107th (Ulster) Brigade

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107 (Ulster) Brigade
107 (Ulster) Brigade.jpg
Insignia of 107 (Ulster) Brigade
Active 1914 – 1919
1947 – 1967
1988 – 2006
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type New Army
Territorial Army
Part of British Expeditionary Force
HQ Northern Ireland

107 (Ulster) Brigade was based in Ballymena and was, most recently before its disbandment, the British Army Regional Brigade responsible for administering the Territorial Army within Northern Ireland.

There have been three Brigades in the history of the British Army which have borne the number 107.

World War I[edit]

The Brigade traces its historic title back to the First World War when the original 107th Infantry Brigade fought with distinction, alongside its sister formations of 108th Infantry Brigade and 109th Infantry Brigade, as the senior component of 36th (Ulster) Division. In September 1914 it was raised the 1st Brigade of that Division, but on 2 November 1914 it was renumbered 107. The 36th Division itself had been formed in September 1914 as part of the New Armies raised by Kitchener. It consisted of the old Ulster Volunteer Force, which had originally been raised to resist the imposition of Home Rule. Due to the political situation in Ireland, it took several weeks after war was declared that permission to form an Ulster Division was granted and many volunteers from the Ulster Volunteer Force eager to join the war refused to wait and either crossed to England or Scotland to enlist, or joined the 10th (Irish) Division or 16th (Irish) Division already being formed by the War Office in Ireland. The UVF was not only organised, but trained to some extent as a military force, and had been armed. It was therefore considerably more advanced as a formed body of men than the similar formations of Kitchener's New Armies now being created elsewhere.

107 Brigade was formed from the East, West, South and North Belfast Volunteers, which became, respectively, the 8th, 9th, 10th and 15th Battalions of The Royal Irish Rifles.

Casualties throughout the War meant that many of the original battalions were to be amalgamated or disbanded as hostilities continued. In early 1918, on re-organisation, 107 Brigade consisted of the 1st and 2nd (Regular) and the 15th (Service) Battalions of The Royal Irish Rifles. In March 1918 the 36th Division, in the St Quentin Sector, was part of the Fifth Army and it was upon this Army that the main weight of the German offensive fell. The retreat which followed ended on 29 March and the Ulster Division moved north to the Ypres Salient. It thereafter took part in the successful offensive operations, which culminated in the cessation of hostilities in November 1918.

The Division was demobilised between January and June 1919, having suffered 32,000 casualties during the war.

Brigade commanders[edit]

  • Brig Gen Couchman CB until 20 Oct 1915
  • Brig Gen W M Withycombe CMG DSO until 7 Mar 1917
  • Brig Gen F J M Rowley DSO until 2 Jun 1917
  • Brig Gen W M Withycombe CMG DSO until 20 Apr 1918
  • Brig Gen E I de S Thorpe CMG DSO until 18 Sep 1918
  • Brig Gen H J Brock CB CMG DSO

Order of battle World War I[edit]

From 5 November 1915 to 3 February 1916, the 107th Brigade was attached to 4th Division

  • 1st Bn, The Royal Irish Rifles (joined February 1918)
  • 2nd Bn, The Royal Irish Rifles (joined February 1918)
  • 8th (Service) Bn (East Belfast), The Royal Irish Rifles (joined September 1914, disbanded February 1918. Named 8/9th Bn from August 1917)
  • 9th (Service) Bn (West Belfast), The Royal Irish Rifles (joined September 1914, amalgamated with 8th Bn August 1917)
  • 10th (Service) Bn (South Belfast), The Royal Irish Rifles (joined September 1914, disbanded February 1918)
  • 15th (Service) Bn (North Belfast), The Royal Irish Rifles (joined September 1914)
  • 1st Bn, The Royal Irish Fusiliers (joined August 1917, left February 1918)
  • 107th Brigade Machine Gun Company (joined 18 December 1915, moved into 36 MG Bn 1 March 1918)
  • 107th Trench Mortar Battery (joined from 1 April 1916)

Post-World War II[edit]

