11th Battalion, Ulster Defence Regiment

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11th (Craigavon) Battalion, Ulster Defence Regiment
UDR Insignia
Regimental Insignia
Active 1970–1992
Country  United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Infantry battalion
Role Internal Security
Size 772
Motto "Quis Separabit" (Latin)
"Who Shall Separate Us?"
March (Quick) Garryowen & Sprig of Shillelagh.
(Slow) Oft in the Stilly Night
Commanders
Colonel Commandant

First: General Sir John Anderson GBE, KCB, DSO.

Last: General Sir Charles Huxtable, KCB, CBE, DL
Colonel of the Regiment Colonel Sir Dennis Faulkner CBE

The 11th (Craigavon) Battalion, Ulster Defence Regiment was formed from companies of the 2nd Battalion Ulster Defence Regiment and the 3rd Battalion Ulster Defence Regiment in 1972. In 1991 under the reductions planned in Options for Change by the British Army, it again amalgamated with 2 UDR to form the 2nd/11th Battalion Ulster Defence Regiment.

Formation[edit]

The battalion was formed in 1972 after an announcement by Major General Robert Ford, Commander Land Forces in Northern Ireland (CLFNI).[1] The raising of the new and final battalion of the UDR brought operational strength up to 9,000 men, making the regiment not only the youngest, but largest infantry battalion in the British Army.[1]

The new battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robin Chappell, who had previously been commander of the neighbouring 2 UDR, the first regular officer to command the 2nd battalion, and was the only regular officer ever to command two separate UDR battalions.[2]

In 1990 11 UDR was reported as having 772 members who patrolled an area of 1,500 square kilometres.[3]

Uniform, armament & equipment[edit]

See: Ulster Defence Regiment Uniform, armament & equipment

Greenfinches[edit]

See also: Women's UDR

Mahon Barracks[edit]

A platoon of UDR soldiers salute their commanding officer at Mahon Barracks

From formation battalion HQ was based at "Fort Mahon", a new purpose built UDR base on the Mahon Road, Portadown beside the historic Mahon House. Assuming command and expanding platoons and companies once part of the Armagh based 2 UDR in Lurgan, Portadown and Tandragee and also the Banbridge Company of 3 UDR. Fort Mahon later became known as Mahon Barracks.[4]

The accommodation at the barracks consisted of:

  • Guardroom/Reception area with kitchen and sleeping accommodation for on-duty personnel
  • Armouries & changing facilities for two part-time companies
  • Indoor target range
  • Drill Hall/Gymnasium
  • Junior Ranks, WO's & Sgts and Officers Messes
  • Administrative offices
  • Communications centre/Operations Room
  • Equipment Stores
  • Motor Transport (MT) garages, service and parking areas
  • 30 metre outdoor range
  • 30 metre "pipe" range
  • Helicopter pad

In 1974 HQNI re-established 3rd Infantry Brigadeat Lurgan but subsequently moved it to Mahon Barracks where it included, along with Brigade Staff, 174 (Provost) Company, Royal Military Police.[5] It was joined later by a roulemont unit from the regular army unit at the Maze prison, G Squadron 22 SAS Regiment, under the working name of 4 Field Survey Troop, Royal Engineers,[6] and elements of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) including the HQ and Divisional Mobile Support Units.[7] The brigade was again moved to Drumadd Barracks in 1988 during a restructuring of land forces in Northern Ireland.[8]

A "Plastic Pub".

This required expansion and extra facilities. Added to the existing UDR infrastructure were:

  • Brigade administration buildings.
  • Regular army administration buildings for a single battery/company/squadron (Portakabin structures).
  • Accommodation for regular soldiers (Portakabin structures).
  • Soldier's NAAFI canteen.
  • A prefabricated "English-style" pub called the "Black Swan", referred to universally as a "Plastic" or "Placcy" pub - seen in most major barracks in Northern Ireland.
  • Squash Courts.
  • Extra MT facilities for police and army.
  • Self contained, secure compound for the SAS.
  • Cookhouses - one for the army and UDR where food was served 24 hours a day at no cost, plus the RUC subsidised cafeteria where meals, generally of better quality, could be purchased for a small sum
  • Char Wallah [9] this throwback to the days of empire allowed for the establishment of a small cafeteria style building staffed by Indian nationals providing tea (char), burgers and a small selection of toiletries. This establishment was usually referred to in Indian Army parlance as a "Choggie" shop.
  • Married quarters - initially the barracks was served by estates of married quarters in the Craigavon area with regular army officers quartered at Bocombra on the outskirts of Portadown. Through time these were run down as the UDR and police acquired primacy in the area but new quarters were built as part of the Mahon complex.

Disposal[edit]

In 2008 127 army married quarter houses adjacent to Mahon Barracks were bought and renovated by a private developer and are now being offered for sale as "low cost" housing.[10]

SAS[edit]

Mahon Barracks was also the Headquarters of G Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment and was the centre of many of their operations in Northern Ireland including the interception of a Provisional Irish Republican Army team at Loughgall RUC Barracks in 1987.[11] The SAS used the cover name 4 Field Survey Troop, Royal Engineers whilst at Mahon Barracks.

