Like most Royal Signals units, the Squadron originates from the Royal Engineers. The formation in Manchester of the 3rd Corps Lancashire Royal Engineer (Volunteers) was approved by King Edward VII on 15th February 1901. By the time the Volunteer Force ceased to exist on 31st March 1908, the 3rd Corps was in the process of forming a company of telegraphists and electricians.
On formation of the Territorial Force on 1st April 1908, A to F Companies of the 3rd Corps provided the 1st and 2nd East Lancashire Field Companies and G Company provided the nucleus of the East Lancashire Divisional Telegraph Company, Royal Engineers. The first Officer to command of the Telegraph Company was Captain EC Holden who emigrated to France in 1911 and later served with the Canadian Army in France during World War One.
In 1911 the Telegraph Company was renamed the East Lancashire Divisional Signal Company, Royal Engineers. The initial establishment of the Company was 2 Officers and 59 Other Ranks, later increased to 2 Officers and 88 Other Ranks. It was based at 73 Seymour Grove, Old Trafford, Manchester and formed part of the Royal Engineers Signal Service. The Headquarters and No.1 (Cable) Section were formed from the original Telegraph Company personnel.
The Company was commanded by Captain Arthur Niven Lawford, with Lieutenant Gordon Broad as second in command and consisted of a Headquarters and three Cable Detachments. Both officers were competent horsemen, enthusiastic and did yeoman service during the early years of training and organization - both subsequently became Lieutenant Colonels during World War One. There was no lack of recruits and the Company had no trouble keeping up to strength. A regular soldier, Corporal JE Campbell RE was attached as Sergeant Instructor. He performed his duties with exemplary devotion and painstaking efficiency, and deployed as Company Sergeant Major at the outbreak of World War One.
Annual Camp at Ben Rhydding, Ilkley in 1913 was attended by Lieutenant Julian Tomlin RE, a competent enthusiastic regular soldier attached as an instructor. (He was later promoted Lieutenant Colonel, Director Posts and Telegraph Sudan 1931-1939 and Adviser Posts and Telegraph to the Ethiopian Government 1942-1943.) At the conclusion of the Annual Camp, Lieutenant Tomlin spoke to the company about the work carried out and summarised as follows:
Points a. and b. were rectified the following year in Egypt at the start of World War One, and unit has always continued to boast technical skills and performance of the highest standard.
Annual Camp in 1914 was at Caernarvon for a fortnight at Whitsuntide, this was the first time the Signal Company trained together as a complete entity.
By the start of World War One, approximately 9 motor cycle despatch riders had been added to the company strength. One of whom had to be discharged to everyone’s disappointment, as he was a citizen of Portugal and therefore declared an alien.
At 11.00 pm on 4th August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. The Divisional Signal Company was mobilized the following day, however the Territorial Force was a home-defence organization and not liable for overseas service. Individuals were encouraged to volunteer for ‘Imperial Service’ overseas, and with a tremendous response from volunteers, the East Lancashire Division was the first Territorial Division to be sent overseas.
On deployment the Company was Commanded by Captain AN Lawford RE (T), with Lieutenant GL Broad RE (T) commanding No.1 Section. The Company also had three Brigade Signal Sections which were manned by infantry signallers from their respective Brigades, concentrating on visual signalling. The Brigade Signal Sections were No.2 (Lancashire Fusiliers) Section commanded by Second Lieutenant RS Newton (6th Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers), No.3 (East Lancashire) Section commanded by Second Lieutenant GN Robinson (4th Battalion The East Lancashire Regiment) and No.4 (Manchester) Section. commanded by Lieutenant CH Williamson (7th Battalion The Manchester Regiment)
Following build-up training (including three weeks under canvas on the Lancashire moors north of Manchester) the 15,500-man Division left Southampton for Egypt on 10 September 1914. The Division included about 150 men of the Signal Company. On 5th November 1914, Britain declared war on Turkey "owing to hostile acts committed by Turkish forces under German officers". In February 1915, the Division helped in repulsing the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal in Egypt.
Signalling methods used by the Signal Company in WW1 included flags, heliograph, lime-light lamps, dogs, carrier-pigeons, despatch riders, buzzers and rockets, as well as various types of telegraph line and a small telephone exchange. Later in the war a ‘trench wireless’ was used in France.
WW1 transport included horses, carts, pack-mules, camels and motor-cycles.
