets
knock down doors and other obstacles during search operations. A
small number of Carl
84 mm grenade launchers were also kept but rarely
deployed as the weapon was unsuited to most operations. (see Boat
Sections below). SLRs were replaced in 1987 by the SA80
- For personal protection off duty most members were issued with
a Walther PPK but Major Ken Maginnis
acquired permission for UDR soldiers to purchase Browning 9mm pistols at £200 each. These
were deemed to be more effective. In the late 1980s the PPK was
replaced by the Walther P5 which was
considered a more practical weapon because of its size and
ballistic capabilities. Where a soldier was considered to be at
high risk he would be permitted to hold his rifle at home in
addition to his personal protection handgun. This policy was known
as "weapons out" and was reduced by 75% when the more modern SLR
replaced the No4 Lee Enfield in 1973 due
to the high number of rifles stolen by paramilitaries.
- Most of the stolen weapons were taken by Loyalist gangs but a
number of soldiers lost their lives when confronted by members of
the IRA who had entered their homes by force to steal rifles. The
"weapons out" policy was eventually discontinued on the
introduction of the SA80 rifle.
The standard patrol vehicle was the 3/4 ton Land Rover
throughout the British armed forces. Following withdrawal from
police service a number of Shorland armoured cars
to the regiment but these were rarely used after initial service
because the turret was designed to hold a General Purpose Machine
Gun which was deemed unsuitable for urban use due to its rapid rate
of fire and tendency to be inaccurate. The Shorland was not popular
with soldiers who used it due to its instability on the road
because of the heavy turret although some battalions continued to
use them into the 1980s in border areas because of the increased
protection the plate armour gave over the Makrolon polycarbonate
armour fitted to Land Rovers.
Three-ton and four-ton Bedford trucks were used for large troop
movements. A range of unmarked civilian cars and vans was also used
for staff, administration and covert activities.
- The Ulster Defence Regiment was also deployed by helicopters
supplied by either the Royal Air
Force or Army Air
Corps for rapid insertion or for duties in border areas where
it was unsafe or unwise to use wheeled transport.
At first there were not enough radios to issue to each patrol and
those which were available were of the PYE "Bantam" type used by
the police, which did not have a great enough effective range. As a
result UDR patrols were issued with pockets of small change to use
in telephone boxes in order to effectively report back to base.
When radios were issued they were of the type used by the regular
army such as Larkspur A41 manpacks, B47 and C42 vehicle mounted
time these were replaced with "Stornophones" as vehicle sets which
had preselected frequencies operating on the NINET rebroadcast
system which worked through masts strategically placed on various
highpoints throughout Northern Ireland such as Slieve Croob.
Pyephones continued to be used for foot
patrols but the range of these sets gradually improved. Each
battalion was able to communicate with other battalions using C42's
and B47's installed in the battalion or company Operations Room or
Communications Centre (Comcen) as well as the BID system of cryptic
coding and "scrambled telephone system."
battalions were supplied with rigid Dory craft for patrolling
waterways shared with the Republic of Ireland in an attempt to prevent gun running across these
narrow channels (such as Carlingford Lough).
Assisted by land based radar, these fast
boats were armed with General Purpose Machine Guns and carried a
tank weapon in addition to the rifles and sub-machine guns normally
carried by soldiers. After a report submitted by 3 UDR in 1972 HQ
Northern Ireland requested a navy patrol vessel to be permanently
stationed in the centre of Carlingford Lough to assist with
suppression of gun-running. This suggestion was adopted and to the end of
the security situation a small warship was on station off the coast
off the Warrenpoint/Rostrevor shoreline.
This intervention was called
Operation Grenada. Gun-running across these coastal estuaries
ceased as a result.
Search dogs were originally provided by the regular army but
eventually a UDR dog section was formed to provide more immediate
assistance in search operations.
All members of the British Armed Forces, including the UDR, carried
a number of small information cards to assist in the execution of
their duties in Northern Ireland. These were generally referred to
by their colour.
- The Yellow Card was a list
of the rules for opening fire.
- The Blue Card was a detailed explanation of how arrests were to
- The White Card was to be given to next of kin or other
appropriate person in the event of an arrest of a suspect.
- The Green Card carried instructions on how to deal with
accidental cross-border incursion into the Irish Republic and
subsequent arrest by Irish security forces.
- The Red Card contained instructions on how to summon helicopter
support and the drills for entering and leaving helicopters.
- The Yellow Card was seen as particularly important and all
soldiers were taught to be entirely familiar with its content as it
contained specific instructions to be followed when opening fire on
a suspected enemy. Warnings were to be issued to allow suspects to
surrender. Soldiers could only shoot without warning when: "if
there is no other way to protect themselves or those whom it is
their duty to protect from the danger of being killed or seriously
Major George Lapsley
The men who joined the UDR came from various backgrounds. One of
the first to join was George Lapsley, a World War Two veteran who
had been a Troop Commander in the Coleraine Battery of the
Territorial Army. His occupation was as the headmaster of a local
primary school. With his previous military experience he was deemed
fit to command and was appointed as Company Commander, E Coy, 5 UDR
In the early days of the regiment female members of the Royal Military Police
patrols when available to enable female suspects to be searched.
There were never enough of these RMP searchers so in 1973 an act
was passed in Parliament to recruit women into the regiment for
this purpose. On 16 August 1973 a regular army officer from the
Women's Royal Army Corps
Major Eileen Tye, took up the post of "Commander Women" at HQUDR.
By September 352 had been enrolled and the first enlistments were
carried out at 2 UDR's HQ in Armagh on the 16th.
