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Chapter 24 – The Last Coleraine Militia?

 

Raising the UDR

It has often been argued that raising the UDR kept many Protestants from being driven into the ranks of the so-called Loyalist paramilitaries. That argument is too shallow. Not only does it mask the truth, it denigrates the honourable intentions of the 1,440 Protestants and 946 Roman Catholics who paraded for operational duties with the UDR on 1 April 1970.

  The type of person who would join a legitimate security force is quite different from those who would join an illegal organisation. It has been noted that when the Ballymoney base closed down in 1992 there was an increase in Loyalist paramilitary activity in the area. It would be wrong to infer from the situation that denying the conscientious citizen a legitimate outlet to bear arms and defend their community would automatically lead to them joining an illegal organisation. It was more a case where the act of creating a legitimate outlet for the law-abiding citizen prevented the extremist from taking action.   Thankfully the UDR recruiting process managed to reject the Ulster Loyalist sympathiser in favour of the genuine volunteer for 99.9 per cent of the time.

  When the British government deployed the Regular Army in Northern Ireland and then raised the UDR, the law-abiding people of Northern Ireland were given the opportunity to play a legitimate role in keeping the peace in Northern Ireland. That was a 360 year-old Protestant tradition but initially it did engage the services of many volunteers from the Roman Catholic minority. By these two means, deploying the Regular army and raising the UDR, a popular Protestant uprising with the Ulster British and the Ulster Loyalist cooperating in a bloody Irish civil war was circumvented.

But that 360 year-old tradition also had a sting in its tail. As soon as a militia was no longer required it was immediately disbanded. Many veterans have not come to terms with the last two radical decisions concerning the Regiment, the 1992 amalgamation followed by the disbandment of the Royal Irish Home Service Battalions. The history of the UDR should have been taught by starting with its predecessors. That would have helped some veterans to cope with the loss and rancour they are now experiencing

 

The Role of the UDR

The UDR had a very narrow remit to fulfil. The Company was initially tasked to support the Regular Forces and after 1977 to support the RUC in the execution of their duties. It met those obligations for over thirty years in an exemplary manner.

Due to the disastrous political decisions in the early 70s and the continued terrorist targeting of Roman Catholics in the UDR, their numbers declined. The majority of personnel in E Company were from the Protestant community but despite this ethnic orientation E Company personnel practiced a Christian philosophy and carried out their duties with impartiality at all times. In the final two years the Royal Irish Home Service battalions were deployed in the Loyalist areas. The main threat at that time emanated from the Loyalist groups. The Royal Irish proved their impartiality and were entrusted with patrolling those areas. But throughout Northern Ireland the Regiment had always proved their impartiality by consistently saving the lives of those who were planning their murder or constantly denigrating them. At all times the terrorists caught by E Company soldiers were subject to the due process of law and never subject to the summary injustices meted out by the same terrorists on many occasions to E Company soldiers.

 

The Contributions Made by E Company 5 UDR

E Company worked hard at protecting the whole community. They were responsible for the capture or conviction of just as many Loyalist terrorists as they were of Republican terrorists. It has been impossible to detail all the successful operations and bravery awards credited to E Company personnel without compromising their personal security.

E Company volunteers helped to convict many terrorists responsible for murder, attempted murder, carrying unlicensed weapons, armed robbery, locating arms caches and the transportation of bomb parts.

 

“Providing reassurance was one important aspect of our contributions in addition to all the operational successes. On many occasions I am certain our very presence on the ground helped to reassure the law-abiding public that they felt safer against the threat. Also important was our ability to deter terrorist operations and the free movement of suspected terrorists. I know we helped to deter many terrorist operations and we frequently prevented suspected terrorists from moving freely around the country by day and by night.” (Hamill, 2007).

