The photographs of the construction of the Type 80 site at Brockzetel were of particular interest. I did not realise that it had only just been completed when I first arrived. The reclaimed marshland, accommodating many poor 'refugees', was a desolate environment in winter. Returning forty years on, in 1998, the landscape had matured considerably with many trees and woodlands and the denizens appeared to be considerably more prosperous.
On my first night shift in December 1956, though trained as an Air Defence Operator at Middle Wallop, I was told, after a few cursory instructions, to man alone the Type 80 consul monitoring the East German Border and read plots from
Alan Cavanagh the screen as the aerial rotated every 15 seconds. As well as stuttering out these plots every other sweep I had to man
the vertical scanning radar for aircraft height as well. Thank goodness those behind the Iron Curtain did not realise such a novice was on duty!!!! One blunder and two Hunters could have been scrambled. It did not take long, however, to master these skills.
There were consolations for SAC W.R.E. Short and I made arrangements over the link telephone to meet some Danish Air Force ladies when we visited their country.
Our rugby team continued the fixture with Varel. I remember changing at the rear of the Gasthof and bathing in a zinc bath in the yard. After the match we stayed for food, Jever Pilsner and skittles. There was an alley down one side of the room housing the bar.
Many years later (1998) I shared a table with one of Varel's famous sons at a party in Burgau Schloss in Duren. An eminent rocket scientist he had just returned from Washington where he had been working with the Americans.