A UDR Greenfinch
Uniforms were a problem as the only available clothing was mostly
surplus from WWII
but this was resolved in time although many women were unhappy with
the semi-formal skirts and knee length boots which had to be worn
in all weathers. The women soldiers also wore a silk cravat in
their battalion colour.
WO2 Brooker from the WRAC was assigned to train the women in a one
week course consisting of drill, army organisation, map reading,
searching of women and vehicles, radio procedure and basic first
The first recruits were largely from the executive professional
classes which was unusual because it was the males from those
social types who were most reluctant to join the UDR. Some were
wives of serving UDR soldiers and others were married to soldiers
on long-term (accompanied) posting to Northern Ireland.
Greenfinches deploying by Lynx
The country and border battalions welcomed the use of women as they
knew they were an essential in the searching of women suspects but
the city based battalions were slower to see the advantages and to
some extent resented the presence of the women soldiers. In the
short-term however all battalions came to appreciate the value of
having women with patrols. Through time the role of women was
expanded as it was realised that their higher pitched voices were
more suited to radio transmission than men. They were tasked to
relieve RMP women at the city centre segment gates in Belfast and
soon learned how to accept abuse from the public and how to avoid
traps which could be set for them when searching other women; i.e.
razor blades placed in pockets. Women had fewer problems with the
male public who seemed more amenable when questioned by a female.
Some women were trained in the use of "Sea Watch" radar to assist
seaborne patrols from those battalions which had fast boats.
Initially a part time female officer was appointed in each
battalion to supervise the women soldiers but through time the
women came under command of the OC of the company they were
assigned to. In later years some women became battalion adjutants
and company commanders and some were attached to brigade staffs
throughout the Province.
Accommodation for changing and toilet facilities was another
problem faced early on and it took several years for the all male
environments of UDR bases to adapt their infrastructure to suit
The recruitment of women soldiers peaked in 1986 with 286 permanent
cadre and 530 part timers but the establishment never dropped below
700 from 1978 onwards.
Women were never armed on duty, although some were permitted to be
issued (or purchased) personal protection pistols if they were
considered to be at high risk. They were however trained in the use
of weapons and HQUDR ran a women's .22 shooting competition.
Although women in the British Army carry weapons now this change
did not happen until after the UDR was merged with the Royal Irish
Rangers in 1992.
The same issues which affected other servicewomen also affected UDR
Greenfinches. Rules regarding pregnancy, marriage and pay. Early
recruits with children had to provide a signed certificate stating
that their children were properly supervised whilst they were on
The name Greenfinch
applied to the women's UDR comes from
the system of radio "appointment titles" used by the army to
identify certain people or branches of the service. For example;
bomb disposal officers were referred to as "Felix", infantry as
"Foxhound". New titles were introduced when the UDR was established
and soldiers in the regiment were identified as "Greentop". When
women were introduced the appointment title "Greenfinch" was
assigned to them and became their working nickname. It is still
applied today to women in the Royal Irish Regiment
The integration of women into the UDR paved the way for the
disbandment of the Women's Royal Army Corps and the integration of
women into previously male only regiments.
Four Greenfinches were killed as a result of their service with the
regiment between 1974 and 1992.
An excerpt from the instructional
manual "Basic Battle Skills"
According to John Potter, 25% of the new recruits in 1970 had no
previous military or Special Constabulary experience. Training was
done by a training team of regular soldiers attached to each unit
headed up by a Training Major, assisted by former instructors from
the armed forces who were recruits themselves.
The annual training commitment for each soldier was twelve days and
twelve, two hour training periods. Part of the twelve days included
attendance at annual training camp. As an incentive to achieve
this, any soldier who fulfilled his training was given an annual
bounty of £25. Training days also attracted a pay but this was on a
lesser scale than that given for an operational duty.
As with all military recruits, training started with an
introduction to basic battle skills and the book of the same name
which, where possible, was issued to each individual soldier.
Instruction was also given on army pamphlet Shoot to
Letter from the Commanding Officer of
5 UDR to employers - requesting permission for part-time soldiers
to attend annual camp
Part-time UDR soldiers were required to attend an annual camp for a
Rates of pay
|Unmarried Private 1st Class with less than 6 years
||£2. 19 shillings (£2 19/-)
||£3. 3 shillings (£3 3/-)
||£3. 12 shillings (£3 12/-)
||£5. 6 shillings (£5 6/-)
||£7. 2 shillings (£7 2/-)
the formation of the regiment one of the major issues facing
Whitehall was finding officers of enough seniority to appoint
as battalion commanders.
The result was that for the first
year each battalion was commanded by the former County Commandant
of the Ulster Special Constabulary. This was only ever intended to
be a temporary measure as one of the issues of command and control
was to have an officer of field rank from the regular army in
charge of each battalion. The normal rank for this position being
. Using B
Special officers was neither politically expedient or practical
because, although some of these men had previous military
experience, some didn't and the criteria for joining was expressly
stated as "suitability for military service". To have B Specials
battalion commanders hearkened back to the B Specials itself and
the absolute danger was that their appointment would act as a
deterrent to Catholics who might otherwise have joined the regiment
but would be put off by the presence of B Specials.
