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British Army of the Rhine

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British Army of the Rhine
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Part ofBritish Army

British Forces Germany

Northern Army Group
Garrison/HQJHQ Rheindahlen, Germany

British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) was the name given to two British Army formations of the same name. Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, the first after the First World War and the other, active after the Second World War and during the Cold War, eventually becoming part of NATO's contribution to allied forces there. Both formations had areas of responsibility located around the German section of the River Rhine.

During the Cold War, the second formation was attached to NATO's Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) and tasked with defending the North German Plain, in the northern part of West Germany, from the armies of the Warsaw Pact. The BAOR by then constituted the bulk of British forces in West Germany, and was a part of British Forces Germany (BFG). The BFG was made up of elements of the three services based in West Germany, and the BAOR controlled the elements of the Army stationed there.



Formal group photograph of British and French officers and commissioners outside the house of the Commander-in-Chief Allied Armies of Occupation, Marienberg
18th Hussars in Cologne, 6 December 1918.
Field Marshal Lord Plumer, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief the British Army of the Rhine, taking the salute from the 29th Division entering Cologne by the Hohenzollern Bridge
Two tanks passing through Cologne for inspection by the VI Corps Commander, General Aylmer Haldane, June 1919

The first British Army of the Rhine was set up in March 1919 to implement the occupation of the Rhineland. It was originally composed of five corps, composed of two divisions each, plus a cavalry division:[1]

II Corps: Commanded by Sir Claud Jacob

IV Corps: Commanded by Sir Alexander Godley

VI Corps: Commanded by Sir Aylmer Haldane

IX Corps: Commanded by Sir Walter Braithwaite and later by Ivor Maxse

X Corps: Commanded by Sir Thomas Morland

Cavalry Division (formed from 1st Cavalry Division)

Most of these units were progressively dissolved, so that by February 1920 there were only regular battalions:

In August 1920 Winston Churchill, as Secretary of State for War, told Parliament that the BAOR was made up of approximately 13,360 troops, consisting of staff, cavalry, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, infantry, machine gun corps, tanks and the usual ancillary services. The troops were located principally in the vicinity of Cologne at an approximate cost per month of £300,000.[2] The Cologne Post was a newspaper published for members of the BAOR during this period.[3]

From 1922 the BAOR was organised into two brigades:[1]

1st Rhine Brigade

2nd Rhine Brigade


The commanders were:[4]

Cold War (1945–1991)[edit]

Field Marshal 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein recording a radio broadcast to mark the change over of the British Liberation Army to the British Army of the Rhine
A Warrior tracked armoured vehicle as used by the 13 mechanised infantry battalions of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Armoured Divisions of the British Army of the Rhine during the period 1988–1994

The second British Army of the Rhine was formed on 25 August 1945 from the British Liberation Army.[5] Its original function was to control the corps districts which were running the military government of the British zone of Allied-occupied Germany. After the assumption of government by civilians, it became the command formation for the troops in Germany only, rather than being responsible for administration as well.[6]

As the potential threat of Soviet invasion across the North German Plain into West Germany increased, BAOR became more responsible for the defence of West Germany than its occupation. It became the primary formation controlling the British contribution to NATO after the formation of the alliance in 1949. Its primary combat formation was British I Corps. From 1952 the commander-in-chief of the BAOR was also the commander of NATO's Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) in the event of a general war with the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. The BAOR's 50 Missile Regiment Royal Artillery was formerly armed with tactical nuclear weapons, including the MGM-52 Lance surface-to-surface tactical nuclear missile.[7] In 1967, the force was reduced in strength to 53,000 soldiers, compared with 80,000 ten years earlier.[8]

Post 1994[edit]

With the end of the Cold War, the 1993 Options for Change defence cuts resulted in BAOR being reduced in size, and in 1994 it became British Forces Germany.[9] This force, roughly 25,000 strong, was divided between Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, 1st Armoured Division, other combat support and combat service support forces, and administrative elements headed by United Kingdom Support Command (Germany). Garrisons which closed at this time included Soest (home of the 6th Armoured Brigade),[10] Soltau (home of the 7th Armoured Brigade)[11] and Minden (home of the 11th Armoured Brigade).[12]

Following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the permanent deployment of British Army units in Germany was reduced. The last military base was handed to the German Bundeswehr in February 2020.[13]


The commanders were:[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rinaldi, Richard (2006). "The Original British Army of the Rhine" (PDF). Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  2. ^ "ARMY OF OCCUPATION. (Hansard, 10 August 1920)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 10 August 1920. Retrieved 2023-06-20.
  3. ^ ""Cologne Post" (Mr. Nicholson)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 1923-08-01. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  4. ^ a b Army Commands Archived July 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Monty's "Army Of the Rhine"". The Telegraph. Queensland, Australia. 25 August 1945. p. 1. Retrieved 26 October 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "British Army of the Rhine". BAOR Locations. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  7. ^ "BAOR (Tactical Nuclear Weapons)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 30 January 1963. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  8. ^ Reynolds, Gerald (6 March 1967). "Defence (Army) Estimates 1967-68". millbanksystems. millbanksystems. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  9. ^ "From occupiers and protectors to guests". BBC News. 20 July 2004. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  10. ^ "Salamanca Barracks". BAOR Locations. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Bournemouth Barracks". BAOR Locations. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Kingsley Barracks". BAOR Locations. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  13. ^ "British army hands back last headquarters in Germany". The Guardian. 22 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.


  • The Original British Army of the Rhine by Richard A. Rinaldi
  • Peter Blume : BAOR – Vehicles Of The British Army Of The Rhine – Fahrzeuge der Britischen Rheinarmee – 1945–1979 Tankograd 2006.
  • Peter Blume : BAOR : The Final Years – Vehicles Of The British Army Of The Rhine – Fahrzeuge der Britischen Rheinarmee – 1980–1994 Tankograd 2007.
  • T.J. Gander : British Army of the Rhine Ian Allan Publishing, Londres 1984.
  • Thomas Laber : British Army of the Rhine – Armored Vehicles on exercise, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1991.
  • Carl Schulze : British Army Of The Rhine, Diane Pub Co 1995.
  • Graham Watson & Richard A. Rinaldi : The British Army in Germany: An Organizational History 1947–2004 , Tiger Lily Publications LLC 2005.

External links[edit]