LANGELEBEN - THE LATER YEARS
ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM THE ORIGINAL HISTORY
by John Richardson
years, the independent squadron at Langeleben had grown into one
of the happiest and most efficient in BAOR. Social changes had
come since the end of National Service, bringing with them a new
type of affluent educated regular soldier to Langeleben,,
a thorough professional at his job, for which he was suitably
so isolated the camp acquired many assets to keep the lads
happy, which many other larger units would have been envious of,
including the swimming pool - a great favourite on hot summer
afternoons, the camp cinema - installed in block 7, complete
with pop-up seats, open early on Friday evenings, to allow the
customers to catch the Rec truck into town, although the NAAFI
bar was still a firm favourite with the lads.
The Sgts' Mess
turned an old transit accommodation room into a welcome
permanent bar. The hollow square in the centre of the combined
mess was covered over and turned into a function/dining room for
use by both Officers and Sergeants.
world outside had also undergone many changes since the 1950s.
Advances in electronic technology had accelerated during the
1960s and early 1970s so that by this time the modern
battlefield was saturated with electronic devices for command,
control and surveillance. To keep pace with these developments
and remain masters of the electronic spectrum, the Army's
tactical Electronic Warfare (EW) assets were reorganized. Sadly,
as part of this process, the much loved 225 Signal Squadron
On 1 July
1977, 14 Signal Regiment (EW) formed up from a mixture of old
and new entities. The Regiment took under command the hitherto
independently operating EW units, 225 Signal Squadron at
Langeleben, 226 Signal Squadron at Wesendorf and E troop, 30
Signal Regiment from Blandford, together with new command,
operational and intelligence staffs, communications,
administrative and logistic support elements, with the mission
to provide the Commander, 1st British Corps with EW support.
Headquarters, Headquarters Squadron and 3 Squadron were
initially based at Tofrek Barracks,
. HQ Squadron contained the Regimental Command Posts and the
administrative and logistic back-up. 3 Squadron provided
communications for the new Regiment, which could, and did,
deploy throughout and outside the 1 (BR) Corps area.
from the HQ to the two forward squadrons led to the need for
bases somewhat closer together, and in 1978, the Regiment found
temporary accommodation in a former ordnance depot in Scheuen,
. This barracks was in such a dilapidated condition that almost
immediately the search was instigated for a more fitting home
for the Regiment.
was to take seven years.
In early 1985
the Regiment's search for a new home ended, when 94 Locating
Regiment RA vacated Taunton Barracks in
. Previous attempts to find a barracks had come to nothing,
including plans to build a new camp in Königslutter, or take
over a German barracks in Braunschweig. Taunton Barracks is a
massive edifice dating from 1870 and contains the largest brick
. The sheer size of the place gave the CO the opportunity to
have all his sub-units under one roof for the first time since
the Regiment was formed. Unfortunately this meant that 1
Squadron was obliged to leave its Langeleben home and make the
fifty-mile move to
in March 1985. A small permanent staff was retained at
Langeleben under command of a Royal Signals WO1 to administer
the remaining civil labour and oversee
BEHIND THE NAAFI COUNTER!
I arrived in Rheindalen during the Karnival time and
still didn’t know where I was destined to go for my posting.
I kind of hoped it would be near my relatives in Bad
Lippspringe, but instead they said I was going to a little place
on the East German border called Langeleben.
I was driven down to
where I stopped the night.
A young man there took me to the cinema to see The Dirty
Dozen, a film I grew to love and have seen it every time it’s on
since then. After a
nice breakfast we had the drive to Langleben.
We drove through Königslutter and up the mounting hill
through the woods, passed the Kinderheim and there it was. Just
a small place really, but this place was to be my world for the
next two years.
We stopped at
the gate and as we did a land rover was coming out.
I glanced at the driver and he
at me, curious really.
