The Royal Irish Rangers

The many orders of dress of the Royal Irish Rangers.

On 1 July 1968 the new Regiment came into being with its battalions at Worcester (1st), Gibraltar (2nd) and Catterick (3rd). However, the new battalions were not heirs simply to the traditions of the Regiments which they had been until 30 June. Those traditions had been "mixed" across the new Regiment and its full title - The Royal Irish Rangers (27th Inniskilling 83rd & 87th) showed how the spirits of the old regiments had been retained.

From the mixing of fusiliers and riflemen came a unique musical blend of bugles, pipes and drums that gave the new Regiment a unique distinction. The marriage was a happy one and the Regiment settled down quickly although in December 1968 the 3rd Battalion was disbanded as part of the contraction of the Army following the withdrawal from east of Suez.

New administrative divisions were also created in 1968 to which the infantry regiments were assigned. The Royal Irish Rangers became part of The King's Division whose first Colonel Commandant was Major General H E N (Bala) Bredin, CBE, DSO**, MC and bar, a Royal Ulster Rifleman and a strong believer in the Regimental system which he fostered within the Division.    

The Royal Irish Rangers saw wide service and gained an excellent reputation. Much of the Regiment's time was spent serving with BAOR in Germany but there were also tours elsewhere: the Regiment took part in peacekeeping duties for the United Nations and Rangers served as fire-fighters in 1977 during the national strike by firemen. Both battalions also deployed to Canada for exercises.    

Operational tours were served in Cyprus, the Falklands and in Northern Ireland, while individuals served with distinction on attachments, notable among them Captain Simon Garthwaite and Staff Sergeant Talaisi Labala BEM, who both died in action while serving with 22 SAS in the 1972 - 74 phase of the highly successful Dhofar campaign against the Aden based PFLOAG guerrillas.   

Three centuries after the raising of those irregular companies at Enniskillen in December 1688, 1st Royal Irish Rangers were patrolling the streets and lanes of County Fermanagh, County Tyrone and County Armagh. In 1990 2nd Royal Irish Rangers also carried out a tour in Northern Ireland during which a posthumous QGM was earned by Ranger Cyril Smith who gave his life to protect others in a PIRA proxy-bomb attack on the VCP at Killeen.

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