The Argyll and Sutherland
Berlin 1955 - 1956
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The Advance Party left Elgin for Berlin on 20th January 1955 to begin taking over Montgomery Barracks from 1st Bn Grenadier Guards. The main body of the Battalion arrived in Berlin at 7 o'clock on the morning of 22nd February 1955, which must have been one of the coldest mornings of the year. We were unable to bring Cruachan with us, as arrangements for him to travel in warmth and comfort could not be made. After the Colonel had been welcomed by the Brigadier and his staff, the Battalion quickly got into the waiting transport and were pleasantly surprised by the comfort and warmth of Montgomery Barracks. Military life in Berlin was based on a regular and predictable yearly programme centred around the Queen’s Birthday Parade during June, individual and low level training during the winter, spring and early summer, followed by a visit to the All Arms Training Centre during the late summer or autumn. The major problem in Berlin was the numerous guards and garrison duties that required to be performed as well as trying to do useful training.
Were built between 1936 and 1939 as an Luftwaffe Signals Regiment Barracks. They were spacious, well laid out and included a N.A.A.F.I, cinema, miniature 30 yards and open range, gymnasium, stables, heated garages, workshops, swimming pool, football, rugger and hockey pitches and a running track, in fact all that a good barracks should have. Its situation is well out of Berlin, in a suburb called Kladow, it is bounded on the east by the Havel See, a popular summer resort for Germans as well as forming part of the main canal and river system to Hamburg. To the south and west is the Russian Zone. To the north lies the rest of the British Sector. The East German Police, known locally as Vopo's, find a lot of interest in their new neighbours, and can often be seen looking through the wire at us, especially when the pipes and drums are playing. It is suspected that on occasions they even come into barracks, as there is an area the ownership of which is under dispute at the present time.
On Thursday, 14th April, Brigadier F. W. Sandars, D.S.O., A.D.C., carried through his administrative inspection of the Battalion. The Colour Party consisted of Queen's Colour, 2nd Lt. I. Mackay; Regimental Colour, 2nd Lt. A. W. Scott-Elliot ; Escort; W.O. II Neeson, Sgt. Edmondson and Sgt. Walker. The parade will be remembered chiefly for the bitter cold of the day.
Arrival in Berlin: Click on pictures to enlarge.
On Friday, 22nd April, a farewell parade for Major-General W. P. Oliver, C.B., O.B.E., G.O.C. Berlin (British Section), was held. The Colour Party consisted of Queen's Colour, 2nd Lt. C. P. R. Palmer; Regimental Colour, 2nd Lt. B. A. E. Malcolm, Escort; W.O. II Masterton, Sgt. H Young and Sgt. Bailey: A, C and Sp. Companies were under the command of Majors Willoughby, Slessor and Scheurmier, with men from B and H.Q. Coy. to make a total on parade of 270 other ranks and nine Officers. The parade had an international flavour as there were detachments from the American and French Forces as well as the 1st Bn. The Manchester Regiment and ourselves. The times and paces of each march past varied considerably we had the misfortune to march off to the music of the French Band (whose bandmaster wore a formidable beard), which was very difficult! All ranks were very impressed by the General's speech, which he made first in English and then in French for the benefit of the French contingent. This also was our first opportunity of seeing Russians who came as spectators.
SPANDAU PRISON GUARD.
The Battalion carried out this interesting duty during the month of May. 2nd Lt. Lorrimer, Sgt. Edmondson and 32 of A Coy. took over the responsibility of guarding Doenitz, Raeder, Hess, Funk, Speer and Schirach from a guard of Russian soldiers. Each Company undertook the duty in rotation for 48-hour periods. At the end of the month A Coy. handed over the duty to a detachment of the French Forces — this was done in French. At the end of our turn of duty a special word of praise for the conduct and alertness of all ranks of the Guards was given by Lt.-Colonel E. R. Vickers, O.B.E., D.C.M., M.M., British Governor of the prison. A point of interest was a pair of partridges which were often to be seen inside the prison walls in the vegetable garden cultivated by the six prisoners.
QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY PARADE 1955
Thursday, 9th June, 1955. Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday was held in the Olympic Stadium, Berlin, the same stadium where Hitler was accustomed to hold his mass parades and demonstrations. On this parade the Queen's Colour, presented to the 1st Battalion by Her Majesty The Queen in Edinburgh, was trooped for the first time. It was guarded by Sgt. Harrison and Ptes. Kier and Stewart prior to being trooped. The Battalion's Colour Parties were Queen's Colour, 2nd Lt. C. P. R. Palmer ; Regimental Colour, 2nd Lt. B. E. A. Malcolm ; W.O.II Neeson, Sgt. Edmondson and Sgt. Docherty. Two guards were provided by each Regiment in Berlin and by the R.A.F. Regiment. Each Company of the 1st Battalion provided men for each guard, who underwent an intensive period of training for the parade. Marching was difficult as the parade was held on grass, but the bearing and precision of both Argyll guards was the subject of favourable comment from all who saw the parade.
A Regimental week-end was held from Friday, 10th June, to Monday, 13th June, both dates inclusive. On Friday and Saturday the Highland Games were held. Although Friday was miserably wet, Saturday for the finals was a blaze of sunshine. Everyone voted that they were the best Highland Games they had attended in the Regiment. All credit is due to Major H. H. M. Marston, President of the L.A.C., and S.I. Stuart of the A.P.T.C. The day finished with both bands playing combined retreat. This was the last occasion the battalion saw both bands together until their tours were over in October. Monday was unfortunately a bad day—the Swimming Gala was cancelled—but the boat trip on the Havel was patronised by a few hardy members. The day ended with a free cinema.
Photos of boat trip on Havel.
VISIT OF THE COLONEL OF THE REGIMENT.
The Colonel of the Regiment and Lady MacMillan visited the Battalion arriving on 15th July, and, after a full programme, leaving on 23rd July. For the General there were visits to the Officers' Mess, the Sergeants' Mess and Companies on Training. For Lady MacMillan there was a visit to the Wives' Club. The battalion were all very glad to see the General and Lady MacMillan, and grateful that they could spare the time for a visit. On Saturday, 23rd July, a parade was held in the Colonel's honour. Colour Party—Queen's Colour, 2nd Lt. C. P. R. Palmer ; Regimental Colour, 2nd Lt. B. E. A. Malcolm ; Escort; W.O. II C.S.M. Tullett, Sgt. Morris and Sgt. Wilson. Five companies were on parade, numbering 17 Officers and 470 other ranks. General MacMillan was given a General Salute on arrival when his personal standard was unfurled. He made a detailed inspection of the Companies and paused to talk to many men on parade. Afterwards he addressed the parade, stressing that he was satisfied with the bearing and turn-out of all ranks. He went on to encourage all ranks to sign on and aim at becoming Warrant Officers and Sergeants—for whom there is always a demand— and all, whether National Service or Regular, who do leave the Regiment to join the Regimental Association and to retain through its various branches a connection with the Battalion. The Commanding Officer then thanked the General for his words of praise and encouragement, and for managing to find the time to visit the Battalion. After giving three cheers for the Colonel of the Regiment, the Battalion marched past and the parade finished. The parade was watched by a number of families.
We were very glad to welcome four drafts to the Battalion. On 27th March, 2nd Lt. Scott-Elliot and 2nd Lt. Mackay arrived with 59 men, some of whom had been left at home in Elgin for one reason or another. On 6th May, Captain Ward and R.S.M. Boyde took time off from the Castle to bring Sgt. Street, Cpl. Gow and 81 men. It was very pleasant to see Captain Ward and R.S.M. Boyde again. They received a warm welcome and will be able to give a better picture of how we live and what we do with recruits before posting them to Companies in the Battalion. On 13th July, Sgt. Saunders arrived with 61 men and was quickly followed by a further 14 men on 15th July. Normally all new arrivals spend a month with ‘D’ Coy. doing continuation training before joining Companies. The last two drafts have, however, gone straight out to Companies as it is felt they will get more benefit at Sennelager, than the training centre in the Zone.
