Message from the Author:
Thank you to all who have and continue to visit my blog focused on cataloging, preserving and sharing the history of the intense period of World history known as the Cold War. It has and continues to be a great pleasure to bring you all new articles and topics of interest concerning this period of political and military uncertainty. I would like to begin by issuing a public apology for the lack of site updates recently. I have been going through the process of relocating from one location to another so this has warranted my absence as of late and has not allowed me much time to begin preparing new articles and information to prepare for this site. The website is however NOT closed nor will it be to the best of my ability. It will remain open and active, once I get settled in and get a feel for the rhythm of my new work tempo then research, posting and so forth will continue.
I would also like to thank all who have contributed information and source wise for helping to prepare new articles and areas of interest and I look forward to your continued input and involvement here in the future. To all those who have shared our posts on pages and helped to spread the site around and garner further interest in the Cold War you are also appreciated. To all who have left encouraging comments and compliments as well as those who have shared information for making corrections regarding past posts thank you for your contributions. I am striving to provide a comprehensive and thorough reference to this period of world history and being from one participant nation sometimes it is rather difficult to find plausible information and sources from various other nations involved particularly in other nations whose primary languages are not English. As can be expected many things can become lost in translation or misinterpreted when attempting to convert information or data from one language to another.
As previously stated, the posts will continue in the future I am hoping to have the blog fully functional again and readily turning out new updates fairly regularly beginning around the end of October or early November. Your patience, support and involvement has helped make this an enjoyable venture and I look forward to providing more quality posts in the coming months and years ahead. Thanks again for your continued patronage and I look forward to helping further preserve the history of the Cold War for future generations to come!
Welcome to DECODED, a blog site for those interested in the period of history between the end of the Second World War and the final reunification of Berlin, Germany. This site is maintained by a Cold War history enthusiast, for other Cold War history enthusiasts and will be a source of information from both sides of the Cold War for history enthusiasts, political science fans, researchers, military history collectors and military veterans alike. Please visit the site regularly for updates. This site by no means is to represent or endorse any political agenda or ideology, information contained within is strictly used for the purpose of education and preservation of history for future generations. Thank you for visiting my blog, and welcome to the brink...
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Sunday, August 25, 2013
SrA D. Fair, United States Air Force
Air Force Security Police
My interest in serving the United States as a member of its armed forces began when I forged a bond with a childhood friend whose family had moved to the United States from England. His parents were older than most parents in our community who had children my age. One of the things that stood out the most to me was that his parents had grown up through the German Blitz and the Battle of Britain during the Second World War and hearing their stories of their wartime experiences and descriptions of the German Luftwaffe aircraft they saw soon inspired me to one day join the United States Air Force with hopes of one day being assigned to Germany. With German ancestry in my family background it would be an interesting experience to witness my cultural heritage first hand and soon I became determined to make my dream a reality.
Nothing could prepare me for the experiences that I had while serving in the United States Air Force. My enlistment took me not only to Germany but also warranted me inclusion into a small unit independent of the larger Army or Air Force organizations which allowed for greater immersion into the German culture. The unit had a manpower strength of roughly 120 personnel, dependents included and placed us in a Bavarian community away from the areas with greater American presence.
By the time I came of enlistment age I was more than ready to go. I had grown up in a small town in Ohio which was mostly rural and afforded not much else beyond the scope of agricultural work. I had about a year’s worth of college under my belt, but coming from a relatively low income family I saw military service as a way of improving my education while learning an occupational skill. My dream to join the United States Air Force officially became a reality when I formally enlisted in July of 1983. Due to the amount of people wanting to join the Air Force at this time, my shipping off to basic training was postponed until 1984 when I was sent from Cincinnati, Ohio to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Following the completion of basic training, I was awarded my first stripe and the rank of Airman partially because of my previous college. After basic training, I progressed on to Tech School where I went to the Air Force Security Police Academy also located at Lackland. As the Air Force is not a primarily land focused combat organization, the Security Police in the Air Force fulfill multiple duties. One of the best ways to describe the Security Police is as a combination of Military Police, Security and Infantry forces. Some of the training involved included guarding sensitive areas such as silos housing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and undertaking the appropriate measures necessary to ensure their safeguarding. One of the primary missions of the Air Force Security Police is defending airbases in the event of attack as well as guarding aircraft, components and munitions.
Soon I came under orders to report to West Germany. With the risks associated with performing security assignments in Germany, all Security Forces had to participate in the Air Base Ground Defense or ABGD course. The Air Base Ground Defense course was essentially a training course in infantry tactics which provided familiarity with a wide variety of weaponry ranging from individual small arms such as the M-16 rifle to crew served weaponry such as the M-60 machine gun. This portion of my training took my fellow Security Policemen and myself from Lackland Air Force Base, to Camp Bullis part of the Army’s Fort Sam Houston installation also in San Antonio. Going from an Air Force facility such as Lackland to an Army facility such as Camp Bullis provided a bit of a culture shock. Almost overnight we went from having nice dormitories to plywood huts on slabs in the middle of Texas. We went from running a mile and a half in basic, to two miles in the Police Academy to having to run in combat boots during the ABGD course. Running was always the most difficult part of physical training for me and I disliked it. Being from Ohio, I was not prepared for blistering Texas heat of summer. Another part of our training included Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Warfare Training often abbreviated as NBC. This trained us in how to prepare and respond to a potential situation if the Soviets or the Warsaw Pact employed chemical or nuclear weapons against us. This training continued yearly throughout the duration of my enlistment and we I can’t recall exactly how many times we were gassed. As part of this training we became familiar with not only our individual gas masks but also the individual ChemSuit along with rubber gloves and boots.
After completion of the ABGD Course, I briefly returned home to Ohio before shipping out to West Germany. My destination was Memmingen, a small town in the Swabia region of Bavaria. I would arrive here in December of 1984 where I was assigned to the 7261 MUNSS Munitions Support Squadron. This was a small unit comprised of security, munitions maintainers and support personnel who were assigned to support the West German Luftwaffe’s Jagdbombergeschwader 34 or ‘34th Fighter Bomber Wing’. The JaBoG 34, was a unit of the West German Air Force assigned under the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force or 4 ATAF responsible for the defense of the southern approaches into West Germany against Soviet or Warsaw Pact offensive operations. Our unit and the Germans forged a close bond and many of those friendships remain intact even up to this day. The 7261’s commanding officer was a Lieutenant Colonel named Worthen and my Chief of Security Police was a Captain named Rivera. Daily, we carried M-16 rifles complete with a two day supply of ammunition, a canteen, gas mask, ballistic resistant flak jacket and a steel helmet for personal protection. Due to the JaBoG’s status as being a quick reaction force and front line fighter unit, the upmost measures for facility security were in place and German K-9 units were on hand to further augment the already strict security measures.
