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HQ Northern Ireland was the formation responsible for the British Army in and around Northern Ireland. It was established in 1922 and disbanded, replaced by a brigade-level Territorial Army formation, 38 Brigade, in 2009.


HQ Northern Ireland was established following the partition of Ireland in 1922 and was originally based at Newtownards.[1]

On 30 January 2006 the Secretary of State for Defence announced to the House that 19 Light Brigade, then stationed at Catterick, would be re-roling to a light brigade and relocating to Scotland and Northern Ireland.[2]

On 10 May 2006 it was further announced that "in addition to the HQ and other units of 19 Light Brigade that we expect to relocate to Northern Ireland in 2007 and 2008, a new and non-deployable regional brigade headquarters will form at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn. The current 107 (Ulster) Brigade, based at Ballymena, will merge on 15 December this year into HQ 39 Infantry Brigade, which will itself be replaced by the new regional brigade headquarters, 38th (Irish) Brigade under the command of the 2nd Division, on 1 August 2007".[2]

On 6 August 2007 Headquarters Northern Ireland and 38 (Irish) Brigade combined to create a single transitional headquarters with a two star General Officer Commanding. On 1 January 2009 the command's name changed to 38 (Irish) Brigade and HQ Northern Ireland was dissolved.

HQ 38 (Irish) Brigade is now the main headquarters, residual regional functions having been migrated to HQ 2 Division in Edinburgh.[3]

Other services had a smaller presence in the region. The RAF's presence in Northern Ireland was based at RAF Aldergrove, and No. 230 Squadron RAF was based there for many years, among other units. The Royal Navy no longer maintain a regular presence in Northern Ireland waters with the disbandment of the Northern Ireland Squadron. The Royal Navy's main presence is HMS Caroline, which serves as the HQ of the Royal Naval Reserve's Ulster Division.[4]

List of units c.2011[]

HQ Northern Ireland formations, December 1989[]

In December 1989 the following units were permanently based in Northern Ireland under command of HQ Northern Ireland. The three infantry battalions on a 6-month rotation to Northern Ireland are shown in italics; smaller units on a 6-month roulement to Northern Ireland are not shown. Two Territorial Army battalions stationed in Northern Ireland were to move immediately to Germany to reinforce British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in case of war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For administrative purposes these units were under command of brigade HQs based in Northern Ireland during peacetime. Both units are shown in the list below in italics followed by the higher command they were to reinforce in Germany in brackets:

General Officers Commanding Northern Ireland[]

General Officers Commanding have included:[5][6][7]
Northern Ireland District

Northern Ireland Command


  1. Whitaker's Almanack 1925 pg 242
  2. 2.0 2.1 Written Ministerial Statements for 10 May 2006
  3. 38 Bde/HQ NI website accessed January 2008
  4. Battle of Jutland veteran HMS Caroline to stay in Belfast Belfast Telegraph, 1 December 2009
  5. Whitaker's Almanacks 1922 – 2010
  6. Northern Ireland Command at
  7. Army Commands

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