Since 1945 British military bases in Germany have meant many things to many people.

Initially set up as a force of post-war occupation, British and European policymakers quickly came to see the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) as part of the frontline against a possible Soviet invasion. British bases were also convenient staging posts for British interventions in Korea, Malaya and the Middle East, and later in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Sierra Leone.

But they were also unique, complex social communities. By 1955, at least 77,000 British people called military bases in Germany home, including service personnel and their families but also a wide range of support workers, professionals and volunteers from many different backgrounds.

Between 2019 and 2021 Dr Grace Huxford (University of Bristol) and a small team conducted a social and oral history of British base communities in Germany during the Cold War and its immediate aftermath.

The voices and experiences of those who lived, worked and visited Germany were crucial to this project and the team were committed to including a purposefully wide range of perspectives: to capture the unique complex social history of these communities, not just their military function.

We thank everyone who took part and you can read more about the project on this blog page.

This project is funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Leadership Fellowship.

Image: “The Berlin Blockade, 1949.” © Imperial War Museum (BER 49-144-024). ‘1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers arrive at RAF Gatow to relieve 1st Royal Norfolk Regiment in Berlin. The families of soldiers serving with the Regiment arrive at Gatow via the Berlin Airlift. Wives and children smile for the camera after disembarking from their aircraft which was turned around as quickly as possible.’ This image is used under the non-commercial purposes set out in the IWM Non Commercial Licence.

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