Bruggen Air Base
RAF Brüggen was named originally after the nearest railhead, in the North Rhine Westphalia village of Brüggen; however, it is actually situated just outside the village of Elmpt. It was for this reason that the Army took the decision in late 2001 to change the name to Elmpt Station. The name Javelin Barracks was adopted due to the use of the 'Javelin' flash by members of the 1st Signals Brigade. The Station is made up of Javelin Barracks, Elmpt and the two quartering areas of Wildenrath and Bracht. It is part of Rhine Garrison and has a small Station Headquarters under the command of the Commanding Officer, 16th Signal Regiment, who is double hatted as Station Commander.
The RAF Station was constructed on drained marshland within a heavily forested area during the period February 1952 to July 1953. This remarkably short construction phase was a direct result of the need to house the rapidly expanding NATO forces in the early fifties. The first aircraft to land at Brüggen was a VIP Devon in June 1953 which delivered Air Marshal Sir Robert Foster, the then C-in-C Second Tactical Air Force and took off again from an incomplete runway 27. It is understood, however, that the first actual landing may have been made by a Vampire in May 1953, which was the first of many to mistake Brüggen for RAF Wildenrath. Construction was the responsibility of the Airfield Construction Branch (ACB) who supervised an army of German contractors.
During the period 1953 to 1957, the Station operated as a fighter squadron station, from 1957 to 1998 in the strike/attack role and from 1998 in the attack role. In it's recent history; all four Tornado GR4 Squadrons took part in the Gulf War during 1991 and subsequently in a number of operations in the Middle East and the Balkans.
The demise of RAF Brüggen, as the last Main Operating Base in Mainland Europe, was made public in 1998 and the withdrawal process began in April 1999 with the disbandment of 17 (Fighter) Squadron. The official closure ceremony of the Station was held on 15-17 June 2001, a memorable occasion for Brüggen personnel, the local community and the Royal Air Force as a whole. The last Tornado was flown out of RAF Brüggen on the morning of the 4th September 2001 by the Station Commander, Group Captain TM Anderson DSO. Responsibility for the Station was handed over to Lieutenant Colonel JE Richardson, Commanding Officer 7th Signal Regiment by Wing Commander JR Andrews, the last Station Commander on 4th February 2002. The camp was officially taken over by the Army on 28th February 2002 and transferred between German Ministries on 1st April 2002.
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