By September of 1985, I was training to become an entry controller for our facility, but on the final day of training I broke my leg when I deployed from a Mercedes Benz two ton truck we used for transportation around the base. The tailgate on these vehicles are very high and with my rifle in one hand and kit bag in the other I leapt from the vehicle and landed on the cement curb causing great damage to my ankle and left leg. By this time I had received a promotion to the rank of Airman First Class, and now with my injury I was temporarily assigned to assist the NCOIC Law Enforcement. Intended to be a temporary assignment while I recovered from my injury, it became permanent and I became accustomed to filling out police reports, vehicle registration, as well as processing and issuing ID cards along with other administrative duties. When I finally recovered from my injury, I returned to pulling sentry duties across the installation. These duties would often prove uneventful with long hours spent with no personal contact however occasionally the monotony was broken by the sound of alert sirens and the sight of pilots rushing for their aircraft. This would be such a thrill with a rush of adrenaline because it was always unknown whether or not it was just another drill or the pilots were actually launching on a real time mission.
The facilities at Memmingen had been constructed in 1937 and were utilized by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. One of the buildings in which I worked was one of the original structures used by the Germans during World War II and many times I often found myself wondering who had been here and used my office during the years of the Third Reich. What happened to them? Had they survived the war? I never received these answers but it still proved interesting to think about none the less.
Our West German unit’s insignia consisted primarily of blue and white, the colors of Bavaria and incorporated two planes against a blue background over the Alps and the NATO symbol in the upper left corner of the insignia. Two of the subordinate squadrons utilized World War II era insignia with the first squadron utilizing the ‘Grunherz’ emblem reflecting their title ‘Green Hearts’ and the second squadron utilizing the Edelweiss insignia as their emblem.
Training exercises were a regular occurrence during the duration of my assignment in Germany. These exercises varied in scope and scenario ranging from small scale exercises to the larger NATO exercises which included the REFORGER exercises. West German and Canadian armed forces fought mock battles on the airfield and on several occasions friendly aircraft from other NATO nations would fly low level mock air attacks on the base facilities. I was confident in our Luftwaffe partner’s ability to fight a coordinated effort alongside us. At the time, Germany was a warzone without being exposed to an exchange of gunfire. Battle tanks and artillery moved freely through towns and villages and combat aircraft were constantly flying in training scenarios to prepare for conducting live combat operations in the event of war in all weather scenarios to maintain the upmost state of combat readiness. One of the things I’ll never forget is the sounds of working at Memmingen, between the roar of the F-104G Starfighters taking off and landing day and night and on occasions ground crews test firing the Starfighter’s 20mm Vulcan cannon you tend to get used to the noise of daily operations.
There was always a looming threat for potential terrorist encounters particularly during that time. The Baader-Meinhof Gang and Red Army Faction amongst other groups were a threat we took very seriously in the mid 1980s. We were always receiving or conducting detailed briefings on terrorist activities in the region and we were constantly on the lookout for them within the vicinity of our facilities. The local German Polizei and the Air Force OSI services worked hand in hand to ensure we had the latest detailed reports on the groups and any potential threat. Sometimes I would work as a liaison between our unit and our Luftwaffe counterparts. I was on duty the night of 15 April 1986, when President Ronald Reagan authorized Operation El Dorado Canyon which was a series of strikes against targets in Libya. The event came as surprise when our shifts that usually were eight hours were extended to twelve hours. The heightened state of alert caused much excitement and we were never quite sure of what was exactly going on or the cause behind some of the things we were doing but we were ready none the less. The going joke was that even though we were ready to go to war at a moment’s notice we would go to neutral Switzerland which was only some forty miles away.
On one occasion before we were to start our normal shifts, we learned from an outgoing flight coming off guard duty that one of the German tower sentries had attempted to commit suicide. In the United States, a flight is organized roughly into 100 men but due to the small size of our unit in Germany, a flight for us was roughly about ten men. An investigation was launched into the incident and it became aware that the suspect had suffered a particularly bad breakup with his girlfriend and became fixated on the idea of taking his own life. Standing guard in what was known as a mini-tower, a small two man observation post roughly six feet above the ground the sentry had taken his issued G3 rifle and placed the barrel to his stomach and pulled the trigger. By the time that I had come up for duty, the sentry had already been removed however things got worse when during my shift, several VIPs came to visit and viewed the mess left in the tower. The sentry survived his wounds but his fate following the incident is uncertain.
In April of 1986, the nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl facility in Ukraine went into meltdown and spewed radioactive clouds across Europe. We were issued strict orders not to go outside and no one was certain what would happen in the wake of such a disaster. Memmingen is located about 1,000 miles from Chernobyl but even at this distance, roughly 40 to 50% of Europe would be contaminated by fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. Although, I have had follow up checkups and appear to be healthy and unaffected, several members of the 7261 MUNSS have developed signs of exposure to radioactive materials which include loss of enamel in teeth and degenerative disk development in the spine, as well as having children with birth defects and in others sterility. Thyroid cancer is another potential concern. Because it is impossible to prove that Chernobyl is the cause, it is not considered a harmful source of radiation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Due to the amount of radioactive fallout absorbed into the water and soil, were told not to eat foods grown locally such as vegetables or meats.
Life in Memmingen became routine but at times there were groups that posed problems for us. One of these groups was of course members of the United States Army. During REFORGER, several of them became intoxicated and caused some problems but never anything too serious that we could not handle. The second group, were usually Jaguar pilots from the British Royal Air Force. They would cause random mischief and in one instance even stole a restricted area warning sign from one of the perimeter fences.
My time in Germany came to an end in December 1986 when I was reassigned to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. This would be my final duty station where I would end my enlistment.
When I arrived at Barksdale, I was assigned under the US Air Force’s Strategic Air Command where I performed essentially the same duties I had in Germany at the airbase in Louisiana. I went from the real feel of Germany, to the simulated atmosphere of stateside duty assignments. The massive force of Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers was kept on a constant state of readiness, capable of being deployed 24-7, 365. The assignment to Barksdale did not share the same appeal as the assignment to Memmingen and I do not share the same strength of bond with service members from the SAC assignment that I do with members from the Germany assignment. Like Germany however, there were often readiness exercises conducted and sirens would sound often to the response of crews rushing to their aircraft and preparing to deploy in response to attack anywhere in the world. I would finish my Air Force enlistment at the rank of Senior Airman, and even though I was urged to attend the Air Force Non Commissioned Officer’s Academy I chose not to reenlist.
On 17 September 1987, tragedy struck when SGT. Joseph M. Burgio Sr. was killed when his Boeing KC-10 Stratotanker exploded on the ground at Barksdale. Three dozen others were injured in the disaster and following an investigation it was learned that a fuel leak caused the fatal explosion. While offloading fuel from the tanker, a generator unit ignited the fumes of the fuel and caused the explosion. I became aware of the disaster when one of my fellow service members SGT. Gray; stated that something was on fire. I turned to see a large black cloud of smoke billowing into the sky. I turned in time to see one of the largest explosions I’d ever witnessed echo through the area in a series of three blasts. The first explosion blew apart the center section of the plane, the second blew apart the nose and the final blast occurred when the wings ruptured.
Since Barksdale is the home of the Eighth Air Force headquarters, we took up defensive positions and only after it became apparent that this was an accident and not an attack did we stand down. While the investigation was carried out on the accident, I pulled security over the wreck many times.