 

Cost Effectiveness

The RUC had a dual role to play for the past three decades. It carried out its normal policing role and also led the campaign against terrorism. An increase in the establishment of the RUC to cope with the additional burden of coping with terrorism would not have been cost effective. Raising the UDR to support the RUC in dealing with terrorism proved to be the solution. The RUC cost £1.5M for each operational day whereas the UDR running costs were £1.2m each week.

Irrespective of the number of hours on duty each day the part-time soldier could only be paid a maximum of one day’s pay. The full-time soldier sometimes worked in excess of eighty hours each week without any additional financial incentive.

  

In comparison to the Regular soldiers all UDR soldiers lived at home and there was no requirement for married quarters, accommodation blocks and the ensuing security arrangements. There was no requirement to transport soldiers from Germany or bases in GB to postings as resident or back up battalions. The continual moves these postings required were hugely expensive and disruptive. These occurred every 18/24 months in the case of resident battalions and every 4 months in the case of back up battalions. It could be argued easily that the lack of continuity for counter terrorist operations was greatly hampered by these ongoing changes. There were additional training costs incurred prior to each posting as each battalion had pre-tour training specific to the Northern Ireland theatre of operations

  The UDR on the other hand was constantly available for operations, provided continuity and had the added advantage of local knowledge. This could not be quantified in financial terms. Suffice to say there is a clear case for the benefits of continuity and local understanding. This took many forms and included knowing the enemy, the ground, dealing sympathetically with the community and understanding local issues. (Hamill, 2007)

 

Who Won The War?

There was no war, but thankfully the murder campaigns stopped. The Regular Army, the Intelligence Units, the UDR and the RUC/PSNI alone could never have achieved peace. Every patrol that went out was restricted to dealing with both the symptoms of the government’s ineffectual response to terrorism and the terrorists’ inability to accept the futility of their murder campaigns. The reason why the terrorist campaigns went on for so long or why they stopped has yet to be satisfactorily answered by the terrorists themselves.

  On many occasions the terrorists have cited historical events as an excuse for their atrocities. But, can 21st Century moral codes be used to judge 17th Century behaviour or can historical events be used as an excuse for modern terrorism? Many righteous people have already pointed out that there was never any moral, ethical or religious justification for the atrocities endured by the people of Northern Ireland since partition.

 

Motivation

The general view of E Company veterans was that they had joined the UDR because it was the right thing to do. Their strong Christian upbringing countered their limited education in Irish history. Many have stated that they did not need to know about Irish history to know that the murder campaigns by both groups of extremists in Northern Ireland was wrong and had to be confronted.

 

The Last Conflict?

One possible approach to preventing future conflicts lies in dealing with the problem from the top down. Constitutional change has proved to be the first positive step. The next step needs to be a Bill of Human Rights that can protect all the citizens of Ireland from sectarian politics. Future difficulties can also be circumvented from a bottom up process. Children in Northern Ireland should grow up studying the realities of Irish history rather than the lies and myths perpetuated by each interest group.  

 

The Last Coleraine Militia?

I have asked many people, including local politicians, the following question. This question is based on the concept that if the unification of Ireland is forced it will result in a Loyalist terrorist backlash and if the process is too slow there will be a Republican terrorist campaign.

 

 “If the government raised a militia to deal with Loyalist or Republican terrorism in the future, would you support it?”

 

The most productive responses came from people who had served in the security forces and the least productive came from the politicians. Some politicians gave a limited response or else failed to respond to the question so a balanced political appraisal proved impossible.

  A veteran of the Ulster Home Guard, the B Specials and the UDR said, “I’ve always supported the idea. I’ve seen it all. Every generation throws up a crowd of murderers who think they can achieve more than the previous generation.”

 

Parting Shots

As the next generation prepares to assault the state of Northern Ireland there will be another generation of men and women prepared to make the sacrifice for the good of the whole community.

