154 DCRE

 from the History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Volume X 1948-1960


"The static command structure of BAOR suffered a number of changes in the immediate post-war years. In 1946 the logistic support was administered by three corps HQs who also had responsibilities within their territorial boundaries. 

On disbandment of the one remaining Corps HQ in January 1948 (incorrect 1st Corps District disbanded Jun 47), divisional district HQs were established causing a temporary controversy between the responsibilities of the district CE and the divisional CRE. By 1949 administrative district HQs each with a CE responsible for works services had been established on a geographical basis; however, 2nd Division District retained its function until 1950.

At this stage the works organisation was headed by Brigadier DCT Swan as CE BAOR assisted by Brigadier PF Foley as DDW. There were three district HQs, Hamburg (which had absorbed Schleswig early in 1949) CE-Colonel EHT Gayer, Hannover (renamed from Niedersachsen) CE-Colonel A MacG Stewart, and 2 Division District

CE-Colonel C D Reed.

There were CRE works in Berlin, Schleswig, Minden, Dusseldorf, Hannover, Dortmund and Hamburg, with seventeen subordinate DCRE and one independent garrison engineer for the Hook of Holland. They controlled fourteen German artizan groups and three plant groups. These groups were organized on military lines and consisted mostly of ex-servicemen who were dressed in green battledress.

The initial works task centred on the redeployment of the British forces, and the majority of the commitment was met by the rehabilitation of German barracks, but the responsibility extended to the areas occupied by Belgian, Danish and Norwegian occupation forces as well as to services required by the Control Commission. Many diverse enterprises were undertaken, a typical example being the provision in Hamburg of office and storage accommodation for twenty consulates and fifty sponsored industrial firms.

The Berlin Airlift brought additional tasks including work on airfields in the British Zone and arrangements to fly in coal. Other work carried out included building roads, temporary camps and store sheds, laying railway track, providing light for shift working and a variety of ancillary tasks which were mostly undertaken by employing directly enlisted labour at a cost of some 860,000 pounds, all projects in connection with the airlift had an operational priority which meant little time for detailed planning.

One of the largest items in the redeployment plan was the construction of the Hohne Barracks at Luneberg Heath, famous as the place where Field Marshal Montgomery accepted the German surrender, and a former German Army Training area. The village of Belsen, which gave its name to the Nazi Concentration Camp, is adjacent. The accommodation to be provided included four officers’ and sergeants’ messes, four other ranks’ cookhouses, fifteen office blocks and 200 married quarters, in addition there were to be four NAAFI canteens, workshops, garages, sports grounds, schools, cinemas and the necessary churches. Access to the field firing area had to be provided for tanks by construction of two miles of concrete road. A high pressure hot water system, of considerable technical interest, was installed which served an area 1.5 miles square from one central boiler house with distribution by a three-pipe system laid in concrete ducting. The system catered for two different temperatures, one for cooking and hot water supply; the other, at a lower temperature, for space heating. The size of the project may be judged from the final cost of nearly 2m pounds


Provision of married quarters was a continually increasing commitment. By the middle of 1950 same 1100 quarters had been provided by the German authorities under RE supervision and 250 quarters were actually under construction but many more were still required. At this time the Germans were persuaded to embark upon a new project known as Operation BUILD. This operation was to provide married quarters planned and built by the Germans themselves on the understanding that if and when they were not required for British families they would be de-requisitioned and handed over to the local German authorities; by the end of 1950 nearly 1200 married quarters had been provided by the German authorities under RE supervision. The formation of 11 Armoured Division and the build up of corps troops provided a fresh development for works in August 1950. The operation was given the code name HABITAT. The initial budget allocation was 2.5m pounds which was required for priority work to make existing German barracks habitable at austerity standards. At the same time a new works service unit was formed under Colonel RH Havers, known as DCE Niedersachsen, which combined the duties of the CE Hannover and Hamburg Districts. Soon after these arrangements had been made for 11 Armoured Division, warning was given that 6 Armoured Divison would be sent to Germany in late 1951. New buildings would have to be provided as few existing German barracks were available. Planning and control for this project was assumed by the CE BAOR with the German authorities being given responsibility. New barracks for twelve major and eight minor units were the first to be built in Germany at post-war scales for accommodation; they consisted of centrally heated hutted camps of standard layout and design. Sketch designs were prepared by the CE’s branch and issued to the German authorities who supervised detailed design and all contract procedure…"

