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 REME In Germany 1946

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HeathIan
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PostSubject: REME In Germany 1946   9/1/2012, 20:12

I was recently trying to find the places where my father Francis (known as Peter) Heath took photographs in Germany in 1946/47. He was a Corporal in the REME. Some photographs were taken in Berlin where evidently he was camped on the North side of the Reichsportfield next to the Olympic Stadium that had survived the war surprisingly well. There were also some photos taken at a barracks. The barracks had a name 'Arborfield' high on the wall. After spending a lot of time on the 'net doing research I came to the conclusion that these barracks were not in Berlin as they had a canal nearby in the photos and nowhere 'fitted' the pictures shown of Berlin barracks seen on the web. Rather confusingly, at least to a civilian, the custom of the Army in giving the same name to barracks as home establishments doesn't help in doing research. One wonders how much confusion this causes in the Army too, with supplies and men turning up at the wrong place!
I also know my father spent some time in Hamburg and reference to this website shows that the REME was stationed at the 'Adams' barracks at this time. Looking at the pictures it would seem that these barracks were of the same style and arrangement but I just couldn't find a canal nearby and it was evident that the barracks had a greater number of buildings and a larger parade ground. The German Army must have had several barracks built almost to the same blueprint. The buildings themselves look to be very well constructed and spacious. No doubt those who served in them might have a different opinion. Incidentally, the barracks were constructed by the Weimar government, not the Nazi regime.
Eventually, I found a German web-site:
http://www.hh-kasernen.de/html/hanseaten2010_2.html
This shows barracks in the Hamburg area and suddenly the Hanseaten pictures matched those in my possession. I don’t think these are the Adams barracks.
They appear to be smaller version of the Adams barracks and at least on current Google Earth they still exist visually much as they did in 1946. They were formerly the home of a Panzer regiment that had a rather magnificent leopard as a statue on a plinth. This was still there at the time of the British using the barracks as were the helmeted heads above the doorways. Since then the leopard has been removed and put on display in a park without any military reference and the Germans have removed the heads.
The barracks have I believe been used by the modern German Army being handed back since and subsequently as College and residential accommodation including for airport staff.
While my father was at these barracks he worked at the Mercedes Benz repair shop in Hamburg. The Mercedes Benz dealers have kindly confirmed to me that these have been modernised and are now part of their establishment at Neiderlassung. His work consisted of repairing and making road worthy cars requisitioned by the REME for the use of the occupation forces. I would be interested if anyone has any more knowledge of this work that my father found very interesting, as it involved repairing and driving a great variety of Benzes including a 540K coupe.
In conclusion, the REME may well have been at the Adams barracks post war but I can say for certain that they were at Hanseaten: Coordinates 53.37.06 N 10.00.45 E (as seen on G Earth).
If there is any interest in this topic I'll scan some of the old photos and post them here.
Ian
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JPW
Let Gen
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Number of posts : 1029
Age : 76
Localisation : Berkshire
Cap Badge : REME
Places Served : Rotenburg Ploen Lippstadt Hamm Wetter Minden Munster Bielefeldt Dusseldorf
Registration date : 2008-11-09

PostSubject: Re: REME In Germany 1946   10/1/2012, 18:15

Ian

Welcome, read your posting with considerable interest particularly as I am part of the small team based on this site attempting to create an outline framework of the units (and their locations) comprising the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in the period 1945-1950. I also lived just outside Hamburg in the early 1950s.

You are correct, the principal British military Headquarters in Berlin from July 1945 till the Allied Powers left the city in 1992 was adjacent to the Olympic Stadium

Regarding Arborfield Barracks in Hamburg, this is very much "work in progress". There definitely was a large REME presence in Hamburg in the late 1940s, indeeed right across BAOR, with REME tradesmen being employed in a variety of units with the task of keeping the relevant equipment battleworty/fit for role/purpose. More complex repairs or heavy maintenance was carried out in dedicated exclusively REME units known as Workshops, these often specialised in a particular type of military equipment.