As the ranks moved down the command structure the problem became
more acute. For each battalion there was a minimum requirement
- 1 Lt Col
- 6 Majors
- 7 Captains
- 25 Lieutenants
- 1 RSM
- 7 Warrant Officers 2nd Class (WO2)
- 25 Sergeants
- 25 Corporals
- 25 Lance Corporals
Finding senior officers and NCO's with enough experience to do the
job was difficult and had the same result as with commanding
officers. These posts were generally filled by older men who had
previous military experience or by former B Specials
On allocating rank to Corporals and Lance Corporals there was
little structure. In some cases the men elected their own NCO's
because of a particular standing in the community, in others they
fell by default to ex-servicemen or to former B Specials officers
with the experience to carry out the tasks of the rank.
The dependency on former B Specials was unsettling for Catholic
recruits, offset in some circumstances by the fact that Catholic
ex-Servicemen were given positions of rank because they had the
experience. This led to unusual situations such as patrols of
former B Specials men being led by a Catholic sergeant or as in the
case of 3 UDR, patrols which were 100% Catholic being led by a
former B Special as their sergeant.
Infiltration by paramilitaries
since its formation, in 1970, the Regiment has been criticized for
bias during The Troubles in Northern
The regiment was infiltrated by, and
colluded with, paramilitary
Weapons assigned to the regiment reported as stolen did reappear
violence. At various
times during its history, official action has been taken to try to
address the criticisms.
Unlike soldiers from the regular Army, the UDR did not live in
barracks. Many lived in Protestant or Catholic enclaves which he
notes, put them within easy reach of paramilitary or community
groups within those areas. The years 1972-73 saw the emergence of
paramilitary threats from loyalists and of the 288 incidents of
intimidation reported, Potter records, all but twelve were from
Protestants who had been threatened from within their own
community. Sometimes this was to gain information, he suggests, or
to persuade members of the regiment to join (or remain within)
Protestant organisations. The intimidation he says, included
incidents of threatening letters and phone calls, abduction, shots
fired from passing cars and off-duty soldiers being
The Social Democratic
and Labour Party
called for the disbandment of the Regiment
from as early as 1974 through the media and by applying pressure
through the Irish government and was Potter suggests, to become the
major conduit for complaints against the regiment from Catholics.
The SDLP remained opposed he says to the regiment and continually
called for its disbandment due to the failure of the GOC to address
the issue of Catholic recruiting and the regimental image. Although
no official support was evident he says from the party leaderships
various party members,Seamus Mallon
did condemn the killing of UDR soldiers and attended their
funerals, such as in the case of Jim Cochrane, a Catholic soldier
from 3 UDR in Downpatrick who was killed in a culvert bomb attack
on 6 January 1980.
In the wake of the Hillsborough
(DUP) began a campaign with the apparent motive
Potter says, of reducing morale in the regiment and causing mass
resignations by "undermining the confidence of soldiers in their
officers". During this period Potter notes, Ian Paisley announced to the press that soldiers
in Ballymena had been requested to report to barracks to be
disarmed prior to the part-time cadre being disbanded.
DUP press office he says, claimed that the use of English officers
and senior NCOs
and Dublin insisting the UDR could not be trusted". and Peter Robinson
, the deputy DUP
Leader, advised soldiers not to co-operate with policemen who were
attached to their patrols as they were there on the "directions of
the Anglo-Irish Council".
Original Anti-UDR poster
Potter believes that this political manoeuvring wasn't for the
"good of the UDR" but an attempt to make the DUP the "main voice of
the Protestant people" and in an effort to address criticisms, the
UDR Advisory council decided to hold briefings for the four main
political parties at HQUDR. Invitations were issued to the Official
Unionist party, the Alliance Party, the DUP and the SDLP he noted
but the DUP didn't attend any briefings however the other three
At the funeral of a member of 2 UDR in Caledon the Archbishop of
Armagh, Dr Robin Eames
made an oration
to the congregation which included the words:
....It [the regiment] has received criticism, often
from those far removed from the dangers it faces, which has been
far from fair or objective. In its increasingly professional
approach to its work its members must never forget their duty to
all members of the community, irrespective of political or
religious outlooks. But the community must never forget what the
UDR is doing day and night for it.
The UDR had a problem throughout its history with infiltration of
its structures by loyalist paramilitaries. Initially, dual
membership of the UDR and Ulster Defence Association
was acceptable to the military authorities as the UDA was not seen
as a threat to the state. The Ulster Volunteer Force
illegal organisation also exploited membership of the UDR and its
potential for widely circulating intelligence files on the
nationalist community throughout its ranks.In the early years of
the regiment's history Loyalist paramilitaries raided (or were
given access to) several UDR barracks and were able to steal
substantial quantities of modern weaponry. Most of these weapons
were subsequently recovered in follow up operations by the UDR but
some were proven to have been used by Loyalist organisations to
carry out murders. A number of UDR soldiers were convicted of
assisting paramilitaries by providing information to enable these
raids to take place.
UFF Paramilitary mural
Loyalist raids were mounted against 2 UDR, 3 UDR, 5 UDR, 7 UDR, 10
UDR, and 11 UDR battalions. In a raid against 2 UDR's Lurgan
company (which later became C Coy, 11 UDR), the guard commander was
later charged and convicted of supplying information to loyalists.
He was later killed in 1975 during an internal Ulster Volunteer Force
soldiers from the 11th Battalion's C Company in Lurgan, who were
also members of the UVF, were convicted of the 1975 killing of
three members of the pop group the
Showband in a UVF attack.
