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 GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY

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arters
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 11
Age : 67
Localisation : west yorks
Cap Badge : royal signals
Places Served : shoeburyness, dortmund, blandford, minden, catterick, plymouth.
Registration date : 2007-11-02

PostSubject: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   28/4/2009, 19:44

Having served a total of 14 years in BAOR and being told often that we were up against the Soviet 3 SHOCK ARMY if the Balloon went up, My Brother and I are doing a tour of the old Soviet Garrisons/Camps in June this year(many of which were simply abandoned and are still standing)
The Main areas visited will include:
3 SHOCK ARMY- ALTENGRABOW( last area before leaving)
2 SHOCK ARMY- STENDAL
8 GUARDS ARMY- WEIMAR/NOHRA
1 GUARDS TANK ARMY- DRESDEN
HQ SOVIET FORCES- ZOSSEN WUNSDORF
What the Powers that be didn't tell us was that in one Camp alone(ALTENGRABOW) there were 50000 troops, could it be that they didn't want to frighten the crap out of us too much or were they so confident that we could kick Soviet ass in the Hildesheim Gap and stop the Red Hordes pinching all our HERFY'S and CARLIES,what do you think.
I will have plenty of Photos of the Camps on return.
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ciphers
Maj Gen
Maj Gen


Number of posts : 945
Age : 82
Localisation : Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada V3G 2Y7
Cap Badge : Royal Signals
Places Served : Catterick (1951) - BAOR (1952 -1954)-(Herford - Bunde - Munster) - Japan (Kure) - Korea (Pusan - Seoul) - Cyprus (Nicosia) - Suez Op (1st Guards Brigade) - UK (63 Sigs Regt TA, Southampton)
Registration date : 2008-06-30

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   28/4/2009, 20:42

Bloody Hell, if I had known this in 1952 I would have gone AWOL on my first Blighty leave ...

Len (Ciphers)
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ScaleyAlbereto
LCpl
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Number of posts : 9
Age : 49
Cap Badge : Royal Corps of Signals
Places Served : Harrogate, Cattertick, Herford & Catterick
Registration date : 2007-11-01

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   28/4/2009, 20:47

50,000, I'd of been scared!

Taxi for 1, zebrugee bitte, schnell machen (sp?)lol

Think most realised if they came across, it would have been armagedon as we would not have stopped them & the button would have been pushed.

Once when on the Mil train to Berlin past the barracks in East Germany.

My memory is of the sheer number of tanks parked in these barracks.

West Berlin, what a weekend!!!

Looking forward to the photo's
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arters
Cpl
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Number of posts : 11
Age : 67
Localisation : west yorks
Cap Badge : royal signals
Places Served : shoeburyness, dortmund, blandford, minden, catterick, plymouth.
Registration date : 2007-11-02

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   28/4/2009, 21:09

Yes, the barracks you passed was the Main 'A' Vehicle Workshops for the whole of the Soviet Forces in E. Germany,the location of this massive Workshop was WUSTERWITZ.
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ciphers
Maj Gen
Maj Gen


Number of posts : 945
Age : 82
Localisation : Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada V3G 2Y7
Cap Badge : Royal Signals
Places Served : Catterick (1951) - BAOR (1952 -1954)-(Herford - Bunde - Munster) - Japan (Kure) - Korea (Pusan - Seoul) - Cyprus (Nicosia) - Suez Op (1st Guards Brigade) - UK (63 Sigs Regt TA, Southampton)
Registration date : 2008-06-30

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   28/4/2009, 22:15

I can relate back to a old farmer where we had harboured up for the night, we set up the Sig Cen right next to his cow brier and I guess we were disturbing his routine. He points to our div sign, The Mailed Fist of 6 Armoured Div and says in passable English, 'you think you are good Tommy .. over there (he points East) are some real soldiers ... you .. (he gives a throat cutting gesture) .. soon kaput' .. looking back he was bang on.

