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 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf

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AuthorMessage
eMeS
Sgt
Sgt


Number of posts : 20
Age : 81
Localisation : Milton Keynes, UK
Cap Badge : RAF
Places Served : RAF Locking, 646SU at RAF Obernkirchen & RAF Scharfoldendorf
Registration date : 2012-09-11

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime17/9/2012, 20:49

Having been posted to 646 SU at Obernkirchen in August 1958 directly after trade training, I'd barely settled in when we all moved to RAF Scharfoldendorf in October 1958. Sited at around 350m, RAF Scharfoldendorf had been an outstation of 646 SU for some time, and was located on the Ith Hills ridge with wide views to the west, and to a lesser extent to the east. Our nearest village was Eschershausen in the valley to the SW where there were shops and a restaurant.

At RAF Scharfoldendorf the domestic and technical quarters were separated, with the technical block being sited in woods and across the road which ran past the camp entrance. The technical block was high security with a double fence around the block (at night police dogs ran loose) and there were bars on the windows. I worked in the development laboratory where we devised new or improved techniques for our work. Other units serviced the equipment, and analysed the results.

The domestic site was dominated by the Schloss which was, and still remains, a notable feature.
Here it is in winter.
646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0019%20January%201959%20The%20schloss%20at%20RAF%20Scharfoldendorf

and here it is, seen from the valley.
646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0432c%20October%201958%20Scharfoldendorf%20schloss%20on%20the%20Ith%20Hils%20from%20the%20Escherhausen%20Road

We had a long winter with snow cover more or less continuously from December 1958 through to March 1959. Our barrack block windows were triple glazed in 1958!
646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0477%20December%201958%20Scharfoldendorf%20Schloss%20from%20my%20triple%20glazed%20window

... and here is an icicle.

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0474%20December%201958%2C%20Icicle%2C%20Scharfoldendorf

...more to follow.
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eMeS
Sgt
Sgt


Number of posts : 20
Age : 81
Localisation : Milton Keynes, UK
Cap Badge : RAF
Places Served : RAF Locking, 646SU at RAF Obernkirchen & RAF Scharfoldendorf
Registration date : 2012-09-11

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: Re: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime18/9/2012, 21:36

Eschershausen was quite a popular place to visit, and here's a shot of the road through the village.
646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0437ac%20October%201958%20Escherhausen

We also found that horse ploughing was still in use. Bear in mind that at this time tractors were commonly
646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0435%20October%201958%20Horse%20plowing%20near%20Escherhausen
seen in use in the UK. 10 years later on a visit to Germany I noted that modern tractors were in wide use.

Naturally we celebrated Bonfire Night, and it was my turn to be on Fire Picket Duty.
646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0445%20November%201958%20Bonfire%20night

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0446%20November%201958%20Bonfire%20night

After the evening's celebrations we had to put the bonfire remains out, and doing this I learnt that German fire hoses were much bigger than those in the UK, and had hermaphrodite couplings. (i.e. it didn't matter which order the hose was rolled up after drying out.)
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eMeS
Sgt
Sgt


Number of posts : 20
Age : 81
Localisation : Milton Keynes, UK
Cap Badge : RAF
Places Served : RAF Locking, 646SU at RAF Obernkirchen & RAF Scharfoldendorf
Registration date : 2012-09-11

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: Re: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime21/9/2012, 16:38

1958/9 Gliders

Close to RAF Scharfoldendorf some flattish land on the ridge was used by the local glider club, and we certainly saw more of these gliders than of any RAF aircraft. Google Maps seems to indicate that the gliding club is still in existence, and may have taken over the buildings we used. Also, there now seem to be other gliding clubs in the area.

Back to 1958:
Here's one of my colleagues, J/T Dick Ruffe, asking questions about gliding


646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0441%20Dick%20Ruffe%20discussing%20gliding%20near%20RAF%20Scharfoldendorf

and here's one being launched
646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0444%20October%201958%20Glider%20launch%20near%20RAF%20Scharfoldendorf

The logo was for a local furniture company, and here's a closer shot.

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0443c%20October%201958%20Glider%20on%20Ith%20Hils

The cable towing winch captured later in 1959.

