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Ulric Pilgrim

Ulric Pilgrim is a former Commander of the Guyana Defence Force. His military service started on his eighteenth birthday in January 1956, when he enlisted in the BGVF as a private soldier. In that year, too, he joined the British Guiana Civil Service and served for several years in the Treasury Department.

He reached the rank of Corporal in 1964 and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.   In his last eight months of service, he was embodied on full-time service, mainly on the West Coast Demerara during the disturbances of 1964-1965.
   
When the BGSSU was established, he was among the first three of six officer cadets recruited and sent to Mons Officer Cadet School in the UK in 1965. He returned to serve in the BGSSU, which, at that time, was under the administration of the British Guyana Police Force (BGPF) and the watchful eye of the British Garrison Commander; as a cadet officer.

On the approach of Independence, members of the BGSSU, were given the option of remaining in the BGPF or joining the proposed national army, to be called the Guyana Defence Force GDF. He opted for the GDF and was soon appointed Adjutant to the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Pope, the leader of the UK army’s Staffing Administration Training Team (SATT).

Ulric Pilgrim was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and then Captain in this staff position. Other appointments held were; Officer Commanding ‘C’ Company; Training Wing; General Staff Officer 2 in the rank of Major; and, finally, Force Commander in the rank of a Colonel (1972-1979).

During his tenure as Commander, he oversaw evolution of the GDF as a Force devoted not only to territorial defence but also economic development. There were significant improvements in the agriculture, engineer construction and fishing. The Force also increase its manpower strength and acquired ships, aircraft and other equipment to enable it counter threats to the country’s territorial integrity.

He attended various training courses including; the Commonwealth Jungle Warfare School, Malaysia (1968); Junior Division Staff College, Warminister, UK, 1970; Army School of Education, Beaconsfield, UK 1970; Army Staff College, Camberly, (UK), (1971); and, Royal College of Defence Studies, (UK) (1978). He also led military delegations to Cuba, Yugoslavia, Somalia and the USA.

Colonel Ulric Pilgrim was awarded the Military Service Medal MSM. In 1980, the officer cadet school was named the Colonel Ulric Pilgrim Officer Cadet School (CUPOCS) in his honour.