Army hero of battle in south Lebanon retires


Brig Gen David Taylor, known in the Defence Forces as the hero of the battle of At Tiri in south Lebanon, formally retired as GOC of the Southern Brigade yesterday. After the battle, the UN changed the rules of engagement for UNIFIL troops.

Units from the brigade paraded at Collins Barracks in a stand- down ceremony to mark Brig Gen Taylor's retirement from active duty. Addressing the troops, he said he was proud to have served and proud that Irish forces overseas had been acknowledged for their contribution to the international peacekeeping effort.

Brig Gen Taylor (then major) was the officer in command when the South Lebanese Army (SLA) under Major Haddad attacked the village of At Tiri and captured it in April 1980. The village gave access to Hill 880, which dominated the surrounding territory and was highly strategic in military terms. For five days, the SLA pounded the Irish positions at At Tiri with tank and machine-gun fire. Other Irish and UNIFIL troops were drafted in to reinforce the garrison and Irish tanks destroyed some of the SLA's armour. The village was retaken but some days afterwards the SLA kidnapped three Irish soldiers and two of them were shot dead.

After the battle, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 427(1980) which sanctioned return fire by UNIFIL troops in self-defence.