Omagh and the RAC resident regiment

Judging by comments on other threads different regiments had different roles/experiences on the RAC's only resident Northern Ireland tour. So let me tell you about 1 RTR and see how we differed from you? this is from memory so there might be a few small errors.

1 RTR replaced 16/5L in April 1973 and 18 months later (Nov 1974) handed over to 15/19H.

We had 3 Sabre sqns, Sqn orbat was 4 car tps each with FSC Mk2 x 4, one tp with FSC x2 and Saladin x2. Assault troop with 2 x FSC and 4 x Saracen APC.

We operated a 3 x 3 week cycle, one Sqn in Tyrone, one Sqn in Fermanagh and one sqn off ops in Lisanelly Barracks Omagh.

In Tyrone, SHQ was based at Lisanelly, the car troops were based at the out stations each with an assault section attached.
Outstations were Castlederg (Rockwood UDR base), RUC Beragh, Clogher (The Deanery) and Newtonstewart ( UDR Greyvale). Greyvale was burnt down when a UDR soldier put petrol on a fire and the troops then patrolled from Lisanelly Barracks. We were based at Pomeroy for a short spell after Greyvale was lost but it was out of our AOR and we were soon withdrawn. One troop plus assault section was always rotated through Lisanelly Barracks for guard and standby duties.

In Fermanagh, SHQ was based at St Angelo Camp Ennislkillen. Assault Troop operated as a unit and was always based at RUC Belleek. Car tps were based at Belcoo, Kinawley, Lisnaskea and Rosslea. Again there was rotation through St Angelo for standby duties, and often a car troop would be at Belleek with Assault troop when an assaullt section was at St Angelo

In Lisanelly when off ops, half the sqn went on leave, the other half did vehicle maintenance and a stack of guard duties.

We covered 53% of the Ulster/Eire border, we were not province reserve or anything like that and apart from some fuel tanker escorts (during the ulster workers strike) I'm pretty sure we were not deployed elswhere. We had an Air (helicopter) Sqn with Sioux and Scout choppers as part of the regiment based at Omagh. 4 troop A Sqn was made up entirely of volunteer soldiers from 4 RTR (RAC Training Regiment Catterick) on 4 month tours.

That's a short description of 1 RTR, it will be interesting to hear how things changed over the years till 1982.


Book Reviewer
I rotated through Belcoo (Ralphy T was my SSGT Troop Leader in 4 Tp B Sqn).

In JC's obituary (in the LD Journal, April 2011 handy to my left hand as I type) it describes:

Having been honoured with the appointment of Staff Sergeant troop leader to 1st Troop C Sqn during the regiment's 2 year [sic] tour of Tyrone and Fermanagh, John let it be known to the locals that he was itching to be targeted by the Provisional IRA; this was so that the careful training he had undertaken with his troop could be properly tested. (In the eulogy, a member of his troop who was there and went on to be RSO while I was in Command Troop, stated that JC made this be known in the local republican bar in uniform.) Needless to say, such was his reputation that the troop based at the RUC station in Belcoo was never attacked. [We knew the RUC Station as The Belcoo Hilton.]

JC. Legend, FACT.

Unlike 1RTR, when B Sqn 15/19H were in Tyrone, we (our troop) were always Lisanelly-based. That said (see next paragraph), I went round the rotation less than two complete cycles. Otherwise it was pretty much as aghart describes. But that means nothing coming from me: I was last reinforcement into the province for the last couple of months of the tour, fresh out of Catterick and paid little attention to what happened outside of the troop, just happy to be accepted as one of the boys.

In my previous thread that I suspect aghart alludes to, I knew nothing about Cookstown except that as I stood being interviewed by the squadron leader on Day 1, there was a map of the province on the wall behind him that had Cookstown marked as prominently as Omagh and Enniskillen and also some of my mukkers occasionally mentioned Cookstown. I drew the conclusion that Cookstown was in the AOR but dropped off just before I joined due to C Squadron's introduction to Rheumatic Fever or something. I stand to be corrected on that.

Edited to add:
Come to think about it. It seemed to me (nobody explained our troop's orbat to me) that we had two sections, each with two times FSC Mark 2 and two times FFR. The troop also had at least one Saracen. We were into the vinegar strokes of the tour when I joined and drivers kept disappearing to do Scorpion courses. I found myself driving first an FFR then a FSC. First time out in the FSC, I chased the Saracen down the roads of West Tyrone around Augher and Clogher, Fivemiletown, Sixmilecross, etc. At one point I saw the Sarry negotiate the chicane between 45-gallon oil drums and sleeping policemen in front of an RUC station. I made to follow. I became aware of a whining somewhere at the back of the FSC but I pressed on, hit the first sleeping policeman and missed the rest as I flew over them. The whine terminated in a clunk as the commander stopped screaming at me when he hit the turret.


