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Marville, a Cold War Baby Blues: Part One

"Come on now, baby," the old lady said. "Come on now and follow me up to the cemetery. And listen to me, baby. I will not tell you a fairy tale. I will not tell you some silly urban legend. No fiction here with me, baby. Just plain facts. Just the true story of my Cold War Baby Blues. I want you to write it down, baby. Do you hear me? I want you to go tell it on the mountain. I want you to write it all down."

 ”The year was 1955,” the Lady of the Cemetery said. “As part of the NATO, the First Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force took possession of a newly built air base at Marville. Cozy little village it was. Close to the Franco-Belgian border, in the Lorraine Meuse Department.”

 

Photo copyright by the author

 

There was a Cold War coming and RCAF Station Marville was one of the four Wings that would support the NATO. Two were located in West Germany: one in Zweibrücken, one in Baden-Soellingen. Two were located in France: one in Grostenquin, one in Marville.

“Marvelous Marville,” the old lady smiled. “Cozy little village it was.”

They had about 1,000 Canadian Air Force personnel in Marville, and at each of the airfields. With wives and children, each station had about 3,500 Canadians.

“There was a huge need for support personnel,” the Lady of the Cemetery said. “RCAF Station Marville needed them in the hospital and in the logistic services. RCAF Station Marville needed cooks and drivers and military police. Cozy little village it was, this small piece of Canadian land on French soil. It was not limited to a terminal, you know. It was not limited to a tarmac or a few hangars. Marvelous Marville was not limited at all.”

Like in any other major NATO base, in the town of Marville the inhabitants gladly mingled with the local population, both French and Belgian. “We all listened to the same pipe band, baby. We all listened to the one and only local radio. And we played ice hockey games together, and we went racing together on the taxiway. And we all were reading the Arrowhead Tribune, you know.”

The year was 1956 and Marville’s Sabre fighting squadron was replaced by the CF-100 Canuck. There was a cold Cold War coming and the Canuck had full weather and night operation abilities. And the year was 1962 and the two remaining Sabre squadrons were converted to CF-104 Starfighters. There was a cold Cold War coming and the CF-104 could support Canada’s new and controversial nuclear strike role, because the Starfighter could be equipped with nuclear weapons.

Marvelous Marville. Cozy little village it was.

Photo copyright by the author

The year was 1963 and De Gaulle announced that all nuclear weapons on French territory were to be placed under French control, and so the two nuclear strike squadrons were hastily moved to Baden-Soellingen and Zweibrücken, in West Germany. In Marville only two squadrons remained, with a strictly reconnaissance role. And this until 1966 when France withdrew its military forces from NATO and the NATO units in France had to leave or fall under French command.

“And that was the end of RCAF Station Marville,” the old lady said. “In 1967 the squadrons moved to Lahr, in West Germany. Only our Cold War Baby’s remained.”

They were resting in peace, it was said. But she was not. She had the Cold War Baby Blues.


Image via Wikipedia

 

To Be Continued!

Marville, a Cold War Baby Blues: Part Two

Marville, a Cold War Baby Blues: Part Three (the St. Hilaire Cemetery)

Photography embee.

 

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