Early in 1915 the War Office increased the establishment of the Company from 150 all ranks to 208, with a proportionate increase in horses, vehicles and equipment. The new establishment provided for a Royal Artillery Headquarters detachment, an additional cable detachment, an increase in the number of motorcyclists and a considerable strengthening of the Infantry Brigade Sections which were issued with telephone equipment and pack mules. With the exception of the officers, all the personnel of Nos. 2, 3 and 4 Sections were transferred to the Royal Engineers. To bring the Company up to its new strength, a large draft of men arrived in Egypt from England in March 1915 and began preparing for the landing on Gallipoli.
The Signal Company landed at Cape Helles in May 1915. The Gallipoli Peninsula in the Dardanelles was the scene of fierce fighting against Turkish troops in muddy ravines subject to frequent artillery bombardment. The Signal Company quitted itself well and members won several awards for bravery under fire.
On 3rd June 1915 whilst overhauling lines and extensions for a battle planned for 4th June, Sergeant CE Williams won the first Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to the Signal Company. He was in charge of two strong parties laying cables along the Krithia Nullah, which was a main communication route in a ravine. All day long the enemy had shelled the route which was congested with all kinds of traffic. One of the working parties was caught by two salvoes which killed two men, wounded another, smashed-up cable-barrows and wounded a horse. Sergeant Williams, with splendid courage and determination re-organized his men, and by force of personal example carried-on and finished the job. The official citation for the medal is shown later in this history.
Whilst serving in Gallipoli on 25th May 1915, the East Lancashire Division was re-titled with the number ‘42’ - taking precedence in numerical order over all other Territorial Divisions. The unit then became known as the 42nd (East Lancashire) Divisional Signal Company, Royal Engineers. Brigades were also numbered: The Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade became 125 Brigade, The East Lancashire Brigade became 126 Brigade and The Manchester Brigade became 127 Brigade.
Early in 1916 the Division withdrew from Gallipoli, returning to Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. By 28th February 1917 the Division was encamped at Shallufa, a few miles North of Suez with the task of defending the Suez Canal. The strength of the Signal Company, Cable Section and Air-line Section was then listed as 5 officers and 229 men.
In March 1917 the Division went to France to serve on the Western Front. Arm badges were adopted to distinguish units within the division. The divisional sign was a diamond, in different colours, with the number of the Battalion, Artillery Brigade, Engineer Field Company, etc in the centre.
The first decoration awarded to the Division in France was a Meritorious Service Medal, awarded to Motor Cyclist Corporal Samuel Eccles, a motor cycle despatch rider who rode fifteen miles to deliver a despatch, despite suffering from a fractured ankle sustained as a result of an accident en route.
On 1st March 1918 near Choques in France, the General Officer Commanding the Division, Major General A Solly-Flood CB CMG DSO delivered a lecture to Officers and NCOs titled ‘Wits and Guts’. In the lecture he adopted the Divisional motto "Go One Better", believing the spirit it expressed would always carry the Division to success. This motto is still used by the Squadron today. At the time of his speech, the Division consisted of 773 Officers and 15,514 men, including 9 officers and 274 men of the Signal Company.
Following the armistice on 11th November 1918 the Signal Company advanced into Belgium. Demobilization began in 1919 with the last of the Signal Company returning to England in March 1919.
During World War One, the Signal Company distinguished itself in many campaigns. Members of the Signal Company won a disproportionately high number of awards and gallantry medals including at least 1 Distinguished Service Order (DSO), 1 Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), 13 Military Crosses (MC), 11 Distinguished Conduct Medals (DCM), 39 Military Medals (MM), 6 Meritorious Service Medals (MSM), 1 French Medaille Militaire, 6 Belgian Croix de Guerre, 1 French Croix de Guerre, 1 Serbian Order of the White Eagle, 1 Serb Silver Medal and 20 Mentions in Despatches. Forty one men of the 42nd (East Lancashire) Divisional Signal Company, Royal Engineers were killed, died of wounds or sickness, or were missing: presumed dead. A memorial plaque with their names was unveiled at Norton Street, Brooks’ Bar on 21 October 1934. The plaque was transferred to the Norman Road TA Centre after the unit moved there in 1955 and is now in the foyer. The names on the plaque appear to have been taken from the book: A History of the East Lancashire Royal Engineers - published by Country Life 1920. Recent research has revealed some omissions and inaccuracies in the original Roll of Honour and an updated version with biographical details is shown later in this history.
