H E N (Bala) Bredin CB DSO** MC* DL

Bala Bredin Colonel of Regiment Royal Irish Rangers
Major General H E N Bredin CB DSO MC on a rainy St Patrick's Day in Wavell Barracks, Berlin 1982.

Bala Bredin was born in Peshawar on the North West Frontier of India on 28 March 1916, the son of an Indian Army Colonel. He died on 2 March 2005 at the age of 88. He was one of the most decorated officers of his generation being awarded the DSO and two bars, and the Military Cross and one bar.

He was commissioned into The Royal Ulster Rifles from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. It was whilst at Sandhurst that he acquired the nickname 'Bala' which was the name of a fort in Peshawar and also the name of a successful horse owned by the Aga Khan. On being posted to Palestine with his Regiment, he found himself quartered in an Arab village called 'Bala'.

It was in Palestine that he was awarded the first of his gallantry awards - the Military Cross - when he successfully ambushed a group of dissidents setting fire to an oil pipeline. A bar was added to his MC for another action soon afterwards. He had been specially selected for night work by Captain Orde Wingate, later to be creator of the Chindits in Burma. In May 1940, he was with 2 RUR in the fighting retreat from Belgium to the French coast. He fought at Dyle and was evacuated from Dunkirk with the remnants of his company on a former Isle of Man steamer.

By 1944 he was in command of the 6th Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Italy. On 15 May, his Battalion was tasked with leading 78th Division in the breakthrough of the German Gustav Line. Although wounded early in the battle, he commanded the Battalion with the utmost skill and inspired his men by examples of personal bravery under fire - he never wore a steel helmet choosing instead to wear a caubeen and to carry a regimental blackthorn stick. He was awarded an immediate DSO. Having recovered from his wounds, he was appointed to command the 2nd Battalion The London Irish Rifles, which was mounted in Kangaroos (armoured personal carriers). In April, his battalion advanced 10,000 yards and captured the bridges over the Fossa Sabbiosola, reaching Scolo Bolognese. Days later, they advanced a further 8,000 yards against stiff opposition.

After the war, Bala Bredin was once again engaged in anti-terrorist work in Palestine which was followed by a spell as an instructor at Sandhurst. After this, he was seconded to command the Eastern Arab Corps in the Sudan Defence Force from 1949 until 1953. He was then appointed to command the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment during the Suez Operation and in Cyprus, where his leadership and planning during the EOKA campaign earned him his third DSO. After two years in the UK, he was promoted to Brigadier and appointed to command 99 Gurkha Brigade in Malaya and Borneo. This was followed in 1962 by his appointment as Chief of the British Commander-in-Chief's Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (BRIXMIS) and in 1968 he became the first Colonel Commandant of the Kings Division. His last two appointments, having been promoted to Major General, were to command 42nd Division TA and North West District, and finally as Director of Volunteers, Territorials and Cadets at the Ministry of Defence from 1968-71. He retired from the Army in 1971. On 29 August 1979, he succeeded Major General The O'Morchoe as Colonel of The Royal Irish Rangers, an appointment that he held until 1985.