In the same attack two
members of the UDR Portadown company who were also UVF men died in
the premature explosion of their bomb. In 1999 David Jordan, a
former UDR soldier, allegedly broke down in a bar and admitted to
being part of a patrol that killed nationalist
councillor Patsy Kelly
in 1974. Jordan also implicated
former DUP Northern Ireland
member Oliver Gibson
In 1989, twenty-eight UDR soldiers from the same platoon 7/10 UDR
were arrested by the Royal Ulster Constabulary as part of the
. Six of those arrested were later awarded
damages over their arrests however only one was charged with
activities linked to paramilitaries. This caused "intense anger" in
the regiment according to Potter as three hundred police had been
used to surround the homes. In doing so Stevens had identified the
soldiers as members of the UDR to their neighbours, putting their
lives at risk. Eleven soldiers moved house as a result and the
homes of eighteen others were provided with "additional security
measures" at a cost of £25,000.
In June 1987 the Belfast Newsletter
reported, that 7/10
UDR had been infiltrated by the IRA. Private Joe Tracey had been
shot dead as he started a new job on some flats off the Lisburn
Road, Belfast. The UDR according to Potter, accepted that someone
must have informed on him but denied that the IRA had been able to
penetrate the battalion calling the allegation a "wild
incident cited by Potter involved William Bogle of 6 UDR who was
ambushed and killed on 5 December 1972 at Killeter near the Tyrone/Donegal border.
that he was killed by a former member of his own company "possessed
of strong Republican views" and that after the shooting the suspect
moved across the border and is not known to have returned to
In another example, he cites a member of 3 UDR is known to have
been a member of the Irish
and another was suspected of dual membership
of the same faction. An SLR was reported "stolen" from the home of
On 29 November 1972 the GOCNI on instructions from Westminster,
announced that dual membership of UDR and paramilitary
organisations would not be tolerated and began a purge which saw a
thousand members forced to resign from the UDR. Lt Col Dion Beard
) commander of 3 UDR
issued a battalion order: "I will not tolerate any active
participation by members of this battalion in any organisation
which encourages violence... you cannot play in both teams. Either
you believe in law and order applied equally to all men, or you
believe in violence as a means of achieving political ends. In this
respect the UDA is no better than IRA. Not only should you take no
part in UDA activities but you should discourage your fellow
citizens [from doing so]."
Brigadier Michael Bray adopted a zero-tolerance
policy from the beginning of
his tenure as Commander UDR. He instituted a number of safeguards
including monitoring of entire battalions and six month security
reviews of all UDR personnel. Anyone found with even the most
tenuous links to Protestant organisations was dismissed from the
regiment. An "Out-of-bounds" list was produced which included pubs
and clubs known to be frequented by Protestant paramilitaries.
Members of the regiment were cautioned as to whom they should
socialise with. All of this was a concerted effort to remove anyone
with dual membership from the regiment and to prevent peer pressure
The Stevens Report
resulted in a
tightening of control on even the most low-rated intelligence
documents and heightened accountability. For the first time the RUC
were given access to UDR vetting procedures and many members of the
regiment found themselves under police observation for extended
periods of time, in some cases resulting in the expulsion of
soldiers. Stevens agreed that there had been collusion between a
small number of UDR soldiers who had "gravely abused their
positions of trust" but that the issue was not "widespread or
As working conditions and wages improved in the regiment many young
people Potter suggests, saw it as an alternative to unemployment
rather than just a means of expressing their wish to defend
Northern Ireland. Professionalism expanded and there was less
tolerance of members with dual membership. With the almost total
absence of Catholics in the regiment however, and considering the
damage which had already been done, the UDR was unlikely to ever be
free of infiltration by Protestant Paramilitaries and to be unable
to regain the confidence of the minority community. The Bennett
Committee report of 1989 stressed this acutely and recommended that
the regiment be disbanded. A view echoed by Lord Hunt
who had made the original recommendation
for the formation of the force. In Hunt's view the times had
changed, the regiment's role was no longer required, and it was a
time to return the duties of the UDR to the police.
Some suggestions were made as a result of the signing of the
result of these recommendations the post of Deputy Commander UDR
was restored, ten additional senior NCO's were posted in from the
regular army, officer training was increased to six months at the
Military Academy Sandhurst.
- An RUC officer to accompany each patrol.
- The part time element to be discontinued.
- The removal of powers of arrest.
- Restriction to operations carried out in support of the
- A more professional officer corps and better numbers of
According to Potter, efforts were made to
increase the number of RUC officers on patrol with the UDR and the
initial training for part-time soldiers was increased from eight to
fourteen days. In his memoirs the former Irish Taoiseach Garret
noted that by 1986 there had been "a notable
reduction in complaints of harassment of the Nationalist community
by the security forces".
January 1 every year the The National Archives (TNA)—formerly this was done by the Public
Record Office (PRO)—in Kew releases government documents under
the thirty year rule.
draft document, entitled Subversion in the UDR
amongst documents catalogued as DEFE 24/835, released in 2005 and
was uncovered in the PRO by researchers working for the Pat Finucane Centre
and the group,
Justice for the Forgotten. Contents from the document first came to
public attention when they appeared as a series of articles in
The Irish News
on 2 and 3
May 2006. The document is believed to have been prepared by British
military intelligence in August 1973, and explores the issue of
overlapping membership between the UDR and loyalist organisations
in the early years of the Regiment's history.
For the purpose of the paper subversion
was considered to
include a "strong support for, or membership of, organisations
whose aims are incompatible with those of the UDR" and "attempts by
UDR members to use their UDR knowledge, skills, or equipment to
further the aims of such organisations." The 1973 report stated
that an estimated 5-15% of UDR soldiers were directly linked to
loyalist paramilitary groups. That the "best single source of
weapons, and the only significant source of modern weapons, for
Protestant extremist groups was the UDR" and that the British
Government knew that UDR weapons were being used by loyalist
paramilitaries, including the killing of a Roman Catholic civilian
and other attacks.
