DotR on YouTube – Aim to Kill-Warsaw Pact Equipment Recognition Booklet

A brief video looking over this recognition booklet produced for American, British and Canadian forces based in West Germany in 1986 during the height of the Cold War. I found this at a charity shop for 50p but when I got home I discovered these go for around £25 on Ebay as they are becoming something of a collector’s item for those interested in the Cold War.

I will be uploading stills in the future should anyone want to look at it in more depth.

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NEWS: Royal Navy to investigate claims that German Navy snagged crab pots in English Channel

River-class 2

Royal Navy River-class patrol boats

The English Channel is no stranger to the Royal Navy and the German Navy facing off against one another and the two services could be locking horns again, minus the firing of weapons, over claims that two German Navy supply ships have disrupted Devonshire-based crab fisherman. The fishermen claim that the two ships have cost them thousands of pounds in lost stock from the vessels snagging their lines preventing them from hauling in their crab pots.

The Royal Navy confirmed that the two ships were operating as part of an international exercise based at Plymouth although the service has stated that at the moment it had “no evidence” that the German ships had entered the area where the fishermen are claiming their lines were cut.

The fishermen are demanding up to £8,000 in compensation if it is found that the ships did indeed result in the loss of their catch. The Royal Navy has stated that it is investigating the claim and as the host to the Germans will compensate the fishermen if it is proven the German ships did damage the crab lines.

The Jaguar that got “foxed” by a Phantom

RAF Phantom FGR.2 (projectoceanvision.com)

RAF Phantom FGR.2 (projectoceanvision.com)

It’s hard to imagine now but in the 1980s the airspace over West Germany was alive with British warplanes. The Cold War was entering its final and perhaps most tense phase with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 putting the West on the defensive. Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG) was on the frontline of the Cold War in Europe maintaining constant readiness for a Soviet thrust across the Rhine and that meant constant training.

Sadly, the very nature of the military means that often this training puts service personnel at almost as much risk as if they were in a war. This was dramatically highlighted in an incident that occurred on May 25th 1982. At that time much of the British public’s focus had shifted from the nuclear armed showdown with Moscow to the unfolding situation in the South Atlantic as British forces fought the wholly unexpected Falklands War. On that same day the Royal Navy lost HMS Coventry in an Argentinian air strike.

SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1 XX963

SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1 XX963 (geas-web.nl)

For the RAF forces in Germany it was business as usual however and May 25th was just another day of intense training to hone skills in preparation for World War III. During the course of the day two SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1s belonging to No.14 Squadron based at RAF Bruggen were returning to their base after another training flight over the German countryside. The number two aircraft was Jaguar GR.1 XX963 flown by Steve Griggs who spotted a dot on the horizon ahead of them that he quickly identified as belonging to an RAF Phantom; it was not unusual to spot other RAF aircraft in the dense airspace of Cold War Germany.

Griggs reported his sighting to the lead Jaguar as the Phantom appeared to be coming head-on. The Phantom broke away and passed by them without incident. The two Jaguar pilots then spotted the aircraft in their rear hemisphere as the Phantom pilot turned back on to the same course as them. Again this was nothing unusual as Phantom crews often practiced interception on their colleagues flying Buccaneers and Jaguars.

Suddenly, there was an immense explosion behind Griggs sat up in the Jaguar’s cockpit and he found that the aircraft was no longer responding to his control inputs as it began to buck and twist. His radio crackled to life in his helmet with his flight leader’s voice instructing him to abandon the Jaguar which was flaming from the rear fuselage and very obviously no longer able to fly. Griggs ejected from the aircraft which went tumbling down on to farmland approximately 35 miles North-East of RAF Bruggen. He landed nearby suffering the usual minor injuries from an ejection and was later picked up by an RAF helicopter; shaken but very much alive.

A short while later a horrified Phantom crew landed at RAF Wildenrath to face the consequences of having shot down the Jaguar with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. An investigation was immediately launched and the Phantom crew would eventually stand before a court martial.

So how did the Phantom crew inadvertently shoot down Griggs’ Jaguar?

RAF Phantom armed with AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles (massoss.com)

RAF Phantom armed with AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles (massoss.com)

The Phantom was engaged in training that called for the aircraft at RAF Wildenrath to be operated under simulated war time conditions. This required the aircraft to be armed with live weapons to both familiarise ground crews with handling such weapons and to allow the aircraft to carry out a real interception should the Soviet or East German air forces stray across the border during the exercise. A number of safety procedures were in place to prevent a live firing of a missile during the exercise and the investigation looked in to why this was not enough to prevent loss of Jaguar XX963.

The investigation found that shortly after the Phantom crew took off from Wildenrath they went through their pre-attack checks that would effectively ready the aircraft for combat including arming the weapons. Normally, both Phantom crew would be aware of the fact that weapons had become live but in this instance the navigator in the rear seat had become preoccupied in his own duties to realise that the pilot had armed the weapons. Had the navigator been aware of the situation then later safety precautions that failed may have saved the Jaguar.

Later in the flight the Phantom spotted the Jaguars and under the operating principles of the exercise which dictated that other RAF aircraft in the region could be considered “hostile” the Phantom crew began an attack unaware that their weapons were armed. The Phantom crew declared their intention to attack the Jaguars to the Sector Operations Centre (SOC) at Wildenrath. At that time, as part of the exercise, Wildenrath was seemingly in chaos as a simulated emergency was being carried out. As a result of this the operator communicating with the Phantom was either not told that the Phantom was armed or had forgotten in the confusion of the exercise. Had the operator been aware of the real situation that was unfolding in the sky then the operator would have given the order “check switches safe” to the Phantom. This would have made the crew realise their weapons were live but this did not happen. The result was the shooting down of Griggs’ Jaguar.