On 28th June 1920 The Secretary of State for War, the Right Honourable Winston Churchill signed a Royal Warrant giving the Sovereign’s approval for the formation of the Corps of Signals. The new Corps was to take precedence below the Corps of Royal Engineers, the Corps from which it had been formed. On the 5th August 1920, His Majesty King George V conferred the honour ‘Royal’ on the new Corps thereby creating the Royal Corps of Signals. This distinction was promulgated in Army Order 359 of 1920. During its short existence as the ‘Corps of Signals’ the cap badge worn was that of the Royal Engineers.
The Territorial Force had technically ceased to exist after WW1 and was re-formed in 1921 under the new title of Territorial Army. The unit was re-raised as the 42nd (East Lancashire) Divisional Signals, TA - now part of the new Royal Corps of Signals.
In June 1922 the unit moved into the Drill Hall on Burlington Street, Manchester. This building had been vacated by 7th Battalion, Manchester Regiment on 31st December 1921, following the amalgamation of the 6th and 7th Battalions of the Manchester Regiment, TA. The Drill Hall is now used by Manchester University as the McDougall Sports Centre.
In 1924 the Supplementary Reserve was re-raised following World War One, this was based on the old Special Reserve. The Supplementary Reserve was historically senior to the Territorial Army, but did less training, often doing only an Annual Camp. The two main roles of the Royal Signals Supplementary Reserve were to provide: technical personnel to reinforce the Regular Army on mobilization, and to provide complete technical units for the Field Force, mainly for employment in rear areas. No.3 Company, 2nd Corps Signals, Supplementary Reserve was formed at Burlington Street in 1924.
In 1927 the unit Band was formed with Friday as band practice night.
In 1928, Alderman Frederick Joseph West CBE JP was appointed the first Honorary Colonel of the unit. His origins were civil rather than military. He was an engineer and industrialist of international repute in gas technology. He had been a Councillor for the Newton Heath Ward of Manchester from 14th February 1905 to 6th October 1920. He was Lord Mayor of Manchester 1924-25 and was an Alderman of the City of Manchester until 6th November 1933. During both World Wars he had been heavily involved in Armament Production Boards in the North West, and will be remembered for his lifelong efforts helping disabled people. He was created CBE in 1920, Knight Bachelor on 23rd June 1936, KBE in 1942, GBE in 1947 and Honorary LlD of Manchester University in 1955. He presented a silver statuette of Mercury to the Regiment in 1933 which is still in use as the Officers’ Mess centrepiece.
By 1930, there were 3 full companies: No.1 Company trained on Monday nights, No.2 Company on Tuesdays, No.3 Company on Wednesdays. Thursday night was riding school. Recruits did all four nights until they could march, shoot and ride. Friday was practice night for the band.
In 1930, each of the three Companies was commanded by a Captain. No.1 Company consisted of two sections, each commanded by young officer. The role of ‘A’ Section was to provide wireless communication between Divisional Headquarters, Divisional Signal Centre and Infantry Brigade Headquarters. The role of ‘B’ Section was to lay cable between Divisional Headquarters, Divisional Signal Centre and Infantry or Artillery Brigade Headquarters.
No.2 Company consisted of four sections. The role of ‘D’ Section was to erect and work a signal office for the Commander Royal Artillery when that officer has his headquarters away from Divisional Headquarters. In the event of both these headquarters being together, this Section would work in conjunction with ‘H’ Section to erect and maintain the signal offices at Divisional Headquarters and the Divisional Signal Centre. The roles of ‘E’. ‘F’, and ‘G’ Sections were identical - to lay cable and maintain communications between their respective Artillery Brigade Headquarters and their Batteries.
No.3 Company also had four Sections. ‘H’ Section was to erect and maintain the Signal Offices at Divisional Headquarters and the Divisional Signal Centre, assisted in this duty by ‘D’ Section. ‘J’, ‘K’ and ‘L’ Sections were to establish and maintain communications between their respective Infantry Brigade Headquarters and their Battalion Headquarters.
In 1930, Drill Night training was unpaid, with no travelling expenses, but attendance at a number of Drill Nights and attendance at Annual Camp brought an Annual Bounty of One Pound for those with less than three years service and Two pounds, ten shillings (£2.50) for those with over three years service.
Bounty Qualification was based on the following attendance:
An additional Musketry Bounty of 10 shillings (50 new pence) was payable to men who had fired their recruits course, qualified as a trained and who were certified efficient to qualify for the musketry Bounty.
Although Drill Nights were unpaid, soldiers were paid to attend Annual Camp and week-end training. Boys under the age of 18 drew 14 shillings (70 new pence) for attending 15 days at Annual Camp, with adult soldiers being paid 2 shillings (10 new pence) a day. A weekend training ‘Scheme’ brought approximately 3 shillings and 8 pence (just over 18 new pence).
