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Cold Store

I was with the 11th Armoured Division second edition formed in 1951, posted from the Cold Store 80 Supply Depot Hannover, choice posting living in a flat on site with an ex German Sgt Major to do for us,he even made our beds up with kit layout. 80 Supply Depot RASC was situated in Stöcken near the autobahn. It was apparently the standard German Army depot. 85 Supply Depot in Bielefeld was an identical structure, there were two detachments each with a Sgt, L/Cpl and Pte. The cold store was in fact a civilian building with various rooms used by us for storage of meat, bacon and eggs, another part being a civilian butter processing plant at Vinnhorst. The other detachment was at the civilian Ahrberg sausage factory in downtown Hannover across the road from the Hanomag truck plant, which at the time housed a REME heavy workshop. Next door to the cold store was 15 Returned Stores Depot RAOC, which had also been Wehrmacht at one time because it had some wonderful pictures of soldiers through the ages painted on the walls. The Cold Store supplied Braunschwieg and Hohne supply depots. They came three times a week to collect from us,and we had a weekly rail shipment to Berlin which included sausages from our factory.


The other barracks that I knew in Hannover were Chatham Barracks which were always referred to by my German friends as the Kriegsschule (War School). London-Edinburgh barracks was a transit camp.The Canadian 27th Infantry Brigade arrived in 1951 and from my Canadian friends I was informed that London-Edinburgh housed the 1 Cdn Inf Bn and 1 Cdn Rfle Bn. Chatham Barracks accommodated 1 Cdn Highland Bn. All these units were made up from companies from Canadian Militia (TA) units across the country,such as the Hastings Prince Edward Regt from Ontario,Carlton York Regt from New Brunswick and the Fusiliers de Montreal. At Langenhagen Barracks resided 55 Tpt Coy RCASC and I believe also a RCEME Fd Wksp. In the city centre on the shores of the Maschsee was the NAAFI Club a former radio station,the Red Shield Club was on the Waterlooplatz and there was also a Church Army club in a big house near the Opera House. In 1951 we were still an occupation army and those houses and buildings commandeered in 1945 were still in use. Rhine Army HQ in Bad Oeynhausen was HQ BAOR and occupied the town centre,the streets across the road from the railway station were barred and those which allowed access had guards on them. The shop fronts had the name of the branch painted on them, I remember seeing "Directorate of Supply & Transport" on one window, what had been the Kurhaus was the NAAFI Club in a nice big park with guards on the gates.


My stay in Hannover was only about five months and the bulk of my travel was on the No.18 tram from Vinnhorst to the AKC cinema in the south of the city near the Hannover Messe,with a stop in the centre at the Cafe Kropke to go either to the NAFFI Club, Sally Ann or Church Army. I have taken some time retracing the tram route with the help of Google Earth and Microsoft Autoroute. 


My first view of bomb damage was on arrival at Hannover Haupbhanoff  from the Hook - no platform had a roof on it and the street alongside the railway tracks was just huge piles of rubble. On my first tram ride to the cinema I noted some bomb damage in the area of Am Steintor, but after passing Agidientorplatz onto Hildesheimerstrasse I couldn't believe the desolation on both sides of the street for quite a distance back and on such a long stretch of the road, it seemed to go on forever.I spent the whole of WW2 in London and thought I was used to seeing bomb damage but never anything like this. The site of the speedway track behind the Hanomag factory was also obviously an old bombsite. Friends of mine in the Canadian Army had been at Langenhagen with 55 Coy RCASC and said that part of the barracks were still damaged and unuseable. If you punch 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade into Google there is an amusing anecdote from an officer from 55 Tpt Coy and his discoveries as an Orderly Officer and the uses some of the ruins were put to.


Looking on Google Earth I found that the 80 Supply Depot warehouses are still in use. Stocken now seems to be called Nordhafen and where the bridge goes over the canal two panoramic view points are shown - click on the right hand one and you will see three large buildings, they are the barracks - still very usefull with water and rail access. I found the location of the cold store in Vinnhorst by working my way back from the tram lines on the main road until I found the rail tracks. The old building has either been replaced or enlarged - there was certainly room all around it, and by and large the houses opposite match up, now they have gardens. When I was there these houses were newly constructed and didn't have any specific plots, a lot of refugees from Halle in Saxony occupied them.


Again on Google Earth I immediately identified the old NAFFI Club on the Maschsee, it is in the top left corner (NW) and if you click on the panoramic viewpoint it is now called the casino, a very distinctive 1930's construction , two stories of concrete and glass. Word of mouth was that it had been a radio station before and during the war. Tthis is quite possible because a little way along the street on the opposite side there is now a big radio mast for Norddeutscherunfunk, I don't remember seeing it in 1950, but I expect that it was quite a target during the bombing.


Mr Tony Sutton