RAF signal vehicle types.

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Trux, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. nofnet

    nofnet Junior Member

    I attach two documents that may be of interest. One is a transcript of a post-operation report and the other is some comments of mine to be read in conjuction with the report.

    Attached Files:

  2. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member


    I have all the landing tables for D Day, and most for D+1, for all three beaches. Those for Juno are dated March/April. These are the latest found so far but such evidence as I have suggests that there was little change except in the specialised armour and various army signals units. I have spent the last year transcribing them and finished only a couple of weeks ago. I will have a quick look at Juno but you are welcome to a complete set. E mail attachment will be the best means of sending it.

    I also look forward to hearing more. I have found some good photos on the IWM site. I also wish to make a model but in 1:285 scale. I ran out of space long ago.


    Mike any chance of copies please ??

    regards TED
  3. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    I attach two documents that may be of interest. One is a transcript of a post-operation report and the other is some comments of mine to be read in conjuction with the report.

    Many thanks
  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    Of course. Far too big to post here. I am contacting you by email.

  5. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  6. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Hell Fire !! I need a big mug of tea and a lie down in a dark room
    that's great Les

    Thanks for sharing

    Now that is the sort opf line up I had thought of for my project !!

    regards TED
  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Pure Gold Les.

    I will never get my household tasks done. The pictures and attached document contain a great deal of concentrated information, and answer a lot of questions for me.

    Types 415 and 416 are new to me. I knew that the IFF array was carried separately and erected on top of the Type 15 array and cabin. I did not realise that a whole House Type vehicle was needed to house the IFF electronics.

    Why does such a small unit need a large water tanker. Army battalions made do with 15cwts.

    The Bedford QL GS is prepared for shipping, with the tilt in the low position and the cab top removed and stowed in the body. All late war vehicles could be reduced in height in this way but you don't often see them.

    I will go and think more while doing the chores.

  8. nofnet

    nofnet Junior Member

    Further to my last post, the three L.C.T.s in which No. 4 RAF Beach Squadron Signals Section personnel and equipment arrived were:

    Serial 3539 – Signals Section marching party

    Serial 3540 - I believe the HQ 3 ton 4x4 GS truck carrying signals equipment may have replaced the 15cwt W/T truck listed in this serial.

    Serial 3543 –Further signals equipment carried in 3 ton 4x4 GS truck of 108 Beach Flight.

    All were L.C.T.s Mk. 3 sailing from Felixstowe with Force 'L' and scheduled to land at H+19½ in the JIG Sector. It seems that they landed pretty much to schedule.

    I also attach pictures of the Signals Section, as follows. (These are obtained from the IWM and are crown copyright. They are not for publishing without license but I consider that on this forum they are for private and educational use. The originals copies were of higher definition.)

    Photo No.: CL 47 7th June 1944
    Official Caption
    Sergeant H.Charlesworth of Sandbach, Cheshire and Leading Aircraftman D. Rutter of Chichester, inspecting a German A.A. gun built in a pit near one of the beaches.
    Additional Comments
    These are two members of the signals section of No. 4 R.A.F. Beach Squadron near the Mont Fleury battery. In the background can be seen landing craft off the KING sector beaches. (Taken more or less same time and place as CL54)

    Photo No.: CL 54 7th June 1944
    Official Caption
    Men of an R.A.F. Signals Unit erect a radio mast on one of the landing beaches.
    Additional Comments
    This is the Flight Sergeant (standing left) and two other members of the signals section of No 4 R.A.F. Beach Squadron near the Mont Fleury battery. The signals ‘office’ is being set up in a bomb crater overlooking the beach. It shows the radio mast, a tent over the dugout crater and a Bedford 3 tonner that brought the signals equipment. In the background can be seen landing craft off the KING Sector beaches. (Taken more or less same time and place as CL47)