A Militia may not be the ideal response to the next onslaught but whatever the government demands, there always will be a reserve of good people in Northern Ireland of all persuasions ready to volunteer. They know they will have to face the murdering terrorists, the treacherous comrade as well as the mendacious politician, but their desire to serve the whole community will overcome all that.

 

“I loved the UDR. When I left the Regiment I remember handing in all my kit to the CQMS and feeling very depressed. I also remember giving my former comrades all my spare kit and bits I had bought to make patrolling much easier. That included my maps, compasses and spare clothing. I only wished that I had held onto that stuff because I joined the RUC a few years later” S22.

 

“I feel that the military life is a great experience for a young person. You learn to depend and trust your comrades within your platoon, company and regiment in contrast to the relationships you have in the PSNI.

I only attended one meeting of the UDR association but I do intend to go back. I feel very proud of my service in the Regiment and I believe that my contribution has saved many lives” S22.

 

“My army training has served me well and many of the skills I learned I was able to put to good use in every day life.

I hope my service life has helped somebody somewhere along the line and I do feel it was very worthwhile” S27.

 

“My final posting in the UDR was in Ballykelly as manager of the Green Hackle Club. While serving in the UDR I made many friends and I have remained in contact with some of these friends.

   I completed my 22 years service in October 1998. After leaving the Regiment I took a year out before starting a civilian security job. Whenever possible I attend reunions but this is not always easy because of my permanent shift work.

I really enjoyed my service with the Regiment, the experience and the comradeship was memorable. I found it all worthwhile and would not hesitate to turn the clock back and do it all over again” S21.

 

“One of the special things about serving was the camaraderie among the members. Seeing that your patrol or section got back to base safely and getting home safely yourself. Knowing that your family are safe too. Being out and about late at night and in the early hours of the morning also gave you a chance to experience some of the joys and wonders of Nature, such as the night sky on a still frosty night or seeing dawn breaking on a balmy summer morning – wonderful!” S Brownlow.

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed my service years and still get a great deal of satisfaction from what I think we accomplished. I hold these years close to my heart and am very proud to have served my country as a member of the largest Infantry regiment in the British army. I am also proud to say that later on in life my daughter joined the UDR as a Greenfinch and my son also joined and then transferred to the Royal Irish Regiment, finishing up as a Lieutenant”S38.

 

 

The Last Word

Ted Jamieson said, “The UDR was a very disciplined and loyal unit. I enjoyed my service. What I have noticed is that the British Army and the UDR has become less of a family and more professional as the years went on. Overall my service life has taught me to appreciate and enjoy life. In service my life could have been abruptly ended at any time.

There are times I feel that we have achieved quite a lot in Northern Ireland. At other times I feel that we have not achieved enough. We did prevent a lot of mayhem. It could have been worse but just by being on the ground we saved an untold number of lives and property from all the terrorists” 2006.

 

 

Photo 40 Ted Jamieson

 

 

 

Previous Chapter 23 - Welfare Matters

Home

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

Personal Communications, Corrections and Additions

 

Patterson, RW. (2007)

Hamill, CV. Lt Col (2007)

Jamieson, H (2007)

Doherty, R (2007)

 

 

Books

 

Bartlett, T., & Jeffery, K., A Military History of Ireland, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996

 

Bew, P., & Gillespie, G., Northern Ireland. A Chronology of the Troubles 1968 – 1999, Gill & Macmillan. Dublin, 1999

 

Bruce, Steve, The Edge of the Union. The Ulster Loyalist Political Vision, Oxford University Press, New York, 1994

 

Carlisle, N., Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, William Savage, Bedford, 1810

 

Central Statistics Office. That Was Then, This Is Now: Changes in Ireland 1949 – 1999, Central Statistics Office, Dublin, 2000

 

Connolly, S.J., Editor, The Oxford Companion to Irish History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998

 

Coogan, T.P., Ireland in the Twentieth Century, Arrow books. London, 2003

 

Corvisier, A., & Childs, J., A Dictionary of Military History, Press Universitaires de France, 1988

