Operation Red Comet

A Cold War Crime & Spy Thriller

By John H. Williams

Logo and shoulder patch of British Berlin Brigade
Cap badge of RMP

Royal Military Police

In Berlin

Opel Kapitan Staff Car used by RMP Berlin

Royal Military Police in Berlin

The Olympic Stadium Berlin, made famous by the 1936 Olympics, had been refurbished after the war and in 1966 part of it was a secure area housing the British Military Government, British Berlin Brigade Headquarters as well as various support units, including the Royal Military Police. 247 (Berlin) Provost Company RMP, were responsible for General Police Duties, border patrols and controlling checkpoints, whilst Berlin Detachment Special Investigation Branch of RMP was a separate detective unit and operated mainly in plain clothes.  Although both RMP GPD and SIB were Corps of Royal Military Police, they were separate Branches of RMP with their own hierarchy. For ease of recognition, members of the two branches of military police usually referred to RMP or RMP GPD for uniformed units and SIB for the plain clothes detectives.

After the second world war Berlin had been split into four ‘Sectors’, controlled by the military might of one of those four powers; United States of America, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union. Being part of an occupation force, RMP Berlin were funded by the Berlin Senate and did not want for equipment of any kind, their vehicles, all of German manufacture were painted black rather than the usual Army Green and front and back there were white reflective plates bearing the words ‘Military Police in red.  Blue revolving lights and two tone martin horns were fitted as well as state of the art Telefunken vehicle radio telephones.  Inside the Control Room which RMP call the Duty Room, was a high desk the complete length of the room, with a raised platform behind the desk where the duty personnel sat, looking down on those who dare approach the desk.  There were a multitude of telephones and two radio telephone systems, one for general use and one specifically for the Berlin Military Train travelling from West Germany through the Eastern Zone ‘Corridor’ to Berlin. One wall of the Control Room was covered by a large scale multi coloured street map of Berlin. Behind the desk was a small corridor giving access to two police cells, no longer used for prisoners, instead one was used as an armoury or secure storage for weapons used by those on duty, the other was available for use as deemed necessary and included a bed and locker for use by the shift supervisor.  The Control Room was manned by a Desk Sergeant assisted by another military policeman, usually a senior Corporal.  The Berlin civil police were represented in the Control Room and various other personnel, including German and Russian Interpreters were available in a room nearby. A typical shift of police personnel included four mobile patrols, each consisting of two men. Two of these were armed and patrolled the Sector border between West and East Berlin, known as the ‘Wall’ and Zonal Border between West Berlin and East Germany, known as the ‘Wire’, whilst the remaining two were available for normal police duties and in good British tradition were normally not armed.  In addition to these mobile patrols, Military Policemen or Policewomen of the WRAC, Women’s Royal Army Corps Provost carried out duties at Checkpoints Bravo, controlling access to the 100 Kilometre Autobahn Corridor to Helmstedt in West Germany, and Checkpoint Charlie, controlling access to East Berlin. Armed Military Policemen were also on duty at the East Gate controlling access to the military part of the Olympic Stadium and the Tiergarten Guardroom, near the Reichstag, controlling access to the Russian War Memorial close to the Brandenburg Gate.  A normal twelve-hour shift for the Military Police in Berlin comprised of eighteen Military Policemen plus interpreters and a Duty Driver.  At this time, only 21 years after the end of the war, the British authorities were still an occupation force and in control of the British Sector of Berlin, however, there was a general policy of building up the Berlin civilian authorities including police, giving them more authority whilst being aware that the Military had the final say. Although German Deutschmarks were the currency in West Germany and amongst the German population of West Berlin, so called BAFS or more correctly British Armed Forces Special Vouchers in pounds sterling were the currency of the British occupying forces and of no use to a potential enemy.  

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RMP, Royal Military Police, Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, SIB, RMP, Royal Military Police, Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, SIB,

Berlin Wall

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