CAE as Sleeping Beauty...

On October 1st, 2001 we visited the former Fort Victoria in Werl, home of Radio CAE. Our member Manfred Schmitt reports...

Every regular listener who had eaten his heart out on Radio CAE, like me, will understand the desire, to visit today one more time this particular place „where it all happened" – Fort Victoria and the former CAE-studios. When the necessary official permission for an inspection of the closed-down camp arrived, it was not a matter of long persuasion, to catch Mr. Helmuth Euler, the author of nine photo-books about Werl and a connoisseur of the former Canadian „scene", and Mr. Robert Schad, the connection-officer of the city of Werl to the Canadian Army, as experts for our little expedition. Armed with cameras of every size we marched into the camp.

 

Reveille churchNext to where the guardhouse stands, as ever, one of the landmarks of the camp, as  Mr. Schad called it „The Reveille-Church", clearly delapidated. Not far away we discovered our "object of desire", half of it surrounded by nature, the station-building of Radio Canadian Army Europe.

The British, who had moved into the camp after withdrawl of the Canadians, had built in new windows and removed the CAE sign above the entry, but for us it was to be identified right off. So here it was operated: the source of information for about 16.000 Canadian soldiers, who were stationed until 1970 in and around Werl, Soest, Lippstadt, Hemer and Iserlohn. And a source for British and American and C&W music in the, in this case „musical desert" of German radio in the 60's.

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CAE-BuildingIn the few rooms of this little building where programs were produced, what made our eyes sparkling in those days. Our team split up and everyone tried to find a good position for a picture – and then the cameras clicked. Visible through the windows of the building: all rooms are clean and empty, the equipment was removed and maybe on duty still somewhere else. Hard to believe, that 31 years ago the last broadcasting took place right here. It seems, the little broadcasting center is only sleeping, waiting for someone to wake it up again. Today a new part in the back is filled with technical equipment from the German Telekom, supplying two telecommunication-towers, visible from far away. Not far from their new location must have stood the antenna-tower of CAE, visible on old photos.

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Sperrgebiet Of course, former program-director Ted Wood, who hopefully will visit us from us from Canada some  day, or the ex-technician "Texas" Heinz Gunnesson, whom we interviewed in Cologne recently, would have loved to accompany us. We explored and viewed the building and the area around, from all angles, since we were told, it's days may soon be numbered: the city of Werl intends to re-claim the ground to change it back to what it was before: the Stadtwald.

As we eventually left the area, filled up with many impressions, after a last glimpse at Radio CAE this very last snapshot was made. It reminded us, that everything we saw wasn't always allowed to be photographed at it's time as a military area. Maybe then we would have landed in one of the cells in the guardhouse we had seen some moments before…..

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We didn't say goodbye to Mr. Euler and Mr. Schad without thanking them for the many tips they gave us. Finally we visited the city hall of Werl in the afternoon. There, Mr. Heinrich Deisting, the director of the city archives was waiting by appointment, to allow our inspection. So we looked through the documents collected there about the Canadian Army until their withdrawl in 1970. We thank Mr. Deisting for the copies of many interesting newspaper-clippings; some of them will be introduced in upcoming updates on this website.

Switch off
Of course we did – the CAE-Team knows how to behave...

 

Manfred SchmittManfred Schmitt wrote this report on Oct. 23rd, 2001

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