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Chapter 20 - Resignations

 

Reasons  

There were many different reasons for resigning or being asked to resign from the UDR. These included being attacked and intimidated by Republicans, illness, old age, subversive links, disillusion with the governments handling of the terrorist situation, drunk in charge of a personal protection weapon, drink driving, criminal charges including undisclosed criminal charges coming to light, failing to meet the minimum required operational or training duties, pregnancy, threat of divorce, civilian job commitments and personal commitments, to name but a few.

 

Murder Campaigns

Although many people failed to join the UDR because of the Republican terrorist murder campaign, the numbers of personnel reporting for duty after an attack always went up, not down.

 

Intimidation

The main group that suffered most from intimidation were the Roman Catholic soldiers. They were easy targets because the Republican ploy was to get at the courageous individual by attacking their nearest and dearest first. Children were bullied and threatened at school, cars were vandalised, windows were broken and excrement was pushed into the post-box. In the case of E Company, the Republican activists threatened a soldier’s physically handicapped brother.

 

Training and Operational Quotas

When Battalion HQ delegated tasks to an individual Company they always considered the company strength. If the company strength included too much “Dead Wood” through illness or lack of commitment the Company Commander would not achieve his training and operational targets. This pushed leaders into the apparently ruthless attitude of,

 

“I set about discharging any soldiers who were not committed to training and operations”

 

“This was necessary not only for achieving training and operational targets but also to raise the standards of efficiency and effectiveness” (V Hamill, 2007).

 

Unemployment

“At one stage I became unemployed and was unable to carry out my duties with the UDR.  This was due to the way I was paid my unemployment and family benefits. I tried to get around this problem by doing duties but not signing on for pay. This was not a satisfactory compromise because my records did not show the operational and training duties I was expected to complete to maintain my efficiency. I had to report to the OC who stated this was unsatisfactory and he would have me discharged from the Regiment.

   After visiting my local MP for advice I reported the matter to HQNI. Their response was a lot better than my OC’s but the situation between us had deteriorated. On one occasion the OC had even sent out the local CID Sergeant to pick up my personal protection weapon because I was not doing duties” S25.

 

Illness

“I had to leave the UDR after an accident at work that damaged my back. I was off work for over 18 months. I was unfit for military service” S24.

 

“One week after I had had an army medical examination I was telephoned at home. Someone phoned and told me I was medically discharged and I had to hand in my army kit and equipment ‘as issued’. My parting with the UDR was as callous as that” Ted Jamieson 2006.

 

Republican Treachery

As in all the cases of treachery in E Company it was difficult to determine if the individuals involved joined the Regiment as malcontents or later converted.

 

“One night two guys in suits visited the camp and wanted to know if a particular Sergeant from the area was on duty. I informed them that there was no Sergeant in the company with that name but we did have a Private soldier with that name and address. They went and spoke to the OC about the individual” S101.

 

One year after the individual had resigned his former Platoon was on patrol in the Kilrea area. We read the Police Notice Board and there was a signal outlining the activities of our former comrade.

 

Farewell

 “The two most memorable dates for me were the day I resigned from the UDR and the date I handed in my kit and equipment. My civilian employers had offered me promotion; this new job would also involve extensive world travel. The demand for a greater commitment made it impossible for me to serve in the UDR as a Company Sergeant Major (WOII). The conflict of interest stopped as I committed myself to my new post travelling around the world.

   I made many close lifetime friends in the UDR. If I left my senior position in civilian job after 37 years there would be few people I could turn to as friends.  Even though I left the UDR over 22 years ago there are many people I can turn to in times of need or even to socialise with and I have committed myself to the UDR Association ever since. The Association runs many events such as bus trips, dinner dances, visits to battle fields, reunions, BBQs and other fund raising events to promote the interests and needs of all the UDR, the veterans and their dependants.

   The experience of being in the UDR has had a lasting influence on my attitude towards all wars. I have become much more interested in world history and affairs.

I think that having served for so long in the UDR, it has helped me in my social interaction with others. I am inclined to be more assertive and stand confidently in front of a business group and express myself.

   I can look back on my military career and see that what we did was worthwhile. I shudder to think what would have happened in this country if the UDR had not been there to prevent the terrorists from taking control. It was worth it and a heavy price was paid. The terrorist did not win and the UDR played an important part in achieving peace” S3.

 

One For The Road

“I was self-employed and as my job became more successful and demanding my operational duties started to tail off. I was a Sergeant at that time and the thought of moving up the promotional ladder did not appeal to me. In the army you have to keep moving onward and upward otherwise you end up blocking the promotions of those ready to advance their career. This happened in the mid 80s when the Regiment was more professional and the roles more demanding. To be promoted you were expected to attend qualifying courses in Ballykinlar and England and do the allocated operational duties and training. As I was now employed full-time in my own career I decided to call it a day.

   On the night of my resignation I visited the Junior Ranks bar and asked the barman, Tommy Freeman, to give me two glasses, a can of Coke and a lemonade bottle filled with six shots of Dark Rum. I carefully placed these items in my recruiters’ briefcase and waited patiently for the OC to complete his Thursday night Orders and Interviews session. I was almost denied access to the OC because I was in ‘civvies’; I explained to the Company Sergeant Major that it would be a casual interview so I was allowed in to see the OC. I grabbed a chair, turned it round and straddled it, just like the John Wayne movies. Up came the briefcase and I opened it. I said, ‘Sir, is that you finished with orders for the night?’ He replied, ‘Yes’, so I put the glasses out in front of us, poured out three shots of rum each and topped this up with the Coke. Then I said, ‘Cheers Sir, we’re having one for the road, I’m finished’. The OC was flustered, he said, ‘You can’t leave like that! You can’t leave like that!’ My departure was as amicable as that and it became the talk of the Regiment” (S20).  

 

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