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf 0023ca%201959%20Gliding%20near%20RAF%20Scharfoldendorf
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Son of Dinty
Private
Private


Number of posts : 2
Cap Badge : RAF
Places Served : Burma, India, Australia, Digby, Gatow, Koln, Scharf, GCHQ
Registration date : 2014-08-18

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: Re: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime18/8/2014, 11:13

I have just found this forum and the photos are incredible!
My father, Ron "Dinty" Moore was based here when i was a small boy and one of my earliest memories was sitting on his lap for a glider flight over Scharf.

My Dad (sadly now dead) was also in Gatow, Digby, Cologne and GCHQ.
Does anyone remember him?
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eMeS
Sgt
Sgt


Number of posts : 20
Age : 81
Localisation : Milton Keynes, UK
Cap Badge : RAF
Places Served : RAF Locking, 646SU at RAF Obernkirchen & RAF Scharfoldendorf
Registration date : 2012-09-11

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: Re: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime18/8/2014, 11:39

Hi Son of Dinty,

Pleased that you've found this website, and that the photos are of interest.  Sadly, I have no memories of your father, but then it's a long time ago...  Can you add any photos to the site?

Best Wishes,

Malcolm Stewart  (was an RAF J/T whilst at Scharfoldendorf.)
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Son of Dinty
Private
Private


Number of posts : 2
Cap Badge : RAF
Places Served : Burma, India, Australia, Digby, Gatow, Koln, Scharf, GCHQ
Registration date : 2014-08-18

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: Re: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime18/8/2014, 12:23

Malcolm, hi.
I will ask my Mum!
What generated this interest from my side was a visit to Berlin last week for work. I had time to spare and went to (what was) RAF Gatow.
The airfield is now a housing estate and a golf course, but the airfield buildings are now a Luftwaffe museum.
Our old flat is still there too - now in private ownership.
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Bas v Beek
Private
Private


Number of posts : 1
Registration date : 2020-03-10

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: Re: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime10/3/2020, 22:39

Hello, i am keen to receive photographs of Scharfoldendorf based gliders. I own an ex Scharfoldendorf Goevier II S25. I would like to receive as much information as possible. Kind regards Bas v Beek (The Netherlands)
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Pborn4
Lt Col
Lt Col
Pborn4

Number of posts : 306
Localisation : Between Hannover and Herford, off all main routes
Cap Badge : Not even a reservist now - have been Pborn3
Places Served : Oswestry 1965, Paderborn to 1971, NE Dist, Munsterlager from 1974, Sennelager (1976 to 2012)
Registration date : 2016-12-16

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: RAF Obernkirchen | Scharfoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime28/3/2020, 23:31


The Royal British Legion in Minden are supporting a request from people in Obernkirchen to construct/re-construct the history of the Brit presence there.

The point of contact in Minden is Michael Roberts an ex VM living in Minden and on Facebook as
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003736324184

and this guy, Mike Joss in Canada, was a child of serving airman there and has photos  :  


Last edited by Pborn4 on 28/3/2020, 23:33; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Title)
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Pborn4
Lt Col
Lt Col
Pborn4

Number of posts : 306
Localisation : Between Hannover and Herford, off all main routes
Cap Badge : Not even a reservist now - have been Pborn3
Places Served : Oswestry 1965, Paderborn to 1971, NE Dist, Munsterlager from 1974, Sennelager (1976 to 2012)
Registration date : 2016-12-16

646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Empty
PostSubject: Re: 646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime28/3/2020, 23:46

RAF 646 Signals Unit

Motto: KEIN HINDERNIS ZU HOCH (German: No obstacle too high)

The badge and caption above are from the
RAF Air Defence Radar Museum at Neatishead, Norfolk, 2007
where they collect the badges of disbanded units.

Significance of badge device: The White Horse of Hanover was chosen to signify the general location of the unit, and the portcullis is significant of an obstacle to be overcome before an enemy is able to proceed further.

No 646 Signals Unit was formed at Obernkirchen, Germany on 1 September 1952. No information has been released as to this unit’s role. The unit badge was granted in January 1957 and was blazoned as: In front of a portcullis sable a horse courant argined crined azure.

These next three paragraphs of notes were found on the RAF Gatow (Berlin) linguists webpages dated 2003. I’ve annotated them in italics. It now seems as though these pages have been taken down.

