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A brief history

The Army Medical Services is extremely proud to boast a total of twenty nine Victoria Crosses, with two being awarded the unique honour of a bar to the Victoria Cross. No other Corps or Regiment in the British Army can claim the same honours.

The two threads which run throughout the history of 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital are those of pride in the medical professionalism with which the soldier is cared for and courage and fortitude in applying that professionalism in arduous conditions.

Formation and early years

On 8th May 1961, 4 General Hospital (Territorial Army) was formed as an independent medical unit of the Territorial Army, with its Headquarters at Tyrone House, Malone Road, Belfast.

The Commanding Officer, five Officers and thirty one Other Ranks were transferred from the former 107(Ulster) Field Ambulance. By 1962, following an extensive recruitment campaign, it was a well recruited and experienced unit with several of its personnel having seen War Service between 1938 and 1945.

The 1960's saw a period or re-organisation, with the Territorial Army becoming the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve (T&AVR). At this time, 204 (North Irish) General Hospital Royal Army Medical Corps (Volunteers) was formed as a successor to 4 General Hospital; its Headquarters were in Belfast with a detachment at Elm Lodge, Dungannon.

Troubles in Northern Ireland

During the 1970's, recruitment became very difficult due to the security restrictions caused by the troubles within Province. Having the Headquarters based on the Antrim Road at this time was less than ideal. Two new sub units were established at Kinnegar and Carryduff during the 1980's; this improved recruitment enormously. During 1985, a further reorganisation of Territorial Army Hospitals reduced the number of treatment beds required but greatly increased the number of Nursing Officers.

In the 1990's, Options for Change and the disintegration of the Former Soviet Union meant yet another re-organisation, with 204 becoming a 200 bedded Field Hospital, having an active role in the multi-national ACE Rapid Reaction Corps. The detachments at Kinnegar and Carryduff were closed with the detachment at Dungannon being moved to Armagh.

The split into Squadrons

On 1st April 1993, the Regimental Headquarters moved to its present home at Hydebank, a former centre used by the Royal Irish Rangers (Volunteers). A third detachment was formed in Newtownards in December 1996. In July 1999 the Field Hospital was split into Squadrons with the fourth Squadron being formed in Ballymena.

On the 28th June 1998 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital (Volunteers) were granted the Freedom of the Borough of Castlereagh for devotion to duty and service to Castlereagh and Northern Ireland for the previous 100 years.

Headquarters 2 Medical Brigade was formed and became operational on 1st April 2001 when it assumed Operational Command responsibility for the ten Army Medical Services Independent Field Hospitals. Administration control for 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital remains with 107 (Ulster) Brigade, the Regional Brigade.

Operations in the Gulf region

Since the onset of the Gulf War in 1991, 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital has continually had personnel on Operations in support of the Regular Army to places such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Cyprus and recently in support of recent operations in the Gulf region. In 2008, 204 were mobilised and proceeded as a formed body to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan for a 3 month tour of duty.

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