It estimated that over 200 UDR weapons passed to loyalist
paramilitaries by 1973. The authors of the report expressed concern
that UDR troops may be loyal to "Ulster" alone, rather than to
"Her Majesty's Government
One case cited as "indicative, but not typical," was that of a
member of 1 UDR, described as "a good citizen (the Deputy Chairman
of a District Council)." The report explained how he lived a
" as the OC
of Ballymena UDA, had obtained
ammunition for the UDA and was suspected of illegal arms dealings.
He was however, described by his Commanding Officer as "a model
soldier".The report accepted that very little was known, from an
"intelligence point of view," but that subversion had certainly
resulted in arms losses to Protestant groups on a "significant
scale," though the rate of loss had decreased in 1973 (when the
report was written).
The report found less evidence of subversion from Republican
paramilitaries. It describes "isolated incidents where Catholic UDR
soldiers have 'lost' weapons in suspicious circumstances," but
explained that "neither the number of weapons nor the threat is
thought to be great." The report concludes that the danger of
subversion in the UDR was "enormously heightened" by comparison
with other British Army regiments. It considered a number of
reasons for this, including the circumstances in which it was set
up, the communities from which it recruits, the task it is expected
to fulfil and the political circumstances that have prevailed in
the first two years of its existence. However, it suggested that
any effort to remove members who in the "foreseeable political
circumstances" could possibly operate subversively would have
resulted in a regiment that was "very small."
UDR killings and crime
Of the 40,000 who are recorded as having served in the UDR from
1970-1992, 18 were convicted of murder, 11 for manslaughter. The
regiment was responsible for the shooting dead of 9 people: 3
members of the IRA, one Loyalist hijacker, two joyriders
, an alleged thief, a deaf youth
who could not hear the warnings shouted at him and a man shot
accidentally in a confrontation with a patrol. Between 1970 and
1990, 99 were convicted of assault, and others (no exact figure)
were convicted of armed robbery, weapons offences, bombing,
intimidation and attacks on Catholics, kidnapping, and membership
in the UVF. Only a small fraction of the regiment were involved in
such crime, but the proportion was higher than for the regular
British Army or RUC.
IRA military campaign
Deaths in the Troubles by area.
As the IRA campaign continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the
organisation increasingly targeted RUC officers and Ulster Defence
Regiment servicemen, including when they were off duty.
The regiment was created shortly after the formation of the
Provisional IRA. The campaign pursued by the IRA became and
remained the major target for anti-terrorist action by the UDR.
Although most UDR casualties were ambushed off-duty there were open
actions between the regiment and the IRA which varied in style and
tactics between the urban setting of Belfast and the rural
conditions of what has been referred to as the "Border War".
Corporal Sandy Baxter, 5 UDR, wounded
in a "shoot & scoot" attack.
action by the IRA resulted in
casualties. These were hard to defeat as, when shots were fired,
patrols would immediately take cover, report to battalion
headquarters and wait for backup before engaging in search
operations as the shots were often a prelude to another attack,
such as a bomb. This was known as a "come-on" attack. In the short
length of time this took the sniper team would quickly make their
escape. Other applications of sudden attack of this nature were
referred to as "shoot & scoot" where a gunman would appear
behind the patrol and aim shots between the tail lights of the rear
Land Rover in the hope of hitting those sat in the back of the
vehicle. One such incident is recorded by Ronnie Gamble in his book
"Echo Company" where he recounts a "shoot and scoot" against a 5
UDR patrol in October 1982. In this incident the vehicle commander,
Corporal Sandy Baxter, was shot in the elbow.
A UDR Land Rover damaged in an IED
There were few military style frontal attacks on UDR establishments
but some did occur. Most notably that of 2 May 1974 when up to
forty IRA men attacked the isolated Deanery at Clogher which was being used as a base by a company from 8
A sustained attack lasted for approximately twenty
minutes during which the base was hit by rockets, mortars and
Another method of attack was an ambush on rural roads. Commencing
with the detonation of an IED
which, if successful would
knock out one of the two vehicles normally in a patrol (usually the
Shorland armoured car because it housed the rapid firing General
Purpose Machine Gun), the bomb would be followed up by small arms
fire. In some cases the nearest available cover (such as hedgerows)
would contain another IED which would be detonated if any soldiers
sheltered there. During these actions it was not uncommon to have
both side exchanging a high volume of small arms fire.
The IRA developed a number of home-made mortars. Referred to
colloquially as barrack-busters
These were normally deployed by fixing them to the back of a
commercial vehicle such as a builder's lorry. The vehicle would be
parked in a position near a barracks and the devices fired by
timing device or remote controlled detonator sending large missiles
made from gas cylinders into the barracks compound. The largest of
these devices used was twelve tubes fired at once at 3 UDR's
Kilkeel base "The Abbey" in 1992.
Because the UDR did not live in barracks like the soldiers of
conventional regiments but instead lived at home, in many cases
with families, they were more vulnerable to off-duty attacks. A
number of UDR personnel applied for and were issued with personal
weapons. Some of these were stolen without resistance from members
homes. The part time cadre tended to be most at risk as they had
day jobs which often took them to unsafe areas. Most of the UDR
personnel killed in the Troubles were killed off duty.
Between 1 April 1970 and 30 June 1992, a total of 197 soldiers were
killed as active servicemen. Another 61 members were killed after
they had left the UDR. Three members of the UVF and one of the UDA
killed during the conflict were also soldiers of the regiment at
the time of their deaths.
