Canadian Army Barracks in Germany 1945-46February 16 2014 at 10:43 AM
|Dan Martel |
Myself and a couple of others have been working on identifying all of the Canadian Army Barracks located in Germany after VE-Day. (All of our work can be found on the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) Forum.) Needless to say it's a very slow and arduous process, mostly using wartime diaries and unit histories that were privately published. In spite of this, good progress has been made.
As a background, let me provide the following. There was a significant Canadian presence in the area of north west Germany along the Friesland coast between the ports of Emden and Wilhelmshaven from 1945 to 1946. We have a fair amount of information found from official British and Canadian sources as well as fellow British, Canadian and German enthusiasts, including the officially authorised barrack names (with a Canadian theme) of sixteen former Wehrmacht, Kriegsmarine or Luftwaffe Kaserne. Some of these were to remain in use by the British Army untill it finally left the area in the late 1950s.
But we are having some problems identifying a few barrack names for which I thought the solution could be found here.
First, we know the airfield complex at Rostrup was officially renamed Queenston Barracks and provided living accommodation for those working in the main Headquarters in the Spa complex in nearby Bad Zwischenahn (initially HQ 2nd Canadian Corps, then HQ 2 Infantry Division and finally HQ 3rd Infantry Division (CAOF)). What was the name of the barracks housing the main Headquarters?
Similarly we know that the major Kriegsmarine Headquarters in Sengwarden on the outskirts of Wilhelmshaven was used as the Headquarters for the 2/8 Infantry Brigade (CAOF) from September 1945 till March 1946. (A Kriegsmarine Barracks in nearby Breddewarden was renamed Montreal Barracks and may have been used as living accommodation.) What was the name of the barracks housing the brigade headquarters in Sengwarden?
Finally, we cannot determine a name for the barracks that quartered the Régiment de la Chaudière or the North Shore Regiment, which were both contributors to the CAOF. We are supposing, in keeping with use of Canadian city names for the other barracks, that a city from Quebec and New Brunswick may have been selected. Can anyone confirm a name for the barracks housing these two battalions?
Any help would be appreciated. And for the record, we have researched through CMHQ Report #174.
Barrack Names Identified
|February 16 2014, 1:17 PM |
Below is a list of the Canadian Army barrack names that have been identified so far. The list has been compiled by my good friend Peter Watson, who has graciously allowed me to post it here. He can be contacted on the BAOR Forum under the username JPW.
1) First is the official order from HQ BAOR detailing the official names that were to be used.
Reference: HQ BAOR letter 530/60/Q2 dated 16 February 1946
PROPOSED BAOR BARRACK NAMES SPRING 1946
3 Canadian Infantry Division (CAOF)
Location German Kaserne Name Barrack Name
Aurich Marine Kaserne Maple Leaf
Delmenhorst Flak Kaserne Winnipeg
Emden Marine Kaserne Ottawa
Oldenburg Adelheide Calgary
Oldenburg Alexanderfeldt Winnipeg
Oldenburg Donnerschausee Flak Regina
Oldenburg Hindenburg Saskatoon
Osnabruck Winkelshausen Edmonton
Rostrop Airfield Queenston
Wilhelmshaven Admiral Schroder Kingston
Wilhelmshaven Fedderwarden Toronto
2) Research has determined that other names were used by the Canadian Army.
Caledonia Barracks in Varel
Local approval was given to the name change when the North Nova Scotia Highlanders first occupied the former Marine Kaserne Varel in October 1945.
Camp Canada in Wilhelmshaven
First named by 3rd Bn, The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (CAOF), on arrival in July 1945. The Battalion Headquarters of The North Shore Regiment and the Regiment de la Chaudière subsequently rotated through this small wooden hutted camp situated in the northern suburbs of the stadt.
Crerar Barracks in Oldenburg
Used throughout the CAOF era and remained until the final departure of the British artillery regiments in 1958.
MacNaughton Barracks in Jever
Headquarters Artillery CAOF and two Canadian artillery regiments were based in this former Luftwaffe airfield through 1945-46.
Was the proposed name for the Breddewarden complex but may not have been used.
