UDR fallen comrades remembered

The News Letter reports (02 Apr 2010) that parades were held in Ballymena and Lisburn last night to mark the 40th anniversary of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Hundreds of former soldiers, some of whom had never met since leaving active service, joined with the families of their fallen comrades for the two emotionally-charged events.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who laid a wreath as part of the Lisburn parade, said last night's commemoration would help ensure that the sacrifices made by the force will be never be forgotten.

"Tonight's parade was very poignant for me personally and all those who served in the Ulster Defence Regiment," said the DUP man, who was himself a former UDR member.

"It reminds us of how much time has passed since UDR soldiers stepped on to the troubled streets of Northern Ireland.

"Here in Lisburn we remembered our eight fallen colleagues who died between 1972 and 1987. The regiment suffered serious losses, both full-time and part-time, in their efforts to pave a more peaceful future for our country.

"Our thoughts are with the widows and families left behind, and this anniversary has made us more determined to ensure that the contributions and sacrifices made by the Ulster Defence Regiment shall never be forgotten," said Mr Donaldson.

Speaking ahead of last night's parade in Ballymena, Jimmy McMaster, chairman of the local UDR Association branch, said he had received a great response from former members.

"It's a great opportunity for a reunion for many of the soldiers, some of whom have never met since they stopped serving," he said.

"It is also important that we remember all our fallen colleagues and there were many – we as a regiment suffered the worst losses during the Troubles."

In July 1992 the UDR merged with the Royal Irish Rangers to form the Royal Irish Regiment.

Fifteen members of the regiment were decorated for acts of gallantry.

In 2006 the Queen bestowed the award of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to the regiment, which is surpassed only by the Victoria Cross.

No other regiment has been awarded such an accolade.
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