I arrived in Fort Henry outside of Soest, West Germany in May, 1962 to take up my duties as Aviation Officer, HQ 4 CIBG, reporting to Brigade Major Ramsey Withers, RC Sigs. I was accompanied by Lt. Bill Pollock, RCA, who was posted in as LO4, and was to be my doppelgänger, i.e. It had been agreed that Bill and I would alternate between the two roles every week.
Our first few months in Germany were to be spent with the Helicopter Troop of the Recce Squadron, 8 CH, in Fort Chambly, outside of Soest, training for our flying roles in the Brigade, in support of the BAOR and NATO. Also training with Bill and I, in addition to the 8 CH pilots, were RCASC pilots Fred Zeggil and Hal Swain plus, occasionally, Major Gord Lindsay, who was commanding their unit, 1 Tpt Coy.
Living and flying with the Armoured guys, Lorne Glendinning (Troop Comd), Dooley Ross (his Deputy), Bruce Muelaner, Peter March, Dan Dunn, Brian Caldwell (can't recall others, maybe Dudley, Hopping?) was a highlight of our tour in Germany. The constant nap-of-the-earth flying with it's low-level navigation and practice engine failures, dodging NATO fighters and fighter-bombers, and other preparations for combat readiness were exhilarating and didn't seem to involve any fatigue. We were young and pumped, enjoying the time free of dependants with the busy mess life and the social scene 'on the economy.'
We were treated to 'Quick Train' mobilization exercises early on, as the Brigade's responsibilities on the East German border were always in focus. They occurred at any time of day or night, and the night mobilizations of the helicopters were necessarily slow, particularly with the frequent presence of inclement weather.
When Bill and I moved up the hill to Fort Henry, times became more businesslike, and office life became a steady diet. The flying was quite varied, although it was predominantly liaison flying, but the variety of tasks, destinations and passengers was always interesting. We flew to a variety of West German cities of course, from Düsseldorf to Bonn to Hamburg and Munchen-Gladbach. These had the side benefit of creating vacation destinations for us. The majority of the operational flying involved staff reconnaissance, brigade and unit command travel, both during exercises and among the various unit camps.
Our location at the top of the hill overlooking the Mohne-See, with our hangar the opposite side of the parade square, was certainly appealing in most ways, but it's higher elevation on occasion meant we couldn't get out for trips, or couldn't get home when the weather changed as frequently as it did. Of course our well-developed 'nap' skills were helpful, even though they often meant 'busting limits.' Our maintenance crew, consisting of Sgt. Fred Borden and Craftsman 'Ches' McLean, an outstanding team, were often on my case for coming home with the pitot tube full of grain.
We remained relatively incident-free until Bill had his engine failure in our dear old '282' and wrote her off after an otherwise perfect autorotation ended in a ploughed field in which a skid toe caught and rolled the ship over forward, basically demolishing it. Bill, virtually unscathed, ran straight ahead from the ship when it stopped, there being no panel or canopy in his way! (You might want to check with Bill to hear about our infamous trip to Hamburg when he became acquainted with the local constabulary due to his insistence on standing in the middle of a boulevard directing traffic.)
My own incidents were limited to a set of blade tip caps and a bubble broken right in front of me when one of a flock of crows that rose up in front of me 'on the deck' failed to dart away with his companions.
Every July 1, we had a huge helicopter formation flypast with 112's and L19's that always involved something for us to laugh about for days after. On at least one occasion, someone who shall remain nameless allowed the word 'break' to go out over the air and, as briefed and practiced, the formation broke apart right in front of the reviewing stand. I never did find out if any of those on the ground thought this was an intentional display of 'show' flying.
On repatriation, several of us wound up in Rivers to become instructors, although we lost a couple of good ones to the civil side. I know the tour was a highlight of my flying career, and set me up for the roles I was subsequently to fill. I'd do it again at the drop of a hat (although a Lakota might make a good equipment change).
Web coord note:|
Some of the more notable dignitaries that Terry flew during his tour with HQ 4CIBG are: Ministers of National Defence, Gordon Churchill and Paul Hellyer; LGen Geoffrey Walsh (then CGS), LGen Mike Dare (while Brigade Commander) and Gen Jean Victor Allard (while Commander, 4 (UK) Division). General Officers (to be) included Jacques Dextraze, Ramsey Withers, Herb Pitts, Charlie Belzile, Pat Grieve and Jim Tedley. The Commanding Officers and field officers of the various units in 4CIBG during his tour from 1962 to 65 are noted in his logbook. Finally and notably, Terry flew the Commander in Chief of the BAOR, General Sir James Cassels.
LtCol (Ret'd) Vic Coroy