From your comments your father was employed in such a unit, though accommodated in Arborfield Barracks Rahlstedt which was a centre of excellence for the Corps with a number of small REME specialist units based there as well as providing accommodation for others. The exact location has yet to be confirmed, further research has indicated that there were two barracks in Rahlstedt, formerly known as Boehm and Graf Goltz Kaserne. Both are now closed and their sites redeveloped for civilian use (incidentally a German language site indicates that the Barracks were completed in 1937 and 1939 respectively, definitely Hitler not Weimar Republic era.

I was amused by your reference to the Hansa Kaserne, by sheer coincidence, recently we have had a query on this site asking for further information on the British presence in this Barracks from an individual who he lived in the area as a small boy in the late 1940s.

I for one would be very interested in sight of your father's photos which might provide further clues to the jigsaw which was BAOR in the late 1940s. Incidentally do you know the exact name of the unit in Hamburg your father was posted to?
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HeathIan
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PostSubject: Re: REME In Germany 1946   15/1/2012, 21:11

JPW
Thanks for your interest. I have loaded some pictures on Canon Image Gateway of the barracks my father was at in '46. The key points are that they can be seen from over a canal and that the buildings are a little smaller and less in number than those shown at the Adams barracks seen on this webpage:

http://baor-locations.co.uk/Documents/adams%20barracks.pdf

The end of the block adjacent to the entrance can be seen showing that the block was parallel to the road. The reverse of this view can be seen on the German website including all the iron fencing.

My father was indeed a specialist - he spent the war in reserved work making prototype weapons and fuses from scratch drawings at the Coventry Victor Company. This was not as easy a posting as it may seem at first glance. The factory was under regular air attack by the Germans especially early in the war. After returning to civvie street he had a career in 'special weapons' with the MOD Navy including Seaslug and Polaris and was part of the team that was sent to the US when the Polaris was purchased. Corporals from the REME went far!

I have scanned his photos and they can be found at:

http://www.cig.canon-europe.com/p?p=B3eNzcusdAv

They include picture of the Mercedes Benz works that miraculously survived the many air raids in hamburg area.

Unfortunately, I don't know his unit. I will have to see if there any old family photos to see if there any badges.

Ian
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PostSubject: Re: REME In Germany 1946   15/1/2012, 23:18

Welcome Ian....Pictures are always welcome on this site..
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HeathIan
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PostSubject: Re: REME In Germany 1946   16/1/2012, 00:02

Thanks for the welcome.

The distinctive triple doors and general layout of the mess block shown in my photo reme005 look extremely similar to the image shown on on this German website:

http://www.hh-kasernen.de/html/hanseaten2010_4.html

There are a great number of other similarities in the other photos as well on the German site to mine. The picture of the barracks in the 1930's on this web page show as the reverse angle of the entrance:

http://www.hh-kasernen.de/html/hanseaten-kaserne.html

The German web picture shows the address as Sengelmannstraße and using Google Earth you can see the modern image. The canal shown in my father's photo with the barracks in the background is consistent with this address.

Therefore may I suggest that this was in fact one of the barracks occupied by the REME - there may of course be others (all named Arborfield!!??)

Ian
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JPW
Let Gen
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Number of posts : 1029
Age : 76
Localisation : Berkshire
Cap Badge : REME
Places Served : Rotenburg Ploen Lippstadt Hamm Wetter Minden Munster Bielefeldt Dusseldorf
Registration date : 2008-11-09

PostSubject: Re: REME In Germany 1946   17/1/2012, 15:50

Ian, thank you for your latest input. Intriguingly we have three parallel but liked queries on the British Army in Hamburg in the late 40s/early 50s on the go

1. Dieter Rudoplh is interested in details of the British Army presence in yoour Hanseatic Kaserne in Fuhlsbuttel

2. Our jimsigs was on an a military trade upgrading course in Hamburg in the early 50s. The team has located where he was accommodated the former Graf Goltz Kaserne, renamed Adams Barracks by the British but we have yet to confirm the location of his technical training which was somewhere in western suburb of Blankenese.

3. Final there is your query.
From the evidence you have produced I think your father's military trade must have been Fitter /Turner and his civilian skills would have been utilised in the manufacture or modification of spare parts prior to their fitment on to failed equipment.