 

Curl, J.S., The Honourable The Irish Society and the Plantation of Ulster 1608 – 2000, Phillimore & Co Ltd., Chichester, 2000

 

Doherty, Richard, The Thin Green Line. The History of The Royal Ulster Constabulary GC, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley South Yorkshire, 2004

 

Falls, C., The Birth of Ulster, Constable, London, 1936

 

Fey, M.T., Morrisey, M., & Smyth, M. Northern Ireland’s Troubles: The human costs, Pluto Press, London, 1999

 

Fitzgerald MC, D.J.C., History of the Irish Guards in the Second World War, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986

 

Foster, R.F., The Oxford History of Ireland, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1989

 

Gamble, R., The Coleraine Battery: The History of 6 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery RA (SR) 1939 – 1945, Causeway Museum Service, Coleraine, 2006

 

Gillespie, R., Conspiracy. Ulster’s Plots and Plotters in 1615, The Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies, Belfast, 1987

 

Henry, S., The Story of St Patrick’s Church Coleraine, Coleraine Chronicle Ltd., Coleraine, 1939

 

Hezlet, Sir A, The ‘B’ Specials. A History of The Ulster Special Constabulary, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1972

 

Hill, G., A Historical Account of the Plantation of Ulster.  At the Commencement of the Seventeenth Century 1608-1620, McCaw, Stevenson and Orr. Belfast, 1877 and 1970

 

Hussey, G., Ireland Today. Anatomy of a Changing State, Townhouse Viking, Dublin, 1993

 

Joyce, P.W., A Concise History of Ireland , Longmans, Green, and Co., New York, 1903

 

Kenny, M., Goodbye to Catholic Ireland, New Island Books, Dublin, 2003

 

Kerrigan, P.M., Castles and Fortifications in Ireland 1485 – 1945, The Collins Press, Cork, 1995

 

Lewis, S., Counties Londonderry & Donegal.  A Topographical Dictionary of The Parishes, Villages and Towns of these Counties in the 1830’s, Friar’s Bush Press, Belfast, 2004

 

Machonachie, Alwyn, The Church on The West of The Bann. The Story of Killowen Parish, Bard, Coleraine, 1997

 

MacLaughlin, D., A Short Sketch of the History of The Parish Church of St John the Evangelist, Killowen, Coleraine, Chronicle Printing Company, Coleraine, 1900

 

McSkimin, S., Annals of Ulster. From 1790 to 1798, James Clelland, Belfast, 1906

 

Mallie, E., & McKittrick, D., Endgame in Ireland, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2001

 

Mullan, D., & Donnelly, P., St. John’s Coleraine, Impact Printing, Coleraine, 1992

 

Mullin, Rev. T.H., Coleraine in By-Gone Centuries, Century Services Ltd., Belfast, 1976

 

Mullin, Rev., T.H., Coleraine in Georgian Times, Century Services Ltd, Belfast, 1977

 

Mullin, Rev., T.H., Coleraine in Modern Times, Century Services Ltd., Belfast, 1979

 

O’Doherty, M., The Trouble With Guns. Republican Strategy and the Provisional IRA, The Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1988

 

O’Laverty, J., An Historical Account of the Diocese of Down and Connor, Ancient and Modern, James Duffy and Sons, London, 1887

 

Oppenheimer, S., Origins of the British. A Genetic Detective Story, Constable & Robinson, London, 2006

 

Patterson, R.W., The Irish Volunteers and Yeomanry: 1715 until 1820, Private Publication, 2002

 

Potter, J., A Testimony to Courage.  The Regimental History of The Ulster Defence Regiment, Leo Cooper, Barnsley, 2001

 

Ross, D., Ireland. History of a Nation, Lagan Books, Geddes & Grosset, New Lanark, 2002

 

Sampson, G. V., Statistical Survey of the County of Londonderry, Derry, 1814

 

