Thursday, 4 February 2010

A Short History of 3 Infantry Brigade

During the 19th Century, divisional and brigade organisation in the British Army existed only at times of actual operations overseas. In the Peninsula War the numbers of brigades within a division varied and were often known only by their commanders' names. In the campaigns of the later 19th Century, there were normally only two brigades allocated to the divisions formed for each specific expedition. The addition of a third infantry brigade to enlarge divisions engaged on operations was a temporary measure and the brigade would then be disbanded or merged. It was only due to operational requirement that a third infantry brigade was used and this function has followed the brigade throughout its history.

Although it is possible to trace the existence of a third infantry brigade in the Peninsula war and at Waterloo, it was not until the official formation in 1857 that 3 Infantry Brigade gained its name. Following its official formation in Aldershot there were only two occasions, prior to the Army reorganisation of 1904, when a third infantry brigade was required for operational reasons. The first was during the Egyptian Campaign of 1882 and the second was the initial stages of the Boer War. The reforms of Haldane after the Boer War consolidated the 3rd Infantry Brigade as a permanent regular formation. 3 Infantry Brigade served on the Western Front throughout the First World War and in North Africa and Italy as part of the First Division during the Second Ward War. After 1945 the Brigade served in Palestine, Cyprus and Egypt until it was disbanded in 1962.

The Brigade has been reformed on two occasions since 1962. On both occasions 3 Infantry Brigade was formed to fulfil an operational role in Northern Ireland. From 1971 to 1981 and then 1988 until 2004 the brigade was responsible for the south of Northern Ireland including the South Armagh area, notoriously known as bandit country.

During its time in Northern Ireland the Brigade has borne the brunt of numerous terrorist campaigns always striving to maintain security and allowing the return to normality in Northern Ireland. It stands as a testament to all those from 3 Infantry Brigade who have served, and particularly to those who gave their lives, that the Brigade is now to be disbanded as part of the ongoing normalisation of Northern Ireland.

click to enlarge map

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A Short History of the Kitchen Hill Factory

The factory was built in 1958 for Pinehurst Textiles the British Army took it over in early 1971 and the following Brigade Headquarters have served there with their supporting Royal Signals Squadrons known as the "Knicker Factory" to those who served there
09 Feb 71 to 04 Jun 71 – 16 Parachute Brigade HQ & 216 Signal Squadron
04 Jun 71 to 26 Oct 71 – 19 Airportable Brigade HQ & Signal Squadron
25 Oct 71 to 25 Feb 72 – 5 Airportable Brigade HQ & Signal Squadron
25 Feb 72 to Jan 76 – 3 Infantry Brigade HQ & Signal Squadron
then moved to Mahon Road Camp – Portadown

In addition units in the infantry role and bomb disposal teams served at Kitchen Hill until 1980
Elements of 1 Parachute Logistic Regiment RCT – 09 Feb 71 to 04 Jun 71
3 Section 321 EOD Company RAOC – 1971 to 1980
8 Field Squadron 22 Engineer Regiment – Oct 71 to Nov 71

? Company 1 Battalion Staffordshire Regiment – Sep 72 to Jan 73
? Squadron 3 Royal Tank Regiment – Jan 73 to May 73
4 Field Squadron 21 Engineer Regiment – Dec 74 to Apr 75
56 Battery 27 Field Regiment Royal Artillery – Apr 75 to Aug 75
? Battery 26 Field Regiment Royal Artillery – Aug 75 to Dec 75

? Battery 2 Field Regiment Royal Artillery – Mar 77 to Jul 77
21 Battery 27 Field Regiment Royal Artillery – Aug 77 to Nov 77

? Battery 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – Mar 78 to Jul 78
5 Field Squadron and TAC HQ 3 Armoured Division Engineer Regiment – Jul 78 to Nov 78
F Battery 22 Air Defence Regiment Royal Artillery – Nov 78 to Mar 79
7 Field Squadron 1 Armoured Division Engineer Regiment – Mar 79 to Jul 79
52 Battery 45 Field Regiment Royal Artillery – Jul 79 to Nov 79
RHQ + 58 (Eyres) Battery 22 Air Defence Regiment Royal Artillery – Nov 79 to Mar 80
64 Amphibious Engineer Squadron 28 Amphibious Engineer Regiment Mar 80 to Jul 80

