National Archives catalogue number WO 171/4163.
25th March, 05:00
Army Group Royal Artillery
Adjutant and Quartermaster Branch
Air Support Signal Unit
British Liberation Army
British / Bridge
Commander Royal Army Service Corps
Chief Signal Officer
Division / Divisional
Forward Observation Officer
Forward Observation Unit
General Staff Officer 2
General Officer Commanding
Headquarters Royal Artillery
Main Dressing Station
Nothing to Report
Operator / Operation / Observation Post
Royal Army Service Corps
Royal Ulster Rifles
South East Asia Command
Very High Frequency
Month and year : March 1945
Commanding Officer : Lt Col P.E.M. Bradley
1st March 1945
Mobilisation continues from 21 Feb 45.
10th March 1945
War Office authorise holding of:-
Trucks 15 cwt 4 x 2 GS - 4
Trucks 15 cwt 4 x 2 water - 1
Trucks 15 cwt 4 x 2 Wireless House - 15
Trucks 15 cwt 4 x 4 Personnel - 15
Daimler Scout Cars - 2
Lorries, 3 ton 4 x 4:-
GS - 9
Comd LP - 9
Comd HP - 2
TEV (Div) - 2
Cipher Office - 1
Signal Office - 2
Trailers, 10 cwt, 2 wheeled, 4.5 kw charging - 2
Surplus to WE. Plus certain additional stores - main items
American Reel Units RL 31
Scaling Ladders RE
2 R 107 Receivers (For use in Security Section which still has establishment of only one officer, one clerk and one driver).
12th March 1945
0001 - Mobilisation due to be completed. - Impossible due to lack of volunteers and man power situation. Still deficient 15 OWLs, 1 ES, 2 Dvr Mechs and heavy vehicles.
14th March 1945
Bulk of planning for "VARSITY" complete. See Appx "A".
15th March 1945
22 drivers for heavy vehicles authorised to be held surplus to War Establishment are to be sent, together with outstanding vehicles, direct to Land Elements in BETHUNE via 21st Army Group.
1700 - Air Support Tentacle, FVCP, arrived. 3 controllers, 6 ORs. 3 WS No.1131 in 3 Jeeps and trailers.
16th March 1945
1800 - ASSU tentacles arrive. 1 Sgt, 12 Operators. 4 Jeeps and trailers.
17th March 1945
Base communication system complete. See Appx "B".
20th March 1945
0755 - Moved to Mushroom Farm Transit Camp preparatory to Operation VARSITY. See Appx "C".
23rd March 1945
New destructor boxes (Unit "B") received and issued. Still NOT complete to Mobilised scale. Three visiting Press operators from FAAA taken on Operation to bring number of operators held nearer to number required.
24th March 1945
1045 - Landed E of Rhine. Flak light to moderate - Many gliders on fire. Shelling and mortaring of LZ light. Landings scattered and opposed. Cipher Officer seriously injured in crash. Lines Officer missing.
1050 - OC "K" Sec killed at RV by shell.
1110 - "A" Comd (Fwd R/T net) opened - Through to 3rd and 5th Parachute Bdes.
1128 - Through to 6 Airldg Bde on "A" Comd. All outstations within radius of 3.1/2 miles comn therefore good.
1200 - GOCs Rover set arrived. Set upon lateral link to XVII US Div Airborne.
1310 - Div HQ established W of HAMMINKELN (189478) in farm bldgs. Average wireless country. Flat (except to 3 Para Bde and Higher fmns who were immediately behind a high hill) but heavily wooded. "Q" Base set arrived and set up.
1315 - "Ground Resupply Spare" set arrived and set up on Rear link to XVIII US Corps Airborne.
1330 - Bdes on all objectives.
1335 - Rear link to XVIII US Airborne Corps through.
1345 - "Q" Base set through.
1432 - Message from CSO 1 (Br) Airborne Corps - Lines Officer, 2 Cipher Ops, 2 Linesmen, 2 DRs, 2 Ops W & L landed by glider NW of XANTEN (W of Rhine) - to be brought in by Land Element. Presence of enemy precludes extensive use of Line or DRs therefore not a great loss at the time.