All men had to attend a number of unpaid Drill Nights before Annual Camp in order to qualify for pay at Camp:
Men enlisting as Despatch riders in the early 1930s had to have their own serviceable motor cycle and be fully insured (comprehensive policy). A daily allowance of 5 shillings was made for each day the motor cycle was used for military purposes.
In 1932 having recently converted from horse-drawn wagons to motor vehicles, the Signals moved to Norton Street, Brooks’ Bar, Stretford, Manchester. The inaugural ceremony was held on Saturday 12th March 1932. The unit used a small number of horses until complete mechanization in 1935.
At the outbreak of World War Two, 42nd (East Lancashire) Division was a ‘first-line’ Territorial Army Division, made up of paid volunteers from Manchester and the East Lancashire towns. The 42nd (East Lancashire) Divisional Signals also detached about 50 Officers and NCOs to form the nucleus of a duplicate or ‘second-line’ unit called 66th Divisional Signals.
After embodiment in September 1939, 42nd Division moved to Hungerford before forming part of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium. The Signals landed at Cherbourg around April 1940, advancing to Laval and onward to the Lille area. They saw action from just forward of Lille-Roubaix and took part in the hard fighting which culminated in the withdrawal to and evacuation from Dunkirk. Three men were killed in the withdrawal, 7 wounded and one missing. Fifteen members of the unit received Mentions in Despatches in recognition of Distinguished Service in the Field between March and June 1940.
On return to England in June 1940 the unit re-formed at Darlington, Co. Durham, moving shortly afterwards to the Barnard Castle area, with Divisional Headquarters at Raby Castle. This was followed by a move to Wethersfield in Essex.
On 1st November 1941, whilst under the command of Home Forces, the Division was converted to an Armoured Division and the sub-title ‘East Lancashire’ was dropped from the Divisional title. The signals unit changed its title (keeping the ‘East Lancashire’) to 42nd (East Lancashire) Armoured Divisional Signals. The Signals moved North once again to the Barnard Castle area to re-train in the new armoured role. 42nd Armoured Division did not, however, serve overseas as a formation and instead provided reinforcements to other armoured units. The Division was disbanded in October 1943 and members of the Signals unit were dispersed throughout the army. The unit appears to have continued to exist, perhaps in name only, and on 31st December 1946 is recorded as titled 42nd (East Lancashire) Armoured Divisional Signal Regiment.
In 1946 the system of naming signals units was changed. Until then the word ‘signals’ in a title could mean anything from a large section to a unit greater than the strength of a battalion. Sub-units were known as sections and companies; training units as battalions. It was decided that major units would be termed ‘regiments’ and sub-units ‘squadrons’ or ‘troops’. Units still kept titles indicative of the military formation they served, the size of the signals unit depending on the size of the formation, e.g. a Division would usually be supported by a Signal Regiment and a Brigade would usually be supported by a Signal Squadron.
On 1st January 1947 the unit title was recorded as 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment, however post-war de-mobilization means that it was then likely to have existed in name only. As in the First World War, the Territorial Army had technically ceased to exist during the war years, and was re-formed in 1947. The unit was officially re-raised at Norton Street on 1st May 1947. Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein visited the unit in April 1948.
No.2 Squadron formed at Glossop in May 1948. No.3 Squadron at Signal House, Score Lane, Liverpool formed in 1949 from the rump of 22 Corps Signal Regiment, TA. For many years No.3 Squadron was the only squadron in the Regiment to have female soldiers. They were members of the Women’s Royal Army Corps and attached as drivers, orderlies, clerks and cooks.
By 1950 the unit title had changed once again, dropping the word ‘East’ to become 42nd (Lancashire) Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment, TA. The change may have been to reflect the expansion of the Regiment outside East Lancashire, or simply to match the title of the new post-war Division (see later section on Outline History of 42nd Division).
From 1950 National Servicemen were obliged to join the TA part-time for a minimum 3½ year period on completion of 2 years compulsory National Service. Several did more than the minimum obligation and were known as National Service Volunteers.
National Service non-volunteers were legally obliged to attend Annual Camp plus 5 obligatory out-of-camp days. Typically the 5 days would be 2 days technical trade training, 1 day shooting and 2 days on exercise. There were frequent court cases with individuals being fined for failing to complete their obligatory training. Annual Camp in 1957 was the first year in which National Service non-volunteers were freed from their obligation to attend Annual Camp, resulting in a return of the pre-war volunteer ethos, albeit with fewer soldiers.
