Marking the 50th Anniversary of The Ulster Defence Regiment, a Beating Retreat was held at the historic Mossley Mill performed by The Band, Bugles, Pipes and Drums of The Royal Irish Regiment hosted by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
The Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell KStJ, and Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman Stephen Ross, were joined by hundreds of former service men and women of the Borough, invited guests and members of the public to mark this significant event.
Guest speakers at the event included; Mayor (Retd) Alan R McDade UD, VR, MCGI who served twenty years in 10th and 7/10th Battalions of The Ulster Defence Regiment based in Carnmoney and Abbotscroft, Dr Rosemary Craig JP a former Greenfinch who also served in 10 UDR Abbotscroft ,11 UDR Portadown, and Lt Col Kevin Thomas MBE VR RE from 38 (Irish) Brigade and Commanding Officer of Band Royal Irish Regiment.
Speaking at the event, the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman Stephen Ross commented,
“It is a privilege to be able to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the formation of The Ulster Defence Regiment in 1970.
“I am particularly pleased that The Band of the Royal Irish Regiment have joined us today to mark this occasion with their magnificent performance of a Beating Retreat in our beautiful Civic Square. My sincere thanks to all involved including Band Master, WO1 Richard Douglas MBE who led the wonderful musical display.
“This Council recognises the role the UDR played in our Borough and Northern Ireland and pays tribute to all who served and indeed were lost in service with a fitting recognition event. We thank you all for joining us.”
Major McDade recounted his time serving in the Regiment;
“The Ulster Defence Regiment was formed in 1970 with the first operational patrols taking place on 1 April 1970 where they were deployed on Operation Banner for the first time.
“The Regiment has a unique place in the history of the British Army as it is the only Regiment to have been on continuous operation service throughout its entire existence. A service which was continued into the Home Service Battalions of The Royal Irish Regiment in 1992 and until the end of Operation Banner.
“I would like to thank the Mayor and Members of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council for hosting this UDR veterans event and the Beating Retreat to mark this significant event in the history of The Ulster Defence Regiment.”
As former Greenfinch in the Ulster Defence Regiment, Rosemary Craig recounted her experiences of joining a Regiment that had been formerly all male;
“It gives me great pleasure to speak on behalf of the hundreds of women who ‘served with pride’ in what, in my estimation, was the best Regiment in the World.
“No one needs reminding of the sacrifice, duty and service that was given to the Regiment by the Greenfinches. When the call went out for women to join the Regiment in September 1973, 352 women were enrolled. It is fitting that we celebrate 50 years since the formation of The Ulster Defence Regiment and the work of the Greenfinches.”
Lt Col Kevin Thomas talked about the present day Brigade and Royal Irish Regiment;
“The current Royal Irish Regiment has supported operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cyprus and are currently training Ukrainian Troops in England before they return to home to defend their country.
“The Band of the Royal Irish Regiment, who proudly performed the Beating Retreat here at Mossley Mill, have in the last two years performed at the Ulster Tower in France, Gibraltar for the Queen’s Birthday Parade, His Majesty’s Ambassador to Ireland Dublin residence and last year for the first time at the Balmoral Show. We thank you for the opportunity to have performed here today to mark this significant occasion of the 50th Anniversary of The Ulster Defence Regiment.”
On 27 January 2020, the Council agreed a motion to recognise the contribution of the Ulster Defence Regiment to the Borough of Antrim and Newtownabbey. The motion was proposed by Councillor Paul Dunlop BEM and seconded by Councillor Robert Foster.
Motion: “This Council resolves to recognise the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the Ulster Defence Regiment by the hosting of a civic event and placing in Ballyclare Memorial Park a permanent memorial to the UDR.”