Len (Ciphers)
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PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   28/4/2009, 22:16

After reading that,I am rather chuffed that the Cuban crises of 62 was sorted quickly.
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burgess720
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Registration date : 2008-07-09

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   29/4/2009, 04:47

Hi all,

How lucky we were they did not attack; we would not have stood a chance.
If I remember BAOR had about 400 to 500 tanks in 1952; how much amunition did we have compared to them?
In 1952 our job was to blow up bridges in Hamburg; based in Osnabruck, we would not have even got half way there.

It did not happen; but not sure why?
Regards
Tony
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nobby clark
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WOI


Number of posts : 102
Age : 69
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Cap Badge : 1R.Hamps / RAOC
Places Served : baor-Hong Kong-Malaya-Borneo-Belize-F.I.-Cyprus-N.I.-UK.
Registration date : 2008-04-07

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   29/4/2009, 15:47

In the spring of '89 while serving at 23 Base Wksps three of decided to have a weekend in Leipzig and see what the East was like now the wall was down.
We had a good look around the city and on the sunday decided to drive to Colditz,again being duty tourists.
We drove into a town named Grimma on route to Colditz,went down a hill and round a bend straight into a mass of Russian squaddies wandering around the place,passed a barracks that was it seemed full of tanks and hundreds more of Russia's finest.
We did'nt hang around and hightailed it for Colditz.
Not a clue to what formation it was or how long before they went back East.
That was a shock army to us,last thing we expected,on reflection we should have stopped and bought a load of their furry hats as at the time they were flogging off just about anything due to not being paid for months but the lad who's car it was,was a German civvie and he was bricking it Very Happy so we probably missed out on a good deal.
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arters
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 11
Age : 67
Localisation : west yorks
Cap Badge : royal signals
Places Served : shoeburyness, dortmund, blandford, minden, catterick, plymouth.
Registration date : 2007-11-02

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   29/4/2009, 18:17

Grimma was a large Garrison town, when you see what was based there you wouldn't have gone anywhere near the place
UNITS IN GRIMMA 1989
HQ 20 GUARDS MOTOR RIFLE DIV
21 MOTOR RIFLE REGT(142xBMP,40x T80,4x2S6,4xSA13)
67 MOTOR RIFLE REGT(AS ABOVE)
20 AIR DEF REGT
20 TANK BATT.(51x T80)
20 ENG REGT
20 ANTI TANK REGT
20 HELICOPTER SQN
At least you were one of the few to see this whilst still serving, you lucky B****R !!!
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Locator
SSgt/CSgt
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Number of posts : 45
Age : 72
Localisation : Stamford, Lincs
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Places Served : Munsterlager, Dortmund, Bergen-Hohne, Larkhill, Celle, as well as NI (x4), Canada, Paris and Catterick
Registration date : 2008-08-15

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   30/4/2009, 14:27

I'm sure that you're all correct. Every Ex SUMMER SALES I went on ended with an analysis followed by nuclear release for Lance and 8". What happy days they were!
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arters
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 11
Age : 67
Localisation : west yorks
Cap Badge : royal signals
Places Served : shoeburyness, dortmund, blandford, minden, catterick, plymouth.
Registration date : 2007-11-02

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   30/4/2009, 20:15

A few years ago whilst on holiday I met an ex Major who had served in the NVA(East German Army) and over numerous Kenya Canes he told me the Soviets were always Armed, Fuelled and ready to roll at very short notice,were we? they also had specific routes to the IGB which avoided main routes and were mostly specially constructed cross country tracks for Military use only, as we drank more the world famous German sense of humour kicked in and with a silly grin he said that if they were going to attack us it would have 2100hrs on a Friday,I asked why? and he replied sternly that "Half the British Army are pissed and the other half is watching Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" Bloody Hell how right he was !
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nobby clark
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Number of posts : 102
Age : 69
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Registration date : 2008-04-07

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   5/5/2009, 15:24

arters wrote:
Grimma was a large Garrison town, when you see what was based there you wouldn't have gone anywhere near the place
UNITS IN GRIMMA 1989
HQ 20 GUARDS MOTOR RIFLE DIV
21 MOTOR RIFLE REGT(142xBMP,40x T80,4x2S6,4xSA13)
67 MOTOR RIFLE REGT(AS ABOVE)
20 AIR DEF REGT
20 TANK BATT.(51x T80)
20 ENG REGT
20 ANTI TANK REGT
20 HELICOPTER SQN
At least you were one of the few to see this whilst still serving, you lucky B****R !!!