By the time my Air Force enlistment concluded, I was a Senior Airman and I had been awarded the Air Force Training Ribbon, Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, as well as the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Of particular significance to me were letters of service and a plaque presented to me for my service in the 7261 MUNSS at Memmingen. I will never forget the many American, German, and other European allies and friends I served with throughout the duration of my enlistment and I definitely have no regrets about my service during the Cold War.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
“From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother” – Henry V, William Shakespeare 1598
The Cold War was an intense moment in world history where at the strike of a match the fragile peace could be engulfed in a sea of flames. Although the Cold War is referred to as a relative period of uneasy peace, there were numerous occasions of incidents where blood was shed by military forces of varying nations. In Europe, the British while maintaining numerous overseas deployments battled against the insurgency in Northern Ireland as well as dealing with troublesome skirmishes by terrorist groups on mainland Europe. The United States Army in Europe was also plagued by a number of attacks from radical terrorist elements like the Red Army Faction held bent on undermining the legitimacy of the Allied cause. Most often these groups were funded by the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact groups to carry out strikes against NATO installations and forces. The sacrifices of military personnel throughout this tense period have often proven undocumented if not under documented and the stories of the conflicts gone unseen and or unheard by those outside of the entities that were there.
Operation Banner, the British military's operation in Northern Ireland for example is not as well known in the United States as it is in the United Kingdom, nonetheless they are stories that should be known and shared with the world. Men and women sacrificed so much to maintain the balance of peace that was the Cold War period and their exploits have largely gone unrecognized. While there were a vast number of conflicts that should be documented for historical purposes, this particular look is aimed at Europe and experiences documented will cover mainly the veteran’s experiences in Northern Ireland and West Germany. It’s hard to say just how many lives were lost throughout the duration of the European Cold War period and every life has value. Losses across Europe from Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom to West Germany and across the rest of Continental Europe are hard to exactly pinpoint as well as they typical were inflicted in ones and twos rather than on a large scale as in a conventional scenario. Alerts went up and precautions were taken against terrorist elements accordingly. In an age where terrorism is a common phrase, soldiers in Europe were dealing with terrorism ever since a rogue group believed they could use violence and intimidation to gain a voice.
The purpose of this writing is to document the stories of the veterans to preserve them and archive them for the future. To highlight the importance of the sacrifices bore by these individuals in the name of brotherhood. The unexplainable brotherhood shared uniquely by soldiers exposed to hostile areas. This writing is dedicated to the memory of the fallen who are forever fused into the history that has shaped our world, and to those who experienced it firsthand and live with their memories. These are the stories of those who were there. We salute them and We honor them. For security and privacy reasons I have altered the names of the individuals who have submitted their stories.
PTE M. Swift, British Army
1st Battalion, The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire
Ballykinlar, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland: I carried out patrols throughout South Armagh (Armagh County) known as Orchard Country to the world but commonly referred to as 'Bandit Country' to those that served there. These patrols took us close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. On one occasion the patrol base of Bessbrook Mill was mortared 3 days after I left. I was part of a protective cordon that was tasked with setting up and providing defense during the rebuilding and strengthening of the watch towers in and around Crossmaglenn. On that task, I heard an explosion while in a covert operations location. Later we were told that the IRA had murdered a Judge as well as his wife. Several years later during another tour they struck again at the exact same location. IRA groups were known as Active Service Units (ASUs) by us operating in Northern Ireland. While on this tour Provisional Irish Republic Army (PIRA) & Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were feuding and doing tit for tat killings against one another. We were all pretty happy with that as it kept them busy and not attacking our forces. My first tour only lasted 3 months as the regiment then got posted to Catterick in North Yorkshire. Although short and relevantly uneventful, it was none the less an exciting tour and experience for a young 18 year old soldier.
CPL A. Steventon, British Army
252 Provost Company (Volunteers)
Royal Military Police
Hameln, Hannover, Sennelager, Paderborn, West Germany
Participated in Exercises Keystone & Keyflight in 1987 & 1988.
BAOR: I performed Provost operations in West Germany and some Police work mainly RTA accidents. I also performed border patrol along Berlin Wall and saw East German NVA troops and Soviet troops regularly. My main job was convoy movements. I used to sign up routes to get ALL the BAOR troops to the battle front or FEBA as we called it and to Brigade HQ's, rendezvous points etc. We set up TP's (traffic posts) IP's (info Posts) BDE HQ (Brigade HQ's) etc. We also secured areas in the infantry role using GPMG, SLR, SMG and Browning 9mm. I got the chance to work alongside US aggressor forces on enemy evade and capture exercises near Nordhausen. We captured them and handed over to intel for interrogation.
I dealt with a fatal road traffic accident in Unter Oldershausen in September when I was on guard duty at a Brigade Headquarters. A Regular Dispatch Rider of the Royal Engineers came to my Information Post (IP) looking for his Brigade HQ. He was fatigued and tired and got his grid reference, he then and drove up the road and was killed instantly by decapitation. I was the first to respond to him following the accident and the last to contact him when he passed away. It has haunted me ever since. It has been nearly 25 years and I've only now found out his name this year, Sapper Dougie Hogg 13th Postal Courier Squadron Royal Engineers 25 years old from Lancaster in Lancashire.
Another assignment I held was to look for Soviet Mission on the Rhine spies (SOXMIS whom used to drive around taking photos for intelligence purposes mainly of troop numbers, vehicles, strength, equipment, movements, locations etc. If we saw them we detained them under a special card we carried and handed over to Intel Corps.
I was nearly killed during an attack by the PIRA in 1988 whilst serving in the Royal Air Force (regular Forces). While in Hereford, the PIRA planted an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) outside of my barracks block but one of my mates found it in the trash can before it could be detonated.
My reflections on the Cold War period are that it was a very tense time with many occasions we thought we were going to war with the Warsaw Pact. Alerts were issued regularly for war footings. We lost hundreds of troops in accidents on the big exercises which people forgot and we never got any recognition for the sacrifices we made over there, not just in encounters with Warsaw Pact forces but also with PIRA in Northern Ireland. They were very active and as a result many British troops were killed. The days were long but times were fun and enjoyable. The Germans were very good to us unless they held ties to the previous regime the Nazi party. I enjoyed my time spent over there and loved the country. I'll never forget it.
SPC S. Moore, United States Army
558th Military Police Company
Rheinland Pfalz, West Germany
2 Years in West Germany
USAREUR: I pulled physical security on a NATO Missile site known as Site No. 107. During the duration of my deployment to West Germany, we were plagued by constant bombings and attacks at clubs mainly by the Red Army Faction which peaked in 1987.
My West Germany assignment was similar to dealing with modern day terrorism. Movements were always done on the high alert with the upmost suspicion of everyone. Between the Soviets and Red Army Faction encounters taking out small groups of service members, travel was usually done in packs for security. Whenever there was an incident it was briefed to all of United States Army Europe (USAREUR). Working on a Nuclear Compound, National Security concerning Nuclear Warheads was of utmost priority so the 24/7 security of the facility was monitored very closely. While I was assigned to Site No. 107, there was an incident at different Nuclear Facility where the perimeter had been breached, the guard house was infiltrated and all of the security forces were shot in their sleep. None of the nuclear materials were disturbed in the attack. It was just done to prove that the security of a sensitive NATO site was indeed penetrable.
