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German Support Organisation
 
 

At the end of World War II, the Allies were faced with the daunting task of administering their respective Occupation Zones. To assist in this task, a number of Transport units were formed from prisoners of war. They were called 'Dienstgruppen' (DGs). Initially, the personnel in these units wore their German Army uniforms, but in July 1947 these were replaced by a dark-brown battledress. Later in that year, a redesignation to the German Civilian Labour Organisation (GCLO) took place.

 

The units were used on practically any task, but in the main supported major BAOR exercises, using a wide variety of American, ex-Germany Army, Canadian and British Army vehicles. Amongst the many undertakings of this difficult period was the Berlin Airlift. GCLO Transport Units provided the vital links between supply depots, railheads and the airfields. The enthusiasm with which the GCLO workers supported the West German end of the Airlift operation is something which all who witnessed it will never forget.

 

In October 1950, a further reorganisation was undertaken, and retitling to the German Service Organisation (GSO) took place. At the same time the number of groups was gradually reduced, mainly by amalgamation. In 1957 the GSO Transport Units became Mobile Civilian Transport Groups (MCTGs), taking the same numbers as their predecessors.

 

The next few years saw a significant change of emphasis in the role of the MCTGs. From being largely operational transport in support of the RASC in the field, they took over the buses established for school children, family administration and the newly introduced air trooping. The RCT Freight Service, which started in BAOR in the late 1960s, was operated to a large extent by MCTG vehicles and drivers.

 

The survivors of an almost non-stop round of reviews, cuts, restrictions, streamlining and financial stringency, the MCTGs have earned an almost Darwinian reputation for evolving and adapting to change. Over the entire period that they have served the British Army in Germany, these units have built up a tradition of loyal service and good vehicle husbandry, which was carefully cherished and much admired.

 

603 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Hohne 

604 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Dortmund

605 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Münster

606 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Mönchengladbach

607 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Paderborn

608 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Mönchengladbach

626 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Düsseldorf

627 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Minden

629 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Osnabrück

632 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Lohne

633 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Celle

636 Mobile Civilian Transport Group RCT - Werl

Mixed Services Organisations
 

At the end of the Second World War, there were over 2 million Poles stranded in Europe. Although Poland had been the first nation to succumb to Hitler's aggression, its Army remained in the field throughout the war and by 1945, it was the fourth largest Allied army, behind the USSR, USA and Great Britain. After the war, without an independent homeland, many Poles faced a future in exile. Some emigrated but some remained in Germany, and were absorbed into military guard companies.

 
In 1947 the first British units employing Poles were formally established. They were formed in Fallingbostel on the site of the POW camps, in which some of the Poles had been incarcerated. 317 Unit MSO RASC was the first Polish tank transporter unit and it took the Diamond Ts and other equipment from 15 Company RASC. In 1952, 312 Unit MSO RASC, the second Polish Tank Transporter Unit, was formed. These two units were based in Fallingbostel and Hamm: from these the proud Polish tank transporter tradition within 7 Regiment was developed. Unit titles changed over the years, but the personnel were the same; loyal and hard-working with an outstanding reputation amongst the customer units.
 
The first three senior Superintendents were holders of either the Polish Victoria Cross, the Virtuti Militar (VM), or the Cross of Valour (KW). The most dynamic of the early Superintendents was Staff Superintendent Stanislaw Ostapowicz, an Austrian trained officer, who had fought with the artillery from 1914-18, later winning the VM and the KW, with two bars, in the Russian War. By 1939, he was commanding an artillery regiment with whom he served until captured by the Germans. Late in 1939, he dressed in the uniform of a dead corporal to avoid being taken for an officer when captured by the Russians. He escaped, only to be recaptured by the Germans. After the war, he set up an Officers' Mess for his Polish Officers in Fallingbostel, where behaviour was as strict as the old traditions demanded.
 
Although the MSO connection ended in 1985, the links remain with this special group of men. Each Christmas, 16 Tank Transporter Squadron hosts a party for Polish ex-members. On Christmas Day in 1990, whilst deployed on Operation Granby, the Commanding Officer's Orders Group broke bread together in honour of the Polish tradition. The flag of 7 Regiment is the Polish National Flag of white over scarlet and is flown at all Regimental locations. The Polish Eagle is proudly worn on the Mess Kit. The Regimental grace and toast are both Polish and one of the Regiment's centre pieces is a magnificent silver Polish Eagle. These men from Poland made a deep impression on everyone who ever had the privilege of serving with them. Their ethos and traditions will not be forgotten.