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The British 39th Infantry Brigade was a military formation of the British Army that was first established during World War I and reformed in the 1950s.

World Wars[edit | edit source]

The British 39th Infantry Brigade was first formed as part of the 13th (Western) Division in World War I, and was with the Division in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Persia for the entire war. The Brigade was detached from the Division between 10 July and 19 August 1918, to Dunsterforce. The Brigade was not reformed for World War II.

Post World War II[edit | edit source]

The Brigade was reformed in the early 1950s in the United Kingdom, and on the reformation of the 3rd Infantry Division on 1 April 1951, the Brigade became part of it, along with the 19th Infantry Brigade and 32nd Guards Brigade. Its first operational summons was in October that year, when it was moved to Cyprus aboard two aircraft carriers, and then on to Egypt. It took up duties in the south of the canal zone with two battalions, the 1st Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) and 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. It was joined by 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment, soon afterwards.

In October 1952, it was returned to the UK in order to rebuild the strategic reserve, and in February 1953, it was warned for operations in Kenya. Again at a strength of two battalions, 1st Buffs being joined by 1st Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, it arrived in April 1953 and was soon deployed in Kenya's Rift Valley, commanded by Brigadier J.W. Tweedie. After over a year of operations, both the Buffs and Devons were withdrawn and relieved in December 1954 and January 1955, respectively. Reliefs were 1st Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade. The Brigade left Kenya in 1956 for Northern Ireland.

Having been withdrawn from Kenya, the Brigade HQ under Brigadier C.H. ('Monkey') Blacker was dispatched to Aden from Northern Ireland in May 1964, to relieve HQ Aden Garrison in an operational role at Thumier. The Brigade was involved in operations along the Radfan until October, when control was passed to HQ 24th Infantry Brigade.

Northern Ireland[edit | edit source]

Back in the UK, the Brigade joined the reforming 5th Infantry Division on its establishment on 1 April 1968. From August 1969, the Brigade, as 39 Airportable Brigade, was involved in The Troubles in Northern Ireland, eventually taking on responsibility, under HQ Northern Ireland, for an area including Belfast and the eastern side of the province, but excluding the South Armagh border region. From September 1970, it was commanded by (then) Brigadier Frank Kitson.[1]

The Brigade took on some units from 3 Brigade when it was disbanded on 1 September 2004. The HQ 8 Infantry Brigade based in Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly, County Londonderry was disbanded and handed over responsibility to HQ 39 Infantry Brigade, Lisburn, on 1 September 2006.[2]

On 1 August 2007, the Brigade was amalgamated with 107 (Ulster) Brigade when the new non-deployable brigade HQ, the 38 (Irish) Brigade, was formed in the province.[3]

First World War formation[edit | edit source]


References[edit | edit source]

Other sources[edit | edit source]

  • Gregory Blaxland, The Regiments Depart: A History of the British Army 1947–70, William Kimber, London, 1971
  • Antony Beevor, Inside the British Army, Corgi Books, London, 1991

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