Belfast Telegraph

Obituary: Korean War hero Mervyn McCord who led UDR at height of the Troubles

The death of Brigadier Mervyn McCord, Military Cross winner

'He was made a brigadier in 1976, taking charge of the UDR at the age of 46'

Brigadier Mervyn McCord, an old boy of Coleraine Inst and Queen's University, who has died aged 83, was a hero of the Korean War as a young soldier with the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles.

He was a second lieutenant when he was awarded one of the first Military Crosses of the campaign. McCord was in charge of a platoon digging defensive positions on the banks of the Imjin River, covering the withdrawal of forces ordered by General Matthew Ridgeway, the American field commander.

In the confusion, as troops ran into an ambush, McCord and his men cleared a Chinese blocking position, saved soldiers' lives and equipment and led them to safety as the enemy threatened to overrun the position.

"He showed great powers of leadership and disregard for personal danger," said his citation.

From a family with an Army tradition, McCord was the son of Major George McCord of the Royal Ulster Rifles and it was inevitable that, after his time at Queen's, he would go to Sandhurst to follow a career in the military. He was commissioned into the RUR and, in 1962, served as an exchange officer with the Canadian Army in Novia Scotia. He also served with the UN in Cyprus during this time.

Promoted lieutenant-colonel in 1970, McCord returned home to Northern Ireland as chief operations officer at headquarters in Lisburn as the Troubles escalated.

Awarded an OBE, he was involved in controversy when questions were asked about the suitability of the medal for an officer from an Irish regiment, banned from serving in its home province at the time. He later commanded the Royal Irish Rangers in Germany and Cyprus.

At the age of 46, he was made a brigadier in 1976 and took command of the Ulster Defence Regiment, working hard to revive the morale of his seven battalions, whose soldiers resented their secondary role, manning checkpoints to relieve regular Army units.

For his success as a UDR leader, respected by his men, McCord was appointed CBE. He was made an honorary ADC to the Queen in 1978 and later became Colonel of the Royal Irish Rangers.

Described as an archetypal Ulsterman by his friends, Brigadier McCord spent his retirement in Sussex. He is survived by his wife Anette, to whom he was married for 60 years, and two sons. Another son predeceased him.

Belfast Telegraph

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