The Shorland Armoured Car

Story
Shorlands in service with 3 UDR
Shorlands in service with 3 UDR

In the 1960s, the Royal Ulster Constabulary identified a requirement for an armoured car to provide protection mainly in border areas. A vehicle was designed by Short Brothers and Harland (hence Shorland) based on the long-wheelbase Land Rover. Weighing approximately 3,300kg it was armed initially with a Browning .30-inch calibre machine gun and later a 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). It had an armoured body that could provide the crew of three with protection from small arms fire, shrapnel and explosive devices.

The vehicle saw minimal deployment with the RUC who lost it following the ‘Hunt Report’ when it was issued to the newly formed Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). It was limited generally to rural operations and during the 1980s augmented the UDR's 'Makrolon' Land Rovers, providing increased protection and fire support in border areas.

It was generally well received, providing good visibility to commander and driver. It handled well although felt ‘top heavy’. The gunner had extremely good observation. Crew comfort was good for three but often on operations up to five were carried and the extra two were completely disorientated and had difficulty when required to dismount at speed.

In December 1973, a Shorland of 6 UDR in the Clogher area was hit by an explosion directly beneath it. The crew were stunned but, even though a wheel was buckled and the GPMG damaged, the Shorland was driven away after the incident.

In 1974, a 4 UDR patrol was attacked in the Rosslea area of Co Fermanagh by a land mine and small arms fire. The explosion was so close that the Shorland drove into the crater until level with the turret. The crew returned fire and continued to direct the operation from within the vehicle.

As the terrorist threat of Improvised Explosive Devices increased, the use of vehicles in the border area was reduced. Patrols in high-risk areas were increasingly conducted on foot with helicopter support and the Shorland was eventually withdrawn from active service.

References:

The Shorland Site by Clive Elliott (http://www.shorlandsite.com/history.htm)
'Testimony to Courage' by John Potter