RFN D. Harding, British Army
2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets
Belfast, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Multiple deployments from 1985-1996
Northern Ireland: I served as a military dog handler in Northern Ireland performing searches in the Palace Barracks area of operation around Belfast. Our Tactical Area of Responsibility which we covered included Fort Whiterock, North Howard Street Mill, Girdwood and Woodburn which was a Royal Ulster Constabulary station. My first two initial tours in Northern Ireland were fairly quiet. There were two occasions where there were attempts made to engage our patrols by enemy forces which were thwarted by our experience. As a result of the thwarting of their attempts, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) Active Service Units (ASUs) launching an attack and shooting up the Sanger of Clogher, Royal Ulster Constabulary Station. The second year, residential operations were quite hectic but again most incidents of attempts against the battalion were thwarted thanks to good scenario drills and patrolling techniques. Sadly, we lost seven members of the Battalion, due to accidents including a Lynx crash in Gortin Glen.
The period of 1993-1996 was hectic as well. There were incidents almost daily with an upsurge in shootings, bombings and sectarian murders. It was during this particular tour in Northern Ireland that I was blown up by a PIRA explosive device which resulted in the loss of the majority of the hearing in my left ear and half in my right ear. Due to the constant rotations into Northern Ireland I was diagnosed with complex combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The worst encounter during this tour was the aftermath of the Shakhill Bombing, when Fizzel’s Fish Shop was targeted for twenty one days. Following that attack I was lucky to get an average of three hours of sleep per day due to tit for tat murders carried out by rival factions.
CPL M.Sandham, British Army
Parachute Regiment/Royal Military Police
Infantry/Royal Military Police
Roberts Barracks, Osnabruck, West Germany, Aldergrove & Clooney Base, Northern Ireland
4 Years Regular Forces & 3 Years Reserve
BAOR: While assigned to the British Army of the Rhine I primarily performed Garrison policing duties. The experience of serving in West Germany also allowed me the opportunity to train alongside our allied military unit counterparts including American, West German and Dutch military police. I also participated in several large scale military exercises in Germany the primary two being Exercise Lionheart and Exercise Spearpoint.
Northern Ireland: In Northern Ireland I mainly performed mobile patrols, search and intelligence gathering operations, performed raids on suspected enemy strongholds which often including pubs, bars and clubs as well as escort duties. When performing operations in the Londonderry areas we were often brought close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. City Center security patrols were also another task we were frequently assigned. In Northern Ireland we were frequently exposed to enemy actions committed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) including shootings and bombings in Belfast. Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) police stations were regularly targeted for attack by PIRA elements. Some operations yielded results such as search and seizure operations which led to discovering and capturing PIRA weapons caches in East Belfast. Riot control in the Londonderry City Center was also a regular occurrence during my tour in Northern Ireland. One encounter in particular stands out in my mind, one day following a PIRA operation, we were tasked to recovery a victim’s body from the River Lagan in Belfast.
My service in both BAOR and in Northern Ireland ultimately was a great training experience. For a young Non Commissioned Officer it was an amazing introduction to life in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Despite the exposure to conflict zones such as Northern Ireland, I believe young soldiers today would benefit from the experiences we had during the Cold War. We gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in a short period of time and I don’t regret any moment of my service. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The British armed forces maintained their own postal service much like armies around the world, assigning each of its facilities abroad with a postal code corresponding to a garrison. The British Forces Post Office or BFPO had a system of numbered codes for its garrisons across Western Europe primarily those of I British Corps positioned in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia during the Cold War. The vast majority of these codes were assigned to British Army of the Rhine garrisons in the Federal Republic of Germany and a handful of these were assigned to garrisons in Belgium and the Netherlands. Below is a listing of British Forces Post Office Overseas assignment numbers for historical record.
British Forces Posted Overseas Numbers
BFPO 15 - Herford
BFPO 16 - Sennelager/Paderborn
BFPO 17 - Münster
BFPO 18 - Maastricht, Netherlands
BFPO 19 - Köln/Bonn
BFPO 20 - Dortmund
BFPO 21 - Emblem, Belgium
BFPO 22 - Lübbecke
BFPO 23 - Celle
BFPO 24 - Iserlohn
BFPO 25 - Brüggen
BFPO 27 - Hannover Isodets
BFPO 28 - Brunssum, Netherlands
BFPO 29 - Minden
BFPO 30 - Hohne
BFPO 31 - Hameln
BFPO 32 - Verden
BFPO 33 - Hannover
BFPO 34 - Düsseldorf
BFPO 35 - Krefeld
BFPO 36 - Osnabrück
BFPO 37 - Soltau / Brannenburg
BFPO 38 - Fallingbostel
BFPO 39 - Bielefeld
BFPO 40 - Rheindahlen
BFPO 41 - Detmold
BFPO 42 - Wildenrath
BFPO 43 - Laarbruch
BFPO 44 - Dulmen
BFPO 45 - Berlin
BFPO 46 - Bünde
BFPO 47 - Gütersloh
BFPO 48 - Nienburg
BFPO 49 - Brussels, Belgium
BFPO 101 - Wolfenbüttel
BFPO 102 - Hildesheim
BFPO 103 - Hamm/Werl
BFPO 104 - Munsterlager
BFPO 105 - Düsseldorf Isodets
BFPO 106 - Soest
BFPO 107 - Lippstadt
BFPO 108 - Kiel
BFPO 109 - Ramstein
BFPO 110 - Willich
BFPO 112 - Menden
BFPO 113 - Mansergh Barracks, RAF Gütersloh
BFPO 114 - Körbecke
BFPO 140 - BAOR Headquarters
To many western observers the names bestowed upon Nationale Volksarmee combat units in the German Democratic Republic are but enigmas lost to history. East German military traditions and heritage often centered around figures of cultural significance and particular interest to the 'people's struggle' towards the progression of the communist movement. One of the most famous of the East German military units with a named title is the 40. Fallschirmjägerbatallion which was granted the title of 'Willi Sänger' after the pro-communist resistance fighter who was executed by the Nazis in the latter years of the Second World War. When the Soviet authorities took over administration of the eastern zone of Germany after the cease of hostilities the use of German communists and others sympathetic to the struggle of communism was seen as a way to allow the German people to embrace the struggles of communism and the exploits of their own people.
Paul Wieczorek, was another famous figure of East German military tradition. Paul Wieczorek was born in the largely protestant city of Bromberg in Prussia on 15 July 1885. In 1904, he and his family relocated from Bromberg to Berlin. After completing his schooling, he took up an apprenticeship in metalurgy becoming a metal worker. By 1903, he enlisted in the Kaiserliche Marine or 'Imperial Navy' of the German Empire. He would serve in the Imperial Navy until 1906, serving among other assignments aboard the light cruiser Medusa. Following his brief military service, Wieczorek found employment as a bus driver for the German company Allgemeine Berliner Omnibus AG. It was around this time that he became introduced to the teachings of Karl Marx and communism and become a member of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands 'Social Democratic Party of Germany' or SPD.