Monday, 4 January 2010

Squadron Photographs 1971 to 1973

Horseshoe Barracks Shoeburyness late 1971
click to enlarge
Thanks to Tony Hunt for this photograph

Kitchen Hill Factory Lurgan early 1973
click to enlarge

Thanks to Tony Hatch for this photograph

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Feb-Mar 72

During 1971 a Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron of the Strategic Reserve has been committed to Northern Ireland. 216 Parachute, 19 Airportable and 5 Airportable Brigades have all taken their turn. 3 Infantry Brigade Head­quarters and Signal Squadron has now been formed for per­manent employment in Lurgan thereby releasing the Strategic Reserve Squadrons to do their proper task. The Squadron organisation has been based on that of 8 Brigade.

3 Brigade previously existed from 1886 until it was disbanded in 1962 but compiling historical details is proving to be a difficult task. If any one can help our present address is Horse­shoe Barracks, Shoeburyness. After mid-February, 1972, it will be B.F.P.O. 801.

Poetic roll call
We bring you all good tiding of a Squadron newly made, the OC’s name is Ryding and it is 3 Brigade.
We started off at Bulford and then to Shoeburyness, and here we’re never bored with training in IS.
From that you’ll understand the reason for our forming. We’re all of to Ireland before next spring is dawning.
It may not be the best place but used to it we’re growing, so watch each month this space and we’ll tell you how it is going.
And now to tell you more of the names of those who’re here at least those from the Corps, who some of you hold dear.
The RSM is Thornton he came to us from 8, the Foreman’s name is Jackson, and then there’s Sergeant Tate.
And don’t forget Staff Wilkinson who is Chief Clerk by trade, and also Sergeant Hamiliton and OC ‘B’ Staff Wade.
There is Lieutenant Galpin who’s OC ‘Alpha’ Troop, and Sergeant Major Walton who runs the MT Group.
The end is getting closer, the RQ’s name is Waugh and then there is Staff Foster which leaves us just two more.
Now Yeoman Dunbar’s here and Capt Mackereth too, but only for the beer which isn’t really true.
That’s the Officers listed and the senior NCOs, the OC’s now insisted I write the rest in prose.

More about ourselves
The Signals element of 3 Infantry Brigade H.Q. & Signal Squadron met and formed in Bulford, under the watchful eye of our ‘Midwife,' 3rd Div. H.Q. & Signal Regiment, from 27th September, 1971. On 22nd October, 1971, we moved to Shoeburyness, preferring the seaside to the wastes of Salisbury Plain, and on 25th October, 1971, the Brigade staff started arriving.

Our thanks to 3 Division who found nothing too difficult and without whom we would have had a very difficult 'birth.' Thanks also to all the others who have helped us and made us so welcome here in Shoeburyness.

Our main employment is at present I.S. training and bangs, bombs and booby traps are a common occurrence in Horseshoe Barracks. We have been ambushed by day and by night, cordoned and searched all over the camp, and even strayed, by accident, outside the gates on a road block and vehicle search exercise. Grandmas driving along the front were somewhat surprised at being stopped and searched, but the locals were very friendly and helpful and joined in with spirit. Explaining to the press, who thought it was a great story, needed some careful wording but we passed them to the P.R. Officer with great dexterity.
Thanks go to Tony Hunt for keeping this
Physical fitness, from battle runs to muscle bending, is high on the programme. We even have P.T. Instructors from the Military Corrective Training Centre, Colchester, who look after us with loving care.

Now that we are settling in and getting to know each other, Squadron teams are emerging and many sports are being pursued. We hope to bring you more news next month of these activities as we shall have advanced beyond the camp perimeter to take on all comers. At home we have played Southend Transport eleven, whom we beat 11-1, and have also beaten the Proof and Experimental Establishment with whom we share the barracks, so we are now convinced we will soon be well known in the Corps.

