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4 Armd Wksp REME 1949-1957

The front of the building on Goettinger Chaussee. Ground floor NAAFI. ORs rooms above. Circa. 1980.
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.
4 Armoured Workshop REME 
4 Field Workshop was formed in 1938 to support a Heavy Armoured Group in Egypt and was renamed as 4 Armoured Workshop at Fort Capuzzo in 1940. During 1942 and 1943 it followed the North Africa campaign from Alamein to Tunis. In 1942 it was retitled on the formation of REME.
In 1943 the Workshop landed in Sicily and advanced up through Italy until 1944, when it was withdrawn back to Great Britain.
Following the Normandy landing, the Workshop moved to France and supported the Army Advance through France, Belgium and Holland, eventually crossing the Rhine into Germany in 1945. 
The Workshop stayed briefly at Diepholz, Walsrode, Verden, Bremen and Hamburg. It was disbanded in Hamburg in 1947.
In 1949, 4 Armoured Workshop REME was reformed at Hannover belonging to 11th Armoured Division, eventually moving to Detmold in 1957 under the command of 20th Armoured Brigade Group. It was renamed 4 Field Workshop REME in 1970.
In 1977, on the restructuring of the Army in BAOR, the unit was again renamed 4 Armoured Workshop REME, with the task of supporting the 4rth Armoured Division (compromising 11 & 20 Brigades).
In June 1982, 4 Armoured Workshop REME became the first unit in Detmold to be granted the freedom of the town. This was in recognition of the 25th anniversary of its arrival in Hobart Barracks, Detmold, and the many ensuing links with the town.
4 Armoured Workshop REME deployed 138 soldiers to the Gulf on Operation Granby between October 1990 and April 1991. During this period, the Workshop provided second line REME support to an enlarged dependency in BAOR.
Soldiers from the unit have been detached to Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, Belize, Cyprus and BATUS to meet REME worldwide commitments. None the less the Workshop continued to provide second line REME support (inspections, repair, & recovery) to the 4rth Armoured Division up until 1993 on the formation of 1 (UK) Armoured Division.

On 1 October 1993, 4 Armoured Workshop was reformed as 3 Battalion REME as part of the re-organisation of the REME support to 1(UK) Armoured Division.  3 Battalion REME took on the role of supporting 20 Armoured Brigade, also based in Paderborn, and other units in the Garrison.  The title ‘4 Armoured Workshop REME’ was transferred to the Close Support Company of 1 Battalion REME, Osnabrück on the same day


In 1994 after  the disbandment of 1 BR Corps Troops Workshops of 1993, civilian elements of 58 Station Workshop formed 3 Garrison Workshop which became a sub-unit within 3 Battalion REME. It remains based in Bielefeld to this day.


After the closure of Hobart Barracks, Detmold,  3 Battalion REME moved to Barker Barracks in Paderborn during 1995. since then it has been on various tours of the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. During 2007 further restructuring took place with the Battalion becoming a brigade asset, being retitled 3 Close Support Battalion REME. 


Workshop area circa. 1980.
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.
A view from inside the workshops. Cpl Cooper, Cfn Henson, Ray & Haddow with Sgt John ? 1956
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.
 Memories of 4 Armd Wksps, Hannover and Detmold (1956/1959)
Hannover was a dream posting the Wksps being in the suburb of Ricklingen, a tram ride from the city centre and quite close to the massive football stadium. We were barracked in part of the pre-war Leichtmetallwerke which adjoined our site and on the other side next to the parade square was the Telefunken factory. The photos which I shall include were taken after the building had been restored to its original owners but was largely unchanged except that we had a tall chain link fence surrounding us. In the centre of Hannover near the Opera was a YMCA building and on the far side of the city opposite the zoo was an AKC cinema and Military Police headquarters in what had been S.S. infrastructure. Also in the city centre was the Rathaus in Machsee Park which also had a large man-made lake on which rowing regattas took place. The area was called five-mark-park by the military, for obvious reasons.

The Wksp in Hannover had two ‘Z’ Lorries parked in a garage and repairs to equipment (the same kit as in 3 Armd Wksp) was carried out in liaison with the civilian static Tels workshop staffed by German civilians (as in 3 Armd). One of the lorries was an old Fordson but we also had a more modern and better appointed Bedford based on QL chassis.
The team of Tele Mechs were, LAS Graham Loft B.Sc., LAS John ?? B.Sc., LAS Don Scott M.Sc., L/Cpl John Ray B.Sc., Cfn Bruce Haddow (N/S), Cfn Eric Henson (N/S), Cpl Ed Cooper (ex-boy) and later Cpl John Dudley (ex-boy). This was a hugely technical team of engineers; the two craftsmen holding HNC certificates. We could turn round defective equipment in no time even though it had reached the end of its useful life. Also at this time we were again seconded to the REME Central Inspectorate and travelled to all units annually to review the state of electronic equipment.

