My service in Royal Signals, 1939 to 1946.

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Nevil, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Nevil,
    My old man was R Sigs, National Service post war, and spent most of his time as a teleprinter Op at the War Office, Whitehall.
    He was based at the Royal Artillery Depot in Woolwich and a few years ago when we went there he found the grooves they wore in the pavement when on guard duty outside the main gate - they are still there!
    He also recalls volunteering (!) for trips from London to Holland on ferries from Harwich to the Hook of Holland with a briefcase chained to his wrist and a revolver on his belt. Apparently there were 'benefits' to these trips ;).

    Mike
     
  2. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Nevil,
    My old man was R Sigs, National Service post war, and spent most of his time as a teleprinter Op at the War Office, Whitehall.
    He was based at the Royal Artillery Depot in Woolwich and a few years ago when we went there he found the grooves they wore in the pavement when on guard duty outside the main gate - they are still there!
    He also recalls volunteering (!) for trips from London to Holland on ferries from Harwich to the Hook of Holland with a briefcase chained to his wrist and a revolver on his belt. Apparently there were 'benefits' to these trips ;).

    Mike

    Your Dad's trips sound like a nice break from the routine. I cannot possibly think what the 'benefits' might be (it being about 70 years since I was that age!) but I can imagine the availability of a wide variety of such in Holland. <G>

    As a Sgt of DRs, I was stationed at the War Office, #1 HQ Signals, for a while in 1941. I shared a 'flat' with a Sgt from the Intelligence Corps. He was very peeved when I showed up as he was obviously having a very nice war all on his own with lots of company from the various womens' services. My DR section was billeted in the basement of a pub although the publican was a very unfriendly type and tried to make it as uncomfortable as he could. I did not hear until after we had been transferred again months later, that the DRs had been getting their own back by using the tubes that every DR carried to siphon gas when necessary, to siphon beer from the barrels that occupied their basement billet!

    We went from there to 2nd Army Signals where the CO was Col "Loggie" Yule, a regular army officer who was a bit of a martinet. We had been there not more than a couple of weeks before I was sent off to an NCO Drill Course at Catterick Camp. I don't know which of us was most surprised that I passed it Q1....myself or Loggie Yule. Anyway he celebrated by promoting me from L/Sgt to A/Sgt!

    Nevil.
     
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Nevil
    Thank you for posting, I've enjoyed reading everything so far.

    I hope there's more to come

    Regards
    Diane
     
  4. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Nevil
    Thank you for posting, I've enjoyed reading everything so far.

    I hope there's more to come

    Regards
    Diane

    Thanks for your interest, Diane. I do have quite a few more photographs to post and am just getting them organized at the moment.

    In 1942 I was selected for officer training and was commissiond in R.Signals in August of 1943. So 1942 was the end of my Despatch Rider days although I still look back on that time as being the best part of the war for me, mainly because of the wonderful commradeship that DRs shared, no matter background or Regiment or Corps......or even rank. It was also a continuation of the motorcycling I had had as a hobby pre-war, although practically living on a bike, day in, day out, in all weather and conditions, took a lot of the 'hobby' ouit of it!

    I had a rather unusual situation as my brother and I served together until I went to OCTU in 1942. He was three years older than I yet he served under me as a DR when I was progressively Cpl and then Sgt of the section. I still don't know why the army allowd it but it worked out fine, probably because he was a heck of a nice guy and made it work.

    Nevil.
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Nevil,

    Incase you haven't worked it out - I do have a bit of an interest in 1940 France war.

    Any stories you can share from your days with the BEF in Belgium and France? I always like to read the funny ones if you have any. Also anyone you served with through the whole of the war who was awarded any medals? If so I'm more than happy to get the original citation and post it on here for you?

    Regards
    Andy
     
  6. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Hi Nevil,

    Incase you haven't worked it out - I do have a bit of an interest in 1940 France war.

    Any stories you can share from your days with the BEF in Belgium and France? I always like to read the funny ones if you have any. Also anyone you served with through the whole of the war who was awarded any medals? If so I'm more than happy to get the original citation and post it on here for you?

    Regards
    Andy

    Hi Andy,

    I'm afraid my story would be a big disappointment. I went to France with a small detachment that was, we assumed, the start of an advance party for 4 Corps. We got there around April 20 I believe and went directly to Amiens to await further orders. Whatever they were went by the board a few weeks later when we heard that the German attack had started and a little while after that, that the French line had been breached at Sedan. That was around the middle of May and we were ordered to make our way back to Calais.

    That proved to be easier said than done with the bombing, especially of refugees, on the roads. I have read many postings on this forum of that whole mess and there is little I can add to what they have already covered in great detail, especially as many were involved in action against the advancing Germans with which I was not involved.

    We left our vehicles about 20 miles outside Calais, the road being impassable with abandoned civilian and military vehicles and equipment and walked in the rest of the way. Infantry and some other units were being co-opted for a port defence force but Signals were one of the trades being allowed to line up for ships. I think we left there on May 20. By some miracle the ship I was on was not bombed and our trip home was uneventful.

    I did not have any amusing incidents in this period; in fact it was b***** horrible, to be frank.

    In the positions I was in from there onwards, I was most of the time somewhat remote from combat units where people were likely to receive medal for valour, being at Corps or Army level. In fact most of the medals received in my area towards the end of the war were OBEs and similar which are essentially a recognition of adminstrative ability I think.

    Sorry In cannot be more helpful in your area of interest

    Nevil.
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Neville, indeed you have been helpful.

    A few Q's if I may?