In November 1953, Captain Ken Hart started a Regimental Newsletter in order to improve passage of information within the now more widely dispersed Regiment. The first edition was unnamed, and the title ‘Red Rose Mercury’ was picked as a result of a competition in the first edition with a prize of 100 cigarettes. The newsletter was revived for 42nd Signal Squadron in April 1998 with the original title and format.
In June 1955 Regimental Headquarters and No.1 Squadron moved from Norton Street to the Drill Hall on Norman Road, Rusholme, formerly occupied by 606th (Mixed) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (East Lancashire) (TA). The old Norton Street Drill Hall was then handed-over to the Royal Army Medical Corps (TA), and eventually sold to the Post Office. The building is now the South West Manchester Postal Delivery Office.
A re-organization of the TA took place on 1st April 1961 with No.2 Squadron at Glossop leaving to become part of the 64th Signal Regiment, TA. The squadron was replaced by the transfer of No.1 Squadron from 59th (Mixed) Signal Regiment, TA. Renamed No.1 Squadron, 42nd Signal Regiment, TA, it was based at Cross Lane, Salford, sharing the Drill Hall with a company of 12th/13th (Yorkshire and Lancashire) Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, TA. Like the Norman Road Drill Hall at Rusholme, the Cross Lane Drill Hall had been occupied by the Royal Artillery until the 1955 disbandment of Anti-Aircraft Command.
With the arrival of a new No.1 Squadron at Cross Lane, No.1 Squadron at Rusholme was re-titled No.2 Squadron.
In the early 1960s the title of 42nd (Lancashire) Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment, TA was shortened to 42nd (Lancashire) Signal Regiment, TA. The Regiment then consisted of Regimental Headquarters and No. 2 Squadron at Rusholme with a detachment at Britannia Road, Sale. The Sale Detachment was formed from ‘I’ Troop, 42nd Signal Regiment and the former members of the disbanded Royal Artillery troop which had been based at the Sale Drill Hall. (‘I' Troop had formerly been based at Glossop). Cross Lane, Salford became No.1 Squadron and No.3 Squadron remained at Score Lane, Liverpool.
Rusholme is also home to the Rusholme Detachment of the Army Cadet Force which is cap-badged Royal Signals. This had originally been titled 606th Cadet Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery but subsequently transferred to the Royal Signals and was then known as the 42nd Signal Regiment Cadet Squadron.
In 1961, three additional TA Infantry Brigade Signal Squadrons were attached to the Regiment - 304 Signal Squadron at Blacon Point House, Blacon, Chester, 309 Signal Squadron at Aspinall Street, Prescot, and 343 Signal Squadron co-located with No.3 Squadron at Score Lane, Liverpool.
42nd Signal Regiment also had a Light Aid Detachment of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers based at Rusholme.
Although women had served with No.3 Squadron, another effect of the 1961 re-organization was that women were allowed to join 42nd Signal Regiment in Manchester for the first time. In line with the rest of the Army, women in 42nd Signal Regiment were members of the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC), classed as ‘attached personnel’. Women wore the WRAC cap badge, a Royal Signals ‘Jimmy’ above the left pocket of the battle-dress jacket and the 42nd Division arm badge. No.1 Squadron in Salford was initially a mixed-sex Squadron (having come from 59th (Mixed) Signal Regiment) and by odd coincidence, all bachelor officers from Rusholme were posted to Salford! No.2 Squadron at Rusholme remained all male. The mixed-sex squadrons trained for a war-time role giving Signals support to the Civil Defence organization in the United Kingdom. Civil Defence plans at the time included possible devolution of central government to a regional structure. Between 1961-1967 the mixed-sex squadrons spent much of their training time at Cuerden Hall, Bamber Bridge, Preston - their designated war-time Regional Seat of Government. The Salford Squadron suffered from recruiting problems which were partly blamed on its Civil Defence role and the situation was reversed in the early 1960s with No.1 Squadron at Salford becoming all male and No.2 Squadron at Rusholme taking on the Civil Defence role and becoming mixed-sex.
The Sale Detachment of No.2 Squadron closed in 1966 with members joining the rest of No.2 Squadron at Rusholme. The Drill Hall no longer exists.
In 1965 the title of 42nd (Lancashire) Division changed to 42nd (Lancashire and Cheshire) Division with corresponding change in the title of the Regiment to 42nd (Lancashire and Cheshire) Signal Regiment, TA.
