INT: This is continue of the interview with Jim Atwood in Berlin on seventeenth July 1996 and this is Roll 10273. And Mr. Atwood I would just like to ask you to kind of continue what Clay's reaction was at that stage.

JA: Where were we?

INT: After you described the reaction he had to the...

JA: (Interrupts) OK. I understand, OK, thank you. The probe was planned, we knew that there would be an additional attempt to impede the traffic of our diplomats going in, therefore General Clay and our military commanders with the approval of our headquarters, decided that we would set up a second probe, two days later, after the first one had been escorted through. We moved tanks up near Tempelhof airfield, close to Checkpoint Charlie, we put an infantry battalion in reserve and we took all the necessary preparation, because no-one knew what the response would be from the other side. We assembled in the Berlin operations room, down in the cellar of the command post, General Clay, the US commander, the US commander of Berlin, Minister Leitner and the other major players. The vehicle was sent through and sure enough the East Germans stopped it again. We did the same thing that we'd done two days earlier or three days earlier. We put a patrol on foot with loaded weapons and in Jeeps, who went ahead of the vehicle and behind it and they escorted it through. pushed the East Germans aside, not physically, they stepped aside and after they got the vehicle in perhaps fifty metres, our troops turned around and in double time came back over to the Western side. This is the response we anticipated, the same scenario that it happened the day before and everyone finished their cup of coffee and got up and commented to the effect that, yeah, just like we thought, same thing and General Clay turned to me and he said, Jim, would you draw me up a little sequence of events and times and schedules and bring it up to my office where I can send a message back and I said, yes sir. So everyone got up and left and I was sitting down in the ops centre, the command post, and about ten minutes after everyone had left, the telephone rang in the command post and I picked it up and I said hello and this rather frantic, excited voice on the other end said, let me speak to General Watson, please. I said, General Watson's not here. He said, let me speak to the US commander of Berlin. I said, he's not here. He said, let me speak to General Clay. I said, he's not here, who is this? And he said, this is the military police officer at Checkpoint Charlie, he said, holy Christ, he said the Russians have rolled in here in force, he said, they've got tanks. He said, the balloon's getting ready to go up, he said, the defecation is about to hit the fan. He said, get everybody back, he said, the Russians are here and they're very, very threatening in their position. So I, through leaps and bounds, ran into the headquarters of the building and notified everyone to come back. The commanders attempted to quickly turn around the tanks who were on their way back to their (unintelligible), the troops were on their way back and it took a few minutes over the radios, to alert 'em that we had a serious problem. We re-assembled everyone back in the command bunker and the instructions were given to our tank commander that he was to roll up and confront the Soviet tank, who was at the identical distance across from Checkpoint Charlie. The tension escalated very rapidly for the one reason that this was Americans confronting Russians. It wasn't East Germans. There was live ammunition in both tanks of the Russians and the Americans. The Soviets had been issued live ammunition to their troops, the American troops were carrying their basic load of combat ammunition and it was a unexpected, sudden confrontation, that in my opinion was the closest that the Russians and the allies came to going to war in the entire Cold War period. I think it was an unrehearsed, unplanned scenario that no one knew how to turn off immediately. It just happened and there's an old expression today that says, using the vernacular, shit happens. I would describe this October confrontation as exactly that, it happened. And the dead seriousness of it became more intense with eac