Two UDR soldiers were killed by the regular army, three by loyalist
paramilitaries, and the remaining
192 by republican paramilitaries (mainly the Provisional IRA). Four
Greenfinches were killed during the
, Private Eva Martin, L/Cpl Jean Leggett, Cpl Heather
Kerrigan and Pte Margaret A. Hearst.
During this time members of the UDR were responsible for the
killing of six civilians and two members of the IRA.
Pipes & Drums of the RIR at the
Each battalion had a number of pipers and these musicians
participated in a centralised pipe band
formally called the Pipes & Drums of the Ulster Defence
Regiment. Its uniform followed the traditional military dress for
Irish pipers, consisting of a saffron kilt, bottle-green "Prince
Charlie" jacket, bottle-green cape and bottle-green caubeen
adorned with a double-size cap badge. Unlike
other Irish regiments in the British Army, UDR pipers did not wear
and the lining colour of the cloaks
was unique to the regiment.
1986, the regiment held its only tattoo for two days in good
weather at Ravenhill
rugby ground, Belfast.
Some of the attractions for the
12,000 people who attended were:
- the Red Devils
- Greenfinches abseiling from the top of one of the
- UDR dogs;
- a mock ambush;
- beating the retreat with the Pipes & Drums of the UDR plus
the bands of the Duke
of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment and the RUC.
The crowd is reported to have created a "deeply moving" moment by
humming the evening hymn "The Day Thou Givest".
Only one UDR Pipes & Drums recording was publicly released: the
5 UDR Pipes & Drums "Irish & Scottish Pipe Music", which
includes recordings of the regimental and battalions marches as
well as other popular tunes.
Options for Change and amalgamation
fall of the Berlin
Wall the United Kingdom began to reduce the size of its
armed forced under the working title of Options for Change.
of the army was to be reduced from 160,000 to 110,000; the infantry
to reduce from 55 battalions to 38. The GOC saw this as a perfect
opportunity to streamline the UDR and also remove some of the more
"intractable problems" with regards to image and career prospects.
In a revolutionary plan he decided to merge the UDR with the
Royal Irish Rangers
; in the
opinion of one author for the first time in history incorporating
part-time soldiers into the regular army. The hope among the top
brass in British Army was that the process of amalgamation with the
Rangers, coupled with the change of name, would be a fresh start
for what he says was a discredited UDR. The Rangers had recruited
people from the South of Ireland, many of whom were Catholic and
this would aid the process.
"Project Infancy" would also ensure that the Royal Irish Rangers
did not lose their training facilities and presence in Northern
Ireland as the last Irish infantry battalion of the line. The UDR,
which was not regular "line" infantry was, in the words of one
commander, "like a fish without feathers". Incorporation as
infantry of the line might provide UDR officers with career
prospects which mirrored those of the regular army and hopefully
resolve the problem of recruiting junior officers. From a political
perspective, the Royal Irish Rangers recruited from all over
Ireland and had a much higher proportion of serving Catholics, many
from the Republic of Ireland. To the GOC the prospect of having a
larger number of Catholic officers and NCO's in the UDR would
dampen much of the political furore surrounding the regiment.
The plan was approved by early summer 1991 and proposed:
- The 2 battalions of the Royal Irish Rangers would amalgamate to
create a single "General Service" battalion.
- The existing nine UDR battalions would be reduced to seven and
designated "Home Service".
- The part-time element would remain in the Home Service element
but the new structure provided for general reduction when the time
- The new regiment would be called the Royal Irish Regiment, reusing a
name which had been lost as part of the disbandment of many famous
Irish infantry regiments on partition in 1922.
In return the UDR would receive:
The proposals were generally welcomed at senior level but there was
predictable worry amongst the ranks that this was a precursor to
disbandment. A fear exacerbated by the Unionist political parties,
particularly the DUP who immediately relaunched their 1989 "Hands
Off the UDR" campaign.
Awards, honours and decorations
The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross
The Queen's Gallantry Medal
The most notable award to the Ulster Defence Regiment was the
made by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second in 2007.
This unit citation confers the right of the regiment to be known as
The Ulster Defence Regiment CGC. During the award ceremony in
Belfast the Queen paid tribute to the regiment by saying "Your
contribution to peace and stability in Northern Ireland is unique."
"Serving and living within the community had required "uncommon
courage and conviction". "The regiment had never flinched despite
suffering extreme personal intimidation. Their successes had "come
at a terrible price, many gave their lives. Today you have cause to
reflect on the fine achievements, while remembering the suffering".
"The Home Service Battalions of the RIR and the UDR which had
preceded them won the deepest respect throughout the land." So that
their actions would always be remembered, the CGC was awarded to
the RIR/UDR "as a mark of the nation's esteem" with the citation,
"This award is in recognition of the continuous operational service
and sacrifice of the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish
Regiment in Northern Ireland during Operation Banner."
In total 953 individuals received awards through the British
honours system including: 12 Queen's Gallantry Medals
; 2 Military Medals
; 88 BEM's
; 108 OBE's
and 276 Mentions in Despatches
, however for
most UDR soldiers the presentation of decorations assumed the form
of "service" or campaign" medals including:
General Service Medal with Northern
Ireland clasp and Accumulated Sevice Medal (1000 days in
- The General Service
Medal with "Northern Ireland" bar. (Awarded after 28 days
service in the Operation Banner
- The Ulster Defence Medal
- Northern Ireland Home Service Medal
- The Accumulated Campaign Service Medal (Awarded after 1,000
days service in the campaign)
- The Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
The award of "UDR specific" long service medals had complex rules
which meant that not very many were ever issued. The UDR medal was
only issued to 1,254 members of the 40,000 who served. Only 1,416
Accumulated Campaign Service medals were issued.