The OC was Major McLennan and the Adjutant Captain Anstey who also played in goal for our very successful hockey team. We had a veteran CSM Mullholland who seemed somewhat eccentric but we were told he had been an Army boxer and was a bit punch drunk! Don Scott proved to be a big hit with the OC who had once surprised him imitating his person in the Sergeants mess and fortunately took it in good part. Don had been the captain of Leeds University badminton team and the OC, himself a decent player was able to give Don a good workout. I should point out that the officers often called in the Sergeants Mess for a ‘quick one’ on the way home because their mess was on the other side of the city. Don had also played cricket for the university and proved to be a formidable pace bowler for our cricket team. He was demobbed in 1956/7 but I met up with him after Army life and we were good friends until he died prematurely. We lived quite close to each other and when I first knew him he was head of department at ICI Manchester later becoming an executive of Yorkshire Chemicals where his knowledge of six languages gave him an advantage.
The Army Kinema Corporation  and Military Police buildings in Hannover were on the tram route to Kirchrode. I remember when we travelled by tram to the cinema we had to ask der Schaffner (conductor) for "umsteigen bitte" (change trams) and we got off at the Cafe am Kroepke in the city centre to await the connection. At Kirchrode there was a civilian mess with schoolteachers clerical staff etc. One weekend I volunteered with my pal John Ray to be a waiter at a function there and we were accommodated overnight. The next day they entertained us right royally and we had a champagne lunch.

The whole unit was sad to be told of an impending move to Detmold which took place in 1957. I had been there on my duties with Central Inspectorate and knew that we were going into decent barracks with good leisure facilities so it was not such a problem for me. The Tels section was set up in the old airfield observation tower and whilst we still had the ancient ‘Z’ lorries we worked inside the building until we went on exercise when the lorries, which were parked outside, were then loaded up with much of the equipment and instruments from inside. Later we exchanged the old vehicles for Commer lorries which were much more comfortable to drive and better equipped internally. The personnel in Detmold Tels wksp were, a civilianTechnical Officer, Mr Griffiths who was succeeded at a later date by another T.O. Mr Fraser.
The Military personnel spread over the years when I was there were, S/Sgt Alan Tarbuck (ex-boy), S/Sgt Mike Watson (ex-boy), Sgt Clem Clements (ex-boy), Sgt Bud Pomeroy (ex-boy) Cpl John Williams (ex-boy), Cpl John Dudley. In c1958 we were fitting the new Plessey radio equipment to replace the wartime kit and we were joined by AQMS Harry Budd who had been on the design team in the UK and came to give us advice on the modern technology.

4 Armd then became the leading workshop in BAOR in the installation and testing of all the kit fitted into tanks, armoured vehicles and lorries etc. When our team was sent to Munster to kit out a regiment of tanks I met up with Lt Jim Dennis, who had been in the same form as me at Chesterfield Grammar School, and was now in charge of the modernising operation. He later became Brigadier D Prod E, REME
The radios which we installed were: C42, C45, B47 etc.and various receiving equipment. It was much easier kit to service and was VHF rather than the short wave radios of yore. The bonus was that we were also supplied with the very latest test instruments and with knowledge of the state of the art technology, our status was enhanced considerably.

The OC in Detmold was Major McDonald with Captain Hammond as Workshop officer and CSM Gravestock was in charge of regimental matters. A couple of years later Major Da Costa became OC. Our platoon officer was Lt Archie Taylor who was also a member of our Detmold Druids rugger XV.
The Army strategy at that time was to use forward repair groups (FRG). By this system we took a group of engineers and equipment to the site of casualties so that repairs could be effected as the main workshop moved on. (see ‘Craftsmen of the Army’ p172).

This was good most of the time but often the ration truck couldn’t find us and we had to use our wits to find food. We learned in time to pack our spare storage space with tins of necessaries including Beck’s Bier.
When we were in barracks, which didn’t seem too often, we were able to use the Tyler Club which had been built on the top floor of our block and various functions took place there including dances; this was in addition to the large NAAFI in the Camp. Detmold itself was a fine town with elegant buildings including a Schloss in the centre and it proved to be excellent for leisure purposes.
22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.
Workshop area circa. 1980.
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.
Main gate with guardroom on left.
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.
Living quarters main entrance. Sgts mess on ground floor, ORs above.
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.
'Don Scott inspecting the Admin block. This picture shows the living quarters main entrance. Sgts mess on ground floor, ORs above.
Courtesy of 22794010 Sgt. Cooper C.E.