1515 - "Q" Base lost contact on moving to main bldg. Move imperative owing to intense enemy shellfire and sniping of farm occupied by them.
1520 - Detachment moved into main bldg from nearby farm because of enemy shell-fire and sniping.
1530 - Ground Resupply Set set up.
1600 - Ground Resupply Set through. Lateral to XVII US Div Airborne through.
1700 - "K" Sec (5 Parachute Bde Sec) have only one linesman and NO line stores. Have lost 12 WS No.62. Recovery of sets from crashed craft being attempted but difficult owing to enemy action.
2100 - Line to 5th and 6th Bdes - Line to 3rd Bde impossible due to enemy on route.
2230 - Signal Stores available in Div Dump -
Lamp Sig, daylight No.1 - 1
Btys for 38 sets - 200
2300 - 8 Para Bn ready to clear route to 3 Bde. 'C' Sec line party left one telephone at 5 Bde.
2345 - Comn with 3 Bde not good under night conditions. Cipher endeavouring to tie up what pads and parts arrived safely. Difficult owing to scattered landings by all cipher ops, loss of Cipher Officer etc. Both 1 Coy M 209 machines lost. Initially a cipher op took messages to RA set, and changed settings of their machine to encipher and decipher. Arranged with XVIII US Corps Airborne that all traffic in and out to be in RA settings and op detailed to remain with RA set to encipher and decipher as required.
2359 - Cas in personnel -
- 18 Officers
- 1 "
- 1 "
- 1 "
Personnel available therefore a little under 80%.
Cas in sets -
Total Flown in - 126
Total lost - 60
Sets available were therefore a little less than 53%. Some sets were recovered later from crashed gliders by organised salvage parties.
25th March 1945
0500 - Q Base through.
0845 - "Cab-rank" available.
1000 - Small line det sent to 5 Bde from "C" Section.
1200 - Rear Link CW to XVIII US Corps Airborne set up.
1305 - Rear Link CW to XVIII US Corps Airborne through.
1400 - Rear Link to XVIII US Corps Airborne switched to C52 salvaged from crashed glider.
1500 - OC 2 Coy (Sigs LO with ground forces) and TMO (OC first build-up party) reported. Vehs not allowed to come up until tomorrow due to presence of enemy on road from 3 Bde. Lines Officer and passengers of glider which landed W of Rhine reported in.
1700 - Line to 3 Bde through.
1830 - Line from XVIII US Corps Airborne in.
26th March 1945
0900 - Signal Stores available -
Lamps, Sig, daylight, No.1
Wire, electric, D3, single
Btys for 38 set
Btys BA 37
- 3.1/2 miles
- 2 miles
27th March 1945
0230 - 12 HP from Land Element on Rear Link to Corps.
0830 - "B" Comd (Forward CW) opened. Bdes using any set available.
1800 - Main build-up party arrive. Switch from Air to ground scale begins. 3 CVs complete with sets took over immediately. 27th 28th 29th March spent removing sets from trailers etc and mounting in CVs. "A" Comd now entirely C 52 and worked well.
Month and year : April 1945
Commanding Officer : Lt Col P.E.M. Bradley
1st April 1945
1115 - Moved to road junc 940887.
1255 - Tac at Greven Br. Traffic control net on SCR 300 used. Principle one to four TCPs. Progress of bridging reported over this net and traffic called up. Works well. Br at SCHNIEDEHAUSEN 978893.
2355 - Fwd tps over DORTMUND-EMS canal. LADBERGEN clear.
2nd April 1945
0745 - Tac in LADBERGEN.
1600 - Tac moves to LENGERICH.
1900 - Main moves to LENGERICH. One OR killed by shellfire.
3rd April 1945
0715 - Mopping up woods NE of LENGERICH. 5 Bde to high ground W and NW of OSNABRUCK.