By 1958 - GE Comd (Maj Gen),  Deputy Director of Works (Brig)

DCRE Berlin – GE Berlin (East) – GE Berlin (West)

CE (Works) Rhine District East

CRE Hannover – 150 DCRE Osnabrück – Independent GE Verden – 400 DCRE Hildesheim

CRE Fallingbostel – 384 DCRE Celle – 410 DCRE Lüneburg

CE (Works) Rhine District West

CRE West Rhine – 154 DCRE Rheindahlen – DCRE Krefeld

CRE East Rhine – 205 DCRE Düsseldorf – 210 DCRE Iserlohn – 40 DCRE Munster

CRE Paderborn – 219 DCRE Minden – 268 DCRE Sennelager – 151 DCRE Herford

CRE Low Countries


Engineer Branch HQ NORTHAG

The Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) was a NATOmilitary formation comprising four Western European Army Corps, during the Cold War as part of NATO's forward defence in the Federal Republic of Germany.



NORTHAG's headquarters was established on 1 November 1952 in Bad Oeynhausen, but was relocated in 1954 to Rheindahlen. At the location Munchengladbach was NORTHAG HQ with three other command posts, the headquarters of the 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force (2 ATAF), the headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and the headquarters of RAF Germany (RAFG).


During the construction of the main building of the joint HQ, the JHQ (Joint Headquarters), a Frankish battle ax (Franziska) was found. It was the badge NORTHAG chose because the Franks were a West-European tribe fighting against attackers from the East. The Franks defeated in the year 451 AD, an army under the leadership of Attila in Châlons-sur-Marne and ended thus a conquest of Western Europe by the Huns.




In the NATO command structure NORTHAG belonged to Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), which in turn reported to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).

Commander in Chief of the HQ NORTHAG was basically a British General and Chief of the British Rhine Army (BAOR). Chief of Staff was a German Major General, with the Belgian and Dutch Major-General as alternates.

The HQ NORTHAG were assigned the following national formations:

·         The I Belgian Corps,

·         The I British Corps

·         The I Dutch Corps (included First Division 7 December, 4th, and 5th Divisions in 1985)[1]

·         The I German Corps (from 1957).

These organizations fell in peacetime under their respective national command authorities. Only in the case of attack did overall management authority over the Corps transfer to the NORTHAG HQ. Air support was channeled through 2 ATAF.

HQ NORTHAG had under its authority multi-national staff personnel, even in peacetime, and the following national units under control:

·         The 13th Belgian Telecommunications Company (13 Cie T Tr)

·         The 28th Signal Regiment, Royal Signals (NORTHAG)

·         The German Telecommunications Battalion 840 (NORTHAG)

·         A Dutch telecommunications company and the

·         NORTHAG telecommunications company (radio NORTHAG Air Support Squadron), which consisted of soldiers from all four nations.

Intern was responsible for the communication between the headquarters and the associations, the responsible NORTHAG signal group. This was a multinational grouping, which the subordinate telecommunication organizations served, each a different type of connection required (relay, cable, etc.).

In the case of war the headquarters of the 2nd ATAF and NORTHAG would be relocated to the JOC (Joint Operations Center), a bunker complex in the St. Pietersberg in Maastricht area.


Field Operations

In the NATO defense plan, NORTHAG was assigned the area between Hamburg and Kassel (North-South) and the German-Dutch, Belgian to the (then) inner-German border to defend against a potential threat from the Warsaw Pact. The locations of NORTHAG forces were accordingly, mostly in this area. In the north the command bordered Allied Forces Northern Europe (AFNORTH) and in the south the Central Army Group (CENTAG).

Under General Sir Nigel Bagnall, NORTHAG tried to reorientate its defensive plans from a static defence to a more mobile approach.

Ground operations relating to the crisis in former Yugoslavia began in late 1992. In November 1992, the UN Protection Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina was provided with an operational headquarters drawn from HQ NORTHAG, including a staff of some 100 personnel, equipment, supplies and initial financial support.


On 24 June 1993, the headquarters of NORTHAG and 2 ATAF officially disbanded during a military ceremony. The last commander of NORTHAG was General Sir Charles Guthrie, KCB LVO OBE.[2] The last Chief of Staff was Major General Helmut Willmann, later commander of the Eurocorps.


MES Wks Germany

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