This unit can trace its history back to 1949/50 when it was known as the Air Scientific Research Unit (ASRU) and was based at Obernkirchen. The exact role of the ASRU is not clear except that small groups would frequently leave the station for unknown destinations, presumably along the East/West German border. From about 1951, the ASRU had a permanent attachment in Berlin – probably accommodated on the roof of Lancaster House in Ferbelliner Platz, later on the roof of the control tower at Gatow and finally in a wooden structure perched on top of Hanbury Block. In about 1953 the name of the unit was changed to 646 Signals Unit. As 646 SU it continued to despatch detachments to various locations throughout Germany and Austria and was noted in Cuxhaven, Putlos, Faßberg, Berlin-Gatow and Schönbonn near Vienna. There is reason to believe that the ASRU/646SU had a very secretive detachment at Habbaniya in Iraq, referred to locally as Palm Grove. The reason I mention this unit is because it had a very close association with 5 Signals Wing and its various stations but apparently operated independently until it arrived at Hanbury when it was fully integrated into the system.
In about 1953 646 SU moved (not quite correct, as I joined 646 SU at Obernkirchen in August 1958 - I don’t know when Scharfoldendorf became a listening post for 646 SU, but before I moved there) from Obernkirchen to Scharfoldendorf (about 40 miles south of Hannover) which later became the Headquarters of 5 Signals Wing. Although working closely with 5 Sigs. Wing, 646SU maintained its independence for, at about this time, the CO, Wg. Cdr. Eric G. Ackerman GM, (I remember him quite well, as well as his 2nd. in command, John Storer who worked for GCHQ) who had also been the CO of the ASR, a Civil Servant in the grade of Senior Scientific Officer with a Class CC Commission in the Royal Air Force, applied to the MoD for a 646 Signals Unit crest. Not unusual, you might think except that Wg. Cdr. Ackerman proposed a German motto (his wife was German, and taught me and others German in the library at Scharfoldendorf). In later years this would not have been considered a strange request but it certainly was in the mid-1950s when it resulted in strong opposition from high ranking officers at MoD. Nevertheless, Wg. Cdr. Ackerman persevered and, after many written exchanges between the Under Secretary of State for Air, the Director of Personal Services, the German Embassy in London and Sir John Heaton-Armstrong, Clarenceux King of Arms, the DPS (A) finally agreed with the comment "If he wants a German motto – then let him have it!". In December 1956 the crest, with the white horse of Hannover, a portcullis and the motto "Kein Hindernis zu Hoch" was given Royal approval.
646 SU was still at Scharfoldendorf until 1958 when, on 31st. August, it moved into rooms used by 5 Signals Wing which a day earlier had moved to Butzweilerhof. (I moved to Scharfoldendorf from Obernkirchen in October 1958). When exactly 646 SU vacated Scharfoldendorf is not known but it probably joined the attachment in Berlin which at that time was in Hanbury Block.

The job of 646 SU was to monitor Warsaw Pact radar transmissions emanating from East Germany, and to relay the information gleaned, back to GCHQ at Cheltenham. To do this there were listening posts at several sites in West Germany as well as one in West Berlin. The listening equipment was serviced and the work was co-ordinated from Obernkirchen up to about October 1958, and from then onwards from Scharfoldendorf.  

Site Locations

Obernkirchen – about 20 miles to the west of Hanover, on the slight Buckeburg rise overlooking the lower ground to the north and west. I don’t think this site was used as a listening post.

Scharfoldendorf – about 40 miles to the south of Hanover, on the summit ridge of the Ith Hils with good views towards the east, and west. HQ from October 1958. Used as both a listening post, and equipment servicing unit.  Google Maps:- shows the site – very similar to what I remember, including the Schloss, barrack blocks and NAAFI.  

Putlos – is north-east of Hamburg and on the same latitude as Kiel, by the Baltic coast to the north of Oldenburg, and was co-sited on the West German Army Training Ground. Used as a listening post.

Gifhorn  – is sited about 20 miles NE of Hanover on the Luneburg Heath. Used as a listening post.

RAF Gatow – about 10 miles west of Berlin centre. Used as a listening post. Now, an aircraft museum.

