The battalion had its origins in the 83rd Regiment of Foot, which was raised in 1793 for service in the Napoleonic Wars.
By 1939, the 1st Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles, as it was then known, was serving in the North West frontier of India. It was recalled to the UK shortly after the outbreak of World War II and assigned to defensive duties with 31st Independent Brigade Group in 1940.
The brigade was formally redesignated and reorganised as 1st Air Landing Brigade in late 1941 and its battalions, including 1st (Airborne) Battalion RUR, were re-roled to undertake airborne assault by glider.
Later, in May 1943, it was transferred to form part of 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division, in preparation for the liberation of North West Europe. The 1st Battalion landed in Normandy by glider on the evening of 6 June 1944 at LZ N, near Ranville, and was initially deployed to extend the southern sector of the bridgehead.
The battalion remained in Normandy until September when it returned to the UK, but was redeployed, along with other units of 6th Airborne Division, to halt the German offensive in the Ardennes during the winter of 1944-45.
It later took part in Operation Varsity, which established a bridgehead across the Rhine into Germany, and took part in the subsequent advance to the Baltic.
Although 6th Airlanding Brigade was disbanded on 31 August 1945, the battalion remained part of 6th Airborne Division, and served in Palestine, until January 1947, when it lost its airborne role.
Shortly after, the battalion amalgamated with 2nd Battalion RUR to form 1st Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles (83rd and 86th).
Following various amalgamations since 1968, the traditions of the battalion are carried forward by 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, which is presently part of 16th Air Assault Brigade.
'The Glider Soldiers' by Alan Wood published by Spellmount 1992. ‘
The Rifles are There’ 1st and 2nd Battalions RUR in the Second World War by David Orr and David Truesdale published by Pen and Sword 2005.
Lt Col RJR Campbell
Lt Col JH Carson
Lt Col GP Rickcord DSO
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