With the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serb nationalist and the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, Wieczorek was reinstated into the Kaiserliche Marine at the rank of Maat or Petty Officer aboard a minesweeper. Now a committed communist, Wieczorek was reprimanded numerous times by his superiors for insubordination and military disobedience. With the emergence of a new form of warfare, and the advances taken in military aviation, Wieczorek volunteered to become an aircraft mechanic in the fledgling Marineflieger of the Imperial German Navy. Following receiving flight training, he was assigned to a military air station located at Tonder near the border with Denmark. Here he was involved in a plane crash and following a period of recovery, he was reassigned to the Marine-Landfliegerabteilung 'Naval Land Flying Service' at Johannisthal near Berlin. It would be here that he and a friend Fritz Radtke would organize workers of the Johannis Thaler Flugzeugwerke and spread the influence of communist works amongst fellow members of the naval aviation service and military air service.
By November of 1918, Germany was facing internal struggles and with the Kiel Mutiny of naval sailors in the Wilhelmshaven fleet an increasing wave of descent swept over the crews of several battleships of the High Seas Fleet. The Kiel Mutiny would become one of the factors leading to the November Revolution in 1918. Aligning himself with prominent Marxist and anti-militarist Karl Liebknecht, Wieczorek organized other mutineers and mounted an armed insurrection at the base in Johannisthal. On 9 November 1918, pro-communist sailors and naval aviators as well as members of the illegal Spartacus League seized control of the Flugplatz Johannisthal and arrested the base commander and the officers cadre. Following the completion of the seizure of the airbase, Wieczorek and his group began heading in the direction of Berlin to link up with Karl Liebknecht and his fellow group of communist supporters. Along the way to Berlin, the group encountered armed resistance from military forces loyal to Kaiser Wilhelm II particularly in the areas of Lower Schöneweide and Treptow. Many soon sided with the revolutionaries and large quantities of weapons and ammunition were turned over to the revolutionaries.
Records become scarce after this point but it was presumed that Wieczorek and his men participated in a clash and occupation of the Reichsmarineamtes 'Imperial Naval Office' in Berlin. By the evening of the 9th of November, Wieczorek, Radtke and Liebknecht linked up and and along with Heinrich Dorrenbach a fellow socialist revolutionary and an officer in the Imperial German military began drawing up plans for the organization of armed formations in Berlin. By the time of the armistice and cease of First World War hostilities on 11 November 1918, some 600 sailors that had aligned themselves with Wieczorek and Liebknecht were using the Berlin imperial stables as their headquarters and declared the organization of the Volksmarinerat von Groß-Berlin und Vororten 'People's Naval Council of Greater Berlin and Suburbs. They organized themselves into a group they called the Volksmarinedivison 'People's Navy Division' and declared Wieczorek as their Commander.
From its inception on 11 November 1918, things would begin to rapidly deteriorate for the Volksmarinedivison. In a coup of leadership, Paul Wieczorek was shot dead by Korvettenkapitän Friedrich Brettschneider in the Berlin imperial stables they declared their headquarters. Susequently two days later, Brettschneider himself was also found dead. The November Revolution would ultimately fail when resistance was put down forcefully, however it would lead to the abdication of the throne of Germany, the abolishion of the monarchy and the transition to parliamentary democracy. Liebknecht would not fare any better suffering the same fate that befell many communist revolutionaries in Germany. On 15 January 1919, Karl Liebknecht was found in his Berlin apartment and arrested being placed under the custody of the Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen-Division 'Guards Cavalry Rifle Division' of the Freikorps were he was interrogated, beaten and finally shot to death.
After the end of the Second World War, Soviet authorities in the eastern sector of Germany installed the pro-communist regime and began advocating the use of German communists amongst the new government to unite the people under their exploits. In 1985, the East German communist party authorized the formation of a naval aviation wing or Marinefliegergeschwader to be operated by the Volksmarine. Organized under the strictest orders of secrecy, the new unit was officially established on 27 November 1987 at Rostock-Laage. The unit was designated Marinefliegergeschwader 28 (MFG-28) and granted the title 'Paul Wieczorek' on 6 October 1989.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
The French contingent of the occupational forces in West Berlin were known as the Forces françaises à Berlin. The Forces françaises à Berlin were a subordinate detachment of the greater Forces françaises en Allemagne or French Forces in Germany. Like the Americans and the British, the Forces françaises à Berlin arrived in Berlin in July 1945 after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Initially, France was not going to be allocated a portion of Germany nor Berlin to occupy in the post war years however after objections to this plan were made by de facto French leader General Charles De Gaulle, an agreement was made and portions of both the American and British zones of Occupation were taken and designated as French zones of Occupation. With the granting of these areas, a section of Berlin was designated for the French. French military forces would be given the northern portion of the city comprised of two boroughs to administer. The boroughs of West Berlin which would be granted to the French were the boroughs of Reinickendorf and Wedding. The Potsdam Agreement granted the French equal rights and access to West Berlin and thus the Forces françaises à Berlin would maintain a status as counterparts to both the American Berlin Brigade and the British Berlin Infantry Brigade.
Soldiers assigned to West Berlin wore a distinctive shoulder patch much in the manner of their American and British counterparts. The French patch originated in 1949, and depicted the French tricolor flag of blue, white and red flying over a gold circle with an 'N' in the center representing their facilities at the Quartier Napoléon. This is positioned inside the shape of the French zone of Occupation in West Germany with a gold border around the zone with light blue interior and a darker blue exterior with 'BERLIN' in gold over the top of the patch and a gold border framing the entire shoulder insignia.
Initial French troops to arrive in Berlin were members of the 1re armée française '1st French Army' which established their headquarters at the Julius Leber Kaserne in the borough of Wedding. The Julius Leber Kaserne had previously been occupied by elements of the Nazi Wehrmacht utilized by the Luftwaffe's Fallschirm-Panzer-Division 1. Hermann Göring or 'Hermann Goering Parachute Panzer Division 1.' The 130 building facility was arranged around a central axis and included a sports field, running track and an outdoor pool. Upon French arrival at the facility in August 1945, the area was redesignated as the Quartier Napoléon. The facilities had been heavily damaged during the Battle of Berlin and subsequent occupation by Soviet Red Army forces and underwent significant reconstruction and repairs from 1945 to 1955. Immediately south of the area, the French military constructed the Cite Joffre condominiums to house its troops and their families. Also initially located at the Quartier Napoléon was a detachment of the Armée de l'Air, the French Air Force however, they were repositioned to nearby Tegel Airport, which would become the French's primary point of arrival and departure for forces entering the city.
