Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Red Paw Memorial

A great story from the MoD about our beloved K9's:

Memorial honours Northern Ireland's Army Dog Unit

A History and Honour news article

5 Aug 09

A special memorial has been unveiled to commemorate the contribution to peace in Northern Ireland and the losses suffered by the Army Dog Unit based in the region.

Army Dog Unit Memorial

Family members, colleagues and friends of the Army Dog Unit soldiers laid wreaths in memory of those lives lost
[Picture: PO Amanda Reynolds, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The Red Paw Memorial near the Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire was unveiled on Saturday 1 August 2009.

The memorial is named after the badge worn by members of the Northern Ireland Army Dog Unit who lost six dog handlers and two dogs between 1973 when the unit was formed and 2007 when it was disbanded.

The memorial itself has been funded by former dog handlers who still wear their Red Paw badges to this day, and friends and familes of those members of the unit killed in the line of duty were present at the unveiling.

Working dogs arrived on duty with troops in Northern Ireland at the beginning of Operation BANNER but it wasn't until May 1973 that the teams were formally recognised as a formed unit.

The volunteer dog handlers came from across the British Army's corps and regiments. They worked with dogs who had specialities including wagtail dogs - those dealing with the search for arms and explosives, snappers - those dogs held for security, and groundhogs - who specialised in tracking.

The Red Paw Memorial remembers:

  • Coporal Brian David Brown of the Ulster Defence Regiment and his Labrador dog Oliver who were called to a garage at Kilkeel on 28 May 1986. As they searched the premises a huge explosion went off in an oil drum.
  • Corporal Bryan Criddle of the Royal Veterinary Corps who died on 22 July 1973. He was moving forward to examine a suspicious milk churn in a field when a 700lb bomb was detonated by remote control leaving him fatally injured.
  • Sapper Michael Orton of the Royal Engineers who was killed on 17 September 1973.
  • Lance Corporal Peter Hampson of 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment (other details not available).
  • Corporal Derek Hayes of the Royal Pioneer Corps and his dog Ben who died on 21 May 1988 as they moved forward to examine a suspicious object on the Castleblayney Road near Crossmaglen and a bomb hidden in a ditch detonated. Cpl Hayes was buried with the ashes of Ben.
  • Corporal Terry O'Neill of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who died on 25 May 1991 when a home-made grenade was thrown over the wall of North Howard Street base.

The Red Paw badge represents the bloodied feet of search dogs who worked through the rubble at the scene of so many explosions over the years.

During their time the dogs and their handlers were praised for finding many tons of explosives, as well as hidden arms caches, saving untold numbers of lives. (here)

I - of course - then went looking for more information, and found some very interesting columns on the history of this fantastic group of soldiers.

THE Red Paw was a tiny badge worn by dog handlers alongside their regimental badge when working as part of the Army Dog Unit Northern Ireland (ADU NI) from 1973-2007.

An association of handlers was formed last October and has been an overwhelming success. The main objective was to fund a new memorial for colleagues and dogs killed while working with the ADU NI, and for this to be placed at a prominent public site.

The funding was achieved during the first three months of 2009, solely from donations from members and friends, and the new memorial is to be unveiled at a ceremony on August 1 at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire.

We would desperately like to find more handlers before August 1 so that they, too, will have the opportunity to take part in the very final event of the ADU history.

For more details, please write to me at the address below, or email Robert Shevill, 99 Carnarc Crescent, Inverness, IV3 8SJ. (The Northern Echo here)

And for the history of this special unit, and some interesting articles, go here.


The Army Dog Unit Northern Ireland Royal Army Veterinary Corps (ADU NI RAVC) was formed on 1st May 1973 to provide dogs and handlers to enhance the security forces. In 1980 the Headquarters were moved from Long Kesh to Shackleton Barracks.

The ADU NI RAVC was made up of RAVC personnel and volunteer E2 dog handlers, which consisted of 65 different cap badges. The unique special role and composition of the unit was recognised in 1974 when the CLF Major General PJH Leng MC MBE granted the ADU NI RAVC personnel the right to wear a red paw, measuring 1/4 of an inch, in their berets to the left of their regimental cap badge.

In April 1997, the GOC NI Lieutenant General Sir Rupert Smith KCB DSO OBE QGM gave the authority for ADU NI RAVC personnel to wear a Red Paw shoulder flash, as a battle recognition symbol, on the left shoulder of their combat clothing. In 2001 the unit was directed to wear HQ NI shoulder flashes on their left shoulder and the ADU NI RAVC flash was moved to the right shoulder....

Take the time to go read all about this group of British heroes.

*Bratdog approved this post*

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