poppy field


Mönchengladbach is the biggest city west of the Lower Rhine with 269,000 inhabitants and is situated in the middle of the Düsseldorf, Köln, Aachen triangle.  It is also close to the Dutch border with Roermond and Venlo 22 miles away.  The Rheindahlen Military Complex known locally the Joint Headquarters (JHQ) was an official suburb of Mönchengladbach and it was until recently, the home of the Royal Briotish Legion, Rheindahlen Branch e.V.  The branch  relocated to Javelin Barracks, Elmpt Station, on the Dutch border (Roermond) the former RAF Brüggen Station. In 2014 the Branch moved to Ayrshire barracks Mönchengladbach.

JHQ was custom built to house the Headquarters of the British Forces in Germany, which after WW II were located in several spa towns in Northern Germany.  In 1950 it was decided to establish a Headquarters west of the Rhine and the present site of JHQ was eventually chosen.  Construction of the site was completed in October 1954.  It was originally the HQ of the Northern Army Group, 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force, British Army of the Rhine and Royal Air Force (Germany).  It now houses the HQ of United Kingdom Support Command which is the administrative HQ of the British Army in North West Europe.

Mike Woodiwiss, who was the first Chairman, Maurice Usher who became the first Secretary and Bob Francis, who remained  the Branch Treasurer until 2016, founded the Rheindahlen Branch in October 1992.  The Branch met initially in the old RAF Association Club in JHQ.  In 1993 the Branch acquired a room in the Civil Service Sports Club (CSSC) building at 10 Reading Way, JHQ.  In 1997 it was decided that the main part of CSSC building was not being used to its full potential and it was agreed that the Branch should take it over.   This occurred in January 1998 and the premises were named the Lion's Head.

The Branch acquired a Standard in 1995, which was dedicated at St Boniface Church JHQ on 21 October 1995. In 1997 the Branch was awarded the prestigious 75th Anniversary Recruiting Award of the Royal British Legion.

GOC UKSC(G) Major General Christopher Elliott CBE performed the official opening ceremony of 'The Lion's Head' on Friday 30 October 1998. He also witnessed the Partnership Ceremony between the Rheindahlen Branch and the Krefeld/Mönchengladbach Branch of the German Army Reservists.

General Elliott also presented a trophy and certificate to Celia Sholl from Windsor School. Students from the school painted a Poppy Mural on one of the walls in the Lion's Head.

The Rheindahlen Branch is now well established in the local community and has around 200 members. In addition to its primary aim of providing welfare assistance to ex-service personnel and their dependants, the Branch is always keen to make contact with the local German community and to improve Anglo-German relations.