3 Base Ammunition Depot

(Wortham Barracks) 1976 - 1979


3 Base Ammunition DepotDue to the Joint Services Movement Centre (JSMC) I had to fly to Dusseldorf on 30th December 1975 despite being on leave till 3rd January. On landing in Germany I got transport to Rhinedalen where no onward transport was available (great I thought), so went with some other 3 BAD lads to the Marlborough Club (Army NAAFI) ending up in the disco with all my bags and suitcase (No other Choice) then wait till the liberty bus could take us to Bracht at midnight. Arriving at the guardroom I had to wait till the duty QM staff could raise their sleepy heads and issue me with some bedding, then find a block, a room and then a bed, finally at 2 am, welcome to 3 BAD!!

I then had the pleasure on the 1st January of having to attend a military skills competition organised by Pete "the Limp" Crawley (CO), wow what a lovely welcome to my new unit, running around playing silly buggers on new years day, most of the blokes were half cut (Shock!!), moaning as they made their way around the various stands, this involved the usual weapon handling/gas chamber/BFT and a log race around the nearby woods, a good way to sober up but not recommended. I remember Phil Critchlow commenting "I ain't gonna forget this day in a hurry" none of us would. I finally got to go on OC's interview with Major Cootes a nice chap who instead of saying the mandatory welcome to 3 BAD, hope your settling in ok, if you have any problems come back and see me, oh no, "You must behave yourself, no abusing drink, drugs and no trouble, otherwise we'll bust you, fine you, jail you, hang you by the boll**ks", oh deep F***ing joy, great loving this, I felt like Mickey Rooney (Boystown) "Aww and I was having such a good time".

Bracht BarbariansHe (Cootes) which means Pe**s in Dutch, asked if I had anything to say, I said where's the PVR forms (Premature Voluntary Release) I wanted out yesterday!!, boy did I stir up a hornets nest. The next guy in was on orders for losing his Identity Card (normally £5 fine) he got done £20 and came out cursing me for upsetting Cootes, which wasn't that difficult to achieve. The following week I was seen by at least 5 officers wanting to know why I wanted out! Pete the limp wasn't best pleased either, apparently 40 guys tried to do the same in 1975. Later I met my boss who asked if I played rugby?, no I said, "What, you don't play rugby" it was a rugby unit, big bloody deal, some got promoted way before their time because they played rugby, think the common phrase is "Pole Turtles". I remember Dave Bousfield on his initial interview with SATO (Jock Willie) "You play any sports Cpl Bousefield?" "Yes sir I like to go fishing" this interview lasted 40 SECONDS!!.

The depot was very large spread over quite a few square miles, however, we weren't the only residents there, wild Deer, wild Pigs and what seemed like the world's biggest colony on Rabbits, the land was owned by civilians, who, visited monthy, also a vermin shoot. There was one Deer called Charlie, nicknamed by the security gate lads, he would attack anyone withing range, but after some debate it was decided by the Forrest Meister that Charlie had to go, Bang Bang, job done, sorted.

Anyway, as I was getting married soon I gave it some thought maybe I was being too hasty, so changed my mind, I was married in March 1976 and got a flat whilst awaiting a married quarter in Venlo across the border in Holland. Venlo was a nice clean town close to the Dutch/German border, I loved it there, it was the unit that I wasn't too keen on. The main married quarters was in Bracht itself, Op De Haag (Op De Shaag more like !) no pun intended, but very true.

We had some strange characters in 3 BAD, there was Nellist (Guardroom) thought well above his payscale, Stan Loton the original 22 year L/Cpl, he could snore for NATO, when he was on duty (But off stag) the guard commander sent him to his billet so the other guys could get some sleep. Stan's claim to fame was to fall asleep whilst riding his moped on the way to work. Last but not least was Nellist's mate (can't remember his name) but was a double for the organist in the pop group sparks, complete with a hitler type tash. These 3 oddballs were listening to some music in their room, Nellist in his wisdom poured some 3 - in - one oil onto the circuit board of his stereo (because it was squeaking!!), result was a blue flash followed by smoke!!, later Nellist painted his portable radio cassette white so he could see the controls in the dark. I remember one morning Nellist as Regimental policeman came into the guardroom to take over duty from the previous night's guard commander Norman (Paddy) Steele, "The Toilets need cleaning" Norman said "No probs, I'll get the lads to sort it out in a minute", Nellist "NOW!!, big mistake, Norman used Nellist's head as a slapping instrument. One night Nellist was actually on guard, he asked to go to the naafi shop for a few bits & pieces, the guard commander asked if Nellist could bring him back something to eat, a pork Pie, Nellist said what if there's no Pork Pies, "Just get anything" so Nellist brought back 20 Embassy No 1 !!, yes life was never dull here.

