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 The "Battle" of Gorleben

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recce83
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PostSubject: The "Battle" of Gorleben   15/11/2009, 07:39

I remember reading about a little-known incident in October 1966 on the Elbe River near the village of Gorleben. Apparently there was a diplomatic dust-up between the two Germanies over the West German Waterways and Shipping Authority's right to survey the channel across the entire width of the Elbe, and the GDR barricading their progress with their Border Command boats, claiming the border ran down the middle of the river, not the eastern bank as claimed by Bonn.

Evidently everyone was involved: The British Embassy in Bonn, the Bundesgrenzschutz, British Frontier Service and 2 troops of Centurions and a troop of Ferrets from 7th Armoured Div under command of a Brigadier Worsley.

Is there anyone out there who was involved one way or the other who can cast light on the regiment that was called up and perhaps a few good stories about the incident? It ended without shots being fired, but according to some people it was one of the more dangerous incidents of the cold war.
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   15/11/2009, 08:28

Brigadier Worsley commanded 7 armoured brigade in 1966.


1966 the battle of Gorleben, in which the Federal Republic of Germany and British armed forces demonstrated the western requirement for sovereignty on the full width of the Elbe. In consequence 1967 a second - internal - border fence were thus established along the Elbe and around Rüterberg.

This is what it was all about
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Stephen Lock
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   15/11/2009, 19:51

another aspect to Gorleben, according to Wikipedia, is it is the site of a highly controversial nuclear waste storage site. A 'village' was built on the site of the storage tanks in the 1970's in protest and the site still attracts considerable protest.

Apparently, the storage is buried deep underground and, as I understand it, part of the controversy centres around the geological properties of the area, not terribly stable and sandy.

A pretty scary scenario, all in all....
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recce83
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   16/11/2009, 07:06

I guess I should have explained that what I really am trying to solicit is actual stories of the experience from those who were actually on the scene. Also can anyone tell me the regiment from 7th Armoured Div that was involved.
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soprano54
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   16/11/2009, 09:35

recce83 wrote:
I guess I should have explained that what I really am trying to solicit is actual stories of the experience from those who were actually on the scene. Also can anyone tell me the regiment from 7th Armoured Div that was involved.

IIRC it was 3RTR from Fallingbostel! I can remember people talking about getting crashed out just as England were about to kick off in matches after they won the World Cup in the July!


Last edited by soprano54 on 16/11/2009, 09:42; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   16/11/2009, 09:37

Think you might be struggling on this one.

There is nothing in the official brigade (the division was disbandod in 57) history,the national archives or hansard.

The only reference i could find was the one already posted which was found on a German website.I think the translation is fairly accurate

Good hunting
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   16/11/2009, 09:38

Oops Two minutes late.
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   16/11/2009, 15:35

I think you will find that 7 Armd Div were not disbanded but retitled 5 Div for a short spell and then 1 Armd Div. I was serving in Verden at the time with 112 Coy RASC Wksp REME and in the space of approximately a year we wore 3 different divisional flashes.
Bob
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soprano54
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   16/11/2009, 20:32

recce83 wrote:
I guess I should have explained that what I really am trying to solicit is actual stories of the experience from those who were actually on the scene. Also can anyone tell me the regiment from 7th Armoured Div that was involved.

I can confirm that elements of Recce Tp 3RTR were there and from what other people of said tanks were on standby but never got to the scene!
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recce83
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   17/11/2009, 00:14

soprano54 wrote:
recce83 wrote:
I guess I should have explained that what I really am trying to solicit is actual stories of the experience from those who were actually on the scene. Also can anyone tell me the regiment from 7th Armoured Div that was involved.

I can confirm that elements of Recce Tp 3RTR were there and from what other people of said tanks were on standby but never got to the scene!

That's right. According to David Spears in his book The Ugly Frontier, they kept the tanks out of sight in the trees while the Ferrets lined up on the bank.
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   17/11/2009, 14:02

Quote :
I think you will find that 7 Armd Div were not disbanded but retitled

OK ..So they had a name change....I was merely pointing out that it was the brigade that was involved in the action not the division
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PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   17/11/2009, 15:47

Gorleben is still a highly controversial subject here as it involves the storing of Nuclear waste.In fact everything to do with Nuclear power stations is "hot",and as you may know all Nuclear power stations are being run down here as they reach the end of their expected life.And NO new plants are to be built.If you study a map of where various countries dump thir nuclear waste(especially in the Atlantic)you may well be horrified and put off your fish and chips.
At one time it took 50,000 German police to get a trainload of nuclear waster for re-cycling to Flamenville in France!
------
Don
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soprano54
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Number of posts : 157
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Cap Badge : RTR
Places Served : Fallingbostel, Tidworth, Paderborn, Cyprus, Bovington, Hemer, NI, Coltishall, Incirlik, Benson
Registration date : 2007-03-10

PostSubject: Re: The "Battle" of Gorleben   18/11/2009, 19:58

recce83 wrote:
soprano54 wrote:
recce83 wrote:
I guess I should have explained that what I really am trying to solicit is actual stories of the experience from those who were actually on the scene. Also can anyone tell me the regiment from 7th Armoured Div that was involved.

