I have been very wary about starting this blog, I have to be honest. I know what I want to achieve is something that will be of interest to a much wider community than myself sat here in Germany but a ‘blog’ has many different connotations.
There will always be critics but this is not about the critics of me, my writing style or content; this is much bigger than me. This is about capturing the social history of a unique community.
This is about those who have lived this extraordinary life that so few really know and understand. The camaraderie of British Military life in a foreign country is second to none. Years ago the Prime Minister spoke of the ‘Big Society’. Although his version was wrapped in political rhetoric there were military families the world over yelling at the media reports stating: ‘But that’s what we do anyway!’
Experiencing life in Germany as a soldier, wife, family member or supporter of the community is unique. Over the years it has changed, with the political environment, but the grass roots are the same.
The soldiers have deployed on exercises and operations which have varied according to the political climate: Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Iraq, Afghanistan, Canada. Not to mention the huge exercises that took place during the Cold War.
The families who moved over in the early 1950’s pioneering a community life that has evolved into ‘little Britain’ with schools, shops, community groups which are predominately manned by unpaid volunteers; who remain in the country that is foreign to them when spouses deploy to their own unchartered areas.
Having to learn to drive ‘on the wrong side of the road’ in a right hand drive car; go shopping using a foreign language; trying to make friends in a tight bubble that means it is like living in a fish bowl at times and leaving behind a career that, particularly in the early days, was impossible to follow or too difficult to pick up once you returned to the UK.
The civilians who support the community whether administratively or in a practical way keeping vehicles and people on the road. Theirs is a different view and one that is not to be ignored or overlooked.
Unless they are ex-serving then it is very difficult for a civilian to understand the culture of rank; the un-written etiquette and courtesies that are unique to a military environment; the laborious bureaucracy that can inhibit creativity and dress codes for every event!
No matter who you are within this community you will have experienced ‘march in and march out’. The title of this project came to me as I was driving along the autobahn (motorway) and thinking about what is common to all who have lived in Germany. It is the moving, the upheaval of packing up your home and creating a stable environment for yourself, and maybe your family.
No matter if you are a single soldier or a civilian or a family you will have to ‘march in and march out’ of your home.
The other reason for the title of the project starts with my Grandfather, Lieutenant Jim Morton – as he was when he began his journey to Germany – who ‘marched in’ with the Guards Armoured Division in 1945 and I will be one of the last to ‘march out’.
This blog will take us through my personal journeys and I hope will encourage you to share your story with others too.
I am sure there will be no particular order as to how this website grows. I meet people on a daily basis who have an amazing story about their life. They are not celebrities, politicians or media moguls but they have all had an influence in some small or great way in how life for British Troops in Germany has evolved.
This project is about you. It is about you, your relatives, your friends – of any nationality – who have been a part of this unique experience.
Working in collaboration with The National Army Museum means that all this work will be sorted in their archives for future generations as a contemporary record of life and events.
I would love you to be a part of it so please get in touch with any stories or photos and please, please comment on the Facebook Page or on the web pages. It is your view and opinion that will make this a lively project.
I look forward to hearing from you!
All of these photos are presumed to date from 1946 when Lt Jim Morton had reached Hamburg.
There are a couple of other photos where he has written on the back and so I think it is in Hanseaten Kaserne (Barracks) in Hamburg.
© All Images copyright of the Morton Family.