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"British Inf Bn Sigs Pl eqpt - 1940-45" Topic


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551 hits since 4 Feb 2017
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Starfury Rider04 Feb 2017 11:46 a.m. PST

I've had some luck in recent months gathering info on the types and amounts of signals gear available to US, German and even Red Army infantry units. Where I've drawn more of a blank is with regards to British units, principally the Infantry Battalion's own Signal Platoon.

From what I can gather the 1940 era Bn had no radio (wireless) sets authorised. I've got a snippet from North Africa, circa late 1942, of a Lorried Inf Bn having a No.18 set per Coy HQ, plus five more with Bn HQ (not stated but I'd imagine as a pool for issue out). In May 1945 a wonderful booklet appears, Signals Trng (All Arms), Inf Bn (Prov), which gives a lot of detail on the radio issue and usage of a 1944-45 era unit.

Where I'm bereft of info is on something as mundane as the numbers of field telephones issued to a Sigs Pl (I understand the 1944-45 Mortar Pl had eight sound-powered telephones on hand).

Has anyone seen any proper detail on the subject or can recall a training manual that offers some answers?

Thanks,

Gary

Clays Russians04 Feb 2017 9:54 p.m. PST

A battalion HHC would have a signals platoon who would be responsible for the companies communication with (to and from) battalion. The companies themselves would have runners (British army and red army) to keep information going between platoon. The advent of the "walkee talkee" whose use is greatly overstated in Hollywood tried to put the runner idea to rest. Field "crank" phones were attached by field wire, which is still used today, (I layed over 55 miles of the stuff at Brcko Bosnia on an OE8 (spool carrier) dated 1943, so it was probably the same rig battalion carried into Manila. Crank phones were and are still pretty universal, we shared a patrol area with a Russian unit about 25-30 km from the Sava river and their stuff was about the same, the black two ply wire with the battery Dcell crank phones. Of course now because of vehicle reliance, every swing Johnson has to have at least one radio. WW2? Assets were. Remarkably similar if you take out the comsec and the computerized nonsense. The application is the same. Battalion signal maintains organizes and operates communication with in battalion by radio and field phone to all separate organic element, transportation, weapons, supply, medical, and headquarters-operations. Then to the three or four field companies. Company level would have limited crank phone and pull wire requisition from battalion. Radio freqs outdoor be co-ordinated by BTN down to company, in WW2 from what I learned at ft Gordon signals school, there were usually 2 radios per company with 3 being a rare thing indeed. USMC would never have that luxury. One radio was dedicated to battalion freqs, the second (if one was available from the BTN signals). Might be predialed for fire support, but as every operation is a crap shoot, even this was rare I'm sure. The British I don't believe had that luxury and the red army certainly not, The Russians were a firm believer in dig into the ground and lay miles and miles of wire, hook up phones. When the advance came, cut the wires, grab the phone and meet up to map out a new wire net at regiment. Hey- it worked, a lot of those wire dogs were girls too. The Germans? Wireless ,loved technology but the like every one else layer thousands of mile of wire everywhere the went. When ever a line would get cut, you had to send out wire dogs to find the cut and repair. The workhorse of WW2 was really the humble fieldphone, about 15inches by 6 inches in a canvas carrier with drop in batteries.

Rod I Robertson Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member04 Feb 2017 11:20 p.m. PST

Starfury Rider:

On the unlikely chance that you're not familiar with any of these web sources, here are four:

PDF link

wftw.nl

link

nigelef.tripod.com/artycomm.htm

A primary source from the Canadian Army (see the 16th PDF on the second page):

link

Cheers and thanks for all your efforts on the good old Bayonetstrength.com. I miss it greatly.

Rod Robertson.

shaun from s and s models Supporting Member of TMP05 Feb 2017 2:17 a.m. PST

i would recomend the osprey book on battlefield coms, very good read

Cambria562206 Feb 2017 6:22 a.m. PST

The couple of memoirs I've recently read by officers serving on regimental duty in the British/Indian Army during the Burma campaign indicate 1 radio per Coy and a single radio for Bn Tac HQ, all on the Bn Comd Net. I suspect Bn Rear would also have a radio on the Bn net (although this is unstated) and there would be at least 1 more radio within the Bn on the Bde Comd Net, either in Bn Main (when established) or at Bn Rear (when Bn Tac deployed) (although this too is unstated). All other comms were via field telephones or runners. There seemed to be a field phone for each Rifle Coy HQ and 2 Pln positions per Coy. Presumably the 3rd Pln within a Coy didn't need its own comms since it would be co-located with Coy HQ.

Andy P06 Feb 2017 8:10 a.m. PST

Here is what i have, based on original docs.

Infantry Battalion HQ was broken down into theoretically three parts.

Rear Bn HQ:- This held admin duties along with 2IC and CQMS, attached was a Royal signals section with a 15cwt 4x4 "wireless" truck fitted with a No.19 set for rear contact back to brigade HQ.

The Bn Signals platoon had another 15cwt 4x4 fitted with a WS.18 to allow contact to TacHQ

Tac HQ:- This was the actual HQ with minimal staffing, held signals and intelligence Officers. Ws.18 was fitted to a White scout car, this was for communications to Rifle companies. If Royal artillery observer (Battery commander) was attached this is where he would be located along with his relevant transport.

OC Rover:- This was when the OC wanted to leave TacHQ and see for himself. For this he would rely on a Universal carrier fitted with Ws.18 he could monitor company net and pass back messages.

Cambria562206 Feb 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

Andy P, when you say "OC Rover", I presume you mean "CO Rover" (or "CO's Rover"?) since it seems to be the Bn CO you are referring to rather than one of the Coy OCs.

Andy P07 Feb 2017 8:38 a.m. PST

Cambria your right sorry!

Cambria562207 Feb 2017 9:50 a.m. PST

Andy, no need to apologise; however, I must say it was really nice to be told I'm right. As a married man, I so rarely hear that!

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