Stop press:And now a dreadful shout and wail of anguish hounds me, there’s one that I’ve left out, It’s new boy Sergeant Downie.

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Apr-May 72

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine May-Jun 72

Corporal Tom Parker ready to move out

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Jun-Jul 72

Settling in
During February we all said our fond farewells to Shoeburyness where we had been so well looked after and enjoyed our seaside holiday. Then by cars and trains and ships and planes we made our various ways to this green and pleasant land to relieve 5 Bde besieged in Lurgan. Now spring is here and we are well and truly settled and watch over our concrete garden with a jaundiced eye. The instant peace we knew would settle on this unhappy land on our arrival has so far eluded us so we are digging in, rebuilding our knicker factory from the inside out. The OC lives in Ladies' Underwear according to the old office plan. We hope he's comfortable.

Our factory home

The D.O.E. and their band of Irish contractors, who have strikes and breaks and holidays for saints you've never heard of, are somehow managing to construct new offices and conference rooms, rest rooms and a comcen. Short cuts are barred by new walls, telephones ring in offices without doors (no holes in the walls either), windows bang, hammers hammer, drills drill, saws saw, labourers swear and then the lights go out. The electricians are here again or an officer has his electric blanket, kettle, television, gramophone, radio and heater on in his room while he does a bit of ironing. When the lights go out the pumps don't pump the water to the roof, the showers stop, the lavatories block, the place begins to smell and we know it’s going to be another good week. The plumber just called the Second-in-Command Corporal.

We do have some sport
Meanwhile back on the factory floor among the 'pigs,' petrol and holes in the ground, a gymnasium is being built. A very welcome addition when sports fields are so difficult to come by, though we have had some sporting success. We have beaten 233 Sig Sqn at basketball 36-24, with Staff Sergeant Dunbar leading the team. At hockey we beat 233 Sig Sqn 2-1, Banbridge Road Girls 1-0 and drew with 39 Bde Sig Sqn 1-1. Alas a tale of woe, we have lost our football matches – with 8 Bde 2-3, 13/18 Hussars 1-11 and the U.D.R. 0-7. Signalman Crick and Signalman Egan have both played consistently well and we hope, with a bit of training, to improve the situation.

Fishing too
The Fishing Club has got off to a great start – a competition was held on 7th May with enthusiasts lining the banks of the River Bann as far as the eye could see. F. of S. Jackson settled down to a bit of 'cultured' spinning while Sergeant Hamilton tried his special worms. Corporal Smith of the Pioneers won the competition easily, though the R.S.M. was convinced he would have done if someone hadn't enlarged the holes in his keep net.

Major Ryding and R.Q.M.S. Waugh slip away to the golf course at the finish of work (?) for an afternoon of relaxation. The M.T.O., W.O.2 Walton, got wise to this and insists on driving them there, and then waiting for them at the 19th.

Girls pour in
We have discos and dances in the canteen about once a week and girls pour in from miles around to savour the delights. They have heard the rumours of long-haired soldiers, put about to encourage volunteers for Northern Ireland. Corporal Brooks and Signalman Warner wear their wigs (to encourage the myth) while R.S.M. Thornton has a barber in his pay who comes into the factory three times a week (to destroy the myth). These discos are a great success, ably organised by Lance-Corporal Hill of the A.C.C. ' James Bonds ' abound, shoulder holsters bulge and people have to leave the dance floor to adjust their weapons.

Sergeants’ Mess improvements
All the more senior contractors seem to be honorary mem­bers of the Sergeants' Mess so work on the rebuild of their bar has gone like greased lightning and a beautiful refurbished Mess is emerging. Let's hope that when it's finished they won't all sit back with their pints in their hand and forget the rest of the factory.

A vet for the ‘pigs’?
Finally we hear Corporal Quaile of the R.A.V.C. is posted in – presumably to look after the 'pigs'!