The Cold War – 1947 – 1991

Between 1947 and 1991 The Cold War was a sustained state of political and military tension between powers in the Western Bloc, dominated by the USA with NATO among its allies, and the Eastern Bloc, dominated by the Soviet Union along with the Warsaw Pact. Each bloc possessed nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons thus threatening the world with mutually assured destruction (MAD). British Army units stationed in Germany were collectively known as the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).

In December 1956 the Battalion moved to Oxford Barracks in Műnster as the mechanised infantry battalion of 20th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division. This role involved the use of M3 half-tracks, and each of the rifle companies was affiliated to one of the Brigade’s armoured regiments which were equipped with Centurion tanks.

In August 1957 the Battalion moved to Lemgo where, despite remaining in 20th Armoured Brigade, it was the only unit present. Much time was spent on the annual cycle of training with defence against NBC warfare being the major theme. In November 1959 the Battalion left Lemgo for the West Indies.

The Battalion returned to Germany in November 1962 where, from Waterloo Barracks in Műnster, it joined 2nd Division’s 6th Infantry Brigade Group, again as mechanised infantry but with the FV1611 Truck 1-ton Armoured 4×4 Humber (otherwise known as The Pig) as the APC. The cycle of exercises, range work and ceremonial occasions followed its now routine pattern. 1965 was to be the Battalion’s busiest year of its tour in BAOR with further exercises on the North German Plain, ceremonial duties and much sport and adventure training – this all showed how service in BAOR could be stimulating, challenging and rewarding. The Battalion left Germany in December 1965 en route to the Far East.

The Battalion again returned to Germany in November 1977 – this time to Buller Barracks in Műnster in the role of a non-mechanised infantry battalion within 5 Field Force, 2nd Armoured Division. The emphasis was now to concentrate on being professional infantrymen, and many exercises, both large and small, were held and the support platoons honed their skills. The 3½ years in Műnster was punctuated by one emergency tour of duty in Northern Ireland.

The Battalion’s final direct involvement with the Cold War was a tour in Berlin from November 1983 to January 1986. From Wavell Barracks in Spandau, training involved both urban and rural skills, practice call-outs were frequent occurrences and the annual round of ceremonial duties kept everyone busy. The conclusion of this tour ended the Battalion’s direct involvement in the Cold War, which itself came to an end in 1991.