The amusing memoir by Angus
McKay recalling his brush with the Russian Military brought
memories of a similar event when I as a lowly Cpl in Public
Relations (Happy Snaps) was tasked with taking half a dozen
trucks carrying stores and a number of personnel from Berlin
to West Germany.
The day before the journey in question I was briefed
at BIB HQ and told in no uncertain terms to have nothing whatsoever,
to do with members of the East German Volkspolizei, contact
was to be exclusively with Russian and British Military only.
On arrival at the Military Police Post at the
Berlin end of the Autobahn I was required to present the ID
Cards of all those travelling which were placed on the desk
below the high counter. I was handed paperwork to present to
the Russian Military and again reminded to have no dealings
with the East German Police. Following a few further details
I rejoined my driver (who’s name, to my shame, I forget)
and set off toward the Russian Checkpoint. Here I handed my
paperwork through the hatch, presumably to be copied, then returned
within a few minutes together with another Black Edged document.
A few yards further on we were stopped by a young
member of the Volkspolizei who wandered up to my side of the
truck demanding ‘Paper, Paper’ I of course, remembering
my orders, from BIB told him to go away in somewhat less than
diplomatic terms, using a combination of Cornish and Pigeon
German that probably called into question the poor chaps parentage.
To cut a long story short after several minutes
of this exchange I told the driver to press the accelerator
pedal, an action which immediately saw the young lad un-sling
his rifle and point it at my head. Being a brave ‘British
Tommy’ I naturally gave him all the bloody papers I had
in my sweaty hand, at which point he smiled withdrew the Black
Edged paper the Russian Officer had given me, handed back the
remainder, and waived me on my way.
After that little incident all went well until
part way along the corridor I spotted a British registered camper
van in a lay-by and in accordance with procedure pulled in to
enquire if we could be of assistance. During our conversation
the question of paperwork came up, the van driver going on about
all the paperwork required to travel along that road. I patting
my map pocket was about to suggest that I had all my men’s
ID Cards when the awful truth hit me like a bolt of lightening.
The Bloody ID Cards were still on the MPs desk in Berlin.
The Daily Mirror headlines were burning into my
brain, “Diplomatic Incident in Berlin Corridor”
“British Soldiers Held” “Corporals Cock Up
Causes Cold War Incident” we quickly said our goodbyes
and set off in great trepidation toward the West German End
of the corridor, praying that I would not be stopped or asked
for the men's ID Cards.
On reaching the British Military Police Post with
my blood running cold and shaking in my boots I had to tell
the MP of my catastrophe at which point he smiled, suggested
that my parentage may be suspect and produced the ID Cards which
had been rushed through by a Military Mission Car. I am please
to report that no action was taken, I don’t believe those
in positions of power ever knew of my cockup, an escape for
which I owe eternal thanks to that Military Policeman.