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Thank you

February 28 2014 at 5:38 AM
Peter Watsun 


Response to Canadian Army Barracks in Germany 1945-46

Firstly may I thank Dan for alerting me to the existence of this magnificent website and for posting the initial message.

Secondly thank you John for your comments on the situation in Leer, very interesting

May I add to this basic information

1. There is no doubt that in Summer 1945 much of the 2nd Canadian Corps were accommodated in requisitioned civilian buildings not military barracks. The reasons for this are numerous.

a. The sheer size of the Canadian Corps, the three Canadian Divisions, the Polish Armoured Division and British Army enhancements/reinforcements equating to another Division.

b. The need to quickly establish a Canadian presence right across their area of responsibility, not just along the cease fire line or in former German Garrison towns.

c. The need to replace the former Nazi dominated civil administration with a fair and effective form of local government, initially provided by, subsequently supervised by Canadian units with the Commanding Officers of Battalion/Regiment sized units having significant local responsibility.

d. The need to quickly establish and maintain a system of law and order to replace the discredited Nazi Police Force There were three major problems
(1) The numerous freed former Russian POWs and other civilian Forced Labourers from all over Europe
who were seeking revenge on the locals for their mistreatment during the war years.
(2) The need to provide secure stockades (Army Barracks) for former members of SS units, members of the Gestapo and other War criminals captured or apprehended locally
(3) The need to create a holding area where former members of the Wehrmacht could be held for screening and eventual release back to their homes. At is maximum this contained some half million former soldiers and streched from Emden to Wilhelmshaven north of the Ems-Jade Canal to the coast.

e. Finally many of the Hitler era Barracks lacked the separate facilities where Officers and Warrant Officers/Sergeants could eat and relax when off duty. Requisition of a nearby hotel was the obvious solution. Similarly Commanding Officers, and more Senior Officers in their capacity as the Military Governor of the local community demanded the exclusive use of a prestige building where they could met and issue instructions to trusted members of the civilian population. This building often also became the Battalion/Regiment Headquarters.

Comment.
The standard of accommodation on offer in Summer 1945 clearly varied, one Armoured Regiment took one look and refused what was on offer, electing to continue to live under field conditions (this decision was probably made with the knowledge that within ten days they would be heading for the relative comforts of Holland. Conversely Headquarters Artillery 2 Division are on the record as saying that the moated country Manor House and surrounding estate was the best accommodation they ever had throughout their time in the UK or continental Europe

One amusing anecdote from a Unit War Diary of this era. One pleasant warm sunny Summer evening the sentries on an isolated Key Point Guard on the banks of the Ems Jade Canal were suprised to see two/thrre attractive young women emerge from the cornfields on the banks of the Canal. Clearly unaware of the soldiers presence some distance away, they striped naked, swam the canal and disappeared into the bushes on the far bank, clearly on their way to a rendezvous with their husbands/boy friends. History does not record whether they came back the same way.

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