2300 - 3 Bde to WESSINGEN.
4th April 1945
1 Cdo Bde in OSNABRUCK.
1900 - Main and Tac to BLASHEIM.
5th April 1945
1500 - Main and Tac to SUDERFELDE 782193.
1820 - Fwd tps in WIETERSHEIM.
2330 - Comns in 6 Bde to fwd Coy stretched and poor.
6th April 1945
0130 - "G" state roads unsafe due to presence of enemy.
0500 - Fwd tps in LAHDE.
0600 - Raft area shelled but crossing going well at PETERSHAGEN. Traffic control net again working.
1030 - "G" agree that escorts for Drs to come from Def Platoon.
1035 - Cl 40 br at 845208. Cl 9 br at 837183.
1930 - Fwd tps at BIERDE.
7th April 1945
WESER bridgehead - Traffic Control net established.
1530 - Tac to STEINHUDE 1003000.
1900 - Advancing rapidly. Only means to maintain wireless control found to be to allow Tac HQ set to take over control and Bde out stations at step up along up to 50 miles of road.
8th April 1945
3 Bde to WUNSTORF.
1500 - Main to STEINHUDE. German Air Force Wireless vehicle captured. Passed to CSO, 8 Corps - 2 KVA charging engine extracted.
9th April 1945
1215 - Cl 40 br complete at NEUSTADT. 3 Bde NUILLENDORF area. 6 Bde NE ENGELBOSTEL.
10th April 1945
ASSU see Appx 'A' (HQ Air Corps/5821/SX of 4 Apr 45 and Sigs 1001 of 10 Apr 45).
1300 - Small civilian house discovered containing much signal eqpt. Equivalent to our SRDE - Passed to CSO, 8 Corps.
16th April 1945
1500 - Main to Kallenbrock. See attached.
17th April 1945
1100 - Tac to LEHMKE.
1245 - Main to ESTERHOLY.
1330 - 3 Bde to MASENDORF. Recce report "large underground wireless station" captured. Investigation shows it to be Hamburg - Berlin repeater station. Handed to Corps, Army, Army Group successively with greatest difficulty.
20th April 1945
5 Div pass through. Trouble on PL allotted -
Corps - Top arm
Div - Second Arm from top (only when leading div uses NO PL except after reference to Corps).
Bde - Third arm from top.
Line comn over great distance almost impossible when PL cannot be used.
23rd April 1945
1200 - Main and Rear to concentration area MELBECK 785125.
24th April 1945
Bde Airborne as envisaged as part of op 'Enterprise'. Planning starts.
26th April 1945
Airborne Op (5 Bde) cancelled. See attached. Appendix 'C'.
27th April 1945
5 Bde move to Div concentration area. See attached. Appendix 'D'.
28th April 1945
1200 - C in C 21 Army Group visiting for investiture.
29th April 1945
0200 - Op 'Enterprise' begins less Airborne side. 3rd and 6th Bdes to final concentration area. See attached. Appendix 'E'.
30th April 1945
Cl 9 br at LAUENBERG.
1400 - Movement commenced. Traffic control net in operation.
1900 - Main to BUCHORST. In mobile ops 52 set V adaptor found to be too fragile. R 38A (10,000 ohm bleederresistor) shorts HT to case. Good set for mobile role. WS No.62 - Flick shakes off under these conditions. Connectors etc shake loose. Set shakes off calibration.
Month and year : May 1945
Commanding Officer : Lt Col P.E.M. Bradley
1st May 1945
1400 - Div. H.Q. at BOIZENBURG.
1500 - Under Command XVIII U.S. Corps (Airborne).
1820 - 15 Bde. revert to Comd 5 (BR) Inf. Div.
2nd May 1945
2025 - Div. H.Q. WISMAR.
3rd May 1945
0911 - Fwd. Tps. contact RUSSIANS.
4th May 1945
0900 - Found necessary to order D.Rs to run in Jeeps only and in pairs to counter sniping.
