On Wednesday, we decided to go visit my former schools in the former West Berlin. They were part of the school system for the children of the British Allies (military) stationed in Germany.
I attended class 3 and 4 at Charlottenburg First School. I remember Mrs. Davies and Mrs. Folkes (?sp) as my teachers but I also remember Mr. Greenwood and Mrs. Chittenden. I remember the tire swings, the climbing net and the trees in the playground – enough cover to effectively play kiss-chase. I have fond memories of the inter-school sporting events with Gatow and Spandau.
I then went to Havel School Berlin on the RAF Gatow military base for class 5 and 6 before we left Germany in 1990. Ms. Coates was my last teacher, but I remember Mr. Marsden (who taught older classes), Mr. Pugh the music teacher whose daughter was my year mate, and Mr. Ebbage. I also remember the many school trips I took at both locations such as to Peacock Island, Ka De We, Dahlem Museum and the Aygyptisches Museum, but also remember not being allowed to go on the real school trips such as skiing in Austria. And who can forget the assemblies, and the productions? The Dracular Spectacular?! Hello?!
Today both are no longer, however the Berlin British School now occupies the grounds of what was Charlottenburg First School. I was able to go visit, allowing one of the administrators to show us around. There are not so many woods in the back now. In fact it seems there’s another building back there in addition to the small German school. But inside and in the front, things look the same. The gymnasium looked so small! It brought back memories of me in my leotard twirling all around.
We then got a taxi and tried also to go to the Havel School on the former RAF Gatow airforce base. however, we were only able to get as far as the security in the front. I did try to have the driver take us to the Luftwaffenmuseums der Bundeswehr, a museum dedicated to the history of aviation in Germany which is also on the base however the driver was useless (limited English and German) and so we aborted the mission. But the little I did see brought back memories of being dropped outside the gates (we were not British military) and having to walk past the guards and passed the mini NAAFI shop responsible for my chocolate addiction to get to the school. On high security days, which were not many, there were guards all over with their arms at attention and I would wonder if they would shoot me in the back as I passed them by. Yep, watched one too many war movies, I did.
RAF Gatow has an interesting story. It was built in 1935 as the Luftwaffe headquarters with a training school for German pilots during World War II. From 1945 to 1992, it was operated by the British. It is now called General-Steinhoff Kaserne and apparently has several functions. There is still a military section, a living space for Federal government employees, and the public area where the museum is.
BEST SCHOOL(S) EVER!!!!!!!
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