The day after the Battle of Britain Parade found me supervising the loading of
my convoy for the imminent detachment to Sylt. I was involved in paperwork also,
and ensuring that the necessary number of drivers and vehicles were available, and
properly documented, in accordance with the Movement Order. Fg.Off. Doug
was my deputy this time.
This was a 122 Wing detachment as the Jever runway was to be extended to
2,700 yards in our absence. Not only that, we would not be going back to Jever after
our detachment, but moving straight on to a further detachment at Wunstorf until
the work at Jever was complete.
We left Jever early the next morning for the first leg of the journey to Ütersen and the usual overnight stop. All went well, our Polizei escort took us through
Hamburg at breakneck speed and we arrived reasonably early.
Instead of mooching around killing time in the Mess at Ütersen, Doug
and I decided to stay at the Streits Hotel in Hamburg as he had not seen the city, apart
from the brief run through earlier that afternoon. We arranged for a Landrover to
drop us off and pick us up early next morning in good time for our convoy
departure to Sylt.
To our surprise, at the Streits, we met two other 122 Wing pilots who we didn't expect to be there. After a meal we all set off on the U-Bahn for St Pauli Bahnhof and
the Reeperbahn. On turning right out of the station we made our way along the
broad street, later described in song as the street of the hundred thousand lights.
Youthful curiosity took us to the end of the streets designated as 'Out of Bounds' to
British personnel and, yes, two of us dared to enter through the screens and quickly
walk along the short and infamous Herbert Strasse and out of the other end.
Whores exposing themselves in brilliantly lit shop windows were about the mildest
of sights. There were even queues of men outside some brothels because some
female inside had been designated the attraction of the night. The whole was sordid
and degrading. It was with absolute disgust that we left the locality.
Back on the main road we came across a film company filming a sequence for the feature film 'Auf der Reeperbahn' which later, dubbed in English, reached the
cinemas back in the UK. We watched the film crew for some minutes. I was able to
draw comparisons between their professional and my rank amateur cinematic
techniques. Moving on, the four of us decided to drop in at a night club called the
'Tabu' to have a drink and watch the floor show.1
We bought a Pils each at over
6 DM a glass, an horrendously expensive price to pay in those days, and took our
places at an empty table towards the back of the dimly lit room. There was a catwalk
down its centre, a small band, and a diminutive railed-off dance floor. Other tables
were occupied by young couples, popsies and sugar daddies, bosses and secretaries,
and some foursomes of good-time girls. Ours was the only table occupied by four
men and we were determined to keep it that way.
Dance music played for a while and then the lights dimmed further. The music
continued and ultra-violet lights came on to reveal a group of performers on the
catwalk, their white clothing glowing iridescent in the light. Announcements were
made and then there was a fashion parade of scantily clad females, of good figure,
strolling, in turn, down the catwalk and back as per a mannequin parade. It
appeared to us that the show was sponsored by a lingerie company that specialised in virtually
1 I was told during a return visit to Hamburg in 2004 that the 'Tabu' was still a thriving establishment.