On 2 November 1947, the 46e régiment d'infanterie de ligne or '46th Infantry Regiment' was assigned to the Quartier Napoléon. Prior to arrival in Berlin, the 46e régiment d'infanterie de ligne had participated in the occupation of the Rhineland following the initial German surrender on 8 May 1945. They would remain in position as the primary combat ready force until 31 December 1954, when French strength would be bolstered by the arrival of the 11e régiment de chasseurs or '11th Chasseurs Regiment' essentially an armored cavalry regiment which provided armored capabilities to the Berlin garrison. Like the 46e régiment d'infanterie de ligne, the 11e régiment de chasseurs had previously conducted occupational duties in the Palatinate region until 30 April 1947 when it was intially inactivated. It was reactivated in West Berlin and absorbed elements of two other French formations. Together the 46e régiment d'infanterie de ligne and the 11e régiment de chasseurs would comprise France's contribution to the defense of West Berlin.
Additional units assigned to the Quartier Napoléon garrison included engineers, a supply battalion, military police detachment, and security directorate that was responsible for sector security along the French zone's border with the German Democratic Republic. Like their allied counterparts the French maintained their own radio station known as Radio Forces Françaises de Berlin or French Forces in Berlin Radio commonly abbreviated as FFB. The FFB began its initial broadcasts on 8 May 1957 and provided radio broadcasts initially for the French servicemen in West Berlin. In the 1980's it picked up television and began broadcasting television programming for French forces assigned to West Berlin.
The Tegel Airbase facilities initially did not exist and it wasn't until the Americans launched Operation Vittles and the British launched Operation Plainfare essentially the Berlin Airlift as a response to the Soviet blockade of the city in 1948 that the French began construction of the new air facility. The construction of the airport facilities involved the use of over 19,000 people utilizing 400 trucks and materials taken from the war torn city of Berlin along with asphalt flown into the city by the United States Air Force. On 5 November 1948, a detachment of the l´armée de l´air known as DA 04165 was activated at the new facility when a U.S. Air Force Douglas C-54 Skymaster transport arrived at the base carrying among its dignitaries General William H. Tunner, the chief architect of the Berlin Airlift. The Tegel Facility was designated as 165 Air Base Berlin-Tegel and officially opened for operations on 15 November 1948. Regular operations commence by 1 December 1948, and upon learning of the construction of a facility in the French zone of Occupation, the Soviets demand the withdrawal of French forces from the village of Stolpe. All French forces vacate Stolpe by 18 December 1948.
By the time of its operation, and the height of the Berlin Airlift, the French have become embroiled in the First Indochina War, however they supply several Junkers Ju-52 transports for the effort in 1949. In 1958, the French estalish SEA 02054 an electronic warfare squadron which conducts signal intelligence gathering (SIGNET) operations in West Berlin. The SEA 02054 unit utilizies antennas at DBLS Foch located in the local vicinity and also two twin parabolic antennas positioned to monitor the area north of Berlin, in the limit of Frohnau beside Oranienburger Chaussee and Jäger Stieg located on the other side of East Germany. SEA 02054 operates in conjunction with the station Schalke positioned in West Germany and with the SEA 03054 and EE 21054 Goslar, detachment of the 11 th Company Transmissions, which were transitioned to the headquarters Berlin from 30 June 1966 to 1 January 1991. The Escadrille Electronics EE (Electronic Warfare Unit) was designated 21,054 with specialized Puma helicopters in 1986.
Elements of the French ALAT 'Light Army Aviation' arrived at Tegel in 1987 succeeding several previous light aviation entities operating light aircraft for intelligence gathering operations and support operations in support of the French Army units of the Quartier Napoléon.
The French staff will remain in position at Tegel until 31 December 1992, when at the request of the German government command of the airport is turned over from French control to German control where it is redesignated as Berlin International Airport - Tegel by the German civilian personnel. Up until that point since 1974, the French crew at Tegel had checked more than one million aircraft carrying some 90 million passengers in conditions of maximum security in and out of Tegel.
In 1993, the first part attributed to the Allied Museum in Berlin began construction and a Cessna L19 from the Forces françaises à Berlin was retired from service and turned over to the museum on April 21. The 165 Air Base would be decommissioned along with the 46th and 11th RI Hunters on 14 September 1994.
With the removal of all allied forces from Berlin following the agreement of 1994, the Quartier Napoléon was also closed and the German government took control of the Julius Leber Kaserne on 5 January 1995, and positioned Bundeswehr units in its facilities. The 46e régiment d'infanterie de ligne having successfully completed it's mission was inactivated on 14 September 1994. The 11e régiment de chasseurs would follow the previous day being inactivated on 15 September. Both units colors were cased and returned to France having successfully represented France and providing a contingent that stood alongside its British and American counterparts in maintaining the peace and security of West Berlin.
French Units in West Berlin
French Combat Units assigned to Quartier Napoléon in West Berlin:
11e régiment de chasseurs '11th Cavalry Regiment'
46e régiment d'infanterie de ligne '46th Infantry Regiment'
110e compagnie du génie '110th Engineer Company'
Centre d'entraînement commando (CEC no 10) 'Commando Training Center'
French Support Units assigned to Quartier Napoléon in West Berlin:
11e compagnie de transmission '11th Signals Company'
Gendarmerie Berlin 'Berlin Police'
Hôpital Louis-Pasteur 'Louis-Pasteur Hospital'
Base aérienne 165 Berlin Tegel 'Airbase 165 Berlin Tegel'
Groupement de soutien 'Support Group'
Quartier général 'Headquarters'
Direction des transport et de la circulation de Berlin 'Directorate of Transport and Traffic in Berlin'
État-Major 'Command Staff'
Détachement de l'Aviation légère de l'armée de terre (DETALAT) 'Detachment of the Light Army Aviation'
Friday, August 16, 2013
Initially British troops stationed in western Berlin were known as the British Troops Berlin from November of 1946, which administered to the occupational duties in the British designated zone of occupied Berlin. The first British unit to arrive in Berlin was the 7th Armoured Division, the notorious 'Desert Rats' which had garnered a reputation for ferocity in fighting the German Afrika Korps led by Erwin Rommel in North Africa. The unit would remain known as British Troops Berlin until all British occupational forces in West Berlin were redesignated as Area Troops Berlin in February of 1949. This formation would stand until October 1953, when it was reorganized into a force known as the Berlin Infantry Brigade Group. Under the reorganization, the force would maintain a strength of 3,100 soldiers assigned to one of three infantry battalions, an armored squadron and respective support units. Unlike its American counterpart, the British Berlin Brigade rotated entire units in and out of West Berlin for a specified period of time rather than rotating individual personnel in and out of the units assigned to the British zone of occupation in West Berlin. With the division of Berlin, the British would receive the central section of West Berlin, a sector comprised of four boroughs to occupy in the post war era. The four neighborhoods under British control was comprised of the boroughs of Charlottenburg, Tiergarten, Wilmersdorf and Spandau.