Officers who are awarded the Ulster Defence medal (UD) may use the
post-nominal letters UD.
According to Potter "the most decorated UDR soldier" was Corporal
Eric Glass of the 4th (Co Fermanagh) Battalion who received both
the Queen's Gallantry Medal
and Distinguished Conduct
for bravery. Despite being gravely injured in an IRA
ambush Glass managed to survive, killing one of his attackers in
Parade at Balmoral Showgrounds in
Belfast to receive the CGC
The regiment was unusual in many ways. It is the only unit in the
history of the British Army to have been on operational deployment
for its entire history. It was the first to be raised as a paid
citizens' army, the first to incorporate women into its regimental
structure, the first to serve its own locality and the first to
have a dedicated "aftercare" service. When it merged, the UDR had
been on active service longer than any regiment since the Napoleonic Wars
5 UDR Colours
In 1987, the regiment submitted a request for the issuing of
colours to the Queen which was given consent. This was granted in
1991, when the Queen decided to present the colours herself: an
honour which is normally reserved only for those regiments of which
she is Colonel in Chief
June 1991 - The first colours were presented by the Queen to five
battalions at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn.
- November 1991 - 6 UDR was presented at St Lucia Barracks, Omagh
by the Duke of Abercorn.
- April 1992 - The last colours were presented by Prince Andrew in a ceremony near Edinburgh in
Professional Soldiers (order by rank, where known)
Politicians (order by rank, where known)
Others (order by rank, where known)
- Ulster Defence Regiment Act 1969
- CAIN Archive:Public Records: Subversion in the
UDR Although initially written in 1973, the report was only
opened to the public in 2004.
- McCormack, 1999, p. 578
- Senia Paseta (2003), Modern Ireland: A Very Short
Introduction, p.107. Oxford Paperbacks
- Ruane & Todd, Pg. 121-125
- Ryder & Kearney, pg. 45
- Ruane & Todd, Pg. 126-127
- Bew, Gibbon and Patterson, Pg.27
- Bew, Gibbon and Patterson, Pg.19
- CAIN Abstract on Organisations: entry under
"Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
- Cain, HISTORICAL AND BACKGROUND
- Ruane & Todd, 2000
- Fitzgibbon, Pg.328
- Collier & Sambanis, Pg.164
- Moloney 2002,pg. 39,43,66,85,355,
Dillon, 1991, pg.4,7-8, Bell,
1997, pg.293-4,355,364,366, Coogan, 2000, pg.
39,160-62, McKittrick & McVea, 2001,
- "Hunt Report"
- "Hunt Report" Conclusions and Recommendations
- Hansard UDR Bill 1969
- Irish News (Belfast), 13 November 1969
- Potter 2001, p. 21.
- Potter 2001, p. 20.
- Ellison 2000, pp.65–138
- Red Hand: The Ulster Colony, Constantine
Fitzgibbon, Michael Joseph Ltd (1971)ISBN 7181 0881 7,
- Red Hand: The Ulster Colony, Constantine
Fitzgibbon, Michael Joseph Ltd (1971)ISBN 7181 0881 7,
- British Army Officers 1939-1945
- Ryder 1991, p.35
- Ellison 2000, pp. 66–67.
- Potter 2001, p. 29.
- HC Deb 23 March 1970 vol 798 cc300-1W, Ulster
Defence Regiment (applicants), Hansard, 23 March 1970. Retrieved on 15 October
- Potter 2001, p. 31.
- Potter 2001, p. 376.
- Potter 2001, pp. 57-58.
- Potter 2001, p. 35.
- Ryder 1991, p. 46.
- Potter 2001, p. 60.
- Potter 2001, p. 303.
- Potter 2001, p. 63.
- Ellison, Smyth, 2000, p.82
- Potter 2001, p.167
- Ryder, 1991. p.31
- Ulster Defence Regiment (Hansard, 21 January 1970)
- Potter 2001, p. 18
- Potter 2001.
- ULSTER DEFENCE REGIMENT (Hansard, 3 February 1972)
- CAIN: Public Records: Subversion in the
- Ripley, Chappell p. 48
- The Story of the Greenfinches
- Ripley, Chappell, p. 46.
- Ripley, Chappell, p. 47.
- Ryder 1991, p.352
- Ryder 1991, pp. 73, 75, 77-80
- Ryder 1991, p. 312
- Northern Ireland News - Royal Navy weigh anchor in
- page 6-1
- Potter 2001, p. 87
- UDR Fast Boats
- CAIN: Glossary of Terms on Northern Ireland
- British Army 'yellow card' not enforceable:
- British Irish Rights Watch
- Potter 2001, p. 116
- Potter 2001, p. 117
- Potter 2001, p. 119
- Potter 2001, p. 115-121
- Potter 2001, pp. 26-7.
- Potter 2001, p. 37.
- Basic Battle Skills. Army Code No. 71090; HMSO ASIN:
- Potter 2001, p. 57
- Potter 2001, p. 94
- Potter 2001, pp. 89-98.
- Potter 2001, pp. 157, 269
- Potter 2001, p. 223
- Potter 2001, pp. 290–91
- Potter 2001. p.290
- Potter 2001, p. 287.