Perimeter Fence 3 BAD  

My 1st job was in maintenance, a really motivating job collecting rubbish from around the explosive storehouses left by the line teams, one task was to unblock floods on dirt roads around the depot (Lovely in Winter time), in the summer it was fishing dead rabbits and deer out of the static water tanks. My second job was in the Call - in team, more interesting and with Phil Norbury (an Evertonian! can't win them all I suppose) and new boss Staff Sergeant Alan Vanstone, a great guy, a real flyer who made a few enemies because he'd been promoted above the older has been's.

3 BAD ran adventurous training (Hillwaking) in southern Germany (Bavaria), I spent a week there based in Garmish Partenkirken, lovely place, we certainly got around a bit, making our way up the Zuigspitz, Alex Boyd was in charge, we had a laugh about our time at Hullavington, apparently we both got the blame for some misdemeaner with one of the WRAF ladies, but we both knew who the real culprit was though??. We stayed at various alpine lodges, our rations were those Beef & Mutton survial packs, this was for breakfast, lunch and dinner, after a week Chippy Wood's said "I've gone off Beef & Mutton"!!!!!!!.

Army Fire Service - 3 BAD

Wortham HallHowever, that didn't stop me wanting away, I was on all sorts of courses, then later in 1976 we had a huge fire in the depot, not the best place to be at that time. It was a nice Sunday afternoon and I could see a fire from my flat in Venlo and thought that's close to the depot, at approx 1:30 am on the Monday, Terry Walker (Deceased) came around the quarters with an order to come to work (at the normal time) with enough kit for at least 1 week and had to sign a declaration to that effect, I remember seeing Don Barrett in the flat opposite stood at the front door in his skiddies trying to focus on the form we signed with his hair a mess, false teeth missing saying oh dear golly gosh, or words to that effect. That morning we assembled in the NAAFI where my favourite Major explained what the score was, one lad was in civvies, Cootes asked him why, the lad said he was posted to Kineton and was catching the Zeebrugge ferry later that day, Cootes told him to go to the QM's for some kit and fight the fire, so like a good soldier the lad hopped in his car and was off down the E3 Autobahn never to be seen again, wise lad. Trying to put flash fires out with crude fire fighting equipment was hopeless, whilst slapping down the flames around RAF 1000 lb bombs I thought to myself "WTF am I doing here", it puts a whole new perspective on life. In the early hours Bert Dovell (Golden Boots) and me just sat there on top of some pallets of cluster bombs wishing we were miles away, a lot of miles away. There was over 100 fire engines (German/Dutch/Belgian) plus a convoy of Red Cross vehicles doing the rounds. We however, had 4 hours on/off, literally hot bedding it with other soldiers (no pun intended!). We were all reminded that the depot was a no smoking zone, so no smoking!!, the place was on fire FFS!!!.

Perimeter fence all 13 miles of it !!   RAF 1000 lb Bombs

Pete the limp decided to check up on how the fire fighting was progressing, so he came over in a helicopter hovering above us, we were beating the flames, whilst the rotor blades made things worse!!. It took 3 weeks to extinguish the fires, then I went on some belated leave. I got involved for the football team and kept myself reasonably fit, even did Tug-o-war, X country, orienteering and roped into rugby, yes, the one thing I tried hard to avoid. We had a darts team in Venlo, captained by Dai Green, they had the T-shirt to prove it, except the name on the back was a no brainer, spelt Venlo Villians!!! bummer all that money too, suppose they were slow to get the point!!. I reckon that's one of the few reason's I stuck 3 BAD (aptly named), living in Venlo (Vincent Van Gogh & Jan Vermeer Straat) was great, I loved the place, the people and customs. I met Vic & Cathy in Venlo, they were my friends from Hullavington, they just popped over to the Trefcentre (the Trev) for some shopping & sightseeing. I couldn't believe it, the girl I once fancied at Hullavington, she was an attractive girl with a nice smile, had a great sense of humour and quick witted too (always taking the mickey), a very proud girl if a little self conscious and sensitive. They came over to our flat across the road for a coffee and chinwag and ended up staying the night, it was a bit unnerving knowing she was in the next room with my mate, that was the last time I saw her.


