If you have read the “about me” page you will know my first ever experience of scuba diving was in Roberts Barracks swimming pool in Osnabruck in West Germany. The barracks was a throwback from the Nazis and we were there as part of the British Army of the Rhine or BAOR for short
Osnabruck is a wonderful city and well worth a visit, especially the “Alt Staadt” or “old town” where you would find the Zwiebel and the Kartofelln, both great little pubs where you could play shock or nails with the locals if you were allowed in!
So what were the early days like, well things had moved on from Cousteau, technology had brought change, and we had choice, the old Adjustable Buoyancy Life Jackets (ABLJ’s) were still around, especially abundant in British Sub Aqua Clubs, but we had “Stab Jackets” rising in popularity chief amongst them the AP valves “Buddy Commando”, bloody expensive but far superior in many people’s eyes to what had gone before, there were other brands, MARES and Scubapro….but it was the Buddy Commando for me…..
Training was a drawn out affair, weeks in the local or, if you were lucky, club, pool doing exercises like snorkelling, underwater swims, retrieving rubber “bricks” off the pool floor and “buddy breathing swims” before you had any chance of getting into “open water” but, for the length of time spent getting “ready” to dive you generated a deep desire to actually get into a pond, lake, the sea…..anywhere but the bloody pool!
The alternate was the BSAC Novice Diver “course”, available to me as recreation through the Joint Services Sub Aqua Diving Centre (JSSADC) at Fort Bovisands in Plymouth. At the time this was a difficult course to get on, plenty wanted it, so if you were lucky……and I was….you got a place on a week’s course, guaranteeing (if you passed the same skills in a compressed timescale over a couple of pool sessions) that you would be in the Fort harbour on day 3, going through skills & drills until you could be signed off as a Novice Diver and head back for Germany with a grin on your face!
You had to want to be there to be honest, whilst your mates were convinced it was a “swan” it was never better than bunks in unused Army or sometimes Navy accommodation blocks, or bunk rooms under the fort itself, I loved every minute!
By the way, all the photos on here will be mine or attributed to whom ever gave them, took them or loaned them to me. I will use some from the internet, or make mistakes identifying them I’m sure, if you believe you took them or own them please let me know and I will either remove them or correctly attribute them, which ever you prefer………