    Photo No.: CL 242 24th June 1944
    Official Caption
    Washing day on the beaches with balloons parked in the background.
    Additional Comments
    Members of H.Q. No 4 R.A.F. Beach Squadron camped near Mont Fleury battery. John Fenton has identified these men as Wireless Mechanic, LAC Woodyer of the Signals Section and H.Q. Clerk, LAC Phillips. The balloons were operated by No. 980 R.A.F. Beach Balloon Squadron. (Taken more or less same time and place as CL243)

    Photo No.: CL 243 24th June 1944
    Official Caption
    Bungalow town on the beaches. Men of a signals unit of the Beach Squadron live in these “bungalows”. Left to right:-
    Aircraftman W.Flay of Cardiff;
    Leading Aircraftman V. Gachia of Tottenham and Malta;
    Leading Aircraftman G.Bunce of Leeds;
    Sergeant J.H.Fenton of Durham;
    Sergeant Godwin of Morecambe, Lancs;
    Leading Aircraftman Arber of Lackend, Edinburgh, and
    Leading Aircraftman M.Munro of Paddington, London.
    Additional Comments
    A despatch rider of H.Q. No. 4 R.A.F. Beach Squadron with members of the Signals Section camped near Mont Fleury battery, King Sector, GOLD assault area. (The two sergeants are holding newspapers - John Fenton is the one sitting higher up). Discarded trunking used to enable tanks to deep wade has been utilised by the men in the construction of their shelters. In the top left, Mont Fleury lighthouse and mast can be seen in the distance. (Taken more or less same time and place as CL242)

    Attached Files:

  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG


    I have found the three LCT3 that you mention in my copies of the landing tables. Most of the tables I have for Gold are dated May but the 7th Armoured Division tables which includes these three craft are dated March/April. So probably the 15cwt was replaced by a 3ton before the landings.

    The LCTs in this convoy seem to have landed on time. They could land as soon as they arrived. The larger LSTs and Motor Transport Ships were slow to discharge their vehicles since they had to moor well off shore and use Rhino Ferries.

    The signals mast is the standard 32 foot mast mounted on a tripod. In this case an aerial rod is mounted on top of the mast. In some roles the two such masts had a wire aerial strung between them.

  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    GCI, GCI COL and FDP.

    I thought I should clear up a confusion. I will probably do the opposite but:
    The Ground Control Interception Unit and Air Ministry Experimental Station Type 15 are one and the same and used by 85 Group for controlling night fighters in intercepting enemy aircraft.

    There is an almost identical unit which is Ground Control Interception, Chain Overseas Low. This was used by 83 (and later 84) Group for surveillance. It used the same equipment but lacked the specialist night fighter controllers. It reported back to the Group Control Centre who then despatched and guided day fighters to intercept enemy aircraft. If necessary the GCI COL unit could take over the guidance in the final stages. In this role it was a Forward Direction Post. GCI COL or FDP was only one source of information available to the Group Control Centre (to list the others now would certainly cause more confusion).

    So far all my posts refer to the first of these units, 85 Group GCI. This is also the type of unit that landed on Omaha and described by Les.

  11. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Quite right Mike, 15082 GCI that landed on Omaha was initially described as AMES 15082. There was also an RAF GCI Unit (15081) that progressed along various coastal sites, in line with the advancing front line, ending up on top of the Casino in Blankenberg (Belgium) for hostile surface vessel surveillance, passing the info directly to Royal Navy for surface interception. This GCI was eventually installed on the top of Westkapelle lighthouse on Walcheren Island to oversee the West Schelt approach to Antwerp. They had a good "haul" of enemy e-boats. Later on in the campaign, just after its installation there, I did a service visit to this GCI and spent nearly a fortnight there before returning to 309MSSU, by then HQ'd in Brussels.
    Glad to be of service, Ted.
  12. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I attach two documents that may be of interest. One is a transcript of a post-operation report and the other is some comments of mine to be read in conjuction with the report.