During this period drill has been the order of the day. In between times Companies have slipped off to the ranges to classify, to the Grunewald to learn the art of war, and to the Havel to learn from Sgt. Forbes and the assault pioneers the art of boating. Support Coy. went off to Putlos on the Baltic coast to fire mortars, anti-tank guns and machine- guns. They all enjoyed their stay of two weeks. Two very successful N.C.O.s cadres were held by D Coy, the duration of each cadre was two months. The second cadre, unfortunately, has dragged on for three months owing to the disruption to training caused by rehearsals for The Queen's Birthday Parade.
VISITS AND ATTACHMENTS.
We had attached to us for periods of ten days two American officers, Lieut. Schlesner and Lieut. Crown, who were shown how the Argylls live and work. As a result of their visit a successful demonstration was arranged by Lieut. MacMillan, comparing U.S. Army weapons and organisation. This was much enjoyed by all. We have also had Lieut. Chantepille and Adjutant Chief Bernard attached from the French Forces, but the language problem presented many difficulties. The Sergeants' Mess were searching everywhere for French speakers eventually a medium of broken German provided the best results. 2nd Lieut. McLean spent ten days at the Caserne Napoleon, attached to the French Forces.
The Battalion has competed in all the sporting events with varying success. Football, the battalion won both Leagues. The highlight of the season was when the battalion played a friendly match with a visiting representative B.A.O.R. team and in a first-class game beat them 4-3, but the gilt was taken off the gingerbread when the team were told that this B.A.O.R. team were acting under instructions and only playing at half speed!
The Rifle Companies had their first taste of field firing at the All-Arms Training Centre—Sennelager. This is an exceedingly well arranged training area that caters for all, from individual to Brigade Training. Companies enjoyed getting away from Berlin for a little. They marched the 50 miles from Sennelager to Hamelin (of "Pied Piper" fame) before entraining for their return to Berlin. D Coy. and the Signal Platoon went up to Putlos for ten days. This is a training area on the Baltic where useful firing and swimming can be had. The M.M.G. Platoon under Captain MacKellar were also training there, and came second to the Manchesters in the Brigade Shoot. There was an allied shooting event held in the American Sector where each Ally competed against the other, using their own weapons. Major Stonor did well to get second place in the revolver shooting. Lieut. Howman fired the Bren gun also with success.
Lieut. Hayes of the Berlin Independent Tank Squadron came with his Troop to the Grunewald so that the battalion could get to know each other before going to Sennelager in October. Two Battalion exercises were held, each of three days. During the first the battalion crossed the Havel by night in assault boats. The second exercise had an international flavour as the Battalion was deployed in the French Sector, its middle with "A" Echelon was nearly in the British Sector, whilst Tom Jagger and the tail were in the American Sector.
The Battalion carried out 14 days training at Sennelager and lived in Polish Barracks and carried out an energetic programme of training by day and night, including Company exercises supported by tanks, M.M.G.s and Mortars, all firing live ammunition. There was one 36-hour Battalion exercise which will chiefly be remembered as being very wet and intensely cold. Major lan Scheurmier, died as the result of an accident at the Sennelager Ranges on 25th October, 1955.
Balaclava Day celebrations began with a Drumhead Service outside the Battalion H.Q. Block. A special lunch was served in the Dining Hall for all ranks. In the Officers Mess there was a buffet lunch. In the afternoon there was a Battalion football match v. The Cheshires .in the Berlin League which we won 3-1. In the evening there was a free cinema show. The Sergeants' Mess Ball was postponed.
The Battalion was back in Berlin and immediately took part in a three-day Brigade exercise. This was the climax of the collective training. The battalion now plunged quickly into an extensive individual training programme.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES.
The first was on 28th August with 2nd Lt. R. M. Sherriff, Cpls Martin, Sands and Boylan, 57 men and Boys Davis and Flannery. The second on 15th September when five men arrived (a draft of musicians, including the Bourne twins, and a clerk for the B.O.R., Pte. Duffin). On 7th October, Cpl. Campbell and 52 men arrived, and on 23rd November, 2nd Lt. D. P. B. Sillar, 40 men and Boy Pilcher arrived. C.Q.M.S. Gunn is also welcomed back after serving with The Black Watch in Korea and EastAfrica. 2nd Lts. T. D. Malcolm, S. J. Noble and D. B. Hall have joined the battalion to replace 2nd Lts. Singer, Davidson and Prosser, who have finished their National Service. Captain A. N. Paul has gone to The Jamaica Regiment, Captain G. A. J. Hadow has joined the Depot, and Captain Scott-Hyde has gone to Cyprus.