I loved living in Venlo, nice area, most locals spoke English anyway, there were 18 married quarters , 12 in Jan Vermeer and 6 in Vincent Van Gogh Straat, only two lads bothered with road tax, none of us had a TV license, we all brought uncooked meat, bacon etc from the naafi on camp, how we never got picked up for that I don't know, some border guards lived across the road!!. The Trefcentre "The Trev" a handy Hyperstore just across the road, when coming home from work the border guards all thought we were going back to the UK ?, "Have a safe trip".

Tug-o-war against the civvies   Telemark Norway
  John Edwards - Outward Bound 1978
Telemark Norway   Me - 2nd from Left
Gaudestat Norway  

On a 3 day exercise we had to load up trains with ammo/explosives, the trains would be positioned around the depot, on ex-end we would reverse the process. However, the Traffic branch with Sgt Paddy Scanlon's loyal crew would check each wagon to ensure they were empty before the wagons left the depot, a few days later they get a call from the police in Cologne (Koln) saying they'd found some Big Bangy stuff (Pallets of 120mm APDS shells) in one of the railway wagons, oh dear, not the real words used I can assure you. But who was to blame, no not me guv was the popular answer, each guy in traffic explaining their cover story trying to protect their own a**es, loyalty? ooooh I say. We had one guy who was a ladies man, or so he thought, Aussie Gregory, he was a driver and was detailed to drive a 4 ton truck with ammunition/explosives from another unit back to 3 BAD, well he got bored and decided to leave the truck on the autobahn, he was found later in the disco at the Marlborough Club (Marly) army naafi in Rhinedalen Garrison jiving away complete with SMG machine gun. When asked where the truck was he pointed to the BAOR map, in the centre is a large red square "It's somewhere in that square" he said, unbelievable.

Demolition GroundI remember one time I was selecting batches of MK2 Land Mines (27year old - condition D1) to be re-packaged in the laboratory, where they would then be re located in open sites, covered with waterproof tarpaulins to keep the pallets dry prior to being deep sea dumped!!. Aussie Gregory was my forklift driver working in one of the explosive storesheds, as I was checking the batch numbers I heard a loud bang, on looking I saw 3 pallets had fallen over against the inside wall, the forklift truck driverless (Engine still running) and Aussie halfway up the traverse (Explosive blast earth bank). If I'd caught him the explosion would have been the last of his problems, the Bas***d, he got booted out of the army for our own safety.

  3 BAD Ammo Depot Bracht  
Inside the Depot - E Road me thinks ??

Vogelsang Military training CampIt was discovered that our beloved major paid regular visits to the local Dresdner bank in Breyell where he and another officer R.E.F were meeting with the bank manager checking the soldiers bank accounts, this resulted in quite a number on guys changing banks. However, when a new manager appeared on the scene our intrepid (tepid) duo got a shock when it was pointed out that this was illegal and if there were any problems with this new edict then the local plods would also be invited to attend, such a pity, the guys would've loved that. Our major was at it again when the training wing personnel were the advance party for our short holiday to Vogelsang, the instructors were first to be put through their military training tests, these guys were very fit and so there would be no problem passing their Basic Fitness Test (BFT). Guess what? our major (leader of men???) failed them all, this was because he doubled their time taken due to his inability to operate something as simple as a stop watch, personally I think this guy's time was up long before his sell by date, definitely teddy in the corner time for the troops.

Sometimes I went for a run at lunchtime in the depot, so never bothered with my ID card, but, one time I was stopped by the dog patrol, they normally patrolled after 5 pm, this Portugese dog handler and his mutley friend refused to let me carry on, so had to use one of the many field telephones to ring ASD, 10 mins later a very unhappy Keith Humphries came by to pick me up, hence an ear bashing!. Another time Marty Moorehouse and me decided to do a run / walk with packed Bergen outside the perimeter fence approx 13 miles, snag is it was very close to the Dutch Border, we unfortunately got stopped by an armed German Border Guard with his big mutley friend, usually a DM90 fine, but we just said "We're on Manoeuvre" which was crap, he let us go thankfully.

Some of the lads decided to organise a brewery trip to Amsterdam for the day, all went well, however, Chris Little missed the transport back to Bracht, in his haste Chris decided the quickest way back to camp was to hire taxi!, oh it was quick alright, to the tune of DM400 !!, hope he enjoyed the trip?.

A team from 3 BAD were selected to act as an attacking force to infiltrate RAF Bruggen secure squadrons, but only 4 of the 6 on site, Ray (Leepy) Lee & I were teamed up, the 1st day we all accidentally drove past the main gate and ended up across the Dutch border, Nobby Clarke the provo sergeant was with us what a character, always joking, we initially tried to enter via some of the remote crash gates. Ray and me finally got into one of these secure sites but were confronted by a security guard armed with LIVE ammo and a big Fu*k off dog, the RAF lad was very nervous as he hadn't been informed about the exercise taking place, he was nervous? he could easily have shot us, until I insisted he call the HQ. It was quite funny as later on we bumped into the (QRF) Quick Reaction Force in the airmen's mess, just sizing each other up and taking notes, when we left the mess we had a shoot out with them on the inner main road near the (VCP) Vehicle Check Point, Ray then had a cunning plan to attack the QRF HQ where an irate warrant officer tried to arrest leepy (making him strip) for being over reactive whilst shooting the place up, Ray in his usual laid back Scottish manor just said "Well, ye can't really do that co's we're on exercise ye see". Earlier Speedy Elstub tried to shoot the QRF bus driver from 2' away, the bloke cowered behind the seats crapping himself, Speedy was good for moral.

Alex Boyd the Amin Officer (Training Wing) asked some of the ex Heavy Drop lads to act as hunter force for an Escape & Evasion exercise that Combat Supplies Battalion (Paderborn) Battalion were organizing down in the American sector in Heidelberg. So, Ken Hollows, myself met up with Mick Gannon, Alan Schiller, Bob Hughes, Fergus Kidd (Skid Lid) and a few others. Mick & Alan did the actual interrogation, Mick looked like a nasty piece of work with his make up, we did (accidently) get wind of the secret checkpoints the enemy had to make, this is where they would pick up their rations etc, Ken added some extra flavour to their water (Pee). Afterwards we were taken to Combat Supplies form up area for food & accommodation, but seeing the looks we got from the lads we decided better to eat in the combined Officer's & Sergeants Mess, for our own safety.

Interview without Tea / Bikkie's   Vott is your Name ?

See these pics of our guests being interviewed, minus tea / bikkies, can't blame them for feeling a teensy bit angry lol. Later we were invited for a meal / drink at some senior American sergeant's married quater, all good fun until our host decided to play around with handcuff's and a rifle with LIVE ammunition, at was at this point that Roger Walls remembered we all had an urgent appointment elsewhere, can't think where it was, but anything was better than being shot!!.

No Pain, No Gain lol   Endex

We did manage to get on a battlefield Tour for Operation Market Garden (Nijmegen / Arnhem) taking the whole route (minus the railway lines), it does tend to bring home what those lads went through, our guide was a guy called McNally (1 Para who was involved in Market Garden) who worked for Airborne Forces HQ in Aldershot, pity our crazy major (not Nesbit) didn't come, we could have dropped him off at the local Lunatic Asylum. We finished the tour at the Oosterbeek Cemetery paying our respects to all those brave boys, because that's what they were looking at the ages on their headstones, most were in their late teens when they died.

