Five dog handlers from 102 Military Working Dog Squadron worked hard for four days searching Princess Royal Barracks in Gütersloh for potential hazards prior to the official handover to the German authorities on November 4.
Maj Ken McIntosh, officer commanding the unit, said: “We are taking our responsibility seriously and we are working with our dogs to provide a level of assurance prior to handing the camp back.
“With our dogs, we are able to search areas and detect potentially dangerous items where the human eye can’t see. This is a live task, so the dogs and their handlers are doing what they are actually employed to do. It’s a real live execution of their skills and abilities.”
Pte Cameron Watson said: “We are searching for anything that could have been left behind and has the potential to be dangerous.
“Mikey is an arms explosives search dog; so he searches for weapons, ammunition and explosives. If he finds anything, he will sit still and just stare at what he has found with his tail wagging. That’s because he knows that he will then get his toy as a reward.”
Searches were primarily conducted around accommodation blocks, storage facilities and alongside the perimeter fence where potentially dangerous items might have been dropped or accidentally discarded.
“The dogs work hard but they are like humans, they get tired, they get cold and they then need a rest,” said Maj McIntosh.
“Our original plan was to live in tents but there was one building, the old rehab centre, that still had power, electrics and water, so the handlers and dogs used that as a base.”
The soldiers slept on camp beds and lived on ration packs as facilities such as the cookhouse and the NAAFI store had already been closed down.
Princess Royal Barracks is a former RAF base with a runway on which British Harrier jets used to take off and land.
The camp was originally built as a German Luftwaffe base in 1937 and has only been used by the British Army since 1993. The overall size of the barracks amounts to approximately 344 hectares.