Defence cuts slashed the Territorial Army in 1967. The Territorial Army was re-named the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR). 42nd Signal Regiment shrunk by around 75% from Regimental to Squadron strength and re-named 42nd Signal Squadron (Volunteers). The three Infantry Brigade Signal Squadrons and No.1 Squadron at Salford closed, as did No.3 Squadron at Score Lane, Liverpool. A number of members of No.3 Squadron transferred to 59 Signal Squadron (Volunteers) which, like 42nd Squadron, became part of the new 33rd Signal Regiment (Volunteers). Signal House on Score Lane was taken-over by a TA infantry company, the Liverpool Scottish, and re-named Forbes House.
On 1st April 1967, re-named 42nd Signal Squadron (Volunteers), it became part of the newly formed 33rd (Lancashire and Cheshire) Signal Regiment (Volunteers) with Regimental Headquarters at Huyton, Liverpool. The role changed from support to 42nd Division to training for a new NATO communications role.
In 1979 the TAVR was re-titled and became, once again, the Territorial Army.
In 1992 the Women’s Royal Army Corps disbanded, with women transferring to the army unit corresponding to their role and wearing the same insignia as their male counterparts. Women attached to 33rd Signal Regiment could transfer to either the Royal Signals, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers or the Adjutant General’s Corps - staying as members of 33rd Signal Regiment and wearing the insignia of their new corps.
Throughout late 1992 to early 1993, the Bruin communication system was withdrawn and 33rd Signal Regiment was equipped and re-trained with the Ptarmigan mobile area communication system. This operates from box-bodied trucks, allowing electronically encrypted transmission of voice, data and fax. Purpose-built secure garages were unveiled at Norman Road in June 1993, and a detachment of the Ministry of Defence Guard Service was recruited to provide a 24 hour a day guard. The establishment of regular soldiers was increased in terms of both instructors and technicians and the organization of the Squadron was changed to reflect the new role. The Squadron is scaled for 29 4-tonne trucks, 16 Land-Rovers, 21 trailers, 42 electricity generators, 1 minibus and a fork-lift truck - a far cry from horses and carrier-pigeons!
In late 1997, the weekly training night for 42nd Signal Squadron changed from Thursday to Tuesday from 8pm to 10pm. An unpaid sports night runs on Thursday nights from 8pm - 9pm with the bar open afterwards.
42nd Signal Squadron is established to have 106 paid part-time soldiers, 10 regular army soldiers, 2 non-regular permanent staff, 5 civil servants and a full-time security detachment of the Ministry of Defence Guard Service.
Part-time Territorial Army soldiers come from a variety of civilian backgrounds - about 12% of 42nd Signal Squadron work in the telecommunications industry - mainly for British Telecom or Cable & Wireless - often as a result of skills gained in the Territorial Army. 42nd Signal Squadron is based in the student area of Manchester and approximately 15% are under-graduate students - a further 10% already hold university degrees.
Fifteen squadron members currently have Territorial Army long service medals (awarded for 12 years efficient service).
The squadron has a high proportion of ex-regular soldiers and Territorials who have done regular army attachments - 24% of the part-time members of the Squadron have done 6 months or more continuous full-time military service.
Although not a requirement of membership, between 1996-1998, 8% of the Territorial members of the Squadron have served on 6 month full-time tours in Bosnia. Amongst other countries, Territorial members of the Squadron have served in Belgium. Germany, Canada, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands. As the first draft of this history was written two members of the Squadron were in Bosnia and one was on an overland aid convoy to Odessa in the Ukraine.
Strategic Defence Review - 1998
The results of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) were announce in Parliament on 17 November 1998 and resulted in a wide reform of the Territorial Army. The TA was cut from around 56,000 troops to 41,204, with most of the cuts affecting the yeomanry, Royal Engineers and infantry. In general, the Royal Signals survived relatively unscathed numerically, but with some reorganization. 42 Signal Squadron kept all its Territorial manpower, but lost 4 of its 10 Regular Army posts. The Strategic Defence Review emphasised an increased political will to mobilize the Territorial Army, thereby justifying its existence as a more integrated, deployable and usable organization.
Cross Lane, Salford
In 1961, No.1 Squadron of 59th (Mixed) Signal Regiment became No.1 Squadron of 42nd (Lancashire) Signal Regiment (TA).
Succession of Squadron Commanders
Can anyone provide more details of this unit?
