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BERLIN AND DEMOBILISATION (January 1947)

My release number had now turned up and I knew for certain that I would be out at the end of January. There was plenty of snow up in the Sauerland and we had begun skiing again. On my first day out, I broke a brand new ski with steel edges on a half buried tree root and had to go back to my old army training skis, very worn at the edges. So over November and December I saw very little on the railway. I had unpleasant dental trouble over Christmas and on my final leave - a short 48 hour one - I found myself trying to eat cream cakes in an Army club in Berlin with a loose dental tampon in my mouth. 

BERLIN!  Most troops hoped for a chance to go there and four of us, all due for release, went by truck to Bielefeld on January 8th 1947. M16 left Bielefeld for Berlin at 21.45. Six coaches for officers and two for other ranks, with a sleeper added at Bielefeld formed the train. It was warm, very fuggy and when day broke , the windows were completely iced over inside. We reached Helmstedt at 03.20 and left after a short wait with all doors locked. A German inspector on the train told me that RBD Hannover had to provide power through to Berlin. All the country lines and most of the non-electric lines in Berlin were singled. All the electric lines in Saxony had been dismantled; all this from the inspector. We crossed the Elbe at Magdeburg by a very solidly built single line temporary bridge. We stopped at Genthin, Brandenburg at 07.05, Potsdam and reached Berlin Charlottenburg on the Stadtbahn at 09.15. The only locos I noted were 74.081 at Wildpark, 01.184 painted light blue and coupled to Russian coaches at Potsdam, 50.326 and 50.1595 at Bw Potsdam, and 52.1143 on a westbound freight on the long straight line at Wannsee. We lodged in great luxury at the Reichssportfeld (the pre-war Olympic stadium) in the west end of the city and travelled to and from it by U-Bahn. These trains were in good order with few windows blanked off but the S-Bahn stock of the DRG was in poor condition. The Stadtbahn and the famous Vollringbahn round the outskirts were in full use and of course there was no division of the city then. A map of the local services is the best way of describing the railway scene as this shows routes out of use.

Map of Berlin

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To see an enlarge map of Berlin's railways click on this map. To return to this page use the "Back" button.

I travelled the whole way along the Stadtbahn and from Westkreuz to Ostkreuz on the south side of the Ringbahn. There was no heating in the trains and though the service was frequent, it was dismal in the extreme even for a dedicated enthusiast, with the heavily muffled Berliners, the boarded windows, or what was worse, the windows repaired with rough lavatory-type glass. There was derelict S-Bahn stock everywhere and no sign at all of freight traffic or steam passenger trains. I got out at Ostkreuz to say that this was the furthest east I had ever been; it still is. I tried to get hold of a timetable but the best I could get was one from a travel agency covering Mecklenburg and Vorpommern (the north and north east of the Russian Zone). It is a shocking piece of printing though in normal Kursbuch style and looks as if it were on light blotting paper. Ironically, in March 1947, I got a perfectly good copy of the Russian Zone Kursbuch of November 1946 from an army friend I met at home .after release. He worked for the L. M.S. at home and was on leave from the R.T.O.’s office at Charlottenburg. He sent me the book when he went back. 

It makes fascinating reading, especially as regards the so called expresses and the complexities of the Berlin S-Bahn. It shows absolutely nothing about any services linking the three Western to Berlin, not even L11/12, the ‘Nord Express’ .If only I had known of my friend’s posting in Berlin! It was bitterly cold and, for once, I went around mostly with my three pals from Winterberg, sightseeing and taking photographs, most of which were badly underexposed with the poor light, and eating in army clubs. I didn’t risk any attempts to find sheds or even spend long on stations. On the second day, when waiting for a train at on the Stadtbahn, 38.3042 was on one of the through roads en route from Schlesischer Bhf. (now Ostbahnhof) to Magdeburg at 10.30 but I could find no such train in the Kursbuch when I returned home. On my last trip west on the Stadtbahn I noticed a P8 on a six coach of standard corridors in the Schlesischer Bhf.; probably it was from Berlin to Dresden.