I see what you mean Arters,it was a bit heavy duty,just as well we were clueless.
I can now say I went through a Russian garrison and never got a scratch. Very Happy
Over the weekend we did see a good amount of Russian forces out and about.
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Stephen Lock
Maj Gen
Maj Gen


Number of posts : 937
Age : 62
Localisation : Calgary
Cap Badge : Pads Brat
Places Served : Father -- Canadian Army. Served Hemer, Soest, and Wetter
Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   6/5/2009, 01:01

I can't really speak to the prepardedness of NATO forces, including BAOR, as during both of my father's tours (1959-1962 and 1969-1972) I was, in the first instance, age 5-1/2 to 8 years old and so totally innocent of the politics and, in the second instance, 15-1/2 to 18 years old and more interested in the advantages being a Canadian Army Dependent offered a teenage boy (gasthofs!!!).

However, I do remember when we lived out on the German Economy circa 1960 or so, near a town called Balve, down the Hoennetal from Hemer and Menden, the Canadian authorities, in their infinite wisdom, decided -- since the Berlin Wall had just gone up and everyone was on high alert -- to do a dry run on evacuating the Canadian families in the event the Ruskies did decide to up the ante a bit (i.e. invade). We were, apparently, all informed prior to the exercise. The local German population, however, was not.

So, when several deuce-and-a-halfs pulled up outside the block of apartments the Canadians had leased in Helle-Balve (factory worker housing...they were a set of 4 3-storey block of flats, of which two were all Canadian families) and the soldiers started loading wives and kids, replete with name tags pinned to our chests, into the back of them and pulling out, we were suddenly exposed to the spectacle of desperate Germans running after us trying to climb into the trucks and Canadian soldiers pushing them off. The Germans thought the Russians really were coming.

Of course, 1960 wasn't that distant from the end of WWII, really, and many of the adults had vivid memories of needing to make a run for it as whatever hostile army entered the region.

No doubt the Brigade HQ (4CIMBG) had some explaining to do to local German civilian authorities over that!!

During our second tour, I remember our teachers (who were all civilians teaching Canadian dependents in Canadian-run schools in Hemer, Soest and Werl) going on a weekend junket to Moscow. As dependents, to say nothing of our fathers who were actual serving military, we couldn't even go within x-kilometres of the East German border, let alone into East Germany or -- gasp -- Mother Russia itself!!

My parents did manage to fly into Berlin via Templehof, but of course were only permitted in the British and American sectors and to Checkpoint Charlie. I didn't go as the Berlin trip was a "parents only" trip.
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Hardrations
Let Gen
Let Gen


Number of posts : 1002
Localisation : Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
Cap Badge : RC Sigs (RTG Op) / CF Logistics (Cook)
Places Served : Germany, Egypt, Cyprus, CFS Alert and some other strange places
Registration date : 2007-12-16

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   6/5/2009, 17:21

I recall people still talking about it happening in the Hemer PMQ's. When I was first posted over in 64.The folks telling me, said that the German civilians were mainly trying to get their children on the trucks and begging to take them. Apparently the exercise was stopped right there and then with explanations and apologies to the locals. It must have been total fear for the Germans, as the war had only been over for the last 15 years and very fresh still in their memory. If memory serves me right, every family whether in PMQ's or living local were to have a suitcase packed with essentials and ready to go at all times. Mind down south in Lahr this was never told to us.
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donald
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PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   7/5/2009, 15:47

