Royal Corps of Signals

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Royal Signals
Insigne du Royal Corps of Signals (R SIGNALS).svg
Cap Badge of the Royal Corps of Signals
Active1920 – present
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Garrison/HQBlandford Camp, Dorset
Motto(s)Certa Cito
(Swift and Sure)
MarchBegone Dull Care (Quick); HRH The Princess Royal (Slow)
Commanders
Colonel-in-ChiefThe Princess Royal
Master of SignalsLieutenant General Sir Nick Pope
Corps ColonelCol J Gunning ADC
Corps Sergeant MajorWO1 D Corcoran
Insignia
Tactical Recognition FlashRoyal Signals TRF.svg

The Royal Corps of Signals (often simply known as the Royal Signals - abbreviated to R SIGNALS) is one of the combat support arms of the British Army. Signals units are among the first into action, providing the battlefield communications and information systems essential to all operations. Royal Signals units provide the full telecommunications infrastructure for the Army wherever they operate in the world. The Corps has its own engineers, logistics experts and systems operators to run radio and area networks in the field.[1] It is responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all types of telecommunications equipment and information systems, providing command support to commanders and their headquarters, and conducting electronic warfare against enemy communications.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

In 1870, 'C' Telegraph Troop, Royal Engineers, was founded under Captain Montague Lambert. The Troop was the first formal professional body of signallers in the British Army and its duty was to provide communications for a field army by means of visual signalling, mounted orderlies and telegraph. By 1871, 'C' Troop had expanded in size from 2 officers and 133 other ranks to 5 officers and 245 other ranks. In 1879, 'C' Troop first saw action during the Anglo-Zulu War.[2] On 1 May 1884, 'C' Troop was amalgamated with the 22nd and 34th Companies, Royal Engineers, to form the Telegraph Battalion Royal Engineers;[2] 'C' Troop formed the 1st Division (Field Force, based at Aldershot) while the two Royal Engineers companies formed the 2nd Division (Postal and Telegraph, based in London). Signalling was the responsibility of the Telegraph Battalion until 1908, when the Royal Engineers Signal Service was formed.[3] As such, it provided communications during the First World War. It was about this time that motorcycle despatch riders and wireless sets were introduced into service.[3]

Royal Warrant[edit]

A Royal Warrant for the creation of a Corps of Signals was signed by the Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, on 28 June 1920. Six weeks later, King George V conferred the title Royal Corps of Signals.[4]

Subsequent history[edit]

Before the Second World War, Royal Signals recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 2 inches tall. They initially enlisted for eight years with the colours and a further four years with the reserve. They trained at the Signal Training Centre at Catterick Camp. All personnel were taught to ride.[5]

During the Second World War (1939–45), members of the Royal Corps of Signals served in every theatre of war. In one famous episode, Corporal Thomas Waters of the 5th Parachute Brigade Signal Section was awarded the Military Medal for laying and maintaining the field telephone line under heavy enemy fire across the Caen Canal Bridge during the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.[6]

In the immediate post-war period, the Corps played a full and active part in numerous campaigns, including Palestine, Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, Malaya and the Korean War. Until the end of the Cold War, the main body of the Corps was deployed with the British Army of the Rhine confronting the Soviet Bloc forces, providing the British Forces' contribution to NATO with its communications infrastructure. Soldiers from the Royal Signals delivered communications in the Falklands War in 1982 and the first Gulf War in 1991.[7]

In 1994, The Royal Corps of Signals relocated its training regiments, 11th Signal Regiment (the Recruit Training Regiment) and 8th Signal Regiment (the Trade Training School), from Catterick Garrison to Blandford Camp.[8]

In late 2012, 2nd (National Communications) Signal Brigade was disbanded.[9] Soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals saw extensive service during the 8 years of the Iraq War before withdrawal of troops in 2011[10] and the 13 years of the War in Afghanistan before it ended in 2014.[11]

Personnel[edit]

Training and trades[edit]

Royal Signals officers receive general military training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, followed by specialist communications training at the Royal School of Signals, Blandford Camp, Dorset. Other ranks are trained both as field soldiers and tradesmen. Their basic military training is delivered at the Army Training Regiment at Winchester before undergoing trade training at 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment. There are currently six different trades available to other ranks,[12] each of which is open to both men and women:

  • Communication Systems Operator: trained in military radio and trunk communications systems
  • Communication Systems Engineer: trained in data communications and computer networks
  • Royal Signals Electrician: trained in maintaining and repairing generators and providing electrical power
  • Communication Logistic Specialist: trained in driving and accounting for communications equipment
  • Installation Technician: trained in installing and repairing fibreoptics and telephone systems
  • Electronic Warfare Systems Operator: trained in intercepting and jamming enemy communications

Staff Sergeant & Warrant Officers work in one of five supervisory rosters:

  • Yeoman of Signals - trained in the planning and deployment and management of military tactical/strategic communications networks;
  • Yeoman of Signals (Electronic Warfare) - trained in the planning, deployment and management of military tactical/strategic electronic warfare assets;
  • Foreman of Signals - trained in the installation, maintenance, repair and interoperability of military tactical/strategic communications assets;
  • Foreman of Signals (Information Systems) - trained in the installation, maintenance, repair and interoperability of military tactical/strategic Information Systems;
  • Regimental Duty - trained in the daily routine and running of a unit.

Whilst SSgts are generally regarded as being Regimental Duty, this roster does not start until WO2 and therefore all SSgts in the Royal Signals who are not supervisory are still employed "in trade".

Museum[edit]

The Royal Signals Museum is based at Blandford Camp in Dorset.[13]

Dress and ceremonial[edit]

Tactical Recognition flash[edit]

The Corps wears a blue and white tactical recognition flash. This is worn horizontally on the right arm with the blue half charging forward.

Airborne elements of the Royal Signals wear a Drop Zone (DZ) flash on the right arm of their combat jacket. It is square in shape with its top half white and the bottom half blue. When 5 Airborne Brigade was re-formed for the Falklands War, Signal elements adopted the Airborne Bridges Headquarters DZ Flash but this changed back to its original colours in the mid 1980s.

Cap badge[edit]

The flag and cap badge feature Mercury (Latin: Mercurius), the winged messenger of the gods, who is referred to by members of the corps as "Jimmy". The origins of this nickname are unclear. According to one explanation, the badge is referred to as "Jimmy" because the image of Mercury was based on the late mediaeval bronze statue by the Italian sculptor Giambologna, and shortening over time reduced the name Giambologna to "Jimmy". The most widely accepted theory of where the name Jimmy comes from is a Royal Signals boxer, called Jimmy Emblem, who was the British Army Champion in 1924 and represented the Royal Corps of Signals from 1921 to 1924.

It is one of the eight chalk hill figure military badges carved at Fovant, Wiltshire. It is the latest one to be made, as it was placed in 1970 following the Corp's 50th anniversary.

Lanyard[edit]

On Nos 2, 4 and 14 Dress, the Corps wears a dark blue lanyard on the right side signifying its early links with the Royal Engineers. The Airborne Signals Unit wears a drab green lanyard made from parachute cord. This dates back to the Second World War, when, following a parachute drop into France, the unit's Commanding Officer ordered all Signal personnel to cut a length of para-cord from their chutes in the event they may need it later in the fighting.

Motto[edit]

The Corps motto is "certa cito", often translated from Latin as Swift and Sure . It is easily seen on any of the Corps Badges.

Appointments[edit]

The Colonel in Chief is currently the Princess Royal.

Equipment[edit]

The Corps deploys and operates a broad range of specialist military and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) communications systems.[14] The main categories are as follows:

  • Satellite ground terminals
  • Terrestrial trunk radio systems
  • Combat net radio systems
  • Computer networks
  • Specialist military applications (computer programs)

Royal Corps of Signals units[edit]

Brigades[edit]

There are now two signal brigades:

  • 1st Signal Brigade: The Brigade Headquarters is co-located with HQ ARRC at Gloucester and the ARRC Support Battalion. The Brigade is made up of four specialist units, each trained to carry out a unique and challenging role in support of the overall brigade mission and is prepared to deploy at short notice anywhere in the world. The Brigade consists of ARRC Sp Bn, 16 Sig Regt, 22 Sig Regt, 30 Sig Regt, 32 Sig Regt, 39 Sig Regt and 299 (SC) Sig Sqn.[15]
  • 11th Signal Brigade: The Brigade Headquarters is located in MoD Donnington, near Telford. The Brigade is divided into one Signal Group: 7 Signal Group comprises 1 Sig Regt, 2 Sig Regt, 3 (UK) Div Sig Regt, 21 Sig Regt, 15 Sig Regt (IS), 37 Sig Regt, 38 Sig Regt, 71 Y Sig Regt. 2 Signal Group comprises 10 .[16] 2 Signal Group however disbanded on 31 July 2018 as part of Army 2020 Refine.[17]

The structure of the Royal Signals has changed under Army 2020.[18] The listing below shows the present location of units and their future location:[19][20][21]

Regular Army[edit]

Army Reserve[edit]

Corps changes under Army 2020 Refine[edit]

The future structure of the Royal Signals will change under Army 2020 Refine.[29][30] A presentation by the Masters of Signals indicates that 16 Signal Regiment will shift from 11 Signal Brigade to 1 Signal Brigade and focus on supporting communications for logistic headquarters. Similarly, 32 and 39 Signal Regiments will shift to 1 Signal Brigade. 15 Signal Regiment will no longer be focused on Information Systems but will support 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade while 21 and 2 Signal Regiments will support the 1st and 2nd Strike Brigades respectively. Furthermore, a new regiment, 13th Signal Regiment, will form up under 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade and work with 14th Signal Regiment on Cyber and Electromagnetic Activity.[31]

Cadet Forces[edit]

The Royal Corps of Signals is the sponsoring Corps for several Army Cadet Force and Combined Cadet Force units, such as in Blandford Forum, home to the Royal School of Signals.[32]

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
Corps of Royal Engineers
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Foot Guards

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Career paths
  2. ^ a b The Royal Signals Museum: Telegraph TP & Boer War
  3. ^ a b The Royal Signals Museum: Corps History
  4. ^ "Royal Corps of Signals". National Army Museum. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  5. ^ War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  6. ^ "Pegasus Bridge hero honoured in exhibition". Dorset Echo. 23 July 2004. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  7. ^ "No. 52589". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 June 1991. p. 45.
  8. ^ "Blandford Garrison". Army Garrisons. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ THE SIGNAL OFFICER IN CHIEF'S MESSAGE ON CHANGE FOR THE CORPS, dated 19 Sep 11
  10. ^ "Chilcot report: Who were the 179 British soldiers who died during the Iraq War?". The Independent. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  11. ^ "UK ends its war in Afghanistan: These are the 453 British men and women who died fighting the Taliban". The Independent. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  12. ^ Royal Signals Careers - Soldier Trades Archived 29 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "About us". Royal Signals Museum. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  14. ^ Royal Signals Equipment Archived 13 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "1st United Kingdom Signal Brigade - British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  16. ^ "HQ 11 Sig Bde - British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  17. ^ "The Wire Autumn 2018" (PDF). royalsignals.org. August 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Royal Signals Journal" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  19. ^ "Army 2020 listing" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Royal Signals Changes" (PDF).
  21. ^ "The Wire".
  22. ^ "81st Signal Squadron (Volunteers)". The National Archives. 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  23. ^ "21 Sig Regt - British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  24. ^ "21 Sig Regt - British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  25. ^ "The Wire" (PDF). October 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 July 2016.
  26. ^ "The Wire" (PDF). August 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016.
  27. ^ "299 Sig Sqn (SC)". British Army. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017.
  28. ^ at 2:18pm, 21st June 2019. "Falkland Islands: Signals Unit Gets Its Own Crest For Protecting The Islands". Forces Network. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  29. ^ "Army 2020, p. 56-57" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2013.
  30. ^ "Royal Signals Journal, p. 42-45" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2014.
  31. ^ "Royal Signals The Caduceus Programme A Corps for the 21st Century" (PDF). Royal Signals. October 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  32. ^ "Homepage of ACF/CCF Signals Training". Retrieved 28 October 2008.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]