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4 Petroleum Depot RAOC


My posting to Warendorf was my first post abroad and I didn't know what to expect.  I arrived in Luton bound for Germany in civvies but with the familiar army suitcase with my army no scrawled all over it, as we did in the early Seventies. 
On arrival at the airport near Münster I had no idea where to go or how to get to 4PD and the reception forgot to tell me that I was to get on the bus to Portsmouth Barracks.  Instead I bumbled aimlessly outside of the airport terminal, which was now in darkness and I started to walk in the direction of Warendorf from a sign I had seen, but as it was late and I was tired from travelling all day I managed to hail a taxi and explain to him that I wanted the "British Petrol Station!" (God how I wished that I listed to my German teacher at school - I'll never need to speak Germany will I!)  Gratefully the taxi driver managed to get me to my destination after much questioning, of course he spoke no English and I arrived at the depot around midnight having dispensed with DM25 for the fare - all I had left for the month.  Needless to say I frightened the duty NCO to death as he wasn't expecting me ("You were suppose to go to Portsmouth Barracks") he moaned and then had to make umpteen phone calls to let them know that I had found my way to the depot on my own and he kindly forfeited his bed for the night.  They seemed impressed that this young PTE had found the depot as it was in the middle of nowhere but were not happy that they had waited up for me at Portsmouth Barracks! 
Anyway, at the end of the next day I rode back with the two lads that I would be billeted with in the army Land Rover they used daily.  When we arrived ,the LCpl, Smudge Smith, asked me to park the car up while they went into the cookhouse to order our evening meals.  I'd only driven a Land Rover once before and as it was parked facing into the cookhouse and needed reversing, I duly put the gear stick into reverse only for the stick to come away in my hand!  Needless to say when I skulked back to the cookhouse and showed the LCpl the gear stick, his face was a picture!  I'm not sure if he wanted to cry or laugh, so I didn't wait to find out!  Welcome to Germany!!!


My initial employment was at 4 Pet Depot as a Pte Staff Clerk in the admin offices in 1977. My Chief Clerk was a SSgt Pollington who was very laid back, folk-singing, hippie who had an answer to any problems - a great Chief Clerk. There was also a CPL Staff Clerk, a Scot called Jim Kelly, plus the lovely German civilian clerk, Kath, who was actually Scottish too! We had an Admin OC (Maj) and 2IC (Capt) - can't remember their names at present. The RSM was WO1 McCabe who was presented with the Queens Jubilee medal and other Pet Ops whom I shared accommodation with at Portsmouth Barracks (Smudger Smith was one and Pete Carlton another). It was a mixed depot with military and civilians and also was next door to a very large German Fire Service and petrol depot.


My job was to collect the mail daily from Münster and go on endless "admin trips" taking personnel or parcels all over the place and occasionally act as the OC's driver as part of my duties. I was there around 10 months before I was promoted and posted to Hannover. It was a good unit, we all got on well and I remember the RSM kept taking us all out (clerks and Pet Ops) for long boring road runs to keep us fit. However, when we did our BFTs we all passed each with the top 'A' grading!


I also have the unenviable honour of having successive entries in the OC's incident book of being charged (missing PE), promoted, and then posted all within a few days of each other. I have fond memories of walking around the depot one early morning as I was on duty with a new fall of snow, it was unexpected as we had'nt seen snow for such a long time and it was deep and the magical atmosphere within the Depot on that day was amazing. I had a very enjoyable time there except when I dropped the RSM off at the Sgts Mess as I went to take my "tick-test" to drive in Germany, only to fail and he then had to take ME back to camp - needless to say he wasn't too impressed with me!

  Nick Redgwell


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