Was a last minute substitution in Delmenhorst and remained in use till the departure of the British Gunners in 1958.
a. The 2nd / 7th Reconnaissance Regiment (17th DYRCH) was based in the small town of Leer throughout the CAOF era but there is no evidence of any Canadian themed name for their barracks.
b. Osnabruck was well outside the main CAOF area though there were Canadian Sappers based in the stadt to provide military Works Teams.
c. Kingston and Toronto Barracks in Wihelmshaven were permanently occupied by British Gunner Regiments (under CAOF command) and renamed accordingly.
d. The British 31st Anti-Aircraft Brigade were also based in the Wilhelmshaven Military Enclave, under CAOF command. They named at least three Barracks (former Kriegmarine Shore Bases) as Cotswold, Lincoln and Northumbrian after Regimental recruiting areas.
e. The name 'Quebec Barracks' in Osnabruck was a subsequent British Army addition. It was nominated by a regiment who possessed 'Quebec, 1759' as a Battle Honour.
re: item 3a
|February 17 2014, 8:04 AM |
I was in Leer this summer and on the east part of town there is a small military complex that has been there since before WWII. It is still being used. Now, I know that a number of these buildings had been bombed, but a few of the barracks were still standing in 1946. The 17th was most likely stationed in them.
I will see if I can find out more.
Maple Leaf Barracks in Aurich
|February 17 2014, 12:33 PM |
Thanks John. If that's true, then I think you're on the right track. Conquering armies tend to use the camps of the ones who were there before. Just ask the Romans.
The only Canadian barracks that I was aware of before I started this project was Maple Leaf in Aurich. I learned about it from reading "A Meeting of Generals" by Tony Foster. Maple Leaf Barracks was the site of Kurt Meyer's trial for war crimes. The trial was presided over by Major General Harry Foster, who as a Brigadier directly fought against Meyer in Normandy. In fact, some of the troops that were the victims of Meyer's war crimes came from Foster's 7th Infantry Brigade.
I don't wish to hijack my own thread, but I was always heartened by the photographs of Meyer being escorted into the trial each day by an officer and two OR's of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. According to the book, the weapon carried by the officer was loaded and was to be used if Meyer had ever attempted anything resembling an escape. Which he never did.
Re: Maple Leaf Barracks in Aurich
|February 18 2014, 1:36 PM |
Dan, I got this today from the nice lady at the Leer Archives:
In the barracks on the Nesse there were no Canadian soldiers but civil refugees. As we know, all the Canadians lived in better houses as hotels etc. , for example in the Brunnenstraße Hotel Prinz von Oranien, Heisfelderstraße Walhalla or also in private houses.
Reply from Peter
|February 22 2014, 10:02 AM |
Peter Watson has seen your interesting comment. He believes the barracks you spotted was the former von Lettoe Vorbeck Kaserne (recently renamed). He has been in contact with the Montreal based Royal Canadian Hussars but unfortunately they have no relevant information in their Regimental archives (there is also nothing in the Regimental History "Bash On"). A possible explanation for this lack of information is that although the 2nd / 7th Reconnaissance Regiment retained the title 17th DYRCH throughout the CAOF era, the majority of the unit were probably volunteers or low-number soldiers from other Canadian Armoured Corps Regiments and not the wartime members of the DYRCH. He is pretty certain however that the 2nd / 7th Recce used the barracks you saw during their time in Leer.
Thanks for getting in touch with the Leer Archives. It was very gracious of you.
Peter and I continue to research this area and time of Canadian Army history. Anything that anyone can add is greatly appreciated.
|February 28 2014, 5:38 AM |
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.
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.
MORE TO FOLLOW
THE CAOF ERA
|March 5 2014, 10:34 AM |
By late Summer/early Fall 1945 the military responsibilities in the former 2nd Canadian Corps area had very significantly reduced
The majority of the former Wehrmacht POWs had been screened and permitted to go home to help start rebuilding their shattered homeland though there remained a prison containg former members of the Waffen SS in the Delmenhorst area which required a Rifle Company sized Guard Force. Similarly the Canadian Commitment for the provision and Organisation of Transit Camps, particularly south of Wilhelmshaven, where former Russian and Polish POWs, former Slave Labourers and members of the 1st Polish Armoured Division (the latter often very reluctantly) commenced the long journey by train to their homelands throughout Europe. The creation of a very basic form of local civilian administration including police also relieved the Canadian units of the more mundane manpower intensive tasks.