Battledfield Tour "Operation Market Garden" Nov 1979
Battlefield Tour "Operation Market Garden" Arnhem / Nijmegen Nov 1979
The Drop Zone   Col Bill Musson
Mr McNally ex 1 Airborne Division   Nijmegen Bridge
Trenches where Radio Comms were poor   Attitude lol

I had the pleasure of being in the Nijmegen Marches team, a 4 day event marching 25 miles each day, always found day 3 a real test of character, you could hear the rattle of Brufen tablets as we trundled along, most marchers being accommodated in the Heumensnoord "Hotel" a grassed area miles out of town was basic, but the main beer halle was well attended, often resulting in a few differences of opinion between the other nationalities, I think the alcohol was the main source of painkillers. I did the Nijmegen marches again at 12 Ord Coy too. Another was the two day Swiss march, in Berne, but this time there were just a few hills!, we were accommodated in the cellar of a local school opposite the Wankdorf football stadium. Sleeping in these cellars was a bit cramped so I made sure I could find my kit with the lights out, these were very similar to alpine style beds, i.e. one bunk around the whole room with another at head height. However, one night I must have been to the toilet and got disorientated, I noticed these two german blokes and accused them of sleeping in my space, they were confused but said nothing, I couldn't find my kit/uniform Oooops, guess what?, I was in the wrong bloody cellar and decided to make a tactical exit, the lads took the pi** later, didn't make that mistake again. Some British coppers (in uniform) were also on the same march, they became very popular, even more so with us squaddies, we gave them a hard time, all friendly like, but I was a bit concerned by the armed escorts for the El Al Israeli flight crew team, definitely something amiss there. On the way back our train had to stop at the Swiss / German border, the customs (Zoll Douane) officers boarded to inspect our passports, we as military were authorized to travel via a Nato travel order, however, the customs guy asked to inspect Max Messiah's passport (Jamaican ?), Max was a good lad and a bit of a character (Ex Para), but stroppy with authority, Max being Max was awkward, but we eventually got away.

Ken Avery was in charge of the tug-o-war team for the Travers Clarke RAOC sports competition (BAOR), he was a tough northern lad, loved his footy/rugger, some of the lads (Spud Murphy - say no more!!) were taking the p*ss saying he (Ken) took short cuts on his BFT, well he blew a fuse challenging anybody, "Al tek any fu*ker on who se's am cheatin" with a rocky type stance and he meant it, he was banned from playing footy for dropping the ref. I felt sure Kenny Finch played his part in that wind up, Kenny was a character too, I remember him tussling with some big bloke on the footy pitch, this guy went for a 50 - 50 ball Kenny smacked him in the mouth, the guy was bleeding and decided to chop Kenny down, they both got sent off, after an enquiry they got let off with it, Kenny giving some bullsh*t story, how he got away with it I'll never know. We were playing some signals team at Wildenwrath, Kenny shouted at me to pass the ball, "Geordie Geordie to me" so I did, full pelt, it knocked him out, not to be outdone I did it again later on in the match, Kenny wasn't happy with me, he certainly didn't need beer to see double that night, a good lad though.

Assistant Physical Inrtuctors Course Aldershot

The was a local lady known by many as "Lay by Lill" she used to wait for her clients/customers in the lay by between Bracht / Bruggen, the married soldiers wives would often wave to her from the Rhinedalen shopping bus, the nice thing was she responded in kind always waiving back with a big smile. The local plods knew what her business was, but she was too wily (willy ?) for them, however she finally got caught out, one of the punters paid her counterfeit money, what a bummer!!. The civvy bus drivers (438 MCLG) were always on the make, asking the soldiers wives to get them duty free Fags & Booze from the naafi, Deiter was one of the main culprits, but he was a good lad, married with a young family himself and living locally in Bracht itself, there were no fly's on Deiter, what a lad.

Bracht Babarians

Two characters stood out, Brad Bradshaw who now resides in New Zealand, one of his tricks was to go shopping in the naafi, pick up some goods and hand it to a mate and say "there's that bag of spuds I owe you mate" before getting to the checkout!!. Phil Norbury sent off to Sun Publications for some "Special Offer", postal order with self addressed label, approximately one week later his order arrived at ASD, on receiving the package we noticed Phil's name / address plus the green customs label marked "Underwear" Phil went beetroot, he never lived it down, we didn't let him!!.