We left Berlin at 22.05 on the 11th and had an uneventful journey. I remember that the officer in charge of the train was from a Scottish regiment and was wearing tartan trews. We left Helmstedt and reached Bielefeld at 10.00. The only notable observations were a W.D. 2-8-0, 78675 ‘Sapper’ at Herford and the second of the 01s, 01 .002 on the Rhine Army Special from Calais to Bad Oeynhausen. I later found that the W.D. engine was employed in RBD Hannover on the Herford—Altenbeken line (KBS 205). The line was used by the Army as a training line for the Royal Engineers. The September 1946 issue of ‘Soldier’, an army magazine, described the line as the ‘Detmold Military Railway’. The passenger service in the 1946 Kursbuch shows a weekdays only service of three return journeys Herford to Detmold and three through to Altenbeken from Herford. The trains were numbered specially between W1 and W20, rather as in the case of the private railways, but were still shown as RBD Hannover. I remember we got a lorry lift from Bielefeld to Münster barracks and there we sat tight in the NAAFI club; it was miserably cold and none of us felt like stirring out on the 13th. There was no transport for us and we left on the 14th on the through train from Münster to Winterberg, four coaches and a van behind 38.2653 of Bw Bestwig. We four were the only passengers. At Bestwig the P8 gave way to 93.1074 and we reached home at 13.35. The total count for the leave was 51 new engines, only six being in the Russian Zone and Berlin. Demobilisatiom and departure day finally came on Saturday January 25th. About five of us were leaving and we set off with our belongings collected in  22 months in the same place. I carried my precious timetables and diaries in a German grenade case rather like a huge metal executive’s brief case. After the last overnight stay at Münster barracks and the last sight of the Guardsmen who ran it, we took M10 for Fischbeck transit camp near Hamburg­Neugraben. The ‘Nord Express’ overtook us at Osnabrück behind 01.009 of Bw Hamm. It had only five coaches; an old brown wooden ‘Wagon-Lits’ diner lettered in Danish running from Hamm to Nyborg, a blue ‘Wagon-Lits’ sleeper from Ostend to Copenhagen, with a second from Paris to Copenhagen, a green SNCF compartment coach running from Paris to Stockholm and an SNCF luggage van. I timed M10 between Münster and Osnabrück and the maximum speed was 49mph at Lengerich. Before Löhne there was a 56mph dash by Bruchmühlen. On leaving Hannover we were delayed with faulty brakes and I took a few last snaps in very dull snowy weather outside Hannover Ost shed. Between Lehrte and Celle we reached 47mph. By now it was darkening and snowing. We spent the night and most of the next day at Fischbeck camp. That final evening all those en route for the U.K. went to Neugraben station. It was bitterly cold and there was no proper waiting facility. It was hard to tell whether it was sand or fine, frozen snow or both that was blowing about. One chap had a big bottle of some spirits not very  appropriately called ‘Heiligee Wasser’ - holy water - and we kept taking nips at this. A P-train came in from Hamburg behind 38.1277; 1 stirred myself to go down the platform to get the number; it was the last DRG loco I noted until 1949. Probably the train was P408 from Altona to Stade or P412 Altona to Cuxhaven. Later came one of the well lit double-deck trains behind a big 2-6-0T and, in quick succession, M10 from Krefeld to Cuxhaven with two P8s and then our M11 or M12 from Flensburg behind a P8 which arrived with the engine lost in a cloud of steam. I missed all the others for the same reason.

We got down to Cuxhaven harbour station at 20.18 and after a very fuggy night in a Royal Navy billet, went aboard the ship for Hull. We sailed in the early hours and awoke to a calm sea and brilliant sunshine which lasted right until the Humber. The day was January 28th and by the time we left Hull in the afternoon, the snow had started. We passed L.N.E.R. No.1 at Selby on the ‘Flying Scotsman’ and just about kept pace with the snow to Manchester and Kirkham Camp at Blackpool. Two days later I reached Stalybridge near Manchester behind a Lancashire and Yorkshire 2-4-2T No. 10925. I had arrived home and so had the snow and blizzards of the winter of 1947.

The End

Bw Hannover Ost with various BR01s on view. 26th January 1947.

 

Osnabrück Hbf with the northbound 'Nord Express' (Paris-Hamburg-Copenhagen) with an SNCF coach. By this time the train was running direct via Bremen. 26th January 1947.

A selection of tickets found lying around the station at Winterberg.