Little did I know that this was the man who three years
later would become my husband.
clearance we went to the Naafi and there we met the manageress,
(I never knew
her by any other name) and the other Naafi Assistant Andy who
later married Mick McGuire.
The bar staff consisted of volunteers mostly amongst the
lads. We also had
some German workers in from the village.
Ute, who married Fred the Polish guard, Lottie, Wilhelm
and Frieda the bin men.
A young German man nicknamed Porky who did odd jobs.
Herr Messerschmidt, not sure what he did.
men were based in Wolfenbuttel
with their wives unless they were on duty and only the single
men, or those with wives at home in England
, stayed on the camp.
I needn’t have worried though, almost alone with about 60
men as the army must have found the elite of gentlemen to serve
there and I have no bad memories of anyone.
It was almost like having 60 brothers.
Miss H was a
pretty strange character and if you were there in 1969/70 you
may remember her having us make up the rolls and there were
always 4 times the quantity of cheese and onion than any other,
“onions make you passionate” she was fond of saying.
I think it’s safe to say she had no takers in that
department. I’m not
sure if that is through the lack of theory about the onions or
whether it was her boast that despite being a ‘Miss’ she had
been married four times and ‘bumped them all off’
maybe less said about the onions the
She was quite
jealous that I was bilingual and had made some good friends
amongst the German ladies and was often invited to go for a meal
with some of them who lived in Lelm.
Miss H then put a ban on me speaking German during
working hours. I
got my own back though as driving out one afternoon through the
Harz we passed a sign for ‘Umleitung’.
”let’s give that a whirl” she said, “I’ve often seen a
sign for it but I’ve never been there”.
So we spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a
village called Umleitung and I never did tell her what it meant.
The NAAFI was opened up later than usual that day..
fairly soon after I got there as her tour was ending and she was
going home to prepare for her wedding so that left just Miss H
and I. Soon she
left too and was replaced by Jean and Jim Thornton.
Jean and Jim
had previously been pub landlords and it showed in how they
re-vamped the NAAFI bar and the menus.
The lads decorated the bar with brick looking wallpaper
and were allowed to put some Graffiti on it,
pictures of that in the gallery on our website.
We had a jukebox playing “Sugar, sugar” and “Suspicious
Minds”, “Ob La De Ob La da” and many more and later we sometimes
had the radio after Naafi hours.
One night Terry Stapleton asked me to dance and Gypo said
could he have the next dance.
The next tune to come on the radio was “The Stripper”, we
all had a good laugh at that but Gypo didn’t get his dance.
I promised him the one after. well
this was 1969 and there was no all night radio/TV then and the
next song to be played was “God Save the Queen”, so my first
dance with the man who was to become by husband was just that.
Other ways to
entertain ourselves was of course the cinema.
I couldn’t go often as I worked every night but Saturdays
so I could save my days up to have a long weekend with my family
in Bad Lippspringe.
One film that stuck out for me was Ring of Bright Water about a
man living with otters.
I had read the book at school so I really wanted to see
the film. Now every
time I see it’s on TV it takes me back to the Langeleben cinema.
Then we had
the swimming pool which was wonderful fun.
My most vivid memories are sunny days by the pool with
the sun beating down through the trees.
Jean and Jim
would often have officers down for a meal and I really liked
Captain Swan, I think we all did there.
I remember one Sunday lunchtime
in the NAAFI we had Family Favourites on and his wife had
requested the song “Dream” for him.
No one teased him about it, in fact they all sat and
listened respectfully which goes to show the type of men serving
Some nights or
afternoons I would go with a couple of the men to Lelm.
The first pub as you go into the village was the
remember how a greeting was always knocked out on the table.
“Heichi Bumbeichi” was on the juke box there.
When we needed to use the loo we were given a huge key on
a big chain with a ball on the end which opened the midden
Tetzlestein was another place we would go to which was down the
road and round the corner.