Smith, M.L.R., Fighting For Ireland? The Military Strategy of the Irish Republican Movement, Routledge, London & New York, 1995

 

Stewart, A.T.Q., The Ulster Crisis, Faber & Faber, London, 1966

 

Wallace, M., Drums and Guns: Revolution in Ulster, Geoffrey Chapman, London, 1969

 

Wood, I.S., Crimes of Loyalty. A History of The UDA, Edinburgh University Press. Edinburgh, 2006

 

 

Unpublished/Taped Memoirs/Conversations/Photographs

 

Doherty, R., The Militia Tradition, Lecture to Royal Irish Regiment: Home Service (Part Time) Officers’ Study Day, 1999

 

Doherty, R., The Siege of Derry: A Military History, Manuscript, 2007

 

Logan, R., Regimented Women: The Role of Women in The Military, Dissertation, 1992

 

 

Newspapers

 

Boyd, H.A., The Parish of Killowen.  An Historical Survey, Coleraine Chronicle, Sat Oct 5 1957

 

 

Coleraine Maps

 

O’Hagan James, The Irish and Local Studies Collection. Coleraine Library, Coleraine, 1842

 

Valuation Map, The Irish and Local Studies Collection. Coleraine Library, Coleraine, 1858

 

 

 

World Wide Web

 

http://www.wesleyjohnston.com

 

 

 

Journals

 

Loeber, R., The Reorganisation of the Irish Militia in 1678 – 81: Documents from Birr Castle, The Irish Sword, P196 – 224, Vol 19, 1995

 

Home

 


Bibliography

 

 

Personal Communications, Corrections and Additions

 

Patterson, RW. (2007)

Hamill, CV. Lt Col (2007)

Jamieson, H (2007)

Doherty, R (2007)

 

 

Books

 

Bartlett, T., & Jeffery, K., A Military History of Ireland, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996

 

Bew, P., & Gillespie, G., Northern Ireland. A Chronology of the Troubles 1968 – 1999, Gill & Macmillan. Dublin, 1999

 

Bruce, Steve, The Edge of the Union. The Ulster Loyalist Political Vision, Oxford University Press, New York, 1994

 

Carlisle, N., Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, William Savage, Bedford, 1810

 

Central Statistics Office. That Was Then, This Is Now: Changes in Ireland 1949 – 1999, Central Statistics Office, Dublin, 2000

 

Connolly, S.J., Editor, The Oxford Companion to Irish History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998

 

Coogan, T.P., Ireland in the Twentieth Century, Arrow books. London, 2003

 

Corviser, A., & Childs, J., A Dictionary of Military History, Press Universitaires de France, 1988

 

Curl, J.S., The Honourable The Irish Society and the Plantation of Ulster 1608 – 2000, Phillimore & Co Ltd., Chichester, 2000

 

Doherty, Richard, The Thin Green Line. The History of The Royal Ulster Constabulary GC, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley South Yorkshire, 2004

 

Falls, C., The Birth of Ulster, Constable, London, 1936

 

Fitzgerald MC, D.J.C., History of the Irish Guards in the Second World War, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986

 

Foster, R.F., The Oxford History of Ireland, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1989

 

Gamble, R., The Coleraine Battery: The History of 6 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery RA (SR) 1939 – 1945, Causeway Museum Service, Coleraine, 2006

 

Gillespie, R., Conspiracy. Ulster’s Plots and Plotters in 1615, The Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies, Belfast, 1987

 

Henry, S., The Story of St Patrick’s Church Coleraine, Coleraine Chronicle Ltd., Coleraine, 1939

 

Hezlet, Sir A, The ‘B’ Specials. A History of The Ulster Special Constabulary, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1972

 

Hill, G., A Historical Account of the Plantation of Ulster.  At the Commencement of the Seventeenth Century 1608-1620, McCaw, Stevenson and Orr. Belfast, 1877 and 1970