- Wood, 2006,p.107-8
- Dillon, 1999, p.200
- Dillon, 1991, p. 210
- Potter 2001, p. 293
- Potter 2001, pp. 78-9, 90, 92, 96-7, 151-2
- 1976: UDR men jailed for Showband killings
- See reference here
- Potter 2001, pp. 329–33
- Potter 2001, p. 302
- Potter 2001, p. 77
- Potter 2001, p. 78
the document description in the Catalogue of The National
Archives is under Prem 15/1016
- Potter 2001, p. 91
- Potter 2001, p. 376
- Potter 2001, p. 221.
- Potter 2001. p336
- Fitzgerald 1991, p. 547
- May 2, 2006 edition of the Irish News available here.
- Ryder 1991 p. 150
- Weitzer 1990, p. 208
- http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/marques.pdf p27
- Davies, Roger (2001), "Improvised mortar systems: an evolving
political weapon", Jane's Intelligence Review (May 2001),
- Ripley, Chappell p. 4.8
- Potter 2001, p. 79.
- Ripley, Chappell p. 48.
- UDR Association website; CAIN: Sutton index of deaths BBC
- Sutton Chronology, 27 and 31 July 1975, CAIN website
- Sutton Chronology, 17 October 1972
- Ryder 1991,
- Potter 2001, p. 291
- Potter 2001, pp. 359–62
- Larkin, 2004, p. 179
- Order of Wear
- Security Forces in Northern Ireland 1969-92 By Tim Ripley, Mike
Chappell - ISBN 1855322781 - page 49
- The Northern Ireland Home Service Medal
- The Accumulated Campaign Service Medal
- British Light Infantry Regiments
-  Response to a Freedom of Information Act
request at Whatdotheyknow.com
- Potter 2001, pp. 366-369
- BBC NEWS CHANNEL, 1 August 2005
- Ulster Defence Regiment (Hansard, 29 April
- Brigadier Harry Baxter | Times Online
- Sinn Féin: UDR Commander's appointment to PSNI sends out
entirely the wrong signal
- A Testimony to Courage - the Regimental History of the
Ulster Defence Regiment 1969 - 1992, John Potter, Pen &
Sword Books Ltd, 2001, ISBN 0850528194
- The Ulster Defence Regiment: An Instrument of Peace?,
Chris Ryder 1991 ISBN 0413648001
- Echo Company, The History of E Company 5th Battalion
of the Ulster Defence Regiment, by Ronnie Gamble 2007. ISBN
- The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture, W. J.
McCormack, Blackwell Publishing 1999
- The Dirty War,Martin Dillon, Arrow 1991, ISBN 0 09
- Making Sense of the Troubles, David McKittrick &
David McVea, Penguin Books 2001, ISBN 0 14 100305 7
- Big Boy's Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against
the IRA, Mark Urban, faber & faber 1992, ISBN 0 571 16809
- The Crowned Harp: Policing Northern Ireland, Graham
Ellison, Jim Smyth, Pluto Press, 2000, ISBN 0745313930
- Security Forces in Northern Ireland 1969-92, Tim
Ripley, Mike Chappell, ISBN 1855322781
- Provos - the IRA and Sinn Féin, Peter Taylor,
Bloomsbury Publishing (1997), ISBN 0-7475-3818-2
- Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA, Ian S. Wood,
Edinburgh University Press, 2006, ISBN 0748624279
- Explaining Northern Ireland: Broken Images, John
McGarry, Brendan O'Leary, Blackwell Publishing, 1995, ISBN
- Killing Finucane, Justin O'Brien, Gill & Macmillan
2005, ISBN 0 7171 3543 8
- A History of Ulster, Jonathan Bardon, Blackstaff
Press,(2001), ISBN 0856407038
- The Irish Militia, 1793-1802: Ireland's Forgotten
Army. Four Courts Press (15 April 2007) ISBN 1846820375
- The Dynamics of Conflict in Northern Ireland: Power,
Conllict and Emancipation, Joseph Ruane & Jennifer Todd,
Cambridge University Press (FP 1996) 2000, ISBN 0 521 56879 X,
- Arming the Protestants: The Formation of the Ulster Special
Constabulary and the Royal Ulster Constabulary 1920-27,
Michael Farrell, Pluto Press (London/Sydney 1983), ISBN 0 86104 705
- Red Hand:The Ulster Colony, Constantine Fitzgibbon,
Michael Joseph Ltd (1971)ISBN 7181 0881 7
- Ireland: A History from the Twelfth Century to the Present
Day, Paul Johnson, HarperCollins Ltd; New (1981), ISBN
- Unionism and Orangeism in Northern Ireland Since 1945: The
Decline of the Loyal Family, Henry Patterson and Eric P.
Kaufmann, Manchester University Press (2007), ISBN 0719077443
- Orange Parades: The Politics of Ritual, Tradition and
Control, Dominic Bryan, Pluto Press, (2000), ISBN
- All In A Life, Garret Fitzgerald, Macmillan (1991),
- Transforming Settler States: Communal Conflict and Internal
Security in Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe, Ronald Weitzer,
University of California Press, 1990, ISBN 9780520064904
- A very British Jihad: Collusion, Conspiracy & Cover-up
in Northern Ireland, Paul Larkin, Beyond the Pale
Publications, Belfast 2004, ISBN 1 900960 25 7
- Northern Ireland: The Origins of the Troubles, Thomas
Hennessey, Gill & Macmillan (Dublin 2005), ISBN 0 7171 3382
- Understanding Civil War: Evidence and Analysis, Paul
Collier & Nicholas Sambanis, World Bank Publications (2005),