Ex UDR soldier: I would never have missed the fine 50th anniversary tribute parade in Lisburn to an almost forgotten army

A letter from Councillor Robert Wilson:

Monday, 27th September 2021, 7:17 pm
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 7:39 pm
UDR Association members parade through Lisburn on Saturday September 18. Pic by Norman Briggs, rnbphotographyni

On Saturday September 18 I attended a very impressive parade through Lisburn to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

The UDR was founded in 1970 so its half century was last year but the event was delayed until this year due to Covid.

Busses came in from all over Northern Ireland. Fifty year medals were cut and distributed to the ex soldiers on parade.

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The Standards line up outside the Royal British Legion. Pic by Norman Briggs

The Lisburn parade was led by an army buglers’ band and an army pipe band.

As an ex UDR man, it was a day I would not have missed for any money.

There were members in attendance who I have not seen for a lifetime.

A lot of them have scars from their service over the years - late nights in the cold at checkpoints and border patrols have all taken a toll. But we did what we needed to do to keep our country safe.

The dignitaries at the UDR 50th anniversary event in Wallace Park. Pic by Norman Briggs, rnbphotographyni

Many of our comrades have passed away. I am heading on for 82.

The UDR is an army that has been almost forgotten about. Very few terrorists did time for their murder of UDR soldiers.

Most of those who were killed were attacked when they were off duty.

When UDR were on patrol, very few of their spouses slept until they were home again.

Letter to the editor

Quite a few of the ex soldiers at the Lisburn parade were in wheelchairs, male and female. The Greenfinches did their duty as much as the men, and faced the same terrorist threat.

I joined the Ulster Special Constabulary in 1958 and changed over to the UDR in 1970. I was in until 1992 when it changed to the Royal Irish Regiment and served in that too until they told me I was too old and had to retire.

I served 37 years in those three forces.

I have now served 20 years as a councillor.

Robert Wilson, Ulster Unionist councillor, Omagh

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