Location within Germany
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Built for||War Office|
|Occupants||British Forces Germany|
JHQ (Joint Headquarters) Rheindahlen was a military base in Mönchengladbach, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany active from 1954 to 2013. It functioned as the main headquarters for British forces in Germany and for the NATO Northern Army Group. Latterly it was also known as the Rheindahlen Military Complex.
In 1952, work began on the British Forces Maintenance Area West of the Rhine. Part of the project included the construction of a joint British Army and Royal Air Force headquarters for the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Rheindahlen. Colonel Henry Grattan was Chief Engineer of the construction project.
HQ BAOR moved from Bad Oeynhausen to Rheindahlen in October 1954, centralising headquarters functions previously located across several towns in Northern Germany. It was originally the HQ of the Northern Army Group (NORTHAG), Second Allied Tactical Air Force (2ATAF), British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG). Some 12,000 military personnel moved to the "town within a town" in a few weeks.
By the early 1970s the facilities in the complex included a NAAFI superstore and a smaller NAAFI store (Bischof NAAFI), German shops, a travel agent (Milatravel), a German bank (Commerzbank), two post offices, dress shop (a Malcolm Club shop), YMCA Bookshop, libraries and cafes. There were separate full British Army (RAMC) and RAF Medical & Dental Centres, 4 British primary schools (St Georges, St Andrews, St Patricks, St Davids & St Christophers) and a Belgian school. There was one secondary school (initially Queens upper & lower until the senior school moved to Hostert Waldniel, later returning to JHQ and recombining as Windsor School. There were three churches; St Boniface (CofE), St Thomas More (RC) and St Andrews (Presbyterian). There were very extensive sports facilities for the Army, the RAF and the schools, and a large outdoor swimming pool (the Blue Pool). The Officers Club (complete with 'Palm Court' trio) had squash courts. It later became the NAAFI car showroom. There was an Army cinema (The Globe), an RAF cinema (The Astra) and a theatre. German Civil Police, Royal Military Police and RAF Police operated from the JHQ Police Station.
JHQ was first bombed by the Provisional IRA in 1973. The car bomb was planted in the Globe cinema car park and timed to go off as the film ended. In the event the film ended early and the car park was largely empty when the bomb exploded. No one was injured, but a couple of cars were damaged. A Dutch man and a woman from Belfast were arrested but their leader, reported to be James McCann, escaped.
Thirty-one people were injured on 23 March 1987 after a 300 lb (140 kg) car bomb exploded near the visitors officers' mess at the top of Queens Avenue. The Provisional IRA later stated it had carried out the bombing.
During the 1990s and 2000s, JHQ housed the Headquarters United Kingdom Support Command (Germany), later Headquarters British Forces Germany, which was the administrative HQ of the British Army in Europe. It was also home to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), which relocated to Imjin Barracks in Gloucestershire in 2010.
There was an Army Garrison HQ on Collingwood Road to administer the Army element and an RAF HQ (RAF Rheindahlen) on Queens Avenue to administer the RAF element. HQ British Forces Germany moved to Bielefeld in July 2013. The Rheindahlen military complex was handed back to German federal authorities on 13 December 2013.
- "Grattan, Col Henry (1903-1997)". Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. King's College London. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
- "Sixty years ago was the laying of the cornerstone for JHQ". Queens School Rheindahlen. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "End of era for JHQ Rheindahlen schools]". BFBS. 17 July 2013.
- Chronology at digitalcollections.library.cmu.edu. Retrieved 23 Feb 2014.
- "30 hurt as car bomb hits Army base". BBC News. 23 March 1987. Retrieved 2010.
- "Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps". They work for you. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "JHQ eine Fotoausstellung". Stadt Mönchengladbach (in German). Retrieved 4 February 2014.