The investigation did not lay the blame entirely at the feet of the crew (and to a lesser extent the operator at SOC) although the investigators couldn’t fathom how an experienced Phantom crew could have failed to identify the real situation they were in. Further investigation revealed that ground crews did not put a safety tape across the master arm switch before the flight which would have prevented the live arming of the weapons during the exercise (the tape could be removed if the aircraft was called in to a real situation with a hostile aircraft). Perhaps even more worryingly was the discovery that a circuit breaker in the rear of the aircraft that was intended to render the arming system inert was defective and could make the weapons live even if the switch was in the off position.

The incident highlighted how a number of factors had a part to play in the shootdown and it is extremely fortunate that Griggs was not killed. Safety procedures governing armed aircraft during training exercises were reviewed and rewritten after the investigation was published in 1984 but it was clear that the crew not fully realising the condition of their weapons on their aircraft was ultimately to blame for the incident.

In the spirit of the RAF’s macabre sense of humour the Phantom involved, Phantom FGR.2 XV422, received nose art depicting a Jaguar GR.1 silhouette with the title “Jag Killer” underneath which the aircraft wore until it was scrapped in 1998.

Jag Killer (Todd Pormealeau via sepecat.info)

Jag Killer (Todd Pormealeau via sepecat.info)

The scale of the U-Boat threat on 18th October 1942

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This image was sourced from U-Boat.net and shows just how widespread the U-Boat threat was in the North Atlantic on just one day in 1942. It is easy to see how so many ships fell victim to this unseen threat but by this time in the war the wheels of fortune were turning against them as new technologies such as airborne radar meant that not even night provided cover for the U-Boat anymore. Nevertheless Allied losses continued right up to the end of the war and the lessons of the U-Boats were not lost on military planners in the Cold War.

NEWS: Man arrested over 1996 mortar attack on British Army barracks in Germany

46-year old James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry was arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, Ireland on Friday suspected of being involved in a Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks in Germany in 1996. His arrest served a European warrant issued by the German authorities for terrorst activities within Germany’s borders and he has now appeared before the Irish High Court.

Mr Corry is suspected of being a member of the Provisional IRA force that attacked the Osnabrück barracks in Germany on June 28th 1996. The Provisional IRA attack saw three mortar shells fired in to the British army barracks. Two of the mortar rounds fell short of the perimeter fence and failed to explode but the third detonated more than 20 yards inside the base leaving a crater near a petrol pump but fortunately no British service personnel were killed in the attack. A vehicle used by the Provisional IRA in the attack was also destroyed in an attempt to conceal forensic evidence. The Provisional IRA later said that the main goal of the attack was to confirm their presence on mainland Europe rather than cause any specific damage to the British Army.

Corry has been remanded in custody of the Irish Garda until Tuesday by which time a decision on bail will be made. The German arrest warrant highlights the German government’s desire to have Mr Corry extradited in order for him to stand trial in the country where he is accused of carrying out the attack.

(GALLERY) Bergen-Hohne Roundhouse

Located in Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony this impressive structure was built in 1935 for use as an officer’s mess for Wehrmacht units training in the area. The site was chosen due to the sparse population and varied landscape which offered opportunities for a wide array of training activities. The building displays the more glorious times for the German Wehrmacht when the country was casting off the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles which forbade them from establishing an army of any real strength. As such the building was lavishly designed and decorated with sculptures symbolising German history and of course the belief in German superiority.

At the end of the Second World War it was taken over by British occupying forces and some of its facilities were used as a liberation camp for survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The grand hall in the roundhouse became an overcrowded makeshift hospital where there were so many patients that they were literally squeezed in to any available space that could be found. In mid to late 1945 medical efforts began to wind down as the patients were transferred to Glyn Hughes Hospital after which it was briefly used as an accommodation block for British Army occupation forces before being handed over to the Jewish Central Committee of the British Zone for use as their Headquarters.

The Roundhouse continued to be used by the Jewish Central Committee until the camp was handed over to the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) in 1950. Under British Army administration the site expanded rapidly as it became an integral part of NATO’s training program and at one time as many as 50,000 British, German and U.S. soldiers were based in and around the region making it the largest training site in Western Europe.

On April 1st 1958 the British Army relinquished administration of the site to the West German Bundeswehr.

All photos were kindly contributed to Defence of the Realm by Ali May Watts-Meredith


If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website.

NEWS: MBT RTC

Challenger tank crush carAn 18-year old German driver had a narrow escape when her Toyota Corolla turned in towards a column of British Army Challenger II tanks that were trundling through the town of Augustdorf. The driver, who was still a learner under German law, pulled out of a junction when she found herself confronted by the main battle tanks (MBTs). Fortunately the driver of the Challenger was able to steer away from the car enough so that only the front of the car was crushed while the passenger compartment remained in tact.

German police investigating the incident stated that the driver of the British tank had no opportunity to stop in time or avert the accident and cleared him of any wrongdoing in the incident. The Toyota was crushed almost entirely ahead of the steering wheel causing an estimated £8,000 of damage. The Challenger did not sustain any damage in the incident.

Challenger tank crush car 2

(Photos: BBC)