2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers, Bahrain.

Tuesday, 2 June, 1970 - Monday, 15 March, 1971
Exchanging views with locally enlisted soldiers.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers (2 R IRISH), commanded by Lt Col H Howard, deployed from Doniford Camp, Watchet, Somerset to Bahrain for a ten month unaccompanied tour on 1 Jun 1970, as one of the last tokens of a British presence in the Arabian Gulf following the Labour Government's decision to withdraw from the region.

Throughout the tour, two rifle companies were permanently deployed to the Trucial States. Officers, NCOs and Rangers had lengthy training attachments with both the Sultan's Armed Forces in Muscat and the Trucial Oman Scouts. Several platoons had long spells on Yas Island, belonging to Sheikh Said of Abu Dhabi, and, having been used as an ammunition depot during and after the Second World War, much of its ammunition stock was in an unstable state. This had to be cleared to allow oil companies to start drilling and a team from the Royal Pioneer Corps (TA), along with ammunition technicians, assisted the Battalion with this task. The platoons were regularly re-supplied by the RAF and the Royal Corps of Transport provided a Landing Craft.

Bahrain RulerDuring the tour, there was a series of inter-platoon and inter-company sporting activities that allowed everybody the opportunity to be involved in some form of sporting activity, unless they were on duty or training. At battalion level, the overall standard in every competitive sport was at the highest it had been for many years - this was reflected in the number of trophies awarded across a range of sports.

Bahrain SwordThe Hakim (Ruler) of Bahrain, HH Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa (above left), lunched with the Officers of 2 R IRISH before they returned to Watchet. After lunch he presented the Battalion with a magnificent gold sword (right). Prior to the Battalion's departure from Bahrain, the Band, Bugles, Pipes and Drums were invited to take part in the Massawa Naval Day. Navies from all over the world gathered in the Red Sea port of Massawa (now in Eritrea) for a week of social, nautical and sporting events to commemorate the graduation of cadets and midshipmen from the (then) Ethopian Naval Academy. American, Russian, Iranian, French and Italian Navies took part, and it was the first time that Britain had been represented by a military band.
The Battalion handed over to the 1st Battalion The Staffordshire Regiment during March 1971 and returned to Watchet. Bahrain declared independence on 15 August 1971 and HH Sheikh Isa was crowned The Emir of Bahrain on 16 December 1971.

(Left, Bandsmen and Buglers of 2 R IRISH with an Ethopian in priest's dress. Massawa was in the former Italian colony of Eritrea and joined in federation with Ethiopia in 1952; following conflict from 1961, Eritrea became independent in 1992 and land-locked Ethopia lost its navy.)