In 1998 a typical recruit would go through the following system to become a trained soldier:
Most week-ends a dedicated recruiter visits shows and town centres with a display caravan. Advertisements are placed in various newspapers and in public places. Enquirers are directed to visit the Recruit Reception and Training Team (RRTT) at 8pm on any Tuesday evening.
On Tuesdays the RRTT gives a standard 40-minute presentation, including video-tape about the TA in general and 42nd Signal Squadron in particular. Following the presentation, enquirers are given information brochures. Casual enquirers may then leave. Those who wish to apply are interviewed individually to filter-out individuals with serious criminal convictions or medical problems. Those passing the basic interview are given various forms to complete and an appointment to return the documentation.
On successful return of documentation, applicants are given a date for medical examination by a military doctor or more commonly, by a Civilian Medical Practitioner. This normally takes place at the TA Centre.
On passing the medical examination, potential recruits are given a place on the next available recruit selection week-end. These take place about once every 3 weeks and are normally held at 59 Signal Squadron, Deysbrook Barracks, Liverpool. Successful applicants are sworn-in and given a basic set of uniform at the end of the selection week-end and are paid from then-on at recruit rates of pay (£24.04 per day †).
Based on vacancies, applicant preferences and abilities displayed on the Selection week-end, recruits are allocated to a Royal Signals trade.
Three further recruit training week-ends are followed by a 15-day Recruit Cadre at the Royal School of Signals at Blandford Forum in Dorset. This is called Phase 1 recruit training and concentrates on basic military skills which are common to all soldiers, not just Royal Signals.
On completion of the Recruit Cadre, soldiers begin Phase 2 training, which is specific to the Royal Signals. This begins with a 2-weekend Basic Signalling Skills (BSS) Course and a weekend Ptarmigan foundation module run by the RRTT. Soldiers are then eligible to begin specialist trade-training, normally in the trade allocated on enlistment. A change of trade is easily arranged at this stage subject to ability and vacancies.
Trade training usually takes 9 days and may take place either at week-ends or on an in-house Regimental course, two of which are run per year. The following trades are in use in 42nd Signal Squadron (see trade descriptions on the next page):
Driving is a requirement of some trades and the unit runs 6-day driver training courses for soldiers without the necessary driving qualifications. Depending on the trade, this may include Category C+E - the old Heavy Goods Vehicle licence.
On completing the trade training course, soldiers are classed as Fit For Role (FFR) and pay is upgraded to Class 3. Newly qualified Royal Signals Class 3 tradesmen start on the following pay rates: † Band 1 - £26.92, Band 2 - £31.26 and Band 3 - £36.07.
Driver Lineman. Field cables are used to provide short-length connections between installations and users. This service is supplied by the Driver Linemen, who are also responsible for the repair and maintenance of all cables. This can be a complex operation as most of the cable is armour-plated. The linemen also double as the Mechanical Transport section, responsible for the maintenance and servicing of the transport fleet. They are trained to driving category C+E (the old HGV 1).
Electrician Driver. All communication installations require power of some sort. This is provided by Electrician Drivers who are responsible for a host of varying size generators from 1500W to 20KW. They require thorough training in both electrical and mechanical engineering. They are trained to driving category C+E (the old HGV 1).
Stores Accountant. These provide the general administrative support necessary to ensure the smooth running of the unit including checking and loading stores. Responsible for the ordering, issuing and accounting of all items held by the unit, from rations to weapons or a new vehicle. They control high-value equipment using a computer database.
Telecommunications Operator (Radio). Working from Land-Rovers, these operators concentrate on HF (High Frequency) and VHF (Very High Frequency) equipment. By skilled use of radio networks, they closely support the regiment’s main purpose. They also provide an alternative back-up communication network. Other essential tasks include providing services such as encrypted mobile phone facilities for senior personnel.
Telecommunications Operator (Radio Relay). The essential feature of our communication system is the connection of two or more communication sites, this is achieved with Radio Relay paths using UHF (Ultra High Frequency) or SHF (Super High Frequency) equipment. Radio Relay Operators are responsible for both the operation and maintenance of the installation. They can also operate other installations which provide the basis of a mobile phone system or an interface into other international communication systems and equipment.
Telecommunications Operator (Systems). Known as ‘SysOps’, these are responsible for the engineering (connection) between two communication sites. This is achieved with the use of a highly sophisticated computer processor. SysOps are also responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of this and other processor-type installations. They may also be required to carry out all types of message-handling duties including voice, data, fax and management of customer services and facilities.
