The Worcestershire Regiment’s and the Berlin Blockade 24 June 1948–12 May 1949

As the Second World War came to a close and the Allied Powers took control of the previous Nazi occupied territories, conferences, such as at Yalta and Potsdam, were held to determine how to best divide the region. It was decided that the west of the previously occupied territories would be controlled by the United States, France and Great Britain and the east by the USSR. However, the Western Allies demanded part of Berlin resulting in the City being divided.  As Berlin was located within Soviet occupied Germany Great Britain, the US and France were very much isolated within the Soviet occupied sector.

The sectors of Berlin

On 24th June 1948 the Soviets began an all-out blockade of Berlin while demanding the Western Allies withdraw the newly introduced Deutsche mark from West Berlin. In response, the Western Allies organised an airlift to provided supplies to their sector.

Berlin Airlift

The Worcestershire Regiment had arrived in Berlin on the 31st January 1948 and immediately occupied the Montgomery Barracks a mere eight miles from the Soviet occupied zone. Tensions were notably high an account from the July 1948 edition of “Firm” (the Regimental Magazine) states that: “the past few months in Berlin have been as arduous as any spent by the Battalion since the end of the war” clearly showing the tremulous state of affairs within Berlin. The Worcestershire Regiment were primarily tasked to guard the British sector of Berlin and to prevent Soviet involvement in the region. Their role often would not go without incident, barely a month after the Regiment had occupied the Montgomery Barracks the Soviets had moved their check post into the Western Sector claiming it to be the correct border.  Two companies of the Worcestershire Regiment swiftly encircled them and after twenty-four hours, the Russians left. This incident exemplifies the military and political chess match of the East and the West within Berlin and what the Worcestershire Regiment had to deal this during their time in garrison.

However largely daily life would also go without incident resulting in the majority of the Regiment assigned to guard roles. This was not an overly popular role and can be seen by another extract of Firm where it states: “we have quickly settled down in Kladow to the standard Berlin routine which consists primarily of the art of manufacturing excuses to avoid guards”.  However, tensions were still very much at breaking point, HQ Company are recorded as saying “Berlin has become a beleaguered city and the only means of transport in and out is by air, quite like the war years except there are no bombs”.

Gatow Airport
The C.I.G.S., Viscount Montgomery, inspecting the Band prior to his departure to U.K. He is talking TO B/Sjt. Morgan, M.M., accompanied by B/M. Lt.-Col. R.E.L. Tuckey and Major- General E. O. Herbert, Commandant Berlin Garrison

The Regiment remained in Montgomery Barracks until May 16th 1949 having quashed any Soviet attempts on their sector and moved to Gottingen three days after the Berlin Blockade had been lifted. They were relieved by the 1st Battalion Gorgon Highlanders and it mark the end of the Regiment’s direct involvement in Berlin.