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 Royal Engineers in Belgium 1952

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tony bur
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PostSubject: Royal Engineers in Belgium 1952   2/6/2008, 05:49

Hi all,

I was with 40 Field Sqn. RE in Osnabruck, and we spent about 6 weeks June / July 1952 in tents just outside Lier, Belgium. We surveyed and started land clearence for a NATO stores depot [beside a railway line]

We travelled there in our own vehicles, and appeared to cause a stir with locals as our convoy passed through towns, the first for 5 years!!!

Anyone else spent time in Belgium?

Tony Burgess
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Bazz
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Engineers in Belgium 1952   7/4/2009, 11:00

Hi Tony, I have just placed a site about this army camp Ord Depot Antwerp on line http://www.britishforcesantwerp.be I'm sure loads of people would like to hear your story of the camp.

Bazz Marsden
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burgess720
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Engineers in Belgium 1952   8/4/2009, 07:20

Hi Bazz,

I will put together as much as I can remember; on this site and then you can use it on your site.

We were only there for about 4 weeks, and did some land clearing and marking out the site.

We came from Osnabruck in convoy; and as we passed through places many people came out to watch us pass. Maybe they imagined we were retreating from the Russians!!

Give me a few days to look at photos and search the memory bank.

Tony
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burgess720
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PostSubject: Re: Royal Engineers in Belgium 1952   10/4/2009, 05:50

Hi Bazz,

My memories of our short stay in Belgium are as follows;

40 Field Squadron Royal Engineers [about 120 of us] of 37 AER at Osnabruck; packed up for an excercise sometime in May 1952, and drove into Belgium arriving just outside Lier.
We set up a tented camp with MT lines etc. on the south side and close to the moat of Fort van Kessel , which was not far from Lier.

As the only draughtsman in the unit, my job was site survey and pegging out for what were were told was to be a new stores depot for NATO [had NATO only recently been formed then?]
I think some of our drivers were trained on earth moving equipment; not sure how many as nearly half the unit was qualified to drive; maybe only the drivers qualified on Scamells and the bridging 6 tonners we had.

The site had already got rail sidings laid off a main line; and standing there was a diesel shunter driven by some lads from Detmold Military Railway [have found on line, that this shunter moved to Longmoor, UK in 1956]

Evenings out, most of us went to Lier. It was possible to have 49 standing in the back of a Bedford 4 x 4. On my birthday in early June, Brian Greenwood and I went to the best hotel in town and had a great meal: Chicken soup served in a large silver bowl with a lid on a special trolley; whole small chicken [one each] with new potatoes and fresh vegs; then stawberries and real cream, and washed down with a few Martini's. Later that evening we went to a cafe also in the main square to join others, then at midnight started eating again, ham eggs, and chips with a beer. I could not do up my belt by nearly two inches after those big feeds.
For those of you old enough to remember those days, that was a banquet!

We got extra money for being away from base, and I think we got nearly 40 Belgium francs to the pound, so we had plenty to spend.

I had a couple of weekend trips to Antwerp and Brussels, including a visit to the site of the Battle of Waterloo.
In Antwerp, I happened on a special event and saw King Boudian pass by; the only member of any royal family that I have ever seen.

The nearest cafe to our camp was along Karperweg to the west end of Fortstraat; and here was a small cafe with a massive jukebox that almost touched the ceiling; the whole building shook when it started up.

That was a fun time, bearing in mind that England still had rationing.

We returned to Osnabruck sometime in June, and was off to Hameln bridging camp a few weeks later.

Anyone else there in those days.
Regards
Tony Burgess
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