Although the full history of the 66th Divisional Signals is outside the scope of this publication, it is useful to explain its background and relationship with the 42nd
For both World Wars, the rapid expansion of the Territorial Army was achieved by creating sister-units called ‘Second-Line’ (and later sometimes ‘Third-Line’) units. These Second and Third-Line units did not exist in peacetime. They were usually formed from a small nucleus of staff detached from the First-Line unit to recruit, train and administer the Second-Line sister-unit, which would often recruit from the same Drill Halls as the First-Line unit.
42nd Divisional Signals and its forebears have always been ‘First-Line’ units, and provided the nucleus of manpower for the ‘Second-Line’ in both World Wars. During World War One, the Second-Line East Lancashire Divisional Signal Company initially trained reinforcements and battle-casualty replacements for the First-Line. A particularly large draft was sent to the First Line Signal Company in Egypt in March 1915.
On departure of the First Line Signal Company to Egypt, the Second Line continued to recruit vigorously at Seymour Grove, Old Trafford, later moving to Duke Street, Southport. At the end of May 1915 the whole Second Line East Lancashire Division moved to a hutted camp at Crowborough, Sussex.
Later in 1915 it was decided that the Second Line East Lancashire Division would be kept intact as a formed unit with the intention of deploying overseas at some point in the future. It stopped sending reinforcements to the First Line (now called the 42nd Division), and consequently a Third Line was formed as a training depot. In November 1915, the Second Line was re-named and numbered the 66th (East Lancashire) Divisional Signals.
In March 1916, the 66th Division moved from Crowborough to the Cavalry Barracks at Colchester, departing for active service in France at the end of February 1917, remaining there until post-war de-mobilization.
The second and third line units were disbanded at the end of the First World War.
In early 1939 the second-line was formed yet again, this time named 66th (Lancashire and Border) Divisional Signals, TA was formed under command of Lieutenant Colonel KF Woodham TD. Colonel Woodham had served with 42nd Divisional Signals before the war and his name appears on a number of trophies (see Trophy section of this history).
66th Division had only a short existence in World War Two and was disbanded in June 1940. Although the 66th Division ceased to exist, the Divisional Signals remained as a separate entity, moving to 59th Division in 1940 (to replace 59th Divisional Signals which had been transferred to become 4th Army Signals).
66th Divisional Signals, TA was renamed 59th Divisional Signals and was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel WA Scott MBE in 1940. From 1941 - 1944 it was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel RC Seel OBE MC TD.
42 Signal Squadron is still recruiting spare-time soldiers to
train on Tuesday evenings, weekends, plus a 2-week exercise each year,