The second 107 Brigade was to be a Territorial Army formation. The Territorial Army throughout the United Kingdom was reconstituted in 1947 and, for the first time, there was a full scale TA organisation of all Arms in Ulster. Authority was given by the War Office for the formation on 1 January 1947 of 107 (Ulster) Independent Infantry Brigade (TA). Also at this time, Territorial infantry battalions of the three Regular infantry regiments of Northern Ireland were being formed, in addition to the various supporting Arms and Services

The strength of the Brigade at the end of 1947 was 77 Officers and 227 other ranks. As money became available for new and improved TA Centres recruiting continued to improve throughout the succeeding years, reaching a peak of almost 4,000 men in I960.

It was at this time that the Brigade sign of the Red Hand of Ulster set on a green shamrock superimposed on a black square was adopted, reflecting both the Red Hand used by the 36th (Ulster) Division and the shamrock used by both the 16th (Irish) Division of the First World War and the 38th (Irish) Brigade of the Second World War.

The first Camp for the whole Brigade, then with a complement of 73 officers and 710 other ranks, was for seven days duration in June 1948 at Ballyedmond, Co Down. By the late 1950s and early 1960s the numbers involved had grown considerably. The Brigade Camp at Bulford in 1956 and the 1959 and 1962 camps both at Castlemartin in Pembrokeshire, South Wales involved over 3,000 men and women. These involved sailings of three ships and up to eight special trains for each leg of the journey.

In July 1965 it became known that the reorganisation of the Territorial Army into the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve would entail the disbandment of 107 (Ulster) Brigade on 31 March 1967. This was part of the complete reorganisation, announced in the 1966 Defence White Paper, which abolished the former regimental and divisional structure of the TA.

Brigade commanders[edit]

  • Brig N Russell CB DSO MC Late The Royal Irish Fusiliers 1 Jan 1947
  • Brig T P D Scott CBE DSO Late The Royal Irish Fusiliers 7 Jul 1950
  • Brig A G Mackenzie-Kennedy CBE DSO Late The Royal Scots 20 Aug 1952
  • Brig J Drummond DSO Late The Royal Ulster Rifles 20 Aug 1955
  • Brig G Wort CBE Late The Wiltshire Regiment 30 Aug 1958
  • Brig H L S Young DSO Late Irish Guards 30 Aug 1961
  • Brig R C P Jeffries MBE Late The Royal Irish Fusiliers 12 Nov 1962
  • Brig A J Dyball MC TD Late The Royal Ulster Rifles 2 Dec 1965 – 31 Mar 1967

Modern times[edit]

A cell within Headquarters Northern Ireland then oversaw the administration of the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland until the decision was taken that 107 Brigade would again enter the British Army's Order of Battle and this took place on 2 November 1988. With the Brigade taking on additional training functions from HQNI its title was amended to Headquarters 107 (Ulster) Brigade and Northern Ireland Training Group to more accurately reflect its role.

During the 1990s and up to 2007 the Territorial soldiers from the Brigade served on operations supporting the Regular Army in the Balkans (Operation Resolute, Operation Lodestar, Operation Palatine and Operation Agricola) and on Operation Herrick in Afghanistan and Operation Telic in Iraq. At home the Brigade had the key role of providing the Civil Contingency Reaction Force for Northern Ireland. The Brigade did not have an internal security role as part of Operation Banner. The Northern Ireland Training Regiment was also based at St Patrick's Barracks, Ballymena and conducted all basic training for recruits.

The Brigade merged on 15 December 2006 into the 39 Infantry Brigade, which was itself replaced by the new regional brigade headquarters, 38 (Irish) Brigade, on 1 August 2007'. [1]

1990s and 2000s units[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Falls, Cyril (1922). The History of the 36th (Ulster) Division. Belfast and London, UK: M'Caw, Stevenson & Orr Limited The Linenhall Press. p. 359 pages. 
  • Gailey, Gillespie and Hassett (1979). An Account of the Territorials in Northern Ireland 1947–1978. Belfast, UK: Territorial, Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Association for Northern Ireland. p. 96 pages. ASIN B001OJWW98. 

External links[edit]