The Farndale Cocktail
Dates are in red.
Hyperlinks to other pages are in dark blue.
Headlines of the history of Boosbeck are in brown.
References and citations are in turquoise.
Contextual history is in purple.
General Sir Martin Farndale KCB
Sir Martin Farndale commanded the Northern Army Group (“NORTHAG”) of NATO
during the Cold War.
As the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation (“NATO”) lined up from Scandinavia to
southern Europe to face the Warsaw Pact, the NATO defensive force was divided
the Scandinavian force, the Allied Forces Northern
Europe, in the icy north;
NORTHAG, which protected the line of defence from
the Baltic to the Harz mountains; and
the Central Army Group (“CENTAG “) to the
The Northern Army Group of NATO
comprised five Corps - a Dutch, German, British, Belgian and French Corps, with
an American Corps (based in USA) to act as its reserve force and to arrive
(perhaps jet lagged) by air as the war started.
comprised about 77,000 soldiers. The size of the entire British Army in 2019 is
circa 80,000 soldiers.
region in 1989
In the NATO
command structure NORTHAG belonged to Allied Forces Central Europe (“AFCENT”), which in
turn reported to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (“SHAPE”).
responsibility was the defence of the North German plains from south of the
river Elbe to
the city of Kassel.
The defence north of the Elbe was the task of Allied Land Forces Command
Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland (“COMLANDJUT”), while
south of Kassel it was the task of CENTAG.
Chief of NORTHAG was the commanding General of the British Army of the
Rhine (BAOR). The Chief of Staff was a German Major
General, with a Belgian or Dutch Major General as alternates.
Group was assigned the following formations:
Corps (1st Infantry and 16th Armoured Division)
Corps was assigned as reserve corps. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Armoured Division
was forward deployed at Garlstedt. The rest of 2nd Armoured Division,
along with 1st Cavalry Division, 5th Infantry Division
(Mech), 212th Field Artillery Brigade and 3rd Armoured Cavalry
Regiment would join NORTHAG through OPERATION REFORGER within
days after an outbreak of hostilities. They would draw their equipment
from POMCUS depots
in the Netherlands, Belgium and North
organizations fell in peacetime under their respective national command
authorities. Only in the case of attack did operational control over the Corps
automatically transfer to NORTHAG.
was provided by 2 ATAF.
peacetime NORTHAG multi-national staff commanded the following units:
Telecommunications Company (13 Cie T Tr)
28th Signal Regiment, Royal
German Telecommunications Battalion 840
Dutch telecommunications company
NORTHAG telecommunications company (radio NORTHAG
Air Support Squadron), which consisted of soldiers from all four nations.
The Army Group
headquarters was established on 1 November 1952 in Bad Oeynhausen.
The Army Group
headquarters relocated in 1954 to Rheindahlen. The HQ complex near
Mönchengladbach contained NORTHAG HQ and three other command posts; the
headquarters of the Second Allied Tactical Air Force (2
ATAF), British Army of the Rhine (“BAOR”) and Royal Air Force Germany (“RAFG”).
Army Group had been on the left flank of the Allied advance into Germany, and had advanced into the North German Plain.
This may have been the reason that a four-corps sized formation, which would
usually be considered an army, was given the title of 'Army group'.
construction of the main Joint Headquarters (“JHQ”) building, a
Frankish battle axe (Francisca)
was found. It was the badge NORTHAG chose because the Franks were
a Western Europeans defending against attackers from the East. In the year 451
AD the Franks defeated an army under the leadership
of Attila at Châlons-sur-Marne and thus ended a conquest of
Western Europe by the Huns.
Sir Nigel Bagnall was Commander of NORTHAG in the rank of General from 1
July 1983. As Commander of NORTHAG he grappled with NATO's strategy of forward
defence, and he persuaded the Germans that some ground would have to be
surrendered to withstand a massive Soviet Army attack. General Bagnall became
Chief of the General Staff in 19856 and was promoted to Field Marshall in 1988.
British Corps, 1st British Corps (comprising the fighting
element of the British Army of the Rhine) between 1983 and 1985 as Lieutenant General and
immediately afterwards he became Commander
NORTHAG as a full general from 1985 to 1987 as a full General.
Farndale followed Nigel Bagnall’s initiative to re-orientate NORTHAG’s
defensive plans from a static defence to a more mobile approach. By 1986,
this plan envisioned the formation of armour-heavy reserves held under army
operations relating to the crisis in former Yugoslavia began in late 1992. In
November 1992, the United Nations Protection Force in
Bosnia-Herzegovina was provided with an operational headquarters drawn from HQ
NORTHAG, including a staff of some 100 personnel, equipment, supplies and
initial financial support.
On 24 June
1993, the headquarters of NORTHAG and 2 ATAF officially disbanded during a
The Concentration of Force
One of the key
principles of War is the Concentration of Force being the
concentration of military force so as to bring to bear
such overwhelming force against a portion of an enemy force that the disparity
between the two forces alone acts as a force multiplier in favour of the concentrated forces.
Thus it has long been a key military strategy in attack to concentrate force
at a small perhaps vulnerable point of the battlefield in order to punch
through and overwhelm the defender. That was known to be the strategy of the
Warsaw Pact. It was often applied unsuccessfully in World War 1.
is equally important in defence. Hadrian’s Wall provided a physical barrier, but was defended by very small numbers of soldiers.
Their job was simply to use the barrier of the wall to slow any attack and to
signal to forts of legions behind the line, who would focus their force in defence at the point of any attack.
In World War 2
concentration of force in defence was often used successfully. In March 1943
Field Marshall Von Manstein faced a concentrated
attack by the Soviet force at Kharkov. He allowed his enemy force to penetrate
deep into his territory before ordering a powerful counter strike into the soft
tail of the concentrated force, thus cutting off its logistical tail and
leaving the attacking force exposed and without supplies. The strategy for an
attacker can be a dangerous one if over exploited. A strategy of concentration
of force in attack can be met with concentrated force in defence. Thus a strategy of a ‘thin red line’, spreading a defence
force equally along the line of defence, was long recognised as an ineffective
developed by NATO in response to the Warsaw Pact threat was focused on the
concentration of effective force. This was a key part of the strategy of a more
mobile defence. NATO commanders intended to allow significant penetration by
Warsaw Pact attackers into western European territory but to apply their own
concentrated force at the most vulnerable moment against the attacking force.
This involved a careful strategy of intelligence gathering and anticipating the
progression of enemy forces.
The Farndale Cocktail
Farndale was an artillery officer by background. He understood the importance
of the combined firepower of the infantry and tank units with the firepower of
infantry mortar units, artillery batteries, helicopter anti tank squadrons, and
He devised a
strategy to concentrate not only the force of tanks and infantry, but the whole
firepower of air, artillery and helicopters, at a
decisive point in the battlefield.
became known as the Farndale Cocktail.