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History of Glamorgan Barracks
 

Pre WWII

 

A view of the main entrance into the camp.

 

The city of Duisburg had very little links with the military up until 1937 when the first and only barracks was constructed. Situated on the western edge of the industrial Ruhr, and on the banks of the River Rhine it has a population of 500,000 supporting the biggest inland harbour in Europe. The camp itself was sited originally in open fields in the Wanheimerort district of the city, alongside the Route 8 which heads south towards the regional centre of Düsseldorf. 

 

With Germany in the process of rearmament in the 1930s prior to the Second World War, the German strategists quickly realised the importance of defending those cities which formed the industrialised heartland of the Ruhr. With attack from the air posing the most realistic threat to Duisburg, it was decided to create an anti-aircraft barracks known simply as Duisburg FLAK Kaserne.

 

The Richtfest which is a German celebration when the roof of a building is in place. Summer 1937.  

 

Work was started on the barracks in March 1937 and was completed in six months later in October. A small vanguard company of II Abteilung Flakregiment 54 was the first unit to be based here which was sizable to a British battalion. Under the command of Hauptman Kluge, the company took up residence at the barracks in April 1937, being accommodated in wooden huts until the barracks were completed.

 

Quite remarkably the construction was shrouded in secrecy with large canvas screens hiding its progress from the local civilians who were mistakenly believing it to be a brewery in the making. By October 1937 sufficient buildings had been completed to allow the complete unit to move in and occupy the barracks, with colours being presented a month later on 21 November 1937.

 

            

II Abteilung Flakregiment 54 on parade on 21 November  1937 receiving its colours. 

 

Equipped with 2cm and 3.7cm anti-aircraft guns with 120cm searchlights the Luftwaffe unit was initially commanded by Oberstleutnant Remy. The road directly outside the main entrance to the camp, presently named Neuenhofstrße was, with the building of the camp, named General Wever Staße in honour of the famous Luftwaffe general of earlier years.

 

Wedau Ammunition Depot

 

Grossenbaum which is south of the city between Huckingen and Wedau was chosen as a location for building a range, with construction beginning in time with that of Glamorgan Barracks. Containing the large Wedau Lakes, the range consisted of three rifle and two machine gun lanes, and it was on these machine gun lanes that the 2cm anti-aircraft training ammunition could be fired by the personnel from the barracks.

 

The Wedau Ammunition Depot Football Team. 

 

In 1939 a depot was built near the ranges in the Wedau woods to hold the ammunition required by the barracks. Known as Feldluftmunitionslager 17/VI Wedau, it consisted initially of fourteen 20 ton concrete bunkers, each more than 30m in width. Accommodation and administration for the 60 soldiers and 120 civilians were also provided on site.

 

By 1941 the complex stored solely anti-aircraft ammunition of 8.8cm and 10.5cm calibers and was linked by rail. Heavily guarded it also afforded natural camouflage due to the dense surrounding trees combined with large numbers of nets which shielded observation from the air. This ensured the ammunition complex suffered very little damage from any source throughout the war.

 

A parade taking place outside Block 2. Behind the parade can be seen the Drill Shed which was destroyed in the war.

 

The searchlights and guns could be deployed from Glamorgan Barracks to the wooded and country areas between Duisburg and Düsseldorf. Resupply would be by motor transport, with the guns returning to barracks only for maintenance and administration.

 

A number of Russian prisoners of war arrived at the ammunition dump in 1944 to be used as labour within the camp. By the end of the war these unfortunates would number over 500.

 

A group of airmen behind the Drill Shed and Guard Room.

 

By the end of hostilities in 1945 the numerous buildings of the depot which were now empty were used to house many of the bombed out inhabitants of the surrounding area. This continued until 1954 when it was decided by the council to destroy the whole area and fill in the ranges which had fallen into a dangerous condition. The whole of the old ammunition dump is now submerged under the Warmbach See after the 1970s widening programme.

 

1939-1945

 

In 1940 the barracks was a major staging post for troops involved in operations Fall Gelb and also Seelöwe. The later project was coordinated from the barracks as Duisburg offered an important collection point for all the small boats and barges from the waterways of Europe which would be required to transport the German armies across the English channel.

 

II Abteilung Flakregiment 54 on parade outside Block 4.

 

Damage to the barracks was rather minimal which could not be said for some of the other areas of the city. During aerial reconnaissance on 12 October 1944, it was found that the roof of Block 4 was missing and a large crater centrally placed on the parade square. By 5 December 1944 Block 5 (on the area of the five a side football pitch) had been badly damaged and would remain so until its demolition in 1956.

 

Blocks 4, 5 and 6 had all suffered damaged roofs by the end of the war. As accommodation was sought by the allies after the war a temporary flat roof was constructed on each of these blocks - a feature explaining why these buildings had staircases which lead to nowhere.

 

Immediate Post War Years

 

In mid April 1945 the US 17th Airborne Division arrived at Duisburg where they found little resistance. No attempt was made to occupy the barracks as the drive continued eastwards. The Flakregiment had by this point disbanded with its compliment being rerolled as infantry.

 

A front view of the Guardroom. The original gates still contain numerous holes where shots were fired through the gates in the last stages of the war.  

 

The first residents of the barracks were elements of 53rd Welch Division who occupied Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Mülheim and Duisburg in early June 1945. This explains the Welsh names given to many of the barracks within these areas. The barracks can trace its name to 1/5 (Glamorgan) Battalion, The Welch Regiment which occupied the city.

 

Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H Bowker, the regiment would spent the winter and spring of 1946 trying to make the barracks inhabitable again before they were disbanded on 7 June 1946.