Book Reviewer
In 69 when shit hit fan 17/21st Lancers were in Omagh with HQ Sqn and CSqn, Bsqn in Libya. ASqn In Cyprus, Air Sqn in Aldergrove
In 69 when shit hit fan 17/21st Lancers were in Omagh with HQ Sqn and CSqn, Bsqn in Libya. ASqn In Cyprus, Air Sqn in Aldergrove
Yep was HQ LAD at first then posted to ORD DEPOT El Adem with a brief to look after B Sdn after their Gun Fitter went absent, still in my mind one of the 2 best Regiments I served with, other was QRIH
My dad was a trooper with 1RTR in 1973. I was born in Munster in the February. Now my mum tells me the windows in the married quarters were blown out while we were there but obviously being a baby at the time I have no idea...............she also told me that at some point he was off to Cyprus for 6 months where he apparently had a thing with a General's daughter (he admitted that himself too) My mum said there was a 'recruitment office' involved. So if there's anyone on this site that can enlighten me of the details I'd be ever so grateful (last I heard daddy was living in Bulgaria, I haven't had contact with him in years. We went to Tidworth after NI where my kid brother was born but mum and dad had split up by then. My earliest memory is sitting on a milk crate........
A bomb was placed in the married quarters at the rear of the camp. The MQ's were not (at that time) within the perimiter of the camp. No one was killed and I think there were no injuries. Following Omagh, B Sqn 1 RTR deployed on a 6 month tour of Cyprus as the Sovereign Base Armoured Car Sqn. It was originally intended to be an 18 month accompanied tour ( with families) but all the married quarters had been destroyed in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Other elements of 1 RTR deployed to Cyprus in 1975 as part of the UN force.
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The last Armoured Corps lot were the QDG (IIRC) who handed over to 1 QUEEN'S in 1982.


Book Reviewer
Some years ago I developed a skin tag on the join between left leg and scrotum. It very quickly grew mahusive. I took it to my GP (who had already removed a handful of skin tags by cauterisation), who deemed it too big for him to handle (I assumed he meant the skin tag) and I got an appointment at the hospital.

Cometh the day, a hint of local anaesthetic, me stripped to the waist (from the bottom), a surgeon and three nurses. Todger like an acorn at the prospect and the sight of the scalpel.

One of the nurses comments that I am taking it very well. I tell her I am ex-cavalry, I don't feel fear or panic, nothing brings me down.* She replies, "My husband was RE, I understand."

The male nurse chips in with, "I was a medic in the Navy."

The third nurse, younger of the two ladies, announces, "My father was Paymaster to a cavalry regiment when I was born in the hospital in Omagh."
"Oh, really, which regiment?"
"Err, 15th/19th Hussars?"
"Well would you believe it? I was 15th/19th Hussars in Omagh and later I transferred to the RAPC. I live down here cos I finished me time at the Computer Centre in Worthy Down."
"My Dad worked at the Computer Centre. Captain B****t."
"Manning QAG? He was my section 2IC. Small world."

So I had a handful of stitches in the groin to close the 2" cut. For a week, it was impossible to get down for a dump, I had to keep the stitches dry in the bath, it took about ten minutes get up / down the stairs. Then on the sixth morning I found them pulled. The gap was wide open.

I got on the phone. (It turned out that the ward sister had been a QA.) She suggested I come in any time. She was in from early o'clock and we'd all have a look. No appointment necessary.

So for the next couple of months, I fronted up at the ward three times a week at early o'clock so that a nurse could fondle my dressing. With no threat of scalpel and all those fit nurses, I did the decent thing and used my hand to cover my modesty. Not my fault I am gifted, being ex-cavalry and I have small hands, so the nurses always found a smile smiling back up that them while they worked.

And, no, I didn't pull. Julie's husband might have had something to say, and no, there's no pictures.
* Bob Calvert: Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters
I was 1st Troop C Squadron from April 75 to end of tour then during the Cyprus tour. I don't remember JC being Troop leader at anytime then. I'm not 100% but it may have been 4th Troop which was Mel T**** troop.


Book Reviewer
I was 1st Troop C Squadron from April 75 to end of tour then during the Cyprus tour. I don't remember JC being Troop leader at anytime then. I'm not 100% but it may have been 4th Troop which was Mel T**** troop.
The JC story was related
  1. At his eulogy
  2. In his epitaph in the Journal.
I don't remember it either, but a lot of people got it wrong if it ain't so.

A Sqn assault troop 1 RTR, Rod Hine troop leader, had only just turned 18 in the March as we deployed in the April, was on the advance party from Osnabruck, mainly deployed to Belleek and Rock wood Castlederg, but did a variety of out stations over the 18 months, most memorable occasion was exchanging shots with One shot Willie, coming back in off a night mobile patrol, near the church in Belleek, with Dave, Dinger, and Steve, then waking up next morning in agony with a massive abscess on my tooth, medic suggestions was mouth wash, using hot salty water, word to the wise, don'the swallow


Book Reviewer
BBC 1 News just reported on the six-school, non-religious campus built on the site of Lisanelly. Swords to ploughshares I suppose, but part of our history gone.

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