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A superb Royal Irish Regiment, Sierra Leone, 22 Year Long Service Group.

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A superb Royal Irish Regiment, Sierra Leone, 22 Year Long Service Group.

Campaign Service Medal with Northern Ireland clasp (246431236 Rgr. I.R. Taggerty, R. Irish); UN Medal Cyprus; NATO Medal with Kosovo clasp; Operational Service Medal for Sierra Leone (246431236 Rgr. I.R. Taggerty, R. Irish); Iraq Medal with 19 Mar to 28 Apr 2003 clasp (246431236 Rgr. I.R. Taggerty, R. Irish); Jubilee Medal 2002; Accumulated Service Medal with silver hallmarks (246431236 Rgr. I.R. Taggerty, R. Irish); Long Service & Good Conduct Medal with Regular Army clasp (246431236 Rgr. I.R. Taggerty, R. Irish). 

Accompanied by boxes of issue, including for the Sierra Leone Medal, original photographs of recipient and copy Certificate of Service.

Awarded Long Service and Good Conduct Medal: 

September 23, 1999 (London Gazette: November 6, 2000).

Ian Robert Taggerty enlisted into the British Army at Blackburn, Lancashire on 18 Sep 1984. Originally, Taggerty wanted to join the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment but he was informed by Army careers that there was a 10 month waiting list for that regiment.  The recruiting sergeant suggested the Royal Irish Rangers  as an alternative.  Apparently, Taggerty had never heard of them.  Four days later, he was at the depot at Ballymena to undertake basic training.  He was one of only four Englishmen to join the Royal Irish Rangers in an intake of 93 recruits!

Upon completion of basic training, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rangers at Dover, before undertaking a tour of Cyprus from June to Dec 1985 and subsequently on garrison detachment to the Falklands Islands from March to July 1987. 

In August 1988 the 2nd battalion moved to Lemgo in Germany.  On June 1990, the 2nd Battalion embarked on its first tour of Northern Ireland being based at St Angelo, Fermanagh.  On the 1st July 1992, the Royal Irish Rangers was disbanded and the Royal Irish Regiment formed, with just one regular battalion the 1st Royal Irish. 

Taggerty transferred into the new regiment and he was once more posted to Cyprus (Episkopi), in the Sovereign Base Area for two years.  In January 1995 the battalion moved to Catterick.

From Catterick, Taggerty was posted away from the battalion for service in the Royal Irish Regiment’s Depot at Ballymena.  He served for three years on the permanent staff of the Depot. 

Upon completion of his three year Depot service he was posted back to the 1st Battalion stationed at Catterick.  Once again, Taggerty and the 1st Irish were posted to Northern Ireland on an emergency tour as the East Tyrone Battalion from December 1997 to June 1998.

Following their tour in Northern Ireland, the Royal Irish Regiment were deployed to Kosovo on Op AGRICOLA from May to Nov 1999.  In December 1999, the Regiment moved to Canterbury where it formed part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade.

In July 2000, Taggerty was one of the 200 from the 1st Royal Irish Regiment to be deployed to Sierra Leone as part of the International Military Advisory & Training Team (IMATT).  Their purpose was the of training the Sierra Leone Army. Taggerty was present in Sierra Leone when a small group of his regiment were captured by armed group, The West Side Boys, and held hostage. This led to the joint SAS/PARA operation to rescue them (Op BARRAS). 

Returning from Sierra Leone, Taggerty spent the Christmas period in hospital as he had contracted malaria. 

He was awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal on 23 September, 1999 with the award being  Gazetted 6 Nov 2000. 

The 1st Royal Irish were once again deployed to Northern Ireland June to December 2001, being based at Dungannon, East Tyrone.  The Regiment taking an active part in Belfast during a period of riots, including the Holy Cross Dispute. 

Following their tour of Northern Ireland, the regiment were employed during the fireman strike of 2002 (Op Fresco) where its soldiers used  Green Goddess fire engines in Bedford and Nottingham. 

The Regiment took an active part in the second Gulf War (Op TELIC 1).  Taggerty’s tour of Iraq was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins whose before battle speech is well documented. 

In September 2003, 1st Royal Irish Regiment moved to Fort George, Inverness and it was from here that Taggerty was discharged at on 31 Dec 2005 after 22 years long service with good conduct.

Extract: Portadown Times (14 January, 2016).

Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH).