Companies[edit]

Main Gate sign from Mahon Barracks

HQ Company[edit]

Mahon Barracks, Portadown. - a mixture of regular army and permanent cadre/part-time administration staff, instructors, watchkeepers, mechanics and a guard force of Conrate soldiers. The commander was the battalion commander who was a regular Lieutenant Colonel. Other regular soldiers on attachment included the adjutant (a major), a Training Major and permanent staff instructors. The Quartermaster's stores were also part of this company as were the core services of the battalion which, although modified slightly on expansion, generally consisted of operational organisation, vehicles, radio services, catering and pay.

HQ Company (Operations Platoon)[edit]

Scarva Road Barracks, Banbridge - an experimental permanent cadre platoon formed after Ulsterisation which carried out the same duties as the regular army. Selected from the youngest and fittest soldiers with Commanders and NCO's who had, where possible, previous military experience. The commander was a Scottish WO2 who had 22 years experience with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, fighting in colonial conflicts during the disestablishment of empire. His second in command was a Colour Sergeant who had fought in the Congo Crisis and in Cyprus. Main duties were to quickly seal off the A1 Belfast - Dublin dual carriageway and to act as Quick Reaction Force (QRF) for 3 Infantry Brigade and RUC J Division. As the number of permanent cadre soldiers grew a new full-time company was formed at Portadown and the Operations Platoon was integrated into it taking the designation A Company.

A Coy (Tandragee)[edit]

Based at Mahon Barracks - a part-time company. Later renamed B Company. Drawn from men (and later women) from the village of Tandragee and surrounding area this company came on duty at 7pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. In addition to patrolling their own villages and rural areas they were also responsible for the relief of the regular army on the permanent guard post at Tandragee Power Station.

B Coy[edit]

(Dromore) was never formed but the designation was later given to A (Tandragee) Coy when the full-time rifle company was established at Portadown from the Operations Platoon and designated "A Company".

C Coy (Lurgan)[edit]

Kitchen Hill Barracks, Lurgan. - a part-time company with a small permanent cadre staff who ran the UDR centre within the regular army's barracks. This company was responsible for patrolling the town of Lurgan and its surrounding villages and rural areas.

Arms raid[edit]

Subsequent to a raid against C Company, on 20 October 1972, the guard commander Sgt Billy Hanna MM was convicted of supplying information to loyalist paramilitaries.[12] Most were recovered in follow up operations but some were later proven to have been used by loyalist organisations to carry out crime, including murders.[13]

D Coy (Banbridge)[edit]

Scarva Road Barracks, Banbridge - a part-time company with a small permanent cadre staff who administered and guarded the barracks. Drawing its recruits from Banbridge, Dromore and surrounding rural villages and areas the company also patrolled these areas and provided extra checkpoints on the A1 dual carriageway.

The gated off centre of Portadown - guarded by E Coy, 11UDR

E Coy (Portadown)[edit]

A part-time company with a small nucleus of permanent cadre administrative staff drawn from the market town of Portadown and its surrounding villages and rural areas. The company provided patrols in the town and surrounding areas as well as the night guard on the telephone exchange at Edenderry.

F Coy (Lisburn)[edit]

After the amalgamation of 1 and 9 UDR in 1984 [14] - a part-time company with a small nucleus of permanent cadre administration staff who ran the company offices and facilities within Thiepval Barracks. Recruiting from Lisburn and surrounding areas it too had a mixed patrol area of towns and villages but by its location also patrolled areas of south Belfast.

Area of responsibility[edit]

RUC J Division - taking in the sub-divisions of:

A soldier of 2 Platoon, A Coy, 11 UDR, armed with a 9mm pistol, checks vehicles at the permanent checkpoint outside Newtownhamilton RUC Station - December 1985
  • MAHON ROAD: Divisional Command and barracks in Portadown Subdivision.
  • PORTADOWN: Subdivisional Command.
  • LURGAN: Subdivisional Command.
  • MOIRA: Barracks in Lurgan Subdivision.
  • CRAIGAVON: Barracks in Lurgan Subdivision.
  • BANBRIDGE: Subdivisional Command.
  • DROMORE: Barracks in Banbridge Subdivision.
  • DROMARA: Barracks in Banbridge Subdivision.
  • GILFORD: Barracks in Banbndge Subdivision.
  • RATHFRILAND: Barracks in Banbridge Subdivision. (3 UDR were responsible for Rathfriland town) [15]

Both part-time and full-time companies of 11 UDR took over operational responsibility in other areas to relieve the pressure on border battalions who had taken heavy casualties, particularly 2 UDR. Part-time soldiers deployed for a weekend but the full-time Operations Platoon (later A Company) and elements of HQ Company Conrate Guard deployed for up to two weeks at a time. Some of these detachments were at:

As well as manning permanent vehicle checkpoints (PVCPs) at these location the 11 UDR Platoons also engaged in urban and rural patrol work with the full-time soldiers taking part in searches, observation activities and denial of territory to the enemy.

Casualties[edit]

The battalion lost nine men during its existence. A further eight were killed as a result of their membership after they had left the battalion.[17] No figures are available for those wounded.[18]

The Miami killings[edit]

Two soldiers from the 11 UDR's C Company, (also UVF members), were convicted of the 1975 killing of three musicians from the Irish showband, the Miami. This attack was led by Robin Jackson, a former ii UDR soldier who had been discharged for "undisclosed reasons".[19][20][21] Two soldiers from 11 UDR's E Company, Portadown(also UVF members), died in the premature explosion of their own bomb.[22] More detailed information can be read at: Miami Showband killings.

Notable personnel[edit]

See also:

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]