The Second Battalion, the Jamaica Regiment (2 JR) was formed on the 1st of January, 1979, with a nucleus of three officers and one other rank. The founding members were then Lieutenant Colonel T N MacMillan (Commanding Officer), Lieutenant N W Tomlinson (Adjutant), Lieutenant T Bartholomew (Quartermaster), and Private Davis, L (Clerk), from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Women’s Unit.
Some four and a half months later, on the 21st May, 1979, 2 JR received its first batch of troops. These early members, both officers and men, were drawn from existing companies of the First Battalion, the Jamaica Regiment (1 JR). This ensured that the new Battalion, though still in infancy, had experienced persons at all levels.
The Unit’s identifying colours are maroon and gold. Maroon was chosen as it provides an historic link between 2 JR and the Second Battalion the West India Regiment (2WIR) to which this colour was common. The gold is common to all infantry units of the JDF.
The birthplace and founding home of the Second Battalion was the Moneague Training Camp (MTC) in St Ann. Originally used as a training area for sub-units of the JDF. MTC was expanded to accommodate the fledgling Unit. Since its formation, 2 JR has been deployed on many occasions to assist in maintaining essential services and to assist the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in maintaining law and order. The Battalion was still in the process of “trying out its wings” when, in June 1979, flood rains hit the island and the Unit was deployed to Westmoreland and St Elizabeth on its first operational task. On this deployment, 2 JR played a vital role in the relief efforts that followed. During the 1980 election year the Unit was deployed in the corporate area and heavily tasked in operational duties.
The Unit has also been involved in numerous state occasions, the most noteworthy being its participation in events to mark the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Jamaica in February, 1983. 2 JR provided the Guard of Honour that met Her Majesty at the Norman Manley International Airport. Resplendent in dress and precise in their drill movements, the only deficiency was the absence of the Battalion’s Colours. That deficiency was soon corrected when, on 31 July, 1986, the Unit received its first stand of Colours granted by His Excellency, the Governor-General, Sir Florizel Glasspole, ON, GCMG, GCVO, CD.
During the Military Tattoo in June of 1983, the Battalion played a leading role in that spectacular event, bringing each evening’s performance to an explosive climax with its fiery combat display. In October 1983, troops of the Second Battalion were in the vanguard of the Caribbean peacekeeping force that landed in Grenada. Along with other members of the JDF, 2 JR continued to provide troops to assist in keeping the peace in Grenada from 1983 – 1985.
Throughout the ensuing years, the Unit continued its tradition of excellent service to the nation. In 1994, 2 JR again provided the Guard of Honour for Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Jamaica. In 1995 and 2002, the Unit formed part of the contingent of forces who sought to uphold Haiti’s democracy on a United Nations peacekeeping mission dubbed ‘Operation Uphold Democracy’. They returned to the island in the aftermath of the 7.4 magnitude earthquake which devastated the country. The Unit also boasts the honour of conducting ceremonial guard duties at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle and Tower of London in 1999. In addition, the success of the ICC 2007 Cricket World Cup hosted by the West Indies can be attributed, in some respects, to the role the Unit played in the security strategy for the event.
2 JR has had a history of performance par excellence. It has continued this legacy as a personification of its mission ‘To conduct a wide range of infantry operations in order to protect the citizens of Jamaica whilst demonstrating respect for the rights of all’.