|An article from the website of Moenchengladbach describing the events that took place at JHQ in July 2013 to celebrate the closure of the Garrison. See below for English translation of the article!
|Farewell of the British from Moenchengladbach
Dear Friends, it was nice knowing you
By Sarah Biere – last updated: 14.07.2103 – 15:02
Moenchengladbach (RP). Gladbacher citizens celebrate emotional farewell from the British soldiers. Numerous guests watched a big military parade on the Kapuzinerplatz last Friday evening. Gladbacher history is also affected this weekend.
Friday, 10:25, Kapuzinerplatz: British and German voices mix with the sound of the bagpipes. Children wave flags enthusiastically and British soldiers shake hands. Many Gladbacher came to the town center to say a personal farewell to the British guests. The places of honour in the front row were quickly filled. Some had thought ahead and brought empty drinks boxes and small stepladders with them. Real military sounds were delivered by the prize winning bagpipe players of the Crossed Sword Pipe Band and the Band of the Prince of Wales Division. In addition, 90 soldiers proved that they could stand to attention for many minutes. The formation of bands and soldiers were accepted by the Mayor Norbert Bude and Sir Stuart Peach, second highest ranking soldier of the British Armed Forces.
In his speech, delivered in German of course, he referred to his personal connection to Moenchengladbach. “My parents-in-law live here, and both of my children came to the world in Moenchengladbach. Today is a sad day.” His wife, Brigitte, was born in Hardt – stylishly with large black hat she followed her husband’s speech from the stand. On behalf of all soldiers, the 57 year old Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff thanked all Gladbacher families for their years of friendship. “We are going, but we will remain friends” he emphasised.
A sense of melancholy spread through the Gladbacher spectators. Many happy memories of JHQ connected them. For example, the 21 year old Meike Zimmermann, who in 2008 completed a two week practical in JHQ. “That was in Year 10. I absolutely wanted to do something in English as I had planned to spend some time abroad” she said. “It was a great experience” said the 21 year old, looking back. What would she miss after the departure of the soldiers? “Internationalism”.
Karin Praschma-Kox travelled from the neighbouring Wegberg to see the parade. “I was for many years a member of the JHQ Theatre Group ‘CATS’. A friend of mine at the time convinced me to participate” said the lady from Wegberg. She didn’t trust herself to go onto the stage, but behind the scenes Karin Praschma-Kox sewed together many costumes for the performances. “I truly loved the atmosphere in the theatre – it was so English” she said, laughing. She is now even sadder now that everything has come to an end.
Marcel Renaux has memories of a totally different kind, concerning the British soldiers. “It was the noise of the Army Jeeps in front of my door. I remember that very well.” said Renaux, who was watching the parade with his son sat on his shoulders. “I must say that I am becoming quite melancholic. JHQ has influenced the perspective of Moenchengladbach over so many years” he added. The Gladbacher fondly remembers a previous holiday job. “I worked for JHQ as a beer delivery man. I remember the huge amounts of beer that I funnelled past the control gates.” said Renaux.
Siegfried Gruber would probably never have arrived in Moenchengladbach if it weren’t for the British Headquarters. “I was born in a “Prisoner of War” camp in Copenhagen, from there as a small boy to Brunsbuettel on the Nordsee and after the death of my mother to my half sister in Remscheid” recounted the 68 year old. Only after he, as a young man, joined the Bundeswehr did his path take him to JHQ in 1967. “I was employed as a deputy office manager by Nato” reported Gruber, who still lives only 100 meters from the Hardter Wald. He particularly remembers the sporting competitions with his English colleagues. “I was in the Athletics and Football teams. Also, we sportsmen were locals in the Hardter Kneipe Onkel Gustav” he said, and he never refused a beer. But now everything is over. Even the English flag in Gruber’s garden will be taken down on Sunday. “On special occasions I will raise the flag once again” he promised.
The farewell ceremonies will finish tomorrow, Sunday, with a religious ceremony in the Saint Boniface Church in JHQ.
Other photos of the various events are available on www.rp-online.de/moenchengladbach
Source: Rheinische Post (RP)
Translation by Fred Williams