Being positioned in the exclave of West Berlin, deep within the heart of the German Democratic Republic the Berlin Infantry Brigade was organized separate of the British Army of the Rhine forces positioned in the Federal Republic of Germany. Rotations into West Berlin varied by unit; the single armored squadron was deployed to West Berlin after being detached from an armored regiment which was already in West Germany assigned to I British Corps. Infantry battalions were rotated in and out of West Berlin every two years. The only permanent units in West Berlin were comprised of 7 Flight, Army Air Corps, which was based at RAF Gatow, the Royal Air Force station which had served as the Third Reich Luftwaffe's staff and technical college known as the Luftkriegsschule 2 'Air Warfare School 2' under the previous regime. 7 Flight provided the Berlin Infantry Brigade with aviation support assets. Other units permanently assigned to West Berlin included the 62 Transport and Movements Squadron Royal Corps of Transport, 14 Field Workshop Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 504 Commander Royal Army Service Corps (CRASC) (Overseas Deployment Training 'ODT'), 131 DID Royal Army Service Corps, Det No 2 Independent Petrol Station Platoon Royal Army Service Corps, 31st Quartering and Barracks Office Royal Army Service Corps,121 & 122 Barracks Stores, 38 (Berlin) Field Squadron Royal Engineers, 229 Signals Squadron and 3 Squadron 13 Signals Regiment Royal Signals, 3 Intelligence and Security Coy Intelligence Corps, 247 Provost Coy Royal Military Police, 248 German Security Unit and the British Military Hospital (BMH) Berlin.
The British Forces Post Office which maintained a branch in West Berlin designated the British sector with the postal code BFPO 45.
The British maintained their forces in five barracks across its sector of the city, primarily in the borough of Spandau. The five British facilities were known as Alexander Barracks, Smuts Barracks, Brooke Barracks, Wavell Barracks and Montgomery Barracks. Three of the barracks were positioned in close proximity to the Spandau Prison where British troops along with elements of the other western Allies and the Soviets rotated standing guard over Rudolf Hess. Montgomery Barracks was positioned in close proximity to the border with East Berlin, and maintained a single infantry battalion. Brooke and Wavell Barracks both maintained single infantry battalions, while Smuts Barracks maintained the armored squadron assigned to West Berlin. Alexander Barracks was primarily an administrative and logistics facility. Units rotated in and out of West Berlin from across the United Kingdom including units from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Many soldiers assigned to West Berlin had combat experience having come to West Berlin from operational service during Operation Banner in Northern Ireland.
Initially the first incarnations of the British garrison, the British Troops Berlin and Area Troops Berlin would maintain its headquarters in a facility at the Fehrbelliner Platz in the borough of Wilmersdorf. Upon redesignation as the Berlin Infantry Brigade Group, the headquarters was relocated to a facilitiy located adjacent to the Olympic Stadium in the district of Charlottenburg. It would remain at this location until the dissolution of the Berlin Infantry Brigade in 1994.
Soldiers assigned to the Berlin Infantry Brigade wore a distinctive insignia. The unit's shoulder sleeve insignia was comprised of a red circle over a black background with the word 'BERLIN' in red on a black background arched across the top of the circular insignia. Although initially not assigned to British Army of the Rhine, by the 1980s it was considered a secondary component of BAOR after the I British Corps contingent which was positioned in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, West Germany.
The British maintained a large training facility in the Grunewald borough of West Berlin, where they would often train alongside soldiers of the American Berlin Brigade. The Grunewald complex was comprised of several training facilities including the American urban warfare training center known as Parks Range or more affectionately as "Doughboy City" as well as the British urban warfare training center known as Ruhleben Fighting City or 'RFC'. Further military training was conducted across the Grunewald borough along the shores of the Havel River, and along the Schildhorn peninsula. Other training areas included the Schildhornweg, Am Postfenn, around the Teufelssee or 'Devil's Lake', Saubuchtweg, Grunewaldturm area, Havelchausee which ran adjacent to the Havel River, and all the way down to the Avus. For woodland combat exercises, British forces utilized the wooded areas of Spandau, Gatow, Kladow, Tegel and Jungfernheide. Their primary range area was also located at Ruhleben however it was adjacent to the RFC compound. Later on in the Berlin Infantry Brigade's stay in West Berlin, additional live fire exercises were conducted in Gatow.
As a response to the British maintaining their firing rains in such close proximity to the border with East Berlin, the Soviets maintained a large armored vehicle training facility on the East German side of the Berlin Wall opposite of the British ranges.
The armored squadron assigned to Smuts Barracks was primarily tasked with armored reconnaissance and conducting mounted security patrols along the length of the Berlin Wall which spanned the British sector.
For ceremonial events, the British often utilized the Maifeld 'May Field' as a parade ground which was located across from the Olympic Stadium known as the Olympiastadion. The Maifeld was used annually to celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday for reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II every 21 April. Formations of British troops and military vehicles would conduct a parade and review in honor of the Queens Birthday and would render honors such as honor salutes fired by tank mounted cannons and infantry rifles utilizing blank ammunition. Various members of the royal family would attend the celebrations including Queen Elizabeth II herself, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Princess Anne and the Queen Mother. West Berliners were encouraged to attend these events alongside their British counterparts and partake in the festivities. Another largely popular event was the yearly 'Grand Tattoo' which was a large military show hosted by the Corps of Army Music. The Grand Tattoo was usually held at the Deutschlandhalle near famous Funkturm Berlin radio tower. The Deutschlandhalle is famously known for the 19 February 1938 indoor flight of German test pilot Hanna Reitsch in her Focke-Wulf Fw 61 helicopter, the first such flight of its kind.
For aviation support, the British Army stationed elements of the Army Air Corps at RAF Gatow. RAF Gatow was the primary airfield utilized by Royal Air Force transports bringing in supplies from West Germany during Operation Plainfare, the British codename for the Berlin Airlift. Following the Airlift, most offensive aircraft from the Royal Air Force were withdrawn and mostly transports and light aircraft were stationed at the facility apart from British Army aviation elements. A military formation known as the RAF Gatow Station Flight operated two De Havilland Chipmunk T10 light aircraft in reconnaissance roles in cooperation with the The British Commander-in-Chief's Mission to the Soviet Forces of Occupation in Germany more commonly known as BRIXMIS. Intelligence flights were carried out beginning in 1956 under the codename Operation Shooner and later Operation Nylon, where the RAF aircraft would fly over the airspace of both West and East Berlin, as well as the air corridors to and from West Germany into West Berlin. These flights were legally guaranteed to the British under the Potsdam Agreement and they were often conducted to carry out covert photographic reconnaissance flights over East German territory.
A Royal Corps of Signals signals unit designated as 26SU was also assigned to RAF Gatow and on the Teufelsberg, a 260 foot artificial hill north of the Teufelssee which was made of the heaped rubble of Berlin following the Battle of Berlin in 1945 in the Grunewald borough. 26SU would serve as a specialized Signals Intelligence unit operated by the Royal Air Force on behalf of Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ Cheltenham tasked with monitoring Warsaw Pact and Soviet military communications and activities over and around the German Democratic Republic and neighboring People's Republic of Poland. RAF Gatow was the site of a defection on 15 July 1987 when a young East German named Thomas Krüger flew a Zlin Z-42M light aircraft to RAF Gatow from Schönhagen near Trebbin, East Berlin.
