Arsbeck RAF Training Ground
In the forest at the end of the runway at RAF Brüggen is the start of a single railway track. From the runway, the railway track heads south, curving slightly so as to deliberately avoid crossing the Dutch border. The railway line terminates, suddenly, in the middle of a wood, about seven kilometres south of RAF Brüggen and just north of a small town called Arsbeck.
Here, in the middle of a pine forest, stand vast concrete walls and structures. Four, five and six meters high, on the one side they are vertical and covered with wooden panelling. These concrete walls run parallel with each other and each are numbered. Dotted around the site’s grounds are the frontages of mock buildings. There is also an electrical substation and a telephone line connection.
This peculiar site was a training ground. It was built in 1966. Following the clearing of part of the forest, it was used to help keep the serving army and RAF personnel based in Germany at peak fitness. On occasion, those serving in Germany would be sent to the training ground at Arsbeck, and put to work on an assault course, training ground and rifle range. The mock buildings were built for this purpose.
Aside from a training ground, the Arsbeck site was also an ammunition and fuel depot. There were several large military complexes within the vicinity of Arsbeck. Indeed, RAF Brüggen and RAF Wildenrath were each less than ten kilometres away, and there was a direct train line to the former. Other BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) military sites were nearby, with the enormous JHQ located just eleven kilometres to the east.
Today the site is abandoned, and the grounds have been aggressively fenced off. Entry is strictly forbidden, due to the fact that they once housed ammunition and may still do. Because it was a live firing range, the ground is still contaminated with spent ammunition.