Bracht Sports team 1978 / 9 (Compliments of Don Robertson)
  COD Dulmen 1978  


Whilst at COD Dulmen the first night was fun, the NAAFI entertainment was in the form of Exotic Dancers (Strippers), I always thought Dulmen was a dull place ??.

The following week I went to the Cinema in the NAAFI where Andy Fox was the projectionist. We paid our entry fee, then approx 10 minutes later and looking very sheepish, Andy asked if anyone knew how to operate the Projector??, bit embarrassing for him especially when paying back our money on the way out !!.

Good old Andy, always good for a laugh ??.

COD Dulmen 1978  

Just before xmas we had to return many pallets of anti tank bar mines (72 per pallet) to storage, but as it was xmas eve all the civvy drivers were keen to finish early so as to enjoy the festive drinks in the ASD (Ammunition Sub Depot) at lunchtime, however, some of the civvies tried to jump the queue, it was like a fairground dodgems only with ten ton trucks, these mines were fused!!!. I really wanted to take up an urgent appointment somewhere very far away. So back at ASD there was I making out statements again whilst everyone else was making merry. Oh, and whatever you do, don't invite Cass Costello to a wine party, he'll only bring a bottle of Underberg (Minature), a gooey liquorice substance, apparently a cure for hangovers, Cass had a wicked sense of humour. Sadly 3 BAD is no more the depot was finally closed on 1st March 1997, on looking at various websites (Windows live.maps etc) the old ammo depot is a nature reserve, all the old buildings are gone, just blank spaces where the ASD, Sato and explosives storage buildings used to be, even the local towns of Bracht & Bruggen are like ghost towns now.

We were ordered to go to Worthm Hall for the xmas Carol Singing !!, I tried explaining to S/Sgt Jim Simpson that my voice had gone, but big Paddy had no sympathy, and still went, Silent Night was never the same, this was just an excuse for all the senior NCO's to have a P*** up in ASD, ho ho, bloody ho. I got to meet Voc (Vocetaki) ex 16 Para Heavy Drop, mountain of a man, remember he sat down on a meatlled chair in ASD, the legs gave way (Spread Eagled), Red Hancock was in bits laughing, Voc looked stunned, but no one took the Pi** out of Voc!.

Here was the largest munition depot from the NATO during the Cold War. 3 BAD Bracht was from the British Army on the Rhine / Royal Army Ordnance Corps (BAOR/RAOC.
It was set up after WWII around 1948 and merged with 6 Petroleum Depot at Arsbeck around 1965 and named 3 BAPD but returned back to 3BAD in around 1975. Open for around 60 years and held weapons for RAF Germany and Army units in Germany. It covers more than 13 hectar and is now mostly a Large nature reserve (Brachter Wald).
The Married people was housed in Bracht Village (Op De Haag) and Venlo in Holland.
3 BAD Bracht was granted the feedom of Bruggen and Bracht in 1974.
After options for change the RAOC merged with the RLC Royal Logistic Corps and in 2000 3 BAD closed and most of the ground was handed back to the German Government to become a nature reserve.

This is the Ammo Depot now, Wildlife Area, View of Wortham Barracks today. Photo's of 3 BAD (Slideshow).

My way Home to Venlo   Outback Club (As it WAS!!)
Outback Club (TODAY !!)   Guard Room (TODAY !!)

Other memorable moments

  • Finding the Keys to X5 (Small Arms Store) in my pocket at home (I wasn't the only one to put house keys in the key press!!)
  • Speedy Elstub / Dave Snape / Cass Costello / Alan Vanstone and many more
  • Ken Hollows marking out the running track at Gunter Ratstoffe platze, slightly triangular (The Groundsman apparently topped himself the week before)
  • Spud & Jackie Murphy, Phil & Norma Norbury - Great friends when in need!!
  • Witnessing the tragic death of Jock Ritchie (Worse still, having to identify his body the next day at RAF Wegberg)
  • The 4 RSM's also Dusty Miller / Jimmy Boyle / Nobby Clarke
  • The Birth of my Daughter Katie-Anne 6th July 1977
  • Lanky Smith's car being smashed up on the parade square (nobody liked him, not even his wife)
  • Finally departing Bracht for 81 Ordnance Company (6 Field Force) Aldershot November 1979

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