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 History of Lumsden, St Barbara and Wessex Barracks

Built - 1935
Type - Wehrmacht temporary accommodation camp
Original Name -
 
Unknown Placing

7th Queen's Own Hussars 1949-1954 (1)
4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards 1950's

 

(1) The Regiment arrived after a short stay at Bournemouth Barracks, Soltau. After leaving for Hong Kong in 1954, 7th Hussars later became The Queen's Own Hussars on amalgamation in 1958 and the Queen's Royal Hussars on amalgamation in 1993.

 
The history of these barracks goes back to the enlargement of the Wehrmacht, due to conscription being reintroduced in 1934. Eleven villages were cleared, on what is now Hohne Ranges and with work beginning on the camp itself in 1935. The idea behind this was that two armoured divisions could carry out their 6 week training simultaneously. One of these panzer divisions would be housed at Fallingbostel with the other on the opposing, eastern side at Hohne. It is also said that during the war period the trees that stood on either side of the range roads would have their tops tied together to prevent being seen from the air.


By 1939 twelve ranges had been constructed and the first divisions had started to make use of the Truppenübungsplatz. The huts that had been used to house the construction workers had by this time become the accommodation of the Allied captives of the prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag XIB. The range itself was where rocket artillery was developed and the Tiger tank carried out its first main armament firing.

 

The picture here was taken in 1945 and shows the ruins of what was the Officers' Mess. For those of you who have frequented "The Boar", the mess would have sat on the field facing.

Courtesy of Soprano


The barracks survived the war virtually untouched, with the damage to come being carried out by the former Soviet prisoners-of-war who had been released on liberation. After burning down the  Officers' Mess and killing a number of civilians, the freed British POW’s were forced to imprison the angry mobs until they could be repatriated back to Russia.


The barracks then went onto become a major British station, being capable of accommodating 5 units at regimental level, plus amenities. This is still true at the time of writing and should carry on for at least another twenty years to come.

Wartime history of the barracks is still somewhat vague, some of the units to be based here included the Norwegian legion of the Waffen-SS. The SS-Freiwilligen-Legion Norwegen, was formed here on 3 October 1941, with the swearing in parade being attended by Norwegian fascist politician, Vidkun Quisling. The unit was then sent east, arriving at the Leningrad Front in February 1942.

 

 

Above can be seen the swearing in ceremony, with the commanding officer,  Captain Jørgen Bakke seen on the left of the right hand photo. I would place the picture on the left as being the open ground across and further up from the Medical Centre. The block seen may even be the SSO.

 

The SS Division Reich, which later became known as Das Reich, was reformed here in Fallingbostel between April and June 1942 after very heavy loses sustained during the first winter of the Eastern Front campaign.
Spring 1943 saw the formation of a Luftwaffe Field Division (I say “a” as there were many and I cannot pinpoint which one it was). It then departed in May of the following year for occupational duties in Denmark.

I can only imagine that most, if not all the eromoured divisions belonging to Nazi Germany spent time either here of at Hohne whilst conducting training.

With the departure of 2 RTR, it is said that up until then, Lumsden Barracks had been solely occupied by armoured units since the barracks were built, Wessex Barracks being briefly occupied by the Coldstream Guards.

 

Should you wish to look further into the British advance on through Fallingbostel and the local area, then a must to read is,

No Triumphant Procession, written by Captain John Russell, 3rd Battalion, The Queens Regiment.