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.

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