In addition to the above Canadian units were still involved in
a. The provision of Key Point Guards, particularly the security of the numerous ammunition depots and their contents
b. The security and fair distribution of essential food rations to the civilian populace without which many would have starved.
c. Canadian Sappers especially, the restoration of road routes including damaged bridges. The manpower was often increased by the use of former German soldiers but working under Canadian supervision.
In late July 1945 at the time of the handover between the outgoing 2 Canadian Infantry Division and incoming 3 Infantry Division (CAOF) the numbers involved had reduced to the equivalent of one Canadian Division plus British enhancements. Operating under command HQ 21 Army Group (future HQ BAOR) through HQ 30 Corps the Canadian plan was to divide their area of resonsibility into four Brigade Sectors. Headquarters 3 Infantry Division, as already stated, was in Bad Zwischenahn. To the west 2/7 Infantry Brigade were in Aurich, in the centre (Wilhemshaven) were 2/8 Infantry Brigade and in the east (Varel area) were 2/9 Highland Brigade with the British 4 AGRA (under Canadian Command) to the south in Oldenburg Delmenhorst. There was fifth smaller British Artillery Brigade, in what was known as the Wilhelmshaven Enclave, Headquarters Artillery with two RCA Regiments also moved from the moated manor house to the Luftwaffe Air Base at Jever which they promptly renamed MacNaughton Barracks.
With the onset of Winter there was an urgent need to provide secure, relatively warm, weatherproof working and living accommodation for the majority of units. On the evidence available to Dan and I this was the case, either the substantial brick built late 1930s era conventional, refurbished where neccesary,barracks or particularly in the heavily bombed and therefore destroyed Wilhelmshaven wooden build hutted camps but with shower blocks and eating/canteen facilities. There were exceptions, notably in the east where both HQ 2/9 Highland Brigade and the HLI of Canada remained in requistioned accommodation through their time with the CAOF (to the latter's evident disgust)
I have also recently seen extracts from the War Diaries for the North Shore Regiment for January-April 1946. Battalion Headquarters and the Headquarter Company were based in a small wooden hutted camp in Hooksiel on the northern outskirts of Wilhemshaven, the three Rifle Companies were on detached duties. Two, one on each, on the offshore islands of Spiekroog and Wangerooge, the third at a large former Kriegsmarine Ammunition Depot south of Wilhelmshaven. "Les Chauds" had carried out this task from October till December 1945. No mention of any official name for the Hooksiel Camp but I was amused to note that in mid March 1946, having been relieved of their Occupational duties and prior to their return home, the entire Battalion concentrated in and occupied the former British Cotswold Camp in Wilhelmshaven proper, which they promptly (and unofficially?)renamed Camp Muskox, a name which is shown every subsequent entry in the Unit Diary.
So far as Leer is concerned I need to return to the British National Archives in Kew (London) and reread the Regiment's War Diary for the CAOF era which I last saw four years ago. I know for certain the Sherbrooke Fusiliers, an Armoured Regiment under command 2 Canadian Independent Armoured Brigade were in the vicinity of the town on VE Day (8th May)but left the next day. I have yet to identify their replacement, probably a unit under command 2 Canadian Infantry Division. 17 DYRCH arrived in mid July and were to remain throughout the CAOF era. Whilst I accept many of the comments made by the Stadt Archivist I am certain the CO DYRCH would have demanded secure area(s) with hardstanding in which to park up his A vehicles, live ammunition and fuel. His Regiment would also have expected covered facilities in which to carry out the appropriate unit maintenance and repair tasks. Von Lettow Vorbeck Kaserne, in all or part, would be the obvious solution.
