by Comdt. Pat Rochford

With the ending of the Emergency the Local Defence Force (L.D.F.) was stood down on the 31st. March 1946. A new part-time volunteer reserve called An Forsa Cosanta Aitiuil (F.C.A.) was established under Defence Force Regulation R.5 with effect from April, 1946

The new force was organized on territorial lines and became the Second Line Reserve of the Army. The area formerly covered by Dun Laoghaire and Rathfarnham Districts L.D.F. was allocated to the newlyformed South County Dublin Battalion (F.C.A.).Training centers were established in Dun Laoghaire, Dundrum, Rathfarnham, Blackrock, and Stillorgan. The South County Battalion was grouped with the North and South Wicklow Battalions to form the Wicklow Area. Area headquarters were located in Rockbrae House, Bray. The structure of the F.C.A. battalions was similar to that of the regular army with minor adjustments. Battalions were commanded by F.C.A. officers with the rank of Captain. The area commander was a regular officer of Commandant Rank. He had the assistance of a regular cadre consisting of an administrative officer and a number of other ranks. A regular C.Q.M.S. and store/driver were posted to each battalion. There was a staff officer in Eastern Command Headquarters to supervise the operation of the areas and a Colonel in G.H.Q. with the title of Director of the F.C.A. He was responsible to the General Staff for the direction of the force.

Captain Tom Egan was appointed to command the South County Dublin Battalion and he was the ideal role model for all who had the honour to serve under him. Lieutenant Stan Forster was second in command and Lieutenants John Nolan and Paddy Ryan were the original Company Commanders. The posts of Adjutant and Quartermaster were filled by Lieutenants Jack Burke and Jim Doyle respectively. The Platoon Commanders were Lieutenants Mick Delahunty, Gerry Fitzgerald and Brendan White. Lieutenant White joined the battalion transferring from the 44th. Battalion. Lieutenants Nolan and Doyle were veterans of the War of Independence.

All the founding officers of the battalion served in the L.D.F. during the Emergency. As the strength of the battalion increased, there was a need for further officers and a number of senior N.C.O.’s were recommended for promotion. Having successfully completed the required training course, medical examination and interview, the following were commissioned as Second Lieutenants: – Seamus Taite, Pat Rochford, Jack Haughton and Frank Gallagher. Bill Ivers was commissioned, having qualified as a medical doctor, he transferred to the 11 Field Medical Company. At a later stage, David Golding, Eddie Doyle, Niell Coughlan and Des Walsh were promoted to fill vacancies within the commissioned ranks. Lieutenants Doody and Henry joined the battalion for a short period on transfer from other units.

Non-commissioned officers, particularly at senior level, are the backbone of any unit, and the South County Battalion was very well served by such men as Tom Byrne, Pat Reynolds, Joe Kinch, Mick Reade, Peter Campbell, Tony Grimes, Dick Haughton and Pat Whelan to name but a few. Johnny McLoughlin, our P.D.F. C.Q.M.S. was a father figure to all ranks and Oliver Seery was a popular regular soldier who was attached to the battalion for a considerable period.

In 1946 the live firing tables applicable to the disbanded L.D.F. were expanded to include rapid and snap shooting practices at 300 yards. This was the result of the provision of a greater supply of ammunition and the availability of transport to bring to the ranges in Kilbride, Gormanston and Kilpedder. The new range table’s required qualifying standard and more attention to training in rifle marksmanship became necessary. In addition, battalion had to provide teams to compete in various shooting competitions.

The issue of the Energa, Gustaf and Bren meant courses to qualify N.C.O.’s to act as instructors in the new weapons, and the subsequent exercising of trained personnel on the firing range. The F.C.A. and their P.D.F. colleagues can pride themselves on the feet, despite a busy training schedule, accidents, involving serious injury, rarely occurred. This was due to constant vigilance and a strict adherence to the prescribed safety precautions. It is surprising to learn that approximately 700 members of the British Home Guard died as a result of training mishaps during World War 11.

An annual platoon competition was initiated in 1949 and each battalion was obliged to enter a platoon. The competition for the Eastern Command was held in Gormanston during annual training in August of each year. The test subjects were drill, rifle marksmanship, musketry and grenade throwing. March discipline was added after a few years. Training for the competition had a mixed effect on the overall standard and the experiment was abandoned in 1957.

During the 1950’s the F.C.A. were frequently required to participate in important religious and civic events by providing colour parties, guards of honour and marching contingents. There was an annual Easter military parade in Dublin and the Wicklow Area was required to supply a quota of company strength to augment the South Dublin Area.

A radical reorganization of the Defence forces, involving the integration of the P.D.F. and the F.C.A. was proposed with effect from the 1st. of October 1959. With this organizational change, the South County Dublin Battalion passed into history and was replaced by “B”. Company, 21st. Infantry Battalion, F.C. A.



Admin edit: The author of this memoir is Dermot Bradley, who is sadly no longer with us. Dermot went on to be a highly respected historian and decorated civilian in Germany. His honours included the Verdienstkreuz 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bundeswehr Cross of Honour in Gold (1993) and Honorary President of the Association of Defence and Security Policy in Nordrhein-Westfalen.



It was a great day for our “army”, having used tank operations of the German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Colonel General Heinz Guderian. After 24 hours of “fighting” we had won the day. This was in September 1959. The eldest of our “soldiers” was just under 16 years of age. We were well (-self) trained soldiers, having read everything available about the First and Second World Wars and Ireland’s policy of neutrality. We were the born soldiers, divided into two groups. All the local boys played our War Games. It was clear that we decided things so that our “German” group should win more frequently than the “Allied” group.