The Eis Dele of course as well and I seem to remember a
disco or something near a shoe shop
When I wanted
to be on my own I found a little place halfway down the hill and
under the bridge, it used to be a Quelle or a spring and it was
really old and quite lovely and peaceful.
I could sit there and write to family back home and be in
my own space for a while.
togethers we had in our billet (out of bounds to all ranks)
when they landed on the moon and Prince Charles
investiture. The year
moved on and the snow set in and I had to be dug out of my
billet to get to work it was that high. Again photos in the
gallery of that. It
didn’t stop us though and I think it drew us all together more.
It’s a strange thing.
Langeleben was a very special place for some very special
people, it gets into your heart like
no other place.
There was a kind of kinship amongst us all I think, a real bond
that seems to live as long as we live. When it was time to leave
they threw me the biggest party, a fantastic buffet, music and
free flowing booze.
It was a wonderful night.
I was presented by Robbie McCallum with a beautiful
bracelet I still have and a watch engraved To Marlene from 225.
Eddie Bellerby, played Trains and Boats and Plains and
got told off for being insensitive, but I think it was how
everyone felt. Clive (aka Gypo) asked me to dance one last time,
then he kissed me and asked me to write to him
which I did and the rest is history
where we are concerned.
I became the
last NAAFI girl to serve in Langeleben. After me I believe it
continued as a husband and wife job. I went back a year later
and stayed with Ute and Fred (ex-Polish guard) who lived in
Königslutter and had some good nights meeting up with the lads
- IN MY VIEW
GERRY KANE’S REMINISCENCES
March 1960. I arrived at 13 Signal Regiment,
Bergelin and was assigned to153 Troop 1 Squadron. My
Troop Sgt was Ben Banyard, the junior NCOs were Cpls Terry Loud,
Phil Diddimus, Pete Brown and L/Cpl Brian (Spike) Taylor. My
good friend Frank Mitchell was on another Troop and after a few
weeks he “volunteered” to go to 2 Squadron. He later wrote to me
and suggested that I do the same. At the first opportunity I did
So it was that in May 1960 I left Bergelin, along with John
Gant, Norman Farrington, Hugh Howton and Tony Hardisty. John and
Norman, all Spec Ops like myself, Hugh and Tony
were, both Russian Linguists. We travelled by the military
train, which was en-route to Berlin, and
alighted at Brunswick Station. This was somewhere around
midnight, and eventually an army Bedford 3 Tonner arrived to
pick us up. The driver was a Scot with a very broad Glaswegian
accent whom I later knew as Jimmy Rooney. He informed us that we
would be going via “Slutter” to pick up someone else. We duly
arrived at a pub, which I would soon come to know as ”Schumanns”.
A couple of bods came out, slightly the worse for drink and
managed to climb into the back of the truck. Off we set for
Langeleben. One guy who I now know as Pete Corker somehow
managed to climb on to the top of the canvas canopy of the truck
and rode most of the way up there. How he managed to stay up
there I shall never know. This was my introduction to the best
posting you could imagine - Langeleben!!!
I was to be on “B” watch with Mick Harris as Cpl IC, Colin
Knapman, Keith Middleton, Eddie Wickendon, Frank Rae, Graham
Slack, Taff Smith and others whose names, alas I
The OC was Major Neil McIntyre, the 2i/c Captain “Singing”Jim
Smith and the NCO’s SSM
Taff Williams, SQMS Robbie Burns, Tech Store Sgt Ken Hurrell, MT
Sgt Jock Moffat. In the Operations Block were WO11 ‘Panda’
Arnold, Sgt Bert Fugill, and Captain Ian Wallace. I wont bore
you with many more names, but I must mention Cpls John”Rusty”
Rosson, Mac Bowker, Jim Husband, Ossie Brandon, Jim Hayes and
Credit must be given to Herr Kurt Deutch the long suffering
cleaner who had the unenviable job of cleaning the ablutions.