I believe the Regiment were not replaced when they left in March 1946, the now empty Barracks would undoubtedly been used (like many others throughout Germany) as emergency accommodation for the many ethnic German refugees displaced from their former homes in Eastern Europe.
SUMMARY TO FOLLOW
Re: THE CAOF ERA
|March 5 2014, 12:50 PM |
Actually the 17th had been in the area of Leer since late April 1945 and after the capture of the town by the 3rd CID, they operated to the north of Leer right up to the end of the war. I am pretty sure that they stayed in the area.
I read that the Sherbrookes turned in all of their tanks except for one, `Bomb', which they took back to Canada with them.
|March 6 2014, 3:24 AM |
Thank you for your latest posting
My main interest are the Events happening after VE Day (8th May)so I refreshed my memory by rereading the relevent extracts from the definitive official History of the Canadian Army in World War Two which is accessible on line (www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/CANADA/CA/Victory/Victory-22hml)
Chapter XXII of the Volume entitled The Victory Campaign from page 595 to 597 contains details of the Capture of Leer in late April 1945 by 9 Infantry Brigade of 3 Canadian Infantry Division. The entire Division then continued to push north in accordance with its strategic task of reaching the Friesian coastline between the important naval ports of Emden and Wilhelmshaven. At the time of the unconditional German Surrender 9 Brigade were in the outskirts of Emden, 7 and 8 Brigades in the Aurich area. As was to be expected there was a Sabre Squadron of the DYRCH with each of the Infantry Brigades with RHQ in the vicinity of the Divisional Headquarters, also in the Aurich area.
A major problem for military historians in the UK, both professional and amateur,is that whilst the unit/formation War Diaries are held in the National Archives in Kew, locations are often given as Grid References not in clear. The relevant maps have either been detached or lost rendering the information virtually useless. Fortunately Higher Formation did produce the occasional LOCSTAT which can be interpreted accordingly.
Returning to 3 Infantry Division and the DYRCH, they were one of the first Canadian Formations to leave Germany for Holland in mid May 1945. This was part of a complicated three way switch whereby British, Canadian and Americans exchanged wartime areas of responsibility for the future Occupation Zones. The Canadians move released two British Divisions, who moved to the industrial area of the Ruhr, an American Division moved north to the Bremen Enclave which included part of the area on the west bank of the River Weser captured by 2 Canadian Infantry Division.
Finally you are correct about the Sherbrooke Fusiliers handing in their tanks. The majority of the Armoured and Artillery, both British and Canadian, quickly reorganised and reequipted from War Esatablishment to Occupation Establihment scales which included handing in their now redundant tanks and heavy artillery (less a small training pool). Their new organisation and equipment would be familiar to those Canadian (and British) units subsequently committed to UN Peace Keeping/Humanitarian tasks.
|March 7 2014, 9:20 AM |
It sounds like it is going to be an interesting read. I look forward your finish product.
I actually have a grid of the entire area that the engineers made. It is very rough, but I was able to create maps from it. I have been able to place every unit in the 3rd C.I.D. from when they entered Germany to VE Day. This all will all be in my forthcoming book, `River Assault: Operation Duck The Attack on Leer 28th April 1945. Sorry for the shameless plug.
If you need to contact the archivist at Leer, let me know and I will make the introductions.
|December 28 2016, 12:54 PM |
There is a very useful tool online for decoding Second World War grid references. You just have to be aware of the general area to determine which map sheet prefix to use. There are maps on the site that show the map sheet references for the different grid systems ( choose the grid type from the dropdown and use the "(show the corresponding grid)" link).
Most of the locations in question would use the Nord de Guerre grid system.
CAOF HQ Building April 1946
|December 27 2016, 5:16 PM |
I have a keepsake book from the CAOF entitled 'Bad Zwischenahn', dated April 1946 written by editorial staff of 'The Beaver. There is a picture of the HQ building where it is written "The Kurhaus HQ Building'.
Re: CAOF HQ Building April 1946
|December 27 2016, 7:32 PM |
Sounds like you have an interesting document. Is there any way that you can scan some photos or transcribe some of the relevant details? The immediate post-war period is a hot topic of interest for some of us.
Anything you can do would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance.