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 West Riding Barracks
 
Dortmund Germany
 
 45th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery 1954 - 1958
 
A Blast From the Past by:
 
 22947259, Gunner, A Robson

45th Field Regiment, RA  B.H.Q. Battery.

Dortmund Germany B.A.O.R. 14

British Army Of The Rhine

 

My Call to Arms came in 1953, shortly after my 18th birthday. A gentleman living in London had thought to send me the loveliest of cards. It had kind regards written upon it, and was signed by someone called Churchill! It said, he was acting in good faith, and on behalf of' Her Majesty's govemment. It also said that he would like to see me. Well as I wasn't doing much at that time and what with this woman wanting to see me, then why not. He had, however, suggested that I should have a medical examination before coming to see him. For the life of me I couldn't think why! But as he was kind enough to send me my bus-fare, and as he had promised me a good job, I thought why not. And the rest, as they say, is history ...  

 

My military days began at a place called Oswestry, Shropshire, and it was here at this place where our basic training was first initiated, i.e. for those of us who had been ordered to report there. Training was intensive, and would go on for the next couple of months. It was also here that we would be introduced to the Fieldpiece, or Field Gun as it was known, this being a 25 pounder commonly called the screw gun, by those who had gone before us. When discharged, ordnance could be sent over great distances. Gunners all, and our training behind us, we would then be dispersed to wherever, with my own posting taking me to Colchester, Essex. This then became home for several months, and from where I would be sent on varying courses, one of which would teach me the rudimentary elements of the equipment repairers trade (Textile Refitting).

 

With hostilities in the Far East coming to an end and the Regiment coming home I, amongst others, would then be sent overseas with the advance party, in preparation of the Regiment's return. This then took me to the address, as set out above, and where I was to remain until my release from whole time military service.   

 

August 1954, and we would take our leave of' Blighty, saying good-bye to Colchester in Essex for the last time, bound for a foreign shore. That shore being Dortmund, Germany, and West Riding Barracks. Taking the train to London and from there on to Southampton, would take most of the day. This done and the taking of a hearty meal, where facilities were provided i.e. a packed lunch, one was then to ascend the gangplank, a stairway to hell, for that's how it was perceived by most who had stepped upon it! I visually recall the seeing of several ashbins, placed appropriately around the decks, and wondered as to what end would be there purpose. All, I assure you, would be well used.

 

The huge block of concrete (below),  marked the entrance to West Riding barracks, which then brought our journey to a close. We had been on the move, for most of the previous day, and all of that night. With the morning now behind us, we had reached our destination. We would remain in Germany, for the next 16 months leaving in the latter days of December, 1955. However in just a few short months I and my contemporaries were to be immediately recalled to service, in view of the rising crisis of 1956 in the Suez Canal!

 

Hidden behind the plinth stands the main gate, to the right of which the Guardroom is seen. Behind that, one can just make out the windows of the gable end of Block 57. There is a further barrack block which was also attached by the way of a link bridge giving access to the rest of the BHQ Battery, i.e. Able and Baker. This block ran horizontally, forming the L shape, to which design the barracks blocks had been built.

 

 B.H.Q. Battery 45th Field Regiment RA 1954-8

CO, Major D.H. Oliver (?) RA

Battery Head Quarters

 

Main thruway, which passed through our section within the Garrison. The supply delivery truck to the Cookhouse, W.V.S. Canteen and NAAFI can be seen to the left.

 

Looking above the garages and Workshops, one can just (very faintly) make out the great mountains of coke and of coal which was stored behind there. This storage area formed the boundary lines on our section of the camp, and was managed by civilian personnel,  a huge stocking ground. It caused great problems when one was doing guard duty, huge (presumably because of theft).

 

Just beyond the tennis court can be seen a raised circular section, believed to have once  formed the base in the use of searchlights in WW2. A similar construction is to the .front of the Officers' and Sergeants' quarters, adjacent to the main gate, and our Block 57. Most of my pictures were taken .from this point.

 

In reference to the Bunker within West Riding Barracks, i.e. 'Boddy & Sole' courtesy of Mr Mitchell, though I had no knowledge of this incident, I do recall a tale once told by a local, when questioned about what lay behind the mysteriously shaped bunker, in West Riding. He claimed it was here that the German War Machine, had hidden stolen treasures.This picture was taken from the Dormer window of Block 57. B.H.Q. Battery was housed in these barrack rooms, and it would be here that Radcliffe, myself, and the rest of the Squad, would spend the next 16 months before being shipped home in the latter part of December 1955.

 

The main gate into West Riding Barracks. The main avenue leads up to B.H.Q.,with the Officer's and S.N.C.O.'s quarters to the left and Block 57 to the right.

 

 

Left -  I'm Alan, the guy, with the beret on, the lads with me are from B.H. Q. Can't recall their names now. The building seen in the background is the Recreational Centre combining the Cook House and Dining hall on the ground floor. The next floor up took you up to the NAAFI and the Drinks Bar which ran the full length of the block. Above that again and you had the games room which was supervised by the WVS. Those ladies!! they were real treasure.

 

 

Discharge Book or Army Book 111 (AB 111). The top stamp is from 70 Field Battery

 

 

All images and text on this page are courtesy of Mr Alan Robson.