What a thankless task, particularly on a Monday morning. Among
the civilian labour force there was Mrs B who was i/c Frau Glas,
Frau Graf who ran the laundry. Frau Willicker in the kitchen,
Gisela who looked after the Officers and Sgts dining rooms and
who would later become MrsTwigg, after her marriage to David,
the Squadron Clerk.
Life was good, we worked a four shift system, 1-5, mid-8, 5-mid,
8-1, ˝ day, day off, except at weekend when who ever did 8-1 on
Friday also did it on Saturday, thereby giving one watch a long
weekend off. Very
often during the summer months a group would go off for a days
sailing at the British Yacht Club at Steinhude, north of
. This was my introduction to sailing which I grew to enjoy.
I was chosen to go for a week’s trip sailing on the Baltic. The
British Army had a sailing club at Keil,
The craft there were much bigger of course with living
accommodation on board. There were four of us on the trip, Capt
Ian Wallace (skipper), Sgt Alan Maxwell (
who had just been posted into the unit) Cpl Chris Nowell
and myself. We had a lovely time, sailing up to and round some
of the Danish islands. This was at the time Mark Spitz was
winning all his gold medals at the Rome Olympics. Ian, Chris and
I enjoyed it but Alan hated every minute. He had been detailed
to go! Later in the year I accompanied Maj Neil McIntyre on the
Royal Signals BAOR regatta on the Mohne See. Have still got the
tankard to prove it, so has Mrs McIntyre. At the end of the
sailing season we went to Keil again, racing this time, Maj Mac,
2/lt Denham (MTO), Rusty and
we didn’t win anything, but sure had a good time, especially at
the dinner on Saturday night.
Come the winter time, and it was time to learn to ski!! The
Squadron PRI had a stock of sports gear including bicycles and
ski equipment. When there was enough snow we could practice in
the field opposite the camp entrance. As watches we could
occasionally have day trips to the Hartz
mountains to the ski resort of St Andreasberg. There is
nothing more frightening than seeing a group of British
squaddies launching themselves down a ski slope with not a clue
how to stop! I was lucky enough to be volunteered to go on a
winter warfare course to a place called Winterberg. This was
nothing more than a jolly for a week learning how to ski
properly. This was followed by another week staying in the
nearby NAAFI Hotel, at very little cost. So as you can see, life
was really pretty good.
Work wise a lot of the time it was very repetitive, with the
occasional busy period. Like during the
missile crisis, and the construction
From Langeleben we manned three DF stations, Rabke just down the
road, Rassau near Uelzen north of
, and Kaltekirchen between
and Keil. The Regt had two, Effeld, close to Bergelin, and
Hoeglin down in
. So if you look at these places on a map you will see we had
quite a long base line.
I worked four of the stations at one time or another. At Rassau
our living accommodation was in Gaste Haus Meyers which was very
comfortable. At Kaltenkirchen we had two prefabricated wooden
buildings behind a Gaste Haus where we took our meals. On these
Detachments, there were six men, NCO I/C ,
a driver, and four operators. As there were no other British
around, we had to get on with the local population. This we did,
in fact one of our number married a
girl from KK and another was engaged to a girl also from KK but
he was posted to
, and was unfortunately killed in a road traffic accident.
We worked hard and we played hard. When I returned to Langeleben
with 225 Squadron in 1967 life was certainly different. By this
time I was a family man, with a wife and two children, living in
quarters at Wolfenbuttel, and of course a Sergeant. Life was
In May 67 I, along with 5 chaps, went to 224 at Garets Hay to
collect the first hard top Land-Rovers in the Squadron along
with trailers plus all the equipment to go with each one as
these were the new mobile DF units. Even now I can remember the
vehicle registration numbers, 03 ET 12/ 13/ 14. (not
bad after 40 years) We carried out trials with them during the
summer, but we hadn’t put them to much use up to when I left in
the December to go on demob.
End of chapter 3