BAOR Locations

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Meeanee Barracks 
Named after Meeanee, a village near Hyderabad, India, where Sir Charles Napier defeated an army of the Ameer of Sind in 1843. The camp intself was situated in the Kray district of Essen, opposite a massive coal mine which many were glad to see the back of (operated then by Mannesmann, in 1959 it was the deepest mine in Germany).
 
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1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders 5 Jun 1946 - May 1949
1st Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment 1949-?
HQ BAOR Signal Regiment 1949 - 1952 (1)
HQ Northern Army Group Signal Regiment 1952 – 1953 (2)
18th Army Group Signal Regiment 1953 – 1959 (3)
10th Signal Regiment (Army Group) 1959 – 1960 (4)
Closed October 1960
 
(1) Renamed HQ Northern Army Group Signal Regiment 1952.
(2) Renamed 18th Army Group Signal Regiment in 1953.
(3) Renamed 10th Signal Regiment (Army Group) in 1959.
(4) On 24 October 1960 the Barracks was handed over to the Bundeswehr, who performed the same role as their
predecessors.  The 10th Signal Regiment then moved on to Bradbury Bks in Krefeld, where they changed their shoulder flashes to the Franciscan battle axe.
 

                 

Left - Main Gate and RHQ.  Centre and Right - Remembrance Day parade 1955.
Courtesy of Corporal 23212133 Mike Cooper, ex Royal Signals

                

        Left - Mike Cooper and a friend outside the accommodation.  Centre - Winter scene looking out towards Main Gate, Feb 1955. Right - Partial view of the coal mine outside the Main Gate.
Courtesy of Corporal 23212133 Mike Cooper, ex Royal Signals
 

I was with the 18th Army Group Signal Regiment from July 1954 to July 1957 and stationed in Meanee Barracks, Essen Kray,  from January 1955 to June 1957 where I worked as a corporal in the Quartermaster's stores. One year a hole appeared in the goal mouth area of the football field, which was situated not far from Main Gate. It was put out of bounds, but naturally some of us were a little curious and had a look around. As it transpired to be an entrance with stairs leading down to a large underground shelter or storage warehouse. Could have easily fitted about 10 to 15 single decker buses and was strewn with shoes for both sexes and gas masks.  The floor was submerged by about a foot of water, but we still managed to find 3 other blocked up entrances. The following  day the entrance was rather quickly filled in.

 

Today the site is now occupied by a complex owned by Medion Computers.

 

Courtesy of Corporal 23212133 Mike Cooper, ex Royal Signals

 

I was with 1 Gordons, part of 6th Highland Brigade, from 1947 to 1948. We were stationed at Meeanee Bks, Essen-Kray. A Black Watch Battalion was close by at Duisburg and the South Wales Borderers were around too. The CO was Lt Col B Gerrard DSO, a distant man whom the other ranks hardly ever saw. The 2ic was Major Barker MC, a good man, much respected and the RSM was WO1 Foster, another good man who had transferred from a Guards Regiment. The Drum-Major was a Londoner, the Bandmaster a Welshman and the soldiers weren’t all Scots! I suppose the Regiment, along with other regiments, had a caretaker role. At one time we were sent to do guard at a Belsen satellite camp called Munsterlager, near Soltau; it had been tidied up, but was used to contain displaced persons who were still roaming around Germany.

The barrack buildings were streets ahead of those in the UK in both layout and structure; there was parquet flooring, rooms designed to contain not more than 4 soldiers and plenty of space. With Essen having been heavily bombed during the war I could never understand how the barracks and the coal mine opposite had escaped destruction.

My specific job within Battalion HQ was 'Marriage to Germans', 'Married Families' and RSM's Clerk so I suppose you could say I was a ‘pen pusher’.

Marriage to Germans – The ban on fraternisation had just about crumbled and where shirt-tails and petticoats were concerned there were plenty of soldiers with steady Fraulein Partners. If they wanted to marry, the girl had to provide certificates of good character and pass a rigorous medical examination. I would process all of the documents required. The couples were then required to wait 6 months before approval from Senior Army Authority was given.

Married Families – As the Battalion’s placement was pretty stable, accommodation in Essen was taken over for use as housing. Married personnel who were on a regular engagement could apply for these quarters.

Venereal Disease (VD) – Plenty of it, I’m afraid, and quite a headache for the Army! In our Battalion if a soldier was leaving barracks when off duty he would have to accept the issue of a condom. On return to barracks, if he was unable to hand in an unused condom he had to attend the PAC (Prophylactic Aid Centre) for hygienic attention and enter his name in a register. If, in the next few weeks, he developed VD and his name was not in the register, he would be charged with the offence. VD victims went on Battalion transport to No 6 British Military Hospital at Iserlohn for treatment. There was a desperation to keep VD incidences low and it was (and still is) less talked about.

General Medical Care – Provided by the Medical Officer. Those requiring hospital admission being sent to No 77 British Military Hospital at Wuppertal (I was in this hospital twice, once with septic tonsillitis and, later, for surgery). 

Service in BAOR was classified as; Whilst On Active Service'(WOAS). All disciplinary charges were graded with the WOAS label, which meant that the charge increased in seriousness with the punishment more severe than would be the case in UK. We must have had 100 or so Courts Martials in one year whereas a single Court Martial in UK was comparatively unusual.  Sentences included 'Discharge with Ignominy', Imprisonment (up to 28 days in the Guardhouse, more than that in a military prison) and Forfeiture of Pay.

Some of the German adults were much chastened in the first years that followed the end of the war...bent over backwards to get our favour. Some of our soldiers created mayhem, sometimes violently, which resulted in our Battalion having quite a high court-martial rate. Sentences dished out were quite severe, including the odd "Discharge with Ignominy".

Cigarettes and canned food had become a great bargaining tool in 1947 and I expect that there were some of our people that did "very nicely thankyou" in the black market scene.

During Xmas 1947 our Battalion gave a large party for the German children. It was an event full of laughter and chatter with the kids, just as the kids would have been at home in the UK. The children, doubtless, saw some novelty in being waited on by kilted "soldaten".

Pat Larter

14478145, 1 Gordon Highlanders

Then Warrant Officer RNZAF, 78087

Now Christchurch, NZ