An Ulster Unionist councillor, who was a Regimental Sergeant Major during the invasion of Iraq, remains proud of his actions in the conflict even though the fallout from it has been so controversial. As the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (IHAT) suggests that UK forces may well be responsible for over 50 unlawful killings, and many cases of mistreatment and abuse, the legacy of the war continues to divide public opinion. 

Doug Beattie, now an Ulster Unionist councillor for Portadown, served with the military for 32 years. Speaking about his experience of the war, he said: 

“I remain proud of my actions in Iraq as well as the actions of my colleagues. The Iraq war may turn out to be one of those conflicts we will forever find hard to come to terms with but when we crossed the border we did so thinking it was for the right reasons,” 

An inquiry was set up by the Ministry of Defence in November 2010 after 146 Iraqi men claimed to have been tortured. IHAT is a unit set up to investigate allegations of abuse and torture by British soldiers in Iraq. The inquiry focuses on three interrogation sites near Basra, operated by the Joint Forward Interrogation Team (JFIT) between March 2003 and December 2008. 

The Service Prosecuting Authority, the military equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, has now been asked by IHAT for advice on 35 cases of unlawful killings and 30 of abuse and mistreatment. Reports suggest that up to 280 service personnel are now set to be investigated. 

Doug said that while he believes some soldiers may have broken the rules of armed conflict he believes that most soldiers adhered to the laws and acted accordingly. 

He said: 

“I was the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) during the invasion of Iraq. I remember vividly standing beside my Commanding Officer, Tim Collins, as he spoke to the 600 men under his command at our base, Fort Blair-Mayne, in the Kuwaiti desert two days before we crossed the border. Colonel Tim outlined what he expected of every single soldier, saying if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory. His words are now famous but he he was stating what every soldier already knew that they must adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict (LoAC) which governs their actions and their behaviour in war,” continued Doug. 

“I am not so naive as to think that every soldier in the stresses of battle, or the bitter insurgency that followed, adhered completely to the LoAC but I do not believe that cases of unlawful killing and abuse is as widespread as many would have us believe. As we focus on the accusations made against a few we tend to forget about the professionalism and sacrifices of the many,” said Doug.

During his time in Iraq part of Doug’s duties was taking charge of the enemy prisoners of war. He remembers being affected by the condition of the men and that they were well treated by himself and the other soldiers. He said: 

“As we crossed the border into Iraq, as part of the invasion force, it was my responsibility to take charge of the enemy prisoners of war. I was immediately overwhelmed by hundreds of captured enemy soldiers, all of whom were in tattered clothes, some starving, some seriously wounded and still others on the verge of death. “As we herded them into a building to give them shelter from the elements, I can still remember their faces, a mixture of fear, bewilderment and gratitude. For them the war was over and the task of survival had begun,” added Doug. “My soldiers immediately began the task of finding them food and water. At one stage orders had to be issued to the soldiers of 1 R IRISH not to give away their own food and water as our supply routes were incredibly precarious. However, it was an order that was ignored and for days following the invasion soldiers of my regiment shared their meagre rations with their Iraqi enemy as well as displaced civilians,” continued Doug.

“As well as sharing their rations soldiers showed compassion and respect in their treatment of prisoners who had died. Doug said: “When prisoners died of their wounds, or when bodies were found, my men would bury them. They would take a compass bearing so the head would face towards Mecca and soldiers stood quietly, as a colleague of the dead enemy soldier said a few words. It was a gentleness that felt out of place on the battlefield but I found this compassion both moving and enriching. It was an abiding image that I kept with me throughout the war, to remind me that despite the brutality we had to keep our humanity.”

Doug added: 

“Later in the conflict I saved the lives of enemy soldiers who were about to be murdered by a baying Iraqi crowd, who had already murdered one of them, and for this action I proudly wear the Queens Commendation For Bravery on my Iraq medal, a small oak leaf that represents the actions of my men.” 

Speaking about the current controversy and how it continues to divide public opinion, Doug said: 

“So this idea that ill discipline, abuse and unlawful killings was in the norm during the conflict doesn’t sit well with me. Of course the law must run its course, and if there is evidence that service personnel acted outside the LoAC, then there should be consequences. If it is found that some of these claims are malicious or that UK law firms have helped prosecute malicious claims for personal gain then I would hope these individuals are held to account. “I remain proud of my actions in Iraq and the actions of my colleagues. The Iraq war may well turn out to be one of those conflicts we will forever find hard to come to terms with. However, when we crossed the border we did so thinking it was for the right reasons. We should not now let the legality of an unpopular war gives others an excuse to line their pockets at the expense of the ordinary men and women who fight wars on the behest of governments and politicians,” added Doug.