Telecommunications Technician (Systems). Responsible for the maintenance and repair of all Ptarmigan communication equipment held by the unit. Full training is given, however applicants must have a minimum grade C pass at GCSE mathematics. Any academic engineering or communications qualifications are a distinct advantage. Qualified technicians are on a higher pay rate and competition is stiff to become a specialist in this trade.
Officer Careers. Soldiers do not have to work their way through all the ranks to become an officer, but the selection and training is quite demanding and is designed to produce the best individuals as leaders. The minimum qualification to apply to become a TA Royal Signals officer is 5 pass grades at GCSE or equivalent, including Mathematics and Physics. In practice most are far more qualified, especially as many of the Royal Signals technicians hold university degrees.
Non-Royal Signals Trades. The Squadron also has non-Royal Signals specialists including cooks of the Royal Logistic Corps and clerks of the Adjutant General’s Corps. These specialists are officially part of Headquarters Squadron at Huyton but are on long-term posting to 42nd Signal Squadron at Manchester.
Headquarters Squadron at Huyton, Liverpool has a deployable pool of medics of the Royal Army Medical Corps and vehicle recovery and repair specialists of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Wanted - photographs of male & female uniform over the years - combat & ceremonial.
Signalling methods used by the Divisional Signal Company in WW1 included flags, buzzers, heliograph, lime-light lamps, pigeons, dogs, despatch riders and rockets, as well as various types of telegraph line and a small telephone exchange. Later in the war a Trench Wireless was used in France.
More detail required such as :
Territorial personnel who were serving in 42nd Signal Squadron at the time of their deployment. Dates are those for mobilization and de-mobilization and include pre-deployment training and de-mobilization leave.
Territorial personnel who were serving in 42nd Signal Squadron at the time of their deployment. Dates are those for departure from and return to the TA centre. The following list is far from complete.
Non-Regular Permanent Staff
Although the Corps of Royal Engineers does not have Battle Honours, an article in the Royal Engineers Journal of June 1925 listed the Battle Honours awarded to Cavalry and Infantry units for battles at which the 42nd (East Lancashire) Divisional Engineers were present:
Landing at Helles 25 - 26 April 1915 (Dardanelles)
Until around June 1916, soldiers were allocated numbers within their own unit, in the case of the Royal Engineers this would be within each independent Company. On transferring to another company the soldier would be given a different number. Around June 1916 the numbering system was standardized, and Appendix 192 to Army Council Instruction 2243 issued a ‘New Series of Regimental Numbers to be Allotted to Soldiers of the Royal Engineers (TF)’. Officers did not have numbers. For the Royal Engineers of the East Lancashire Division the following blocks of numbers were issued:
Soldiers kept the new 6-digit numbers regardless of subsequent inter-unit postings within the Royal Engineers, but were liable to be allocated other new numbers if transferring to other parts of the Army. Comparison of 6-digit numbers on the list of Gallantry Awards and on the Roll of Honour reveals a number of such transfers. Members of the ‘Second-Line’ (later 66th Division) East Lancashire Royal Engineers used the same number blocks which can cause confusion to medal collectors working soley on the basis of numbers shown on medals.
Company Sergeant Major - until 1915, Company Sergeant Major was not a rank, but an appointment held by Staff Sergeants. They wore the same rank badge as Staff Sergeants - a crown over 3 stripes.
Sergeant - until around 1960, this rank was often spelt Serjeant within the unit.
Second Corporal - this was a rank peculiar to the Royal Engineers and held the status of Lance Corporal but without Lance Corporal’s pay.
Sapper, Pioneer & Driver - these three ranks are all equivalent of Private, and reflect different Royal Engineer trades.
Quick March: Wings
Quick March: The Royal Signals March, based on the traditional airs: Begone
Dull Care and Newcastle
There are plans to adapt the recruit reception briefing room at Norman Road to incorporate items of historical interest. Storage space is limited and the prime function of the room remains recruit reception. Whilst the Squadron is keen to accept donations, limited storage space means that objects accepted for the museum should be:
Volunteers are sought to form a museum committee. The object of the committee is to ensure that the work carries on and is unaffected by changes of staff within the squadron, however it is expected that most of the practical work will be done by the committee members themselves. Volunteers need not have served with the unit or its forebears, provided they are willing and able to contribute practical help in the following areas:
The recruit reception room is of reasonable size (the former Corporals’ Mess), and the initial concept is:
Items sought for acquisition are:
42 Signal Squadron is still recruiting spare-time soldiers to
train on Tuesday evenings, weekends, plus a 2-week exercise each year,