SOCCER.—The team under the keen eye of Major Slessor is doing well. In the first round of the Army Cup the battalion defeated the Cheshires 5-0, and in the second round, played at Minden, beat the Royal Sussex 3-2. It was encouraging to see Major Smith and a party from Field Records to cheer the battalion on. In the third round, played at home, the battalion played the Sherwood Forresters on a very wet and windy day and had a convincing win by 6-0. The whole team played excellent football.
Now that the Miniature Range is heated and the team have Parker Hale sights, more enthusiasm is shown and the battalion should have a good team. In the first match against the British Military Government it won by 1154 points against 1134, and in the second beat the R.A.S.C. convincingly by 99 points. The team was chosen from Major Stonor, Lieuts. Howman, MacMillan, Castle and Noble, C.S.M. Mullen and Tullet, C.Q.M.S. Gunn and Pte. Thomson.
New Year's Day football match provided a win for the Sergeants but a moral victory for the Officers. The remainder of the celebrations went according to tradition with a swing. January found the battalion guarding the five war criminals in Spandau for the last time. Each Company and Support Company carried out the duty for 24 hours, and we were very glad to hand the Guard over to the French in February, as it was becoming too cold for comfort. The small bore shooting team won the Berlin Cup against very keen competition and are to be congratulated on their very high average of 97.5 per cent. A dance was given for the German civilian staff who work in various capacities for the Battalion. This was very popular. We shall certainly miss them all when we go home. January slipped by very quickly. The Colonel went to St. Moritz for some well-earned leave and had the misfortune to break a bone in his ankle on his second day skiing. This mishap prevented him on his return from taking part in many of the main events. The battalion received a draft on 11th January of 53 and on 7th February of 24. The numbers are decreasing, as all National Service men are going out to the H.L.I, and the Gordons in Cyprus. January saw the arrival of Lt.-Colonel Baker-Baker and the 1st Battalion The Black Watch, who replace 1st Bn. The Manchesters to Berlin.
On Thursday, 2nd February, General Sir Richard Gale, G.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., A.D.C., C.-in-C. Northern Army Group, visited the Battalion the General showed keen interest in the training being carried out by Companies. After being entertained in the Sergeants' Mess the C.-in C. took lunch with the Officers. The Sergeants held a ball on Friday, 10th February, to mark the anniversary of the Raising of the Regiment. Held in the Gymnasium, it was attended by Lt.-Colonel Baker-Baker of The Black Watch and many Warrant Officers and Sergeants from all the major and minor units in Berlin. It should be mentioned that during late January and until mid February Berlin had one of the coldest spells in memory. There were on several occasions 46 degrees of frost. Orders were issued on how to avoid frost bite, and an effort to ban the kilt by the Medical Authorities was quickly resisted.
It was under these conditions, very similar to Elgin last year that the battalion held a Parade Service on Sunday, 12th February, in commemoration of the Raising of the Regiment, in the Gymnasium. Lt. S, G. Lorimer, 2nd Lt. C. P. McLean, C.S.M. Masterton, Sgt. Saunders and Sgt. Street formed the Colour Party. On the 20th February the New Army Pay Code was announced. It has been welcomed by the Senior ranks, but at present has offered little inducement for the National Service man or the three-year Regular to change his way of life. It caused a minor drama with C.Q.M.S. Edmondson, who had just decided to sign on to complete 22 years. By so doing he lost £100. Urgent telegrams were dispatched cancelling his request. Now C.Q.M.S. Edmondson is richer by £100.
All this time the battalion had been working hard in preparation for the Administrative Inspection on 8th March. Brigadier Roberts and the Brigade Staff carried out annual administrative inspection, the parade and inspection went off without incident, and the general results were satisfactory and received a very encouraging report.
QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY PARADE 1956
This year the Colour of the 1st Bn. The Cheshire Regiment was trooped. It was a great pleasure to have The Black Watch on parade, and the combined Pipes and Drums were excellent. Each Company provided men for the two Guards. The composition of the Guards and Colour Parties were:—
(a) Guard No. 5—Major H. H. M. Marston, M.C., Lieut. S. G. Lorimer, 2nd Lt. C. P. McLean, C.S.M. Cowan, C.Q.M.S. Cooper, Sgt. Saunders, Sgt.Chapman and 72 Rank and File (including Cpls. and L./Cpls.).
(b) Guard No. 6 — Captain J. R. R. Edington, Lieut B. A. E. Malcolm, 2nd Lt. I. MacKay, C.S.M. Robertson, Sgt. Harrison, Sgt. Hamilton, Sgt. S.Kennedy and 72 Rank and File (including Cpls. and L./Cpls.).
(c) Colour Party—Lieut. A. C. R. Howman, 2nd Lt. A. W. Scott-Elliot, C.S.M. G. Coleman, Sgt. H. Young and Sgt. Street.
BRIGADE RIFLE MEETING.
The Brigade Rifle Meeting kept everybody busy trying to sharpen up their shooting. The Black Watch won the Inter-Unit Championships and we were second. Our team then continued training and went down to the B.A.O.R. Shoot at Sennelager where we came 16th out of 33 units competing. This was considered a good first effort. Lieuts. Howman and Castle, C.Q.M.S. Gunn, Cpl. Mcllroy and Pte. Anderson all reached the B.A.O.R. 100.
The teams were:— Officers — Captain Edington, Lieut. Howman, 2nd Lts. Castle and Noble. W.O.s and Sergeants—C.S.M. Mullen, C.Q.M.S. Gunn, C.S.M. Tullett, Sgts. Morris, Elliot and Chapman. Soldiers — Cpls. Mcllroy and Wood, L./Cpl. Gillespie, Ptes. Alexander, Thomson and McGarry. Young Soldiers—2nd Lt. Sillar, L./Cpl-McAulay, Ptes. Freeman, Murray, Anton and Anderson. Sten Gun—Captain Jagger, C.S.M. Mullen, Sgt. Street and Cpl. Wood.
The Highland Games were again a great success, even more so than last year for this time the weather was gloriously hot and sunny. The Black Watch came both as spectators and competitors, and their Pipes and Drums joined with the battalion’s to play a most impressive combined Retreat. Mrs. Rome, the wife'of the G.O.C., Berlin, very kindly presented the prizes. After the Games the Officers held a very successful dance, which was attended by 150 people and went on into the early morning.
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All the Rifle Companies spent a week down at Sennelager for field training and marched back as far as Hamlin, some 50 miles. Support Coy. went up to Putlos on the Baltic, where they completed their classification and fired M.M.G.s, Mortars and Anti-Tank guns. The weather during all this period was most unkind, being generally cold and wet.
SPORT AND PENTATHLON.
The Brigade Sports Meeting was held on 27th June. The Cheshires beat The Black Watch by 20 points, and we were a further 20 points behind. We sorely missed Sgt. Douglas in the heavy events. L./Cpl. Attwood is to be congratulated on winning the B.A.O.R. 400 metres hurdles. He went home to Aldershot to compete in the Army Championships where he came third in the final— a very good performance. Major Willoughby has been training Captain MacMillan, Lieut's. Lorimer, McLean, Hall and Malcolm to compete in the Army Pentathlon at Aldershot. The team came 12 out of 17. It was the only Infantry Battalion team competing. Captain McMillan won the cross-country running event and 2nd Lt. Hall came third — a most commendable effort. Now that we have made an encouraging start in this ambitious athletic contest, it is to be hoped that we will be able to train a team for the same event next year: the great difficulty nowadays is to find members of the Battalion with sufficient riding experience.
On 17th July the familiar White Hackle (to those who went to British Guiana) of The Royal Welch Fusiliers appeared in barracks, and soon the also familiar packing cases started piling up outside Company stores. The battalion Advance Party left on 20th July to face the rigours of Home Service.
Berlin 1955 - 1956 Photographs
Berlin 1955 - 1956 Parades & Inspections
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Updated: 26 March 2015