If he was working in the Mercedes Benz site this must have been requisitioned by the British Army on arrival in Hamburg in May 1945 and the facilities adapted for use as a Heavy Workshop REME for the heavy maintenance or overhaul of wheeled vehicles (the former Bloehm and Voss seaplane factory in the Hamburg dockyards was similarly used for heavy tracked vehicles and guns till well into the late 1950s and was known as 22 Heavy (later Base) Workshop REME.

Having looked again into the actual location of Arborfield Barracks, I am now almost certain it was the former Bloehn Kaserne in Rahlstedt. My reasons centre on my previous comments but by using Google Advance Search I have found some more German language sites giving additional details of the military history of Rahlstedt. One in particular specialises in the history and traditions of the post war Panzer Grenadier Brigade 17 and contains some interesting shots of the Graf Goltz Barracks including an impressive large stone arch at the main entrance to the camp.

I have yet to find the exact location of the two neighbouring barracks but if my coloquial German is correct they were in the area of what is now the campus of the Helmut Schmidt University in Rahlstedt.

The design of the Hitler era barrack blocks were pretty standard and could be found all over Germany let alone Hamburg. To pick up on one of your earlier comments they were indeed of a very modern , for the era, well built (brick) with an early form of double glazed windows and a centralised hot water and heating system far in advance of their UK equivalents. Many contributors to this site will have had personal experience of living in them and will doubtless endorse my comments

Regarding the Barrack names, clearly no incoming British or Allied unit was a going to tolerate Nazi era barrack names for long, my studies have shown that whilst units could suggest names (generally linked to their home recruiting area,battle honours or famous military commanders or regimental personalities) the name had to be authorised at a fairly high level of military command to prevent duplication and potential confusion. You might be interested to note that in the nearby suburb of Wansbek the two Foot Guards Battalions took a simple route, the Scots Guards renamed their Barracks St Andrews, the Irish Guards St Patricks. However the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, the British Army supply and stores organisation adopted a similar policy to REME and renamed their Hamburg Barracks Hillsea after the location of their UK Headquarters and Training Organisation

Finally if you tap into You Tube REME 6th Anniversary Parade you should get a short video clip of a parade held in Arborfield Barracks Hamburg in October 1948. Your father must have left by then but it does give a flavour of the life, dress and the barrack environment.

PS I do have some contacts in the REME Museum in Arborfield, UK, who I will approach to see what additional information of interest is held in their archives, this however will take some time
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PostSubject: Re: REME In Germany 1946   17/1/2012, 17:21

JPW

Many thanks for your observations.

I am afraid I don't agree that the barracks where my father was based were the Boehn Barracks. Pre and post war photos show these to be a very large establishment and there was no canal nearby. Furthermore, the buildings are end on to the road whereas the barracks I refer to are parallel to the road. The Boehn barracks had a distinctive arched sides to the entrance guardhouse. whereas the barracks photographed by my father had a modest entrance with just iron grilles each side.

This german web page shows the entrance that tallies with my Father's photo REME003 and the Germans refer to it being in Sengelmannstrasse. My father's picture clearly has Arborfield on the wall (high up).

http://www.hh-kasernen.de/html/hanseaten-kaserne.html

Using GoogleEarth, If you go SE along the road a few hundred metres you will cross a canal and the viewpoint then tallies with picture REME001

These barracks still exist substantially the same (at least on GoogleEarth). They are rather smaller than the Boehm or the Goltz barracks (which had a massive square arch entrance).

As I have said before maybe the REME called all it's barracks Arborfield in the Hamburg area and may have been based in the other barracks you mention as well but I am certain that the Barracks next to Sengelmannstrasse were where my father was and they had Arborfield on the wall!

My father was a toolmaker and served an apprenticeship at the Woolwich Arsenal where he followed his father who did much the same work mainly on large naval guns.

Ian
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PostSubject: Re: REME In Germany 1946   20/11/2012, 18:13

The Sengelmann Strasse Kaserne was without doubt named HANSEATEN KASERNE during the period up to 1945. My father was stationed there! I lived in Suhrenkamp which can be seen on the left of the barracks buildings when you look along Sengelman Strasse.

Send me your e-mail address and I will send you all the pictures I have of the barracks and the fencing.

What an interesting site this is and the information forthcoming is wonderful. Alas, soon there will be anyone asking questions about that period.
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