 

The 1st Battalion the Black Watch marched into the barracks at the beginning of June 1946 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel BA Innes, where they would remain until 1950. During this period the Battalion would be dispatched to Berlin as a result of its blockade, being away from Duisburg for just under three months. After the Berlin airlift had ended a parade was held at Glamorgan Barracks to which the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion (based in Berlin) were amalgamated. Taking place on 13th July 1948, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, who was Colonel of The Black Watch took the salute on the main square.

 

Field Marshal Lord Wavell outside Block 2 on the parade square during the amalgamation parade of the Black Watch.

 

After the amalgamation the role of now changed to that of training national servicemen prior to their posting to Scottish regiments in BAOR. The first intake arrived in November 1948 with training starting the same month. This continued until 25 April 1950 when the regiment moved to Berlin for a full tour.

 

 

Field Marshal Montgomery inspecting soldiers of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch. 

 

Arrival of the REME

 

During most of the time that the Black Watch were in Glamorgan Barracks they shared these facilities with 130 Area Workshops REME, who had established themselves here in May 1948. This workshop consisted of 3 officers, 27 SNCOs and approximately 280 German civilians.

 

In January 1950 the role and personnel of 130 Area Workshop REME was taken over by 4 Infantry Workshop REME, one of the three workshops dedicated to support 2 Infantry Division then stationed in BAOR. The unit stayed in Duisburg up until it amalgamated with the larger 4 Armoured Workshop in Detmold in October 1961. The civilian increment which was left behind was redesignated 56 Station Workshop REME and provided 2nd line support for many units in the Rhine area. It eventually disbanded in November 1976.

 

With the Black Watch in Berlin the camp was very much a REME affair. Glamorgan Barracks then went on to home the REME Technical Training School BOAR, which had previously been located in Barker Barracks, Paderborn. The School's charter of training soldiers on equipments specific to BAOR and also upgrading courses came to an end in September 1961, where all training was transferred to Arborfield.

 

In June 1952 arrived 77 Telecommunications Workshop REME, who where based in Blocks 22 and 23. Both building underwent extensive modification to house the unit's testing equipment. Providing second and third line support to the several Royal Signals units in the Rhine area, the workshop would go on to spend 25 years at Glamorgan Barracks, under many different titles. The first change was in 1960 when the prefix Specialist would be added to form 77 (Specialist) Telecommunications Workshop REME. In 1967 the unit was retitled 19 Corps Electronic Workshop REME where its scope was widened to supporting 1 (BR) Corps. November 1970 brought change again and with it came the title 19 Field Workshop REME. Unfortunately in 1977 the Workshop was disbanded, their role being taken over by 20 Field Workshop REME in Minden.

 

Plan of Glamorgan Barracks Duisburg - 1985.

 

Army Catering Corps

 

In 1952 plans were implemented to move the Army Catering Corps School from Lippstadt to Glamorgan Barracks. This resulted in Blocks 4 and 5 having the ground floors turned into kitchens and classrooms with upstairs providing accommodation for 100 students. The school ran basic cookery and butchery training, with it also training upgraders and various other courses, as well as catering for a number of other messes and units in the area. The school was very successful with it even running a series of Commanding Officers' catering appreciation courses before its closure in 1962, when  all ACC training was centralised in the United Kingdom.

 

Royal Artillery

 

36 Heavy Air Defence Regiment RA on Parade outside Block 2.

 

After moving from Shoeburyness, Essex to Mansergh Barracks, Gütersloh 36 Heavy Air Defence Regiment RA finally came to rest at Glamorgan Barracks in 1961. Equipped with Thunderbird I surface to air guided missile system, it consisted of two batteries, 56 and 60 Heavy Air defence Batteries RA. After being equipped with the new Thunderbird II, it was decided to move the Regiment to Napier Barracks, Dortmund due to the fact that Glamorgan Barracks was not able to contain the radio frequency hazard of the more powerful radars.

 

Thunderbird Mk1 Ground to Air Missiles on the main square of the Barracks.

 

Royal Corps of Transport

 

Replacing the Gunners were 4 Divisional Regiment RCT who arrived in February 1967. Taking over command of 11 and 21 Squadrons RCT, 6 Squadron RCT also came under command at the same time having moved from Dortmund to Duisburg. The workshop was inherited from 56 Station Workshop REME who had disbanded in June 1967. During their stay the Regiment would be granted the Freedom of the City of Duisburg by the Oberbürgermeister, Herr Josef Krings.

 

The March Past of 4 Divisional Regiment in Duisburg city centre.

 

In August 1977 the unit was redesignated 4 Armoured Division Transport Regiment RCT and departed for Minden.  Taking their slot within Glamorgan Barracks was 3 Armoured Division Transport Regiment RCT, who had arrived from Bulford, England. Operationally independent in its role was 6 Squadron RCT who had gone on to become 6 Artillery Support Squadron RCT, although still coming under the command of the Regiment whilst in barracks. 3 Armoured Division Transport Regiment RCT would reside here for another 16 years until the barracks closure on 1 March 1993.

 

Officers' Mess

 

The Officers' Mess was situated across from the barrack on the other side of Route 8. It was built in 1937 together with the rest of the barracks, following the splendid style of architecture typical of Herman Goering's Luftwaffe. Whilst in British hands it was initially insufficient to accommodate all officers so Block 7 within the barracks was used in conjunction. However in 1955 an annex was built with the problem being alleviated.

 

Officers of the Royal Artillery in the Mess in the 1960s. 

 

During August 1978 the PIRA managed to plant a small bomb under one of the drain covers, causing some damage to the buildings, but fortunately no serious injuries were suffered by any personnel. The bomb was not a sizable device, however the said drain cover eventually landed in front of RHQ, which was 150 metres away.  

 

Information sourced from A Short History of Glamorgan Barracks Duisburg 1937-1985, by

Lieutenant Colonel RA Crawley, October 1985.