1953 - 1994 The Cold War
Following the Korean War the battalion began a cycle of tours lasting thoughout the Cold War and beyond. It was an extended period of variety and contrast, often demanding rapid reroling to cope with differing roles and tasks.
The period was characterised by:
a. Contributing to the defence of the West based mainy in Germany (BAOR, now British Forces Germany)
b. Supporting and contributing to the internal security of British Protectorates.
c. Taking part in the Internal Security operations in Northern Ireland in the form of both short emergency tours and two year tours.
d. Supporting and taking part in UN operational tours
e. Phasing out of National Service to an all regular battalion
Commanding Officers’ Recollections
As this period of Dukes' history is still very much within living memory of those serving at the time, it is hoped that added interest is provided by recollections of those who commanded 1DWR. It is intended that, in due course, we will be able to add to the list, but for the time being the following have been kind enough to provide personal accounts of their time in command. Click on the following links:
1967 Lt Col Donald Isles later Major General DE Isles CB OBE
1972-74 Lt Col Peter Mitchell later Colonel PA Mitchell OBE
1975-77 Lt Col John Greenway MBE later Brigadier JBK Greenway CBE
1977-79 Lt Col Michael Bray later Brigadier MRN Bray CBE
1979-82 Lt Col Dick Mundell later Brigadier WR Mundell OBE
1982-84 Lt Col Charles Cumberlege later Colonel CR Cumberlege
Summaries of Arms Plot Tours
After a tour of Gibraltar, the Dukes returned to the UK in 1956. The Suez crisis began in July of the same year and the Regiment left England with the intention of landing in Libya, but actually landed in Cyprus. The 1956 tour saw the Dukes operating in a largely anti-terrorist role, which they performed efficiently and with good results.
In September, 1957, the Battalion moved to Palace Barracks, Holywood, just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland, and then back to England (briefly in Brentwood) in October, 1959, in order to join the new UK Strategic Reserve as part of 19 Infantry Brigade Group, in Colchester.
In July, 1960, as Spearhead battalion, the First Battalion was rushed to Kenya for 5 months to stiffen 24 Brigade when the Independence talks in Nyasaland threatened to break down. The following year, 1961, the Battalion was sent back to Kenya to provide cover for the troops sent to Kuwait, to offer protection from its ambitious neighbour - Iraq.
During a spell in Catterick the battalion was again required to provide company groups on unaccompanied tours: in 1962 Burma Coy (commanded by Major Donald Isles) spent 9 months in British Honduras, as did Alma Coy (commanded by Major Rodney Harms) in 1963.
The Cold War became very real in the 1960' s with the battalion spending an increasing amount of time in West Germany, as part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and NATO. As the infantry had to adapt to mechanised and armoured warfare on the North German Plain, subsequent 'tours of duty' lasted between 4 and 6 years. One such tour was spent in Osnabruck from 1964 to 1968 as part of 12 Infantry Brigade Group, equipped with Humber FV1611 APCs - the famous 'Pig'. The tracked AFV 432 was introduced in 1966/67. Much of the battalion's time was spent on exercises in Germany, Norway and Denmark, balanced by a number of golden seasons on the Rugby field.
The battalion was sent in April 1967, to join the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for six months. See CO's Recollections.
After a brief spell in Gillingham, Kent, the battalion was sent to Hong Kong in 1969 for two years.
In 1971 the Dukes were posted to Northern Ireland on operational duties. In the years to come the Battalion would spend a significant amount of time as both the resident and roulement (rotation) battalion in the province. In 1972, during a four-month emergency tour in South Armagh and Ballymurphy, the Battalion suffered three men killed. March of the following year, 1973, saw the Dukes move from Catterick to Ballykelly, County Londonderry, on an 18 month residential posting.
1982 – 1994
A two year posting to Gibraltar, plus exercises in Canada and Belize were intermingled with sporadic tours of Northern Ireland, culminating, in January 1987, with a two-year tour of duty back at Palace Barracks, Holywood, Belfast. As spearhead battalion, in late 1990, and March 1991, the Dukes were tasked with assisting the outloading of stores from UK bases to the Gulf region for the First Gulf War.
In 1991 the Dukes Band was deployed, at short notice to the Gulf, on "Operation Granby 1". They formed part of the RMA element of 28 Gurkha Ambulance Group. On the 13th of January they were in situ at the two forward dressing stations of 1 Armoured Group Field Ambulance, Alpha 1 and Bravo 1. Their role was to provide small mobile teams providing medical care for casualties during their evacuation to the Field Hospital. They were amongst the first to be entitled to put back on their sleeves the famous 'Desert Rat flash' of 7 Armoured Brigade.
The announcement of the Government's "Options for Change" programme caused ructions within the entire British armed forces. The Dukes were one of the few Regiments that remained untouched by these changes. Further alterations occurred the next year and it was announced that the 3rd/4th Battalion Yorkshire Volunteers would reform as the 3rd Battalion The Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding) (Yorkshire Volunteers) with their HQ in Sheffield.
From July 1991 until 1993, stationed at Bulford, the Dukes joined the Allied Command Mobile Force (Land) or AMLF (L). This meant the Dukes were not only the sole British infantry unit in the AMLF, but they were also required to be trained in mountain and arctic warfare. The Battalion spent a great deal of time on exercises in Norway, on NATO's northern flank, in particular on Exercise 'Hard Fall' in 1993.
In February of that year, the Battalion moved, within Bulford, to re-roll, again, as a Mechanised Battalion, this time though, equipped with "Saxon1" wheeled armoured vehicles, as a part of 1st Mechanised Brigade.
The Dukes were hurriedly put on standby to cover the troubles that had arisen in the Balkan state of Bosnia and, in March 1993, the Battalion arrived in Bosnia. Deployed - initially to Bugojno and then to Gorazde, the Dukes made a significant contribution to the United Nations Mission, so much so they were subsequently granted 13 Operational awards, including the first ever award of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) to Cpl Wayne Mills for an action in May, 1994, near Gorazde, and a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) to Lt Col DM Santa-Olalla, the Commanding Officer during the tour.