At the time of the "Iron Curtain" there was propaganda on both sides.We were told that the Soviets would be at the Channel Ports within 48hrs of crossing the border due to their great numbers of "panzers",what we were not told was the numbers of these badly maintained tanks that would break down in the first hundred KMs.I've no doubt the Soviets for their part told their people how soon the Western Allies would arrive in Moscow,knowing well the track mileages of our AFVs,and our 3 day stock of ammo!We were probably no better prepared for a long conflict than our potential enemy.I think the "cold war" was one of the biggest bluffs of modern time!
-----
Don
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Stephen Lock
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Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   7/5/2009, 18:55

Hardrations wrote:
I recall people still talking about it happening in the Hemer PMQ's. When I was first posted over in 64.The folks telling me, said that the German civilians were mainly trying to get their children on the trucks and begging to take them. Apparently the exercise was stopped right there and then with explanations and apologies to the locals. It must have been total fear for the Germans, as the war had only been over for the last 15 years and very fresh still in their memory. If memory serves me right, every family whether in PMQ's or living local were to have a suitcase packed with essentials and ready to go at all times. Mind down south in Lahr this was never told to us.

That's interesting.

I am aware of the exercise only via "family stories" -- I don't really recall the incident itself although I vaguely recall wearing a tag pinned to my sweater with Dad's name, rank, outfit, serial number (?) etc. whenever I was packed onto the bus which took me to school (first in Fort Prince of Wales and later the elementary school attached to the High school in Hemer PMQ's).

Hardrations is right...the local population was trying to load their own kids onto our trucks (again, family stories).

The event probably happened in 1960 or 61, so Hardrations hearing about it in '64 makes sense. I think it was probably a major object lesson for the Canadian authorities to improve communications with local civilian authorities. I'm guessing, knowing the mindset of The Army, there was likely a mindset in place that would easily lead to a view that we were not accountable to them. I think there was a tendency, I know there was, to forget we were guests in their country.

I had forgotten about the requirement every family have a packed suitcase ready at all times. I recall that now. Again, it was totally normal to us.

I also remember my mother, when we were living just off the Ringstrasse in Soest, in behind the Coca-Cola plant (Frau Elizabeth, who many may remember, even under the British, as the little old German lady who ran the Salvation Army canteen on Bruederstrasse in Soest and the canteen truck out on manouevers) writing a letter to her mother and mentioning, in passing, she would finish the letter later as the tanks rumbling down the Ringstrasse were disturbing her concentration. She thought nothing of it until the return letter from my grandmother expressed alarm at what she, a gentile English lady, thought was some sort of occupation/invasion. That became a family story as well, highlighting our perspective as military dependents quite used to the presence of military hardware, tanks, APCs, etc and the perspective of non-military relatives who just could not wrap their brains around such things. In fact, my grandmother appeared to always have this idea of us "living in Europe" as some sort of grand lifestyle. Mom's stories of some of the conditions we lived under out on "the economy" were bit of a shock to my "Nana." LOL

Life in Lahr, from what I saw of it during the odd visit, was much different than life "up north." I suspect, given the mere concentration of Canadians in several areas, there was much more of a protected even isolationist, if that is the word, view. More like what Americans experienced in their enclaves in around Frankfurt etc. (very "American", complete with using only American dollars on base, Howard Johnson hotels, hamburger joints, etc.).
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ciphers
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Number of posts : 945
Age : 82
Localisation : Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada V3G 2Y7
Cap Badge : Royal Signals
Places Served : Catterick (1951) - BAOR (1952 -1954)-(Herford - Bunde - Munster) - Japan (Kure) - Korea (Pusan - Seoul) - Cyprus (Nicosia) - Suez Op (1st Guards Brigade) - UK (63 Sigs Regt TA, Southampton)
Registration date : 2008-06-30

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   7/5/2009, 23:41

"we were guests in their country".... being of the Occupying Forces in 'their country' in 1952 and the attitudes that still prevailed in Germany at that time toward the Occupying Troops, I'm bloody glad that they were not 'guests' in my Country ...

