Germany – September 1974

Ex. Bold Guard

E Troop E21/R241

A multi-national NATO JATFOR exercise

Having arrived in 14th Signal Regiment in early September 1972, on exercise in Gibraltar at the end of that year and then on return being sent out to British Honduras in April 73, with the Detachment Commanders course in between, I was delighted to be told that I was going to Germany for 2 weeks or so in September 74. Uppermost in my mind at that time was the thought of tasting proper German beer for the first time.

I recall that the Troop were all called into Norton Barracks prior to departure which was to prove an upsetting time for me as I had to return to my married quarters in Woodfarm Camp, Malvern to deal with the death of my German Shepherd (Brandy).

The focus of the exercise, as far as I can remember, was to provide the rear link communications in support of a multi-national parachute drop into the Kiel Canal area of Northern Germany. From memory I believe the British lads were mainly reservists from Scotland.

Kei Canal Area Map

Approaching the airbase of GAF Hohn on board a RAF Hercules C130, I seem to remember sighting the canal below. After offloading all the equipment from the plane, we made use of German military transport to travel to The German Panzer Battalion Kaserne at Boostedt. This was to prove to be our first dealings with the local Polizei as we were pulled over on the Autobahn and instructed to use the seat belts provided. Later police dealings were with our own RMP’S!

Arriving at the Kaserne, I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the accommodation, but found that the cuisine wasn’t to my liking. It seems now that I existed on “Bratwurst mit pommes frites und zenf” for the whole time! The one saving grace was the location of the local Taverne – just across the road from the camp gatehouse.

Being a ‘Transmitter Man’ for my whole time with the Regiment I am unable to comment on the full troop layout. Our transmitter equipment was setup on a massive field alongside a forest.

Germany 1974_edited

From our location, we were able to see the German Leopard Tanks on manoeuvres up and down the tracks in the forest. One night we were to come a little too close for comfort when one such tank entered our location, Sgt Mick Birney took it upon himself, armed only with a flashlight, to try and make the Leopard tank commander aware of our existence in the field (brave man). For the duration of the exercise, these Leopards were to make sure the Liney’s were kept busy by continually churning up the 7 by 1 and a half miles lengths of D10 wire linking the transmitter and receiver sites. They were also to play a part later on in the Exercise.

I recall queueing some mornings in the accommodation corridor for mail call by our Freddie (Sgt Fred Almond) I think. One morning my name was called and I accepted a parcel only to be gob smacked on opening it to see a ‘Silver key of the Door’ sent by my Mother (it was my 21st). To this day, I don’t know how she managed it bless her. Needless to say we celebrated the occasion with a trip into Neumunster with a full Taxi (apologies lads due to the evenings intake, I am unable to recall exactly who).

It was terribly upsetting when we all got to hear of what happened on that night of the drop which went unfortunately wrong for several of the Para Lads. The Taverne played a big part one night after that! It seemed some of the younger clientele resented our being patrons of the establishment, as it were. All hell broke loose with scuffles all over the place. The barman emerged from behind the bar a number of times with a baseball bat, CS gas and I think, a gun! My overriding vision is of Steve Birch, with a head under each armpit, cracking ‘em together. A good night! A few nights later, we were to have an ‘endex night’ in the place, unfortunately, and I may have this wrong but, when Capt Lovatt left the place, he managed to injure his foot/ankle returning to the Kaserne.

Our last night in Boostedt turned out to be a trophy hunt for items for the crew room back home. Steve Birch, myself and, I believe, Geordie McEvoy went on the hunt for trophies. We managed to prise loose two massive wooden shields from the outside of the accommodation blocks (I don’t know how we managed to escape with them). However, the real prize as far as we were concerned, was the capture of a photograph of Colonel General Heinz Guderian, the father of Modern German Panzer Tactics use. The feat was achieved by myself being raised up upon Steve’s shoulders. This proved to be a political moment, the photo never saw the light of day again.

Boostedt Pic
Mike McEvoy & John Bainbridge with ‘trophies’

It had its ups and downs but, I think for all and differing reasons, was a good exercise.

Memories – John Bainbridge, July 2018

Return to top of page

Return to Memories page