    What port did you land at?

    Its interesting you were part of IV Corps-There's very little on them. Am I correct in thinking 52nd Lowland Div and the Canadians were in the Corps then? If you were in France in April do you know when the Corps was originally earmarked to go to France?

    Can you remember what ship you left Calais on?

    Sorry for all the questions :)

    Regards
    Andy
     
  8. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Hi Neville, indeed you have been helpful.

    A few Q's if I may?

    What port did you land at?

    Its interesting you were part of IV Corps-There's very little on them. Am I correct in thinking 52nd Lowland Div and the Canadians were in the Corps then? If you were in France in April do you know when the Corps was originally earmarked to go to France?

    Can you remember what ship you left Calais on?

    Sorry for all the questions :)

    Regards
    Andy

    Hi Andy,

    They say that when you reach 90, the second thing that goes is your memory. I cannot argue with that!

    My memory is that we went in through Calais but I am a vague on the date and port. I apologize for my poor memory but I cannot recall the name of the ship we left in either (and I have just realised that I cannot recall the name of the Liberty ship that took me to France in 1944 either, although I spent 4 days on it!). For many of the dates and details of my early service I rely on a diary that my brother kept and I inherited. This was one trip he was not with me.

    Regarding the composition of the Corps at that time, I was a lowly DR NCO and about all I knew at that time were the various units and HQs we called at on our routes. This did not necessarily embrace only the 'Order of Battle' of the Corps of course. I do not know the answer to your query re 52 Lowland Div. I know the Corps did at one point include Canadians (my memory says '1st Canadian (Division?) but this was I am sure much later, probably September 1941, about the time when my DR section left 4 Corps and was transferred to the War Office in London.

    As I recall, the original intention was that 4 Corps would start the movement to France in late May.

    Sorry I cannot be more helpful.

    Nevil.
     
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks for your answers Nevil-As they say every little helps :)
     
  10. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Pictures re-posted:

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    Slipdigit likes this.
  11. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Fascinating stuff Nevil. I particularly like the kit-cleaning photo. Caught in the act of blanco-ing ! You'd be horrified if you knew what re-enactors pay for a block of that these days !
     
  12. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Great stuff Nevil - some excellent photos. Keep it coming!

    Mike
     
  13. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Fascinating stuff Nevil. I particularly like the kit-cleaning photo. Caught in the act of blanco-ing ! You'd be horrified if you knew what re-enactors pay for a block of that these days !


    Thanks, Rich. Not as good as the bikes I guess!

    I think I have finally found a way of downloading to the forum from Photobucket thanks to a trial yseterday with Owen. Hopefully that will allow me to have at least one other lot.

    I find it somewhat strange that there would be re-enactments of something in which I participated in my lifetime. I tend to think of the re-enactments on this side of the water which usually mean the US Civil War or the Fenian Raids on early Canada, and such like! If Blanco is that expensive I obviouisly missed my way by not laying in a large stock about 65 years ago! Nevil.
     
  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Nevil,
    Once again thank you for posting. Fascinating to see the paperwork ... and it's esp nice to see the MiD.
     
  15. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Nevil,
    Once again thank you for posting. Fascinating to see the paperwork ... and it's esp nice to see what the MiD.
    Thanks! It is hard for me to know what is of interest and what is just ho-hum stuff already covered a zillion times!

    I have some more that may interest some when I can pull it together.
    Nevil.
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks! It is hard for me to know what is of interest and what is just ho-hum stuff already covered a zillion times!

    I have some more that may interest some when I can pull it together.
    Nevil.

    Its all of interest Nevil and I second whats been said-Many thanks for posting and 65 years belated congrats on the MiD. Thoroughly deserved I'm sure.

    Looking forward to round 3 !
     
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Nice to see we got you sorted Nevil.
    I've edited your post to repair link to the first photo (1939 Bakewell) & delete one you posted twice.
     
  18. Nevil,

    Will be taking the second batch of photos to show Dad tonight. Please keep them coming. My late mum destroyed nearly all the pics he had from the war when she was suffering from dementia. They really bring back memories for him.

    This is a fantastic forum and anything you may recall that may seem inconsequential will be of great value. Even the everyday stuff, the little details that only someone who lived through big events will know. It all makes those times easier to understand.

    Best regards

    Mel
     
  19. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Nice to see we got you sorted Nevil.
    I've edited your post to repair link to the first photo (1939 Bakewell) & delete one you posted twice.

    Many thanks, Owen. I had not looked at the photos after they were posted so I did not see these discrepancies.

    The first picture was taken just after a church parade, which is why we look all spruced up.
    Nevil.
     
  20. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Nevil,

    Will be taking the second batch of photos to show Dad tonight. Please keep them coming. My late mum destroyed nearly all the pics he had from the war when she was suffering from dementia. They really bring back memories for him.

    This is a fantastic forum and anything you may recall that may seem inconsequential will be of great value. Even the everyday stuff, the little details that only someone who lived through big events will know. It all makes those times easier to understand.

    Best regards

    Mel
    Hi Mel,
    Shame your Dad lost most of his wartime photos. I had a similar problem with old pictures but fortunately many of the wartime ones were not lost. I was also helped by the fact that my brother's widow kindly allowed me to copy some that covered both him and me during our early DR days.

    Please give your Dad my best wishes!

    I really think we were all nuts not to have put away and kept so many things that came to us during those years and especially not having taken every opportunity to take a picture whenever it was possible, which was unfortunately not that frequent becasue of so-calld security concerns.

    Nevil.
     

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