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North Wicklow Battalion LDF


This is a photo taken in the early 1940s of the regular officers who founded the North Wicklow Battalion LDF. Jim Hynes was the local Garda inspector who was associated with the LSF, the predecessor of the LDF. All are carrying gas masks. Jim was also the father of 21Bn’s own John Hynes.
Jim Hynes is wearing a cap and is standing at top left. I do not know any of the others in the photo. Would anybody else?
Maybe you might also know of some other Historical groups we could ask?

The FCÁ “A Cast of Thousands”

This film, now available on YouTube was first shown on RTE television and is edited together from amateur footage and some official “talking heads”. While B Coy were being forbidden from pursuing “Operation Cecil” (see below), it seems that other units were filming away to their heart’s content. As an aside the programme had Moya Doherty as a production assistant, who went on to produce Riverdance in later years.

Some notes:
The film begins with a tactical situation, well done, but without the grand vision of “Operation Cecil” I believe!
3 minutes and 30 seconds in we have some scenes of Waterford barracks, which will bring back memories.
At 7:40 a sequence begins of An Slua Muiri filmed in Dun Laoghaire. Even though we shared a premises with An Slua in the appropriately named (for them), Coastguard Station in Dun Laoghaire, we never really fraternized with them during my time in An Forsa. We, of course noted that they were rubbish at foot-drill and marching in the St Patrick’s Day parade, but I am sure we would have been less than comfortable out at sea!
There follow some impressive pieces from the cavalry and the 21st Heavy Mortar battery.
At 17:38 we are back in Waterford again, and the cameraman is back being creative with the sequence set up to tell a story, with some very tidy looking fellas coming in at night. It is obviously staged with the lack of puke and foul language a dead give-away., although one guy is smoking indoors. They were obviously coming from a very posh establishment as the smoker is wearing a tie. The beds here are the luxurious metal models and not the “3 planks on 2 trestles” we grew up with.
Next morning, 20:17 minutes in and its off to the Dining hall for breakfast. You’d have thought they would have made a special effort for the cameras and maybe they did but what about the food – burnt toast, the (no doubt) green boiled egg,  incinerated sausage and black pudding and a portion of beans that would not feed a fly!

Operation Cecil
One Wednesday evening Pat Holohan showed a training film on (I think) anti-ambush drill. The film was of UK origin and the action was based in Burma after the Second World War.  After watching, it struck me that we could make a more relevant movie, and that the advent of VCRs would make it possible to pause during the movie and explain what was happening on screen. We had our very own cameraman in John Curtis who had access to professional quality gear, and so Operation Cecil has hatched (being named after Cecil B deMille). The subject was to be section in attack and we set about writing the story-boards. Our cunning plan was to film close ups of weaponry shooting on the range (with sound recorded in the butts), and to do the field craft etc at other times and edit it all together.

Ready when you are Mr deMille!

Ready when you are Mr deMille!

The day we were to shoot our first scenes was a Sunday field day in Kilpeddar. Mr DeMille was all lined up, but on the Wednesday beforehand the CO got wind of the plan and put the kibosh on it. It was explained to us that we could not proceed as we had not done the requisite paper work for the use of pyrotechnics – this was very strange as we had not planned on using any pyrotechnics! We were only going to film some shots of a section moving over the ground. I later went to work in Apple and toyed with the idea of reviving “Cecil” as an interactive multimedia production, but had grown a bit weary of army officialdom by then.
Pat Holohan did manage to get a lot of video in later years and everyone is very grateful for the memories he recorded over the years.

Campbell family

The content of this post is taken from the May 2005 edition of Connect – The Defense Forces Newsletter, the text and photo are theirs, I found a copy on an archive of the now-defunct 62 Bn web site.

The Campbells, a family affair. (l-r) Ptes Rory (1986-90), & Stephen (1980-87), Cpl Peter(1978-86) and BQMS Peter Campbell (1957-99)

The Campbells, a family affair. (l-r) Ptes Rory (1986-90), & Stephen (1980-87), Cpl Peter(1978-86) and BQMS Peter Campbell (1957-99)

Marking time

At their annual dinner dance at the Kingston Hotel Dun Laoghaire in March, the members of B Coy 21 Inf Bn, RDF had a special reason to celebrate. This would be the last unit function prior to the RDF re-organisation later this year when 21 Inf Bn will be integrated with the 20 Inf Bn and become the 62 Inf Bn

Many former company members attended and mingled with the newer recruits instilling in them an understanding of what it meant to belong to B Coy; people like BQMS Peter Campbell (Retd) and his three sons, Rory, Stephen and Peter who between them had over 60 years service. In 1957 BQMS Campbell joined the South County Dublin, which later became 21 Inf Bn. During his career Peter Snr, a keen marksman, was in charge of recruitment for the Blackrock College Centre and at one time had some 120 men under his command.

The event organiser Lt Paul O’Donovan, himself a former member of the PDF, was delighted with the turnout and interest shown by both current and former members. He noted that it was fitting to mark time on the closure of B Coy, and to look forward to the challenge that the re-organisation posed for all in the RDF.

B Coy 1992-2005

The final part of the History of B Coy. I got this from Aidan Teevan when I met him at the Annual Mass 2012. He also gave me some corrections for previous posts, but I think I will incorporate them into a complete history and post it here as a PDF file (Portable Document Format, not the other PDF!) for download in due course. 

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BSM Tom Byrne

Brian Hayden’s “A Bn Sgt Major retires”, from his Bn History 1984.

On Friday October 28th, 1983 there was a large gathering of members of the 21 Inf. Bn. F.C.A. in Rockbrae House, Bray, Headquarters of the 21 Inf. Bn. F.C.A., for a presentation to Sgt. Major Tom Byrne on the occasion of his retirement as Bn. Sgt. Major.

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