Len (ciphers)
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PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   9/5/2009, 17:39

Later called Ex Active Edge.

In later times it was only the units that deployed to field locations.

Early on in Berlin, they used to sound the sirens, and there were a number of German suicides, so after that they would broadcast that "Ex Active Edge" would be practiced in the next 48 hours. This cut down on the suicides, but made sure that it was not much of a test for us, as we knew it was about to happen and had time to prepare.
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Hardrations
Let Gen
Let Gen


Number of posts : 1002
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Registration date : 2007-12-16

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   11/5/2009, 02:09

Down in the Lahr area if you lived on the economy you could get selected to have a Snow Ball alarm under your bed and would be responsible for telling selected personnel that a Snow Ball was in effect and they in turn would fan out to tell more personnel on the economy in their area. Use to scare the hell out of wives when that went off. In the Lahr area it's self loud speaker vehicles would drive through the PMQ's announcing Snow Ball, Snow Ball all personnel report to your units. We had the habit of calling it a Bug Out, we were ordered (sternly I might add) not to call it that. If out on the economy and you were not notified you would usually hear on the Cdn Forces Radio in the morning. If you chose to ignore it and wander in for usual parade times, one made sure they were in work dress not combats and would say you didn't have the radio on that morning. My favourite Snow Ball was in Oct. 1987. I had returned to to Kippenhiem out side Lahr to visit as a civilian. Early in the morning I heard a vehicle going by announcing a Snow Ball was in effect. I rolled over, smiled and went back to sleep, knowing that the Canadian Army was ready to defend my way of life.


Last edited by Hardrations on 20/5/2009, 11:30; edited 1 time in total
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Stephen Lock
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Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   19/5/2009, 04:51

Hardrations wrote:
Down in the Lahr area if you lived on the economy you could get selected to have a Snow Ball alarm under your bed and would be responsible for telling selected personnel that a Snow Ball was in effect and they in turn would fan out to tell more personnel on the economy in their area. Use to scare the hell out of wives when that went off.

I can well imagine! LOL Cripes, talk about having the earth move Shocked

Hardrations wrote:
In the Lahr area it's self loud speaker vehicles would drive through the PMQ's announcing Snow Ball, Snow Ball all personnel report to your units. We had the habit of calling it a Bug Out, we were ordered (sternly I might add) not to call it that.

I don't recall it ever being called a "Snow Ball" but distinctly remember it being referred to as a "Bug Out"...always. My mother, who could manifest a rather, shall we say, Army Wife-ish approach to things when needed, had a slightly more colourful name for it..."Bugger Off..." LOL

Looking back, I pity the fellow who got the first call while living out on the economy and then had to go off and wake the next fellow and so on and so on since these things were never at a civilized hour!!

Those in the PMQs had it easy, huh? Razz

Hardrations wrote:
If out on the economy and you were not notified you would usually hear on the Cdn Forces Radio in the morning. If you chose to ignore it and wonder in for usual parade times, one made sure they were in work dress not combats and would say you didn't have the radio on that morning. My favourite Snow Ball was in Oct. 1987. I had returned to to Kippenhiem out side Lahr to visit as a civilian. Early in the morning I heard a vehicle going by announcing a Snow Ball was in effect. I rolled over, smiled and went back to sleep, knowing that the Canadian Army was ready to defend my way of life.

Hmmmm...I imagine you weren't the only one who conveniently was able to miss a Bug Out. There were certainly advantages to the sketchy communications in place while living in some isolated little village out on the economy. Especially at 5am on a winter's morning!
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TonyE
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Registration date : 2009-01-09

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   20/5/2009, 23:29

It was definitely called Execise Snowball in Lahr.I lived on the economy and was always woken up by a very grumpy self important MWO(WO2),then I had about five others to roust out,but they were all in field units and were long gone by the time I got there,so in the end I just gave up and went in to Base Movements for my early morning coffee. If it was called during working hours we got it over the internal public address system in English and French, and the French guy always sounded so serious like something was really happening.
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Hardrations
Let Gen
Let Gen