I can confirm that elements of Recce Tp 3RTR were there and from what other people of said tanks were on standby but never got to the scene!

That's right. According to David Spears in his book The Ugly Frontier, they kept the tanks out of sight in the trees while the Ferrets lined up on the bank.

A bit more info from a guy called Trevor Dady 2RTR:-

I was the Recce Troop Staff Sergeant of 2RTR at the time of the Gorleben incident. Recce Troop 2RTR were due to go on a border patrol when we were alerted to go to the village of Gorleben on the river Elbe. There had been an incident beween the East and West Germans over the rights of navigation when river surveys were carried out. As I understood it, the West German survey vessels were allowed to anchor or moor on the East German side of the river for survey purposes although the border ran through the middle of the river. On this occasion the East German patrol vessels would not permit the West German Survey vessel "Hitzacker" to go near the eastern river bank. To prevent the West German vessel mooring on the east side, the East German patrol vessels formed a barrier in the middle of the river by lashing their vessels from the stern of one vessel to the bows of another vessel forming a barrier. I think they had about six to eight vessels forming this barrier. The West German Survey vessel "Hitzacker" tried to push through the barrier without success. I belive a shot was fired by an East German boat crewman at the survey vessel during this. The water borne Bundesgrenzshutz were brought in to try to reslove the situation and gain access to the east side of the river, without success.
At this point the situation deteriorated diplomatically, so Recce Troop 2RTR and a Centurion tank troop of 3RTR were ordered to Gorleben. We in 2RTR Recce Troop "bombed" up our Ferrets with .30 ammo for our Brownings, rations and water.
Recce Troop 2RTR under command of Recce Squadron Leader Major David Flood moved out of Caen Barracks, Hohne, to Gorleben where we bivvied up. 3RTR moved to Gorleben by transporter and took up a postion in the woods a few hundred yards back overlooking the river and Gorleben. The 3RTR Troop Sergeant was Sergeant Gater. Our little "Battle Group" was under command of Brigadier Worsley. Diplomatic methods to resolve the situation were getting nowhere. It was then decided to have a show of force to the East Germans. 2RTR Recce Troop moved out of the village and formed a line abreast fifty metres apart along the west river bank, wheels up and in full view of the East Germans. At this point the river is only about 150 metres across. The East Germans then reacted by bringing up machine guns and anti tank guns and aimed at us. We sweated a little at this point I must admit! They then tried to read the riot act to us in German over a series of vehicle borne loudspeakers.
Things got a little bit tense so Brigadier Worsley ordered us to put on our steel helmets!! More shouting and abuse followed from the east. After a few minutes of this, Brigadier Worsley ordered us to load our Brownings and to stand by for further orders. The Brigadier then ordered us to remove the fifth round from our ammunition belts. If things got worse he would nominate which Ferret callsign was to engage a target that he would indicate. By removing the fifth round from our ammunition belt would prevent a sustained volley of automatic shots at the other side which would enable the East Germans to reconsider their actions???!!!
I must again admit that had we opened fire I think we would have been in real trouble. This was where the 3RTR troop would have come foward to our aid from the wood to engage the East Germans with their main armament.
The West German Bundesgrenzshutz in the meantime had called for backup and increased their numbers and boats. They decided that they were going to get to the east bank by ramming through the East German vessels barrier. They advanced on to the East German vessels and rammed them hard until they broke through and got to the east bank of the river. There was a lot of shouting and a few fists were flying. Having achieved the aim of the "exercise" and having broken through to the east bank, the East Germans permitted the survey vessel "Hitzacker" to continue its duty of doing the river survey.
The whole incident was filmed from a Wessex helicopter on our side of the river. We stayed one more night in the village of Gorleben before returning to Hohne and 3RTR to Fallingbostel.
As already stated in earlier articles on the "Battle" we were a little worried as I don't think we in our "wheels up" Ferrets would have been much of a match against their anti tank guns.
The above account is as I remember the incident.
Trevor Dady
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