Communication with sites / security

This was done using trucks and cars. Scharfoldendorf had a large mechanical transport department, and in the event of  invasion from the east, we were expected to go west as quickly as we could. It was thought that the technical block was mined, and that sledge hammers were sited in the teleprinter room so that the equipment could be smashed.

Communications with the site at RAF Gatow was via diplomatic bag and courier who travelled on the early morning train from Berlin to Hannover, and was met by a small party of 3 of us from Scharfoldendorf. At different times the site was subject to scrutiny by Warsaw Pact personnel travelling in a marked Soviet Military Mission vehicle (SOXMIS).

Shortly before I arrived at Obernkirchen, two colleagues travelling from the UK by motor bike, had arrived a day late as a result of a puncture. On arrival they were immediately arrested and held in the prison cells, suspected of being impostors. After careful checks on their identity had been carried out, they were released and welcomed to the site.

Monitoring techniques

The main object was to determine where any significant Warsaw Pact activity was based, and what type it was; and particularly if there were any significant changes in activity which might indicate the preparations before hostilities. We were also on the lookout for any novel type of signal because this might indicate the introduction to service of a new or modified weapon.  This was done by listening (using steerable directional aerials) to radar signals from ground troops and aircraft. Due to the one way path from the (enemy) transmitter to our (friendly) receiver, the system didn’t incur the enormous losses when signals are scattered from a radar target and a small proportion reflected back to the radar receiver. Consequently signals could be detected by monitoring, way beyond the active range of the radar.

As stated, the signals were listened to via directional aerial systems; and radar receivers of two fundamentally different types. The more sensitive type of receiver was tuned to a narrow band of frequencies, so it had to be re-tuned  in accordance with a schedule so that all sites were listening at the same time to this frequency band. The much less sensitive technique used a “crystal-video” receiver which was not tuned in any way. This was very basic, and received all the signals in the band to which the aerial and receiver horn responded, but had a relatively short range. In both cases the operators used headphones to listen to the audible tones and pulses from the radar receivers.

Pulsed radar signals differ between types, and after rectification, they can be made audible thereby aiding identification. Airborne radars with a relatively long range had a low pitch whilst shorter range radars used for gun-laying had a higher pitch. The monitored signals were viewed on a simple CRT display to aid maximising the signal by rotating the aerial dish, and recorded on Ferrograph tape recorders. Comparison between tapes allowed experts to decide which signals emanated from the same radar. This process was helped by recording a coded synchronising track (locked to the BBC pips) on the tape.

Most of the signals being monitored were in X-band (9-10 GHz) with a wavelength of around 3cm, and most of the dish aerials had a diameter of around 1-2m, giving a receptance angle of around 2-5 degrees. (Effective angle would vary with strength of signal being received). Consequently to be able to differentiate between adjacent sites, the receiving stations had to be set well apart, and this is why in addition to Scharfoldendorf, Putlos and Gatow were considered so important as listening posts. Simply receiving the radar signals gave us no information on our distance from the transmitter, and transmitter sites had to be deduced by triangulation using the angle information from our aerials. HQ gave instructions as to which sectors and frequencies to monitor.

During my year with 646 SU I worked in the development laboratory giving support to the listening function, testing new techniques and occasionally installing new equipment.

Sites - for which I have photographs

Obernkirchen

From memory, both domestic and technical blocks were on the same site on the outskirts of the village, and with the same security.

Images are on BAOR Locations page for Obernkirchen.

Ratskeller, Obernkirchen
View to main gate, overlooking the plain
Street scenes in Obernkirchen (2 Images)

Scharfoldendorf

At RAF Scharfoldendorf the station was sited on the ridge of the Ith Hils with the domestic site, parade ground, NAAFI and mechanical transport unit, MTU, close to the old German Schloss which held the library, and the mess. The schloss could be seen for miles around.  The technical site was in woodland on the other side of the lane crossing the hills, and this was double fenced with strict security controls in force.
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Pborn4
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Pborn4

Number of posts : 306
Localisation : Between Hannover and Herford, off all main routes
Cap Badge : Not even a reservist now - have been Pborn3
Places Served : Oswestry 1965, Paderborn to 1971, NE Dist, Munsterlager from 1974, Sennelager (1976 to 2012)
Registration date : 2016-12-16

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PostSubject: 646 SU RAF Badge   646 SU RAF Schafoldendorf Icon_minitime30/3/2020, 01:41

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