Ulster Defence Regiment

From Academic Kids

The Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was an infantry regiment of the British Army.

Formed in 1970, it was designed to replace the B Specials of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the security of Northern Ireland. Throughout its history the UDR was dogged by accusations of collusion with unionist terrorist organisations, many of whose members were also serving UDR soldiers.

Initially, seven battalions were raised, immediately making it the largest regiment in the British Army. Within two years, a further four battalions were added, taking the total to eleven. To begin with, the regiment consisted entirely of part-time volunteers, before a full time cadre was added in 1976. At first, the regiment was 82 per cent Protestant and 18 per cent Catholic, but this ratio became 99:1 as the UDR adopted the partisan approach of its predecessor organisation. The full time element of the regiment eventually expanded to encompass half the total personnel. The UDR was also the first regiment in the British Army to fully integrate women into its structure, when the so called Greenfinches took over clerical and signals duties, which allowed male members of the regiment to return to patrol duties.

The regiment was reduced to first nine battalions in 1984, then to seven in 1991 through amalgamations, before being amalgamated as a whole with the Royal Irish Rangers in 1992 to form the Royal Irish Regiment. In 1990 British Secretary of State Peter Brooke described them as committed to "justice, decency and democracy".

Between 1 April 1970 and 30 June 1992, a total of 197 members of the UDR were killed during the Troubles. Two were killed by other British soldiers, three by unionist paramilitaries, and the remaining 192 by republican paramilitaries (mainly the IRA). During this time the UDR killed (officially) six civilians and two members of the IRA.

Many unionist politicians in Northern Ireland today are former members of the UDR.


  • 1st (County Antrim) Battalion [1970-1984]
  • 1st/9th (County Antrim) Battalion [1984-1992]
  • 2nd (County Armagh) Battalion [1970-1991]
  • 2nd/11th (Craigavon) Battalion [1991-1992]
  • 3rd (County Down) Battalion [1970-1992]
  • 4th (County Fermanagh) Battalion [1970-1991]
  • 4th/6th (County Fermanagh and County Tyrone) Battalion [1991-1992]
  • 5th (County Londonderry) Battalion [1970-1992]
  • 6th (County Tyrone) Battalion [1970-1991]
  • 7th (City of Belfast) Battalion [1970-1984]
  • 7th/10th (City of Belfast) Battalion [1984-1992]
  • 8th (County Tyrone) Battalion [1971-1992]
  • 9th (Country Antrim) Battalion [1972-1984]
  • 10th (City of Belfast) Battalion [1972-1984]
  • 11th (Craigavon) Battalion [1972-1991]

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