History

| HOME | THE BEGINNING | THE 1960s | THE LATER YEARS | THE SWANSONG | THE ROAD TO LANGELEBEN |

LANGELEBEN - THE 1960s

German Flag  Auf Deutsch

 

The 1960s saw a hardening of Cold War attitudes culminating in the building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961. Langeleben was of course party to all this; sometimes rather too close for some peoples' comfort, such as the time it was realized that Soviet tanks from 26 GTD were moving towards Helmstedt, or the buzzing of the Räbke DF site by a hostile helicopter.

On a more personal level, Jim H...... recalls the sight of grown men in tears on hearing the MoD announcement that National Service was to be extended in certain key deficiency trades! The last National Serviceman, Bob C......., left Langy in 1963.

The ops wagon had by now given way to a permanent ops block, comprising a number of sectioned off areas, one of them containing wall to wall electronic equipment. This windowless dungeon was known as 'the sweat box', and in the days before compulsory fitness tests, a few shifts in that hell-hole during warmer months ensured that few people became overweight!

Courier runs to the American site at Bahdorf (today occupied by the French Forces) were undertaken in an olive green VW Beetle, driven by regular and conscript members of the MT, either hell-bent on beating the record for the fastest round trip, or wishing to terminate their service prematurely! That nobody was killed or even injured, thinks Jim H......, is a testimony to the excellent driving skills of the MT.

Perhaps the highlight of the 1960s as far as the inmates were concerned was the building of long- overdue modern accommodation. When the 'New Camp' was built in 1963-4, 2 Squadron, 13 Signal Regiment were in occupation of what must have been the showpiece barracks of BAOR. The modern single men's' accommodation is still far better than that which many soldiers today occupy. Each accommodation block contained four x four-man rooms, six x NCOs single bunks, with self contained bathrooms, showers, toilets and drying rooms. The Officers' and Sergeants' Messes, the only two storey building on camp, shared a kitchen, but had separate dining rooms and single rooms for the living-in personnel. The NAAFI was light and spacious, with bar, canteen and recreation rooms. A superbly-equipped gymnasium was also provided. The Squadron offices were housed in a commodious single storey building, with the SSM's office on the corner enjoying a view over most of the camp. A water tank was provided in the centre of the camp, which was very quickly turned into a swimming pool - a most popular facility in summer - and one made use of for ducking Squadron members on birthdays, demob parties, barbecues etc. To round off the effect, the remaining open spaces were grassed over and landscaped, creating a real jewel of a camp in a picturesque setting.

The camp also acquired a name , that of "Anderson Barracks" after the then Signal Officer in Chief, Major-General Anderson. However, although this name appears in official documents, the camp, as before and after has always just been referred to as 'LANGELEBEN CAMP' or just plain 'LANGY'!

In 1967 13th Signal Regiment was reorganized. Those serving with 2 Squadron at LANGELEBEN were given the option of returning to Birgelen, transferring to 223 Signal Squadron at Winchester, or remaining at Langy and joining the new incumbent unit - 225 Signal Squadron. 225 had had a chequered history as the 1st British Corps mobile EW squadron. The Squadron was formed in 1958, serving at Birgelen from June 1958 to June 1964, when it moved to Scharfoldendorf, on the Ith feature south of Hannover. The Squadron took over the dual role of manning the Langy setroom and retained its mobile role for 1st Corps.

As the garage space at Langy was so limited, most of the Squadron's vehicles were housed with the local armoured reconnaissance regiment at Wolfenbüttel. When Bill F.. moved up from 'Scharf' the regiment was the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars, and remarks were heard that this was an education for both sides. Bill lost count of the number of radios he repaired by changing the green issue batteries for 'Ever Readies' but it stood him in good stead for at least one St. Patrick's day in their NAAFI.

225 brought with them many things, not all of them bad. One artefact is the Scharfoldendorf Bell, which used to grace the guardroom at Scharf, then later outside the Langy Officers' Mess. It now stands outside the WOs' and Sgts' Mess in Celle. Its gleaming appearance is a tribute to the many 'janker-wallahs' who have polished it over the years!

 

Last updated 01 August 2015

 
 
| HOME | THE BEGINNING | THE 1960s | THE LATER YEARS | THE SWANSONG | THE ROAD TO LANGELEBEN |