    Hi Mike
    Just read your two attachments. The references to the Lyon Alco Petrol-Electric Generator sets brought back some memories. They were rated at 1260watts and generated either 12 or 24 volts. We “lived” with these in our 15cwt Bedford Servicing Workshops, and I spent many hours decoking the engines and repairing the electrics with 309MSSU in Brussels, when not in the field sevicing breakdowns – experience that stood me in good stead for later life car maintenance!
    It’s not perhaps widely appreciated that the majority of RAF’s WW2 mobile ground communications units were equipped with airborne-type transmitting and receiving equipment that was run from 12 or 24 volt banks of heavy duty (and massively heavy) lead-acid batteries that needed to be kept fully charged; hence the need for the “peggies”.
    It may also not be appreciated that, apart from R/T (direct speech) conversations with fighter aircraft, communication traffic was conducted by W/T (Morse Code, that could tolerate radio interference). This was encrypted into five-character Groups, hence the reference to “30,000 groups in 43½ days” (I had no idea that they counted them!) Encryption was carried out by such as your father, probably using Type X machines that were very much akin to the German ‘Enigma’ machines. Some of us (probably including the WOM) were specialist trained in their maintenance; for, being a cross between a primitive electric typewriter and a mechanical computer, they were rather prone to intermittent failure. Later, of course, the high power SWAB8 ground station transmitters came into use, some of these being equipped for high speed Morse transmissions.
    After the cessation of hostilities I ‘acquired’ a Collins Pack Set, like those mentioned, and used this to set up one of the few HAM (amateur radio) stations in occupied Germany (call sign D2CC), operating mainly on the 40metre band, using an HRO receiver and the Collins transmitter.
    Your guess of 4BS ceasing operations on 20th July 44 is corroborated indirectly by the fortnightly-produced 2nd TAF Location Statement, dated 25 July 1944. This makes no mention of 4BS and shows 85 Main and 85 Rear located together 18km NW of Caen, at Cruelly. 307 MSSU seems to have split into two locations, one of which was “South of the Bayeux-Cherbourg road”. At that time my Unit was located east of Cherbourg in the American Sector, at St Pierre Eglise.
  13. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    No mention here of this site yet- Canadians on Radar - an online version of a book published some years ago and very good reading it is.
    Chapter XI deals with GCI - specifically with Fighter Direction Tenders and Mobile GCI involved in Overlord. There are a number of veterans accounts included where Mike might find some of his "snippets"
    I have had some e-mail communication with two of the contributors, one of whom sent me the photo below showing him and his servicing vehicle (this for servicing Obe recievers in aircraft but presumably the same as the 15cwt servicing vehicles discussed here)

    Attached Files:

  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Good one Noel.

    I am very fond of snippets. Can't read it all now. Dinner time.

  15. nofnet

    nofnet Junior Member

    RE: "Some Background Information"
    I was interested to read your comments Les . Here is something my father wrote about his cypher work in Normandy:

    "When we came ashore in Normandy, our cypher equipment consisted of an easy to use, low security code which it had been planned we should discard after the first few more hectic days, plus the standard RAF Book Cypher. We never used the lower grade code. It was believed to have been compromised.

    Now, when I think of our work, it is always the night watches that come more readily to mind. Our 'office' a hole in the ground. Two of us busily working under a small patch of light to the accompaniment of an impressive variety of noises off. Sitting on a box, with plain language messages awaiting encypherment lying on a crate in front of me, consulting my cypher book I would quickly turn the plain language into four-figure groups. We became very quick at this, for the same words were used in many of our signals. The addressees were the same.

    "To Chicksand, Repeated to 1 and/or 2 Beach Squadrons, From 4 Beach Squadron."

    The figure groups for LST, LCT, aviation fuel, cannon shells, rockets were used repeatedly. So, we knew them by heart which saved looking them up.

