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 Kuensebeck
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1 (BR) Corps Troops Wksp REME
3 Armoured Wksp REME
 
(1) Arriving from the Itzehoe area (north of Hamburg/The Elbe) and leaving for Fallingbostel where it remains to this day.
 
1 (BR) Corps Troops Workshop REME based at Kunsebeck, a small village approximately 10 miles from Bielefeld. 1955-56. Also based on this site at the same time was 3 Armoured Workshop REME. As far as I recall the site was actually a Durkopp factory during the war and in the cellars, where slave labour was housed, you could still see the circular communal washing and drinking fountains, the taps having restrictors in them to cut the flow of water.
Trevor
Austin 1 ton slightly bent. Kuensebeck 1955
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E
 
Duerkoppwerke Bielefeld was established in 1867 and was a very innovative company whose products included: cycles, motor cycles and cars. In the 1930s an overhead conveyor system was developed for clothing industry assembly lines and later industrial and domestic sewing machines were manufactured. In 1950 a very popular motor scooter the 'Diana' was designed.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933 they offered incentives to firms to manufacture weapons and munitions and also provided machinery to do so. Duerkopp had been hit by the recession of the post WW1 years and decided to take advantage of this offer. At the beginning of WWII Duerkoppwerke bought the weapons factory in Kuensebeck bei Halle and several of the leadership joined the Nazi party. Meanwhile in 1940 the father of the future owner Georg Barthel, who was a manufacturer of bearings in Schweinfurt, bought the company in Bielefeld. In 1941 Georg succeeded to ownership of the company when his father died and also in that year the company was recognised as a 'Model Firm of National Socialism' which was the highest honour the state could confer on a manufacturer. In 1942 Duerkoppwerke used forced labour from the East and 850 Ukrainian women were taken on as 'Guest Workers' A camp named ironically, Bethlehem, was built outside the confines of the factory to house these workers. Sanitary conditions and the food were poor but the management asserted that they were better than those provided by the communist regime from which they had come. The factory manufactured bearings for armoured vehicles throughout the war. Bielefeld was bombed heavily by the allies in 1944 but the Kuensebeck site survived being some 10 miles from the city. In the 1950s the shanty town was still there and being used as a displaced persons camp some of whom worked for the British Army in the workshops.
Paraphrase extracted from the book History of Duerkopp Adler AG.
 
 
A Fordson 'Z' Lorry with Cfn Nobby Skaith and Sgt Stocker in the foreground.  Pollhagen 1956
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E

Memories of 3 Armd Wksp. Kuensebeck (1955/6) 
 
The workshop Telecomms Section comprised 2 x Fordson ‘Z’ Lorries which were parked inside and were fully operational repair units. The main kit repaired was 19 sets, 22 sets, 62 sets, 88 sets and 31 sets. We also serviced telephones, mine detectors and Dosimeter equipment.
The two crews were:
1) S/Sgt Hatton (ex-boy), Cfn John Raven, Cfn Peter Hargreaves and Cfn Phil Lambert. The latter three being National Service.
2) Sgt Stocker (ex-boy), LAS (Leading Artisan Sergeant) Jeffs B.Sc, L/Cpl Ed Cooper (ex-boy), Cfn Malcolm Davey (N/S).
The second team were also seconded to REME Central Inspectorate and travelled round the Division inspecting all of the above-mentioned kit for serviceability and specification. Lt. Hopkins (N/S) was notionally in charge.
The OC was Major (Pegleg Pete) Girling who eventually reached the rank of Major General and whose obituary was written in the ‘Telegraph’. The Workshop Officer was Captain Heelis who, when he was posted, bequeathed his AR88 receiver to me. This was the Rolls Royce of radios manufactured by RCA and I treasured it for all of my time in BAOR.
I have seen written elsewhere that the camp had indeed been a slave labour outfit and in the cellars were circular wash stations and cells with steel doors. It was in one of these that we kept an isotope of Caesium, used in calibration of Gamma Counters and Dosimeters.
The camp had a small theatre come cinema complete with a projection room and two 16mm cameras. We received films from the AKC on a weekly basis but never knew what to expect. The projectionist was Cpl. Lofty Stannard, an Instrument Mech, and I was his assistant.
I might mention here the bravery of John Raven from our section who was in a TCV which crashed in a snowstorm on the way back from a local dance. The 3 tonner set on fire and he dragged several people out even though he had suffered a broken pelvis. There was one fatality, a N/S Cfn Hawthornthwaite who was later buried in Hannover Military Cemetery.
Soon after arriving at 3 Armd in April/ May 1955 the whole unit decamped to Rheinsehlen in the north near Soltau, a former airfield. We were under canvas for a month and the nights were unpleasantly cold. We were however taken to Hamburg on a couple of weekends and although we were in uniform with ammo boots we had a good look round this great city. I was with John Raven who said he had done some sailing on the Thames which prompted us to hire a yacht on the Alster. Unfortunately he was not so experienced and sailing too close to the wind we promptly tipped the boat over until the sail dragged in the water. By some fluke the thing righted itself and we were very cautious after that.
At some later date we were on a Divisional exercise, possibly in the Brilon training area, and occupied a small village named Alma. We became very friendly with the people and in fact repaired quite an amount of farm machinery. The blacksmith and VMs were especially busy when they had some spare time. We did our share by fixing many ancient radios. At one point we watched the European Cup final in the local Gasthof so this ought to date the period more closely. It was here that I was nailing telephone cables to an existing pole when the ladder collapsed and I slid down the rough pole and had about 50 splinters in each hand which took a few days to remove. This was for connection to our internal system of Tele ‘L’ and Tele ‘F’ phones and a switchboard. The villagers were very sad to see us leave since many friendships had blossomed. They had been particularly fond of Cpl Bert Fraser who was one of the famous Jimmy Shand accordianists. He had taken his instrument with him and entertained us all most evenings.
It was at Alma that we became acquainted with the Soxmis, who were nothing but Soviet spies trying to wheedle out information by socialising with squaddies.
On another occasion a small detachment was set up in Pollhagen to service troops on a wireless exercise and again we were befriended by the locals. We were invited to their Schuetzenfest celebrations which involved a dance In a massive tent. Our driver Cfn ‘Nobby’ Skaith (N/S) proved to be an expert ballroom dancer and the local ladies were queueing up to dance with him (he was in BD and ammo boots!). At the end of the event they presented us with a large cake.
22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E