The Royal Irish Rangers, 1968-1992

Jul 1, 2018

Royal Irish Rangers

The Rangers were formed out of three historic regiments which were based in Northern Ireland, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Ulster Rifles and Royal Irish Fusiliers.

“Vesting Day” was 1st July 1968.   It was called this, not amalgamation, to emphasise that the traditions of the old regiments would be vested in the Royal Irish Rangers.

Royal Irish Rangers

Royal Irish Rangers

The three battalions, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Worcester, 1st Royal Ulster Rifles in Gibraltar, and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers in Catterick, would be vested into two battalions of the new regiment. The Royal Irish Fusiliers Battalion was officially disbanded on 3rd December.

On Vesting Day, emotional ceremonies were held as the three historic regiments passed into history.  The Inniskillings’ ceremony was held in Worcester at midnight on 30th/1st July.  The other two battalions held daylight ceremonies in Gibraltar and Catterick.  There was also a parade in Ballymena to mark the new regimental headquarters

No officer, Warrant officer, Non-Commissioned officer, Fusilier or Rifleman was posted back to his original regiment, and therefore no battalion of the new regiment could claim exclusive representation of its previous parent.


This was to be distinctive and striking, as well as maintaining certain aspects and characteristics of the former regiments.

A green caubeen was adopted as headgear, with the green hackle of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The castle collar badges of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were worn as were the black buttons of the Royal Ulster Rifles.

A brown cross-belt for officers was a compromise between the brown Sam Browne belts of the two Fusilier regiments and the black cross-belt of the Rifles with the Royal Irish Fusiliers’ Barrosa Eagle on the pouch.  All ranks would wear piper green trousers.

Two volunteer battalions of part time soldiers supported the work of the regular battalions, the 4th (Volunteer) Battalion, North Irish Militia and 5th Battalion.  A large number of detachments and contingents of The Army Cadet Force and The Combined Cadet Force were affiliated to the Regiment.

The Rangers served as front line infantry throughout their short life.  In 1992, the Regiment was amalgamated with the Ulster Defence Regiment to form a new regiment, The Royal Irish Regiment.

Ranger Officer

Ranger Officer

Overseas deployments.


Throughout the existence of the regiment, its major overseas commitment was to the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), part of NATO’s commitment to the defence of Europe during the Cold War.  When in West Berlin, they were part of the allied army of occupation.

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
1970-74  Hemer 1974-79  Hemer
1979-81  Berlin 1981-85  Berlin
1985-89 Ostnabruck 1988 Lemgo
Soldier's pass from Berlin to West Germany

Soldier’s pass from Berlin to West Germany


In Cyprus the battalions served under the United Nations, which was stationed in Cyprus after the violent partition of the island between the Greeks and the Turks.  Both battalions served there, usually for a tour of six months.

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
1971-72 1973
1977 1975


Belize (formally British Honduras) is situated on the eastern coast of central America. Its neighbour, Guatemala claimed the territory, and when it became independent in 1981, refused to recognise the independence.  British troops were stationed there to deter any possible incursions or aggression.

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
1981-82 1979-80


After the defeat of the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in 1982, British forces garrisoned the islands in sufficient strength to deter any repeat invasion.

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
1983 1987
Falklands 1983 - 1st Bn about to go on patrol

Falklands 1983 – 1st Bn about to go on patrol

Libya and the Gulf, Bahrain, Kuwait

These posting were part of British efforts to protect their oil interests. The Libyan posting in 1969 was at the time of the military coup which established Colonel Gadhafi in power.

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
1991 Band to Kuwait as medical assistants 1969 Libya, 1970-71 Bahrain


A significant naval base at the entrance to the Mediterranean, with a military garrison

2nd Battalion

Northern Ireland. Operation Banner: 1969-2007, the army served in support of the civil powers in the campaign against the Provisional IRA.

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
1988, Fermanagh and Tyrone, Op Banner 1990, Fermanagh and Tyrone, Op Banner

Ranger Cyril Smith killed on active service in Newry

In addition to these postings, the two battalions went on overseas exercises to many countries: Denmark, USA, Canada, Jamaica, Italy, Kenya, Gibraltar Libya and France. They also fulfilled public duties in London, at the Royal Tournament, the Edinburgh Festival, fire-fighting duties in Manchester, guard duty at RAF Greenham Common.


Public Duties

1978 - Fire fighting squad in a fire station during Firefighters National Strike

1978 – Fire fighting squad in a fire station during Firefighters National Strike

Band outside Buckingham Palace

Band outside Buckingham Palace


4th (Volunteer) Battalion, (North Irish Militia)

5th Battalion

1976 - Bisley, winners of the prestigious China Cup

1976 – Bisley, winners of the prestigious China Cup

Parades, from first to last


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