    Of course, if our encyphered signal had been transmitted in this simple form, the repetition of some of the figures would have been so obvious that the signal would have been 'broken' in no time. So, using equipment with settings that changed daily, we converted our messages into a second set of seemingly random four-figure groups.

    All this was done by the light of a solitary storm lantern, the Wireless Operator busy alongside transmitting and receiving Morse. We knew that, if either of us stood up, our heads would be silhouetted against the lamplight so, in the early days, we were particularly conscious of snipers and, always, we felt vulnerable during the night bombing. We needed no reminding to keep our heads down.

    Having to concentrate on the job helped to take one's mind off other things. Occasionally, a transmission from one of our neighbouring Beach Squadrons would break off with a three-letter Q Code signifying "I am under enemy attack" then, later, transmission would resume. To the best of my recollection, we never went off the air, though I am sure there were occasions when the rhythm of our transmission faltered somewhat."

    When the Beach Squadron stopped operating, my father was loaned for a while to No. 89 R.A.F. Embarkation Unit at Arromanches. About this he wrote,

    "Here our cypher activities were somewhat wider ranging than on the beaches. Quite a bit of the traffic was in machine cypher. But what machines! The exasperating, eccentric Mark III Type X machines in use had a normal typewriter keyboard but, as each letter-key was depressed using the left hand, a handle had to be cranked with the right hand to generate enough electricity to operate the printer head. There was only one printer head so, when encyphering, all that emerged on tape was the encyphered groups. There was no plain language check tape to show any mistakes. And mistakes there were in plenty, for operating the machine was not unlike patting your head with one hand whilst rubbing your stomach with the other."
  16. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Somewhat similar, Noel. Except for the gubbins visible behind the driver. Oboe, of course, was used for guidance of pathfinders accurately to targets by flying an arc at a fixed distance from one transmitter, controlled by secondary radar transmissions from the aircraft itself, until intersecting with the transmissions from a second location.
  17. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Very interesting, Mike to have your Dad's graphic first hand account of routine, but vital communication procedures being carried out under fire. Better than using carrier pigeons! I appreciate their not wanting to be encumbered with machinery.
    I never came across the Mk III Type X machine, and from your Dad's description I never would have wanted to. All of those I dealt with were mains powered, operating within larger units equipped with 240 volt 50 Hz diesel generators, or later, in commandeered premises.
  18. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    83 GROUP.

    83 Group would be responsible for all the tactical aircraft flying in the British area. The planes may be from 83 Group, 84 Group or 2 Group of 2 Tactical Air Force. Initially control was exercised by Landing Ships Headquarters off the coast. Radar cover was provided by Fighter Direction Tenders. It was thought important to establish advanced elements of 83 Group Control Centre ashore as soon as possible, initially to provide communications to the assault brigades and divisions.

    483 Group Control Centre.
    6 Tender 3ton.
    2 Signals Type 130
    2 Signals Type 131
    1 Signals Type 100. Austin K6 with 'F' Type Body. Carries 2 X VHF T1131 Transmitters.
    1 Signals Type 150. Austin K6 with 'F' Type Body. Carries VHF R1342 Receiver and TR1143.
    1 Signals Type 105. Commer 15cwt Q2 with VHF Direction Finder.
    1 Signals Type 180
    1 Signals Type 372
    3 Signals Type 382
    4 Signals Type 358. Austin K6 with 15Kva generator.
    2 Jeep
    1 15cwt Van
    1 Water tender
    130 men.

  19. lesfreathy

    lesfreathy Member

    Cracking thread rolling here, this is the Austin K6 type 100 or 150

    Attached Files:

  20. lesfreathy

    lesfreathy Member

    A little while back i persueded good friend and master plan producer Geoff Lacy to produce a set of plans based on the Austin K6. i am sure he will not object to the showing of this one a type 13 ground control interception static radar truck. Geoff has thousands of plans he sells at very reasonable rates so if you dont have his address PM me

    Attached Files:

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