 

Hussey, G., Ireland Today. Anatomy of a Changing State, Townhouse Viking, Dublin, 1993

 

Joyce, P.W., A Concise History of Ireland , Longmans, Green, and Co., New York, 1903

 

Kenny, M., Goodbye to Catholic Ireland, New Island Books, Dublin, 2003

 

Kerrigan, P.M., Castles and Fortifications in Ireland 1485 – 1945, The Collins Press, Cork, 1995

 

Lewis, S., Counties Londonderry & Donegal.  A Topographical Dictionary of The Parishes, Villages and Towns of these Counties in the 1830’s, Friar’s Bush Press, Belfast, 2004

 

Machonachie, Alwyn, The Church on The West of The Bann. The Story of Killowen Parish, Bard, Coleraine, 1997

 

MacLaughlin, D., A Short Sketch of the History of The Parish Church of St John the Evangelist, Killowen, Coleraine, Chronicle Printing Company, Coleraine, 1900

 

McSkimin, S., Annals of Ulster. From 1790 to 1798, James Clelland, Belfast, 1906

 

Mallie, E., & McKittrick, D., Endgame in Ireland, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2001

 

Mullan, D., & Donnelly, P., St. John’s Coleraine, Impact Printing, Coleraine, 1992

 

Mullin, Rev. T.H., Coleraine in By-Gone Centuries, Century Services Ltd., Belfast, 1976

 

Mullin, Rev., T.H., Coleraine in Georgian Times, Century Services Ltd, Belfast, 1977

 

Mullin, Rev., T.H., Coleraine in Modern Times, Century Services Ltd., Belfast, 1979

 

O’Doherty, M., The Trouble With Guns. Republican Strategy and the Provisional IRA, The Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1988

 

Oppenheimer, S., Origins of the British. A Genetic Detective Story, Constable & Robinson, London, 2006

 

Patterson, R.W., The Irish Volunteers and Yeomanry: 1715 until 1820, Private Publication, 2002

 

Potter, J., A Testimony to Courage.  The Regimental History of The Ulster Defence Regiment, Leo Cooper, Barnsley, 2001

 

Ross, D., Ireland. History of a Nation, Lagan Books, Geddes & Grosset, New Lanark, 2002

 

Sampson, G. V., Statistical Survey of the County of Londonderry, Derry, 1814

 

Smith, M.L.R., Fighting For Ireland? The Military Strategy of the Irish Republican Movement, Routledge, London & New York, 1995

 

Stewart, A.T.Q., The Ulster Crisis, Faber & Faber, London, 1966

 

Wallace, M., Drums and Guns: Revolution in Ulster, Geoffrey Chapman, London, 1969

 

Wood, I.S., Crimes of Loyalty. A History of The UDA, Edinburgh University Press. Edinburgh, 2006

 

 

Unpublished/Taped Memoirs/Conversations/Photographs

 

Doherty, R., The Militia Tradition, Lecture to Royal Irish Regiment: Home Service (Part Time) Officers’ Study Day, 1999

 

Doherty, R., The Siege of Derry: A Military History, Manuscript, 2007

 

Logan, R., Regimented Women: The Role of Women in The Military, Dissertation, 1992

 

 

Newspapers

 

Boyd, H.A., The Parish of Killowen.  An Historical Survey, Coleraine Chronicle, Sat Oct 5 1957

 

 

Coleraine Maps

 

O’Hagan James, The Irish and Local Studies Collection. Coleraine Library, Coleraine, 1842

 

Valuation Map, The Irish and Local Studies Collection. Coleraine Library, Coleraine, 1858

 

 

 

World Wide Web

 

http://www.wesleyjohnston.com

 

 

 

Journals

 

Loeber, R., The Reorganisation of the Irish Militia in 1678 – 81: Documents from Birr Castle, The Irish Sword, P196 – 224, Vol 19, 1995

 

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