Number of posts : 1002
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Places Served : Germany, Egypt, Cyprus, CFS Alert and some other strange places
Registration date : 2007-12-16

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   21/5/2009, 01:57

Tony do you remember those darn American hard rations that were ready to be out of date and that would be feed to us for breakfast and lunch on a Snow Ball. We would huck'em in the garbage bin unpacked and sneak across the road to the CANEX restaurant ( we were in the Kaserne) and get something from there. Had to sneak over as we were suppose to take this seriously. I remember some RCAF type taking those hard rations on a camping trip. Geez's feeding that stuff to your family.
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Teabag
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PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   21/5/2009, 23:37

I visited Colditz in 1994 and we passed through Grimma. We stopped outside of a large barracks which was deserted but covered in Russian graffiti. If ever a town was well named it was that one because it was a grim place.

On the same trip we went to Spreewald and saw quite a lot of Russians busking, begging and generally trying to earn a mark or two. How the mighty are fallen!

Went to Torgau and saw where the Yanks met the Russians in the war and there was some debate at the time as to whether or not the original bridge should be demolished. A lot of Germans wanted to forget all about the war and were for demolition but some said never forget etc and said keep it as a memorial. I never did learn the outcome.

Colditz was good and the little museum interesting and run by a beautiful young lady who was very helpful. I couldn't say the same for the little cafe/shop in the castle itself and the girl serving appeared to resent us "westerners" with our spending power. Obviously hadn't got communism out of her system at the time.

It was virtually impossible to find any kind of restaurant/cafe to eat at in the smaller towns so we had to eat at pubs. The beer was excellent and at the time still extremely cheap. In Saxony we found a nice pub in a small town and had a great evening with the locals. My German improved as I got drunker like most of us, although I have to say Saxon German appeared to me to be easier than what I had been previously used to. It's the ancestory I suppose?

There was a quite small guy there but nearly as broad as he was tall. I asked the obvious question when I was drunk and brave enough. "Do you prefer it now or was it better under communism?" Communism he replied. Why so? says I. Well I can't get a job now but before unification, I earned more than doctors and other academics (words to that effect anyway). What did you do? I asked. I spent all day breaking sandstone with a sledge hammer to make sandpaper, he replied. He was that good at it and earned the money according to him and I had no reason to doubt it.

I think the overall impression I got at the time was one of stepping back a few decades because although there was a massive transformation taking place, a lot of the towns hadn't changed since the 1940's. Living history! Hope I haven't bored anyone too much!
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Stephen Lock
Maj Gen
Maj Gen


Number of posts : 937
Age : 62
Localisation : Calgary
Cap Badge : Pads Brat
Places Served : Father -- Canadian Army. Served Hemer, Soest, and Wetter
Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: GROUP OF SOVIET FORCES GERMANY   24/5/2009, 20:01

A little off topic (sorry), but Teabags recollection of his conversation with a former labourer (breaking sandstone with a sledgehammer all day) reminded me of my own experience with German labourers.

I remember we Canadians often mentioning how the German economy (which, in the 1970s, was starting to gear into high mode) would grind to a halt if sledgehammers ceased to exist. It seemed to us that if a German labourer wasn't able to accomplish a set task then he'd go after it with the ubiquitous sledgehammer. Everything, it seemed, was accomplished with a sledgehammer.

When I returned to Germany in 1973 and was working for a German construction company out on the MoehneSee near Soest I didn't see the use of the sledgehammer all that often. However, likely due to the fact I had a bad habit of sleeping in (hey, I was 20 and 21 years old, would go out clubbing every night, and hated my job...the idea of arising at 5:30am was sometimes just too much!) and then walking the 15KM from where I lived in Soest to the job site, I was transferred to a warehouse just north of Soest where the concrete floor needed to be demolished and done over...I got assigned to jack-hammering but couldn't help but notice that some of the older workers used -- you got it! -- sledgehammers!! LOL
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