26 SIGNAL UNIT plaque

 

Better view of the Unit logo!

 

No 4 Hangar, RAF GATOW (in 1984)

 

26 Signal Unit was based on the site of RAF Gatow (in West Berlin) during 'The Cold War' from late 1945 until the fall of the Soviet Union.  The unit played a significant role in The West's voice surveillance intelligence activities, primarily in monitoring both the Soviets and the East Germans.  Housed in Number 4 Aircraft Hangar at RAF Gatow (known simply to all there as 'The Hangar'!) its staff also manned the joint American and British intelligence surveillance establishment known as 'TBerg'.  This latter building was situated on the top of the large mound in West Berlin called Teufelsberg.  Teufelsberg itself was a man-made mound formed from the resultant rubble of the allied bombing of the city at the climax of World War II.

26SU's personnel comprised of RAF personnel, army members of the Royal Corps of Signals and some civilians; the latter often being 'borrowed' from GCHQ at Cheltenham in England.  To our astonishment and great amusement, so many of the 'Brown Jobs' (as the RAF personnel still insisted on nicknaming Army personnel) wore the badges and insignia of the RAPC (the then Royal Army Pay Corps) about their uniforms:  I'm sure the latter will agree that the establishment 'bods' weren't THAT highly paid!!

The unit's HQ and building was situated uncomfortably near the perimeter fence of the airfield ... with a Soviet watchtower literally sited (on their side of course!) similarly uncomfortably only a couple of hundred yards away! ... close enough to see the glint from the occupants' field glasses as they continually watched British activity thereon.  In the photograph above 'The Hangar' can be seen in the foreground with the former RAF Gatow HQ in the background, to the left.

 

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