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Ballykelly 1977-79

4th Oct. 1977 regiment took over from the Royal Hampshire Regiment. For the first time the families accompanied the regiment on a Northern Ireland tour. Based at Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly.

'A' and 'B' Coys. alternated at Kilrea, looking after the northern sector of their area.
'C' and 'D' Coys. took turns at Maghera, in the south sector.

End of 1977 the regiment also took over the area covered by 2 RTR. Therefore Tac. HQ moved to a joint Army/RUC Operations Room at Magherafelt and 'C' and 'D' Coys. moved to Fort William, Magherafelt to cover South Derry. Bn HQ and HQ Coy. remained at Shackleton Barracks, where the Rifle Coys also returned when relieved.

Tour ended early 1979 with the Bn to move to Munster, West Germany in March-April 1979.

'A' Company

Company working with 'E' Coy. of 5 UDR. No. 1 Platoon based at Dungiven. 1st Jan. 1978 detached to 5 UDR. Later replaced by 3 Platoon, with 1 Platoon becoming Battalion Reserve. 2 Platoon based at Maghera.

Periods in Londonderry, Strabane and Sion Mills, and in Ballymena, as well as deployments to Dungiven and Maghera.
2nd Nov. 1978 acted as Prison Guard Force at Magilligan Prison during the Prison Officer's Strike.

Jan. 1979 Company arrested a driver of a vehicle full of weapons and ammunition.

'B' Company

Brigade Reserve. Assisted in Op. Lockage at Magilligan Prison.
Follow-up ops after 2 RUC Constables were fired upon, both escaped injury.
No. 6 Platoon found an M1 magazine and telephone dug into a hole in Dungiven.
Over Christmas 1977 2 Platoons were sent to Belfast to assist during a Firemen's strike. No. 5 Platoon suffered a few casualties from bomb blasts and a traffic accident. Evening, 22nd Dec. 1977 5 Platoon was called to a large bomb discovered in a Hi-Fi shop in Lisburn Road. Sgt. Heavens' team started to cordon off the area and evacuate nearby houses. During this operation a second device was spotted and the cordon had to be extended. A few minutes later a device exploded and Ptes Poole, Mowe 25, and Young were blown off their feet, receiving minor burns and bruises. Sgt. Heavens had part of the device blown into his leg (a 2 inch bolt). As the Green Godesses arrived the second device exploded. While the blaze was being tackled a drunken motorcyclist crashed into the cordon. Pte Cheshire (broken arm) was knocked down and Pte Evans (multiple leg injuries) was pinned to a Land Rover.

After a shooting incident in the New Year 'B' and 'D' Coys mounted a search operation. Found an M14 rifle, .38 Smith & Wesson, 9mm Mauser, ammunition. A trail of blood led them to a wounded terrorist, who was captured by 2 men from 'B' Coy. Area handed over to 5 UDR and in June the Kilrea base was closed.

'C' Company

11th July an Irish tricolour was placed on a rock in Lough Fea, with a tin and some wires running from it. C Coy. arranged to check the suspect device. An RE Diving Team, and RAF Puma, an RN Wessex, RE Search teams were involved in the operation!
12th August 1978 company went to Londonderry to cover the riots.

'D' Company

CO - Major C.J. Newbould
2 i/c - Capt. P.J. Cable
CQMS - C/Sgt. L.R. Keeling
OC 10 Platoon - 2 Lt. T.S. Edwards
Pl. Sergt. - Sgt. R.M. Wood
OC 11 Pl. - 2 Lt. T. Hurn
Pl. Sergt. - Sergt. P.E. Jenkins
OC 12 Pl. - Lt. G.H. Hony
Pl. Sergt. - Sergt. T. Gooch

Based at Maghera. Operating with 'G' and 'F' Coys. 5 UDR.
December 1977 moved to Magherafelt, with 12 Platoon detached at Toome Bridge, on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Assisted 'B' Coy. in follow-up ops after a shooting incident. See above.,
Dec. 10 and 11 Platoons to Belfast during the Firemen's strike.
Company assisted in transfer of prisoners from Magilligan Prison to the Maze Prison.