Like the Americans who operated a branch of the American Forces Network in Berlin, the British maintained a branch of their British Forces Broadcasting Service 'BFBS' and they maintained their own facilities similar to the Americans to maintain their garrisons and the families of soldiers.
In December of 1963, the Berlin Infantry Brigade Group became simply the Berlin Infantry Brigade and would remain as this designation until April of 1977 when it became the Berlin Field Force and then from January 1981 it was redesignated as the Berlin Infantry Brigade. Despite its various incarnations it was always referred to as the Berlin Infantry Brigade. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Infantry Brigade was reduced to two standing infantry battalions in 1992 and it was further reduced to a single infantry battalion in 1993.
The last British infantry battalion to be stationed Berlin following reunification would be the 1st Battalion of The Queens Lancashire Regiment being assigned to Wavell Barracks from 1992 until the Berlin Infantry Brigade was disbanded in September of 1994. The disbanding of the Berlin Infantry Brigade was marked by a final parade through the former British sector which was attended by Prince Charles. With this, the British Berlin Infantry Brigade like the other members of the western Allies marched into history having stood vigilant watch over West Berlin through some of the most tense points in world history. Peace reigned and the Cold War was over, a victory for democracy worldwide.
British Army Units assigned to the Berlin Infantry Brigade
Montgomery Barracks - Sakrowerstraße, Kladow (A suburb of Spandau)
Worcestershire Regiment – February 1948
Gordon Highlanders Regiment – May 1949
Black Watch Regiment – September 1950
East Yorkshire Regiment – November 1951
Royal Scots Fusiliers Regiment – July 1953
Grenadier Guards Regiment – March 1954
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regiment – March 1955
Royal Welsh Fusiliers – July 1956
Royal Scots Regiment – February 1958
1/2 East Anglian Regiment – February 1960
Durham Light Infantry Regiment – July 1961
Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire – June 1963
1/1 Green Jackets Regiment (Royal Green Jackets) – April 1965
Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Regiment (2nd Light Infantry) – April 1967
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regiment – April 1969
Queens Regiment – July 1970
Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment – July 1972
Parachute Regiment – August 1974
Green Howards Regiment – August 1976
2 Royal Anglian Regiment – August 1978
Kings Own Royal Border Regiment – January 1981
3 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – March 1983
Royal Highland Fusiliers – March 1985
Black Watch Regiment – March 1987
Royal Welsh Fusiliers – July 1989
Royal Welsh Fusiliers – July 1992
Brooks Barracks - Wilhelmstraße, Spandau
2 Royal Scots Fusiliers – February 1948
2 Queens Royal Regiment – February 1949
Royal Fusiliers Regiment – December 1949
Kings Liverpool Regiment – February 1951
Welsh Guards Regiment – June 1952
Royal Irish Fusiliers – July 1953
Royal Lincolnshire Regiment – June 1954
Cheshire Regiment – May 1955
South Lancashire Regiment – January 1957
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regiment – January 1958
Kings Own Scottish Borderers Regiment – February 1959
Welsh Regiment – April 1961
Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry Regiment – October 1963
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regiment – October 1965
Gloucestershire Regiment – October 1967
2 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – October 1969
Duke of Edinburgh Royal Regiment – July 1971
Kings Own Scottish Borderers Regiment – May 1973
Royal Regiment of Wales – May 1975
2 Parachute Regiment – May 1977
Royal Irish Rangers Regiment – June 1979
2 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – April 1981
Prince of Wales Own Royal Regiment – June 1983
Devon & Dorset Regiment – April 1985
Kings Own Scottish Borderers Regiment – February 1987
1 Light Infantry Regiment – January 1989
Gordon Highlanders – June 1991
Gordon Highlanders – August 1993
Wavell Barracks - Wilhelmstraße, Spandau
Royal Norfolk Regiment – January 1948
Royal Welsh Fusiliers – May 1949
Manchester Regiment – September 1950
Durham Light Infantry – April 1951
Royal Scots Regiment – May 1952
Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Regiment – July 1953
Manchester Regiment – September 1954
Black Watch Regiment – January 1956
Border Regiment – December 1957
York & Lancaster Regiment – July 1959
Kings Royal Rifle Corps (2 Green Jackets) – December 1960
Kings Regiment – July 1962
East Anglian Regiment (3 Royal Anglian) – July 1964
Queens Own Highlanders Regiment – August 1966
Staffordshire Regiment – September 1968
Cheshire Regiment – November 1970
Coldstream Guards Regiment – December 1972
3 Royal Green Jackets – January 1975
Welsh Guards Regiment – January 1977
Grenadier Guards Regiment – July 1979
2 Royal Irish Rangers Regiment – December 1981
Royal Hampshire Regiment – December 1983
Gloucestershire Regiment – February 1986
Kings Regiment – February 1988
Irish Guards Regiment – January 1990
Queens Lancashire Regiment – March 1992
Queens Lancashire Regiment – August 1994
Smuts Barracks - Wilhelmstraße, Spandau
11th Hussars Regiment & 8th Hussars Regiment – July 1945 - October 1945
11th Hussars Regiment & 1st Royal Tank Regiment – October 1945 - February 1946
1st Squadron, Life Guards Regiment – July 1946 – September 1946
1st Squadron, 13/18th Hussars Regiment – November 1946 – February 1947
1st Squadron, Inns of Court Yeomanry Regiment – February 1947 – May 1947
1st Squadron, Royal Horse Guards Regiment – May 1947 – January 1948
1st Squadron, 11th Hussars Regiment – February 1948
A Squadron, Royal Dragoons Regiment – May 1949
A Squadron, Royal Horse Guards Regiment – March 1950
1st Squadron, 3rd Hussars Regiment – February 1951
1st Independent Squadron, 1st Royal Tank Regiment – February 1952
2nd Independent Squadron, 1st Royal Tank Regiment – July 1953
B Squadron, 14/20th Hussars Regiment – February 1958
1st Squadron, 4th Royal Tank Regiment – November 1960
1st Independent Squadron, 1st Royal Tank Regiment – November 1964
1st Squadron, Queens Own Hussars Regiment – February 1965
1st Squadron, 1st Royal Tank Regiment – July 1968
1st Squadron, 9/12th Lancers Regiment – December 1969
1st Squadron, Queens Dragoon Guards Regiment – December 1970
A Squadron, 4th Royal Tank Regiment – December 1972
B Squadron, 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards Regiment – December 1974
B Squadron, 1st Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Regiment – December 1976
D Squadron, 1st Royal Hussars Regiment – April 1979
D Squadron, 4/7th Dragoon Guards Regiment – February 1981
D Squadron, 1st Queens Own Hussars Regiment – April 1983
B Squadron, 14/20th Hussars Regiment – May 1985
D Squadron, 14/20th Hussars Regiment – December 1987
C Squadron, 14/20th Hussars Regiment – September 1988
C Squadron, 14/20th Hussars Regiment – September 1991
Alexander Barracks - Hohenzollernring, Spandau