6th May 1945
1100 - Divisional Thanksgiving Service St. NIKOLAIKIRCH, St. NIKOLAIKIRCHOF, WISMAR. Sigs 1011A at Appendix "A".
7th May 1945
Field Marshal Montgomery meets Marshal Rokossovsky.
8th May 1945
0800 - Training begins. "G" do not agree to Staff Trg as future moves not known.
9th May 1945
1200 - "G" agree to Staff Trg w.e.f. 10 May 45.
10th May 1945
0900 - 30 Tons German Signal Equipment collected at 6 Airldg Bde. by "E" Section.
11th May 1945
1400 - 3rd. Para Bde [and Greys?] Parade is WISMAR. Sigs 1256 at Appendix "B".
13th May 1945
1500 - Russian Troupe entertains the Division at THEATRE LICHSPIEL, WISMAR.
17th May 1945
Adv. Party moves to U.K. No Sigs rep.
18th May 1945
0900 - Move to Luneburg.
19th May 1945
1315 - Air Party (54 all ranks) depart for U.K. Sea party departs for Ostend by road.
1950 - Air Party arrives [GRANTHAM?] COMMON (Sigs 1136 of 15 May 45 and Sigs 1136 of 17 May 45 at Appendix "C").
24th May 1945
2300 - Sea Party arrives.
31st May 1945
2359 - All personnel sorted into eligibles and Non eligibles for SEAC and despatched on Leave.
6 AIRBORNE DIVISIONAL SIGNALS
OP ORDER No.1 (Issued in conjunction with 6 Airborne Div OO No.7)
1. (a) Enemy ) At Appendix A
(b) Own Troops )
2. Order of Battle at Appendix B.
3. Location of HQs at Appendix C.
4. Div Signals will est and maintain comns required to implement the 6 Airborne Div plan.
5. 6 Airborne Div Signals Operational Standing Orders apply where applicable and where they are not at variance with this Order or any orders that may be issued subsequently verbally or in writing.
6. (a) Amended scales of personnel distribution at Appendix D1, vehicles at D1A.
(b) Aircraft and airfield allocation at Appendix D2.
(c) Seaborne tail movement at Appendix D3.
7. (a) Comns will be est in accordance with Appendicies W1, W2.
(b) Schedule of links at Appendix E.
(c) Frequencies at Appendix F, F1, F2, F3, F4.
(d) Wireless Silence. Airborne sets will open immediately on landing. Sets with the ground forces will opened as ordered by the CSO of the ground formations concerned.
(e) A Frequency will not be used by a set of greater power than that for which it is graded.
(f) All control stations other than 68R and 38 sets, will be set up by crystal-controlled wavemeter. All sets will be netted prior to loading; dials will be locked and sealed. They will be checked by wavemeter on arrival at the RV.
(g) Under no circumstances will a control station allow its net to work on other than the exact frequency allotted. Disciplinary action will be taken against a control set operator whose net is found to be more than 4 kcs off.
(h) Aerials will be reduced to a minimum compatible with reliable comn. If ground wave comn fails, all types of sets will be tried with a wire serial on short range "sky wave" working. Signal Officers and wireless det NCOs must bear this possibility in mind at all times.
(i) Changes of frequency will be made in accordance with 6 Airborne Div Sigs Signal Instruction No.13 dated 28.Sep.44. or 21 Army Group Signal Memorandum No.40 dated 6.Nov.44. Frequency changes in Base Wave to be notified later. All other changes of frequency from day to night and vice-versa where applicable will take place upon orders from the control station/
(j) On arrival at the RV, listening watch will be kept on -
Common Recognition Wave - Kept by all formations concerned in the operation down to Bn level.
(k) RA nets will be operated as ordered by the CRA, based on Method "B" as outlined in this HQ Sigs [100?] of 9 Feb and CSO 2nd Army's "detailed procedure for Airborne Div Arty Support Comns".
(l) Listening Sets at NIVELLES and XVIII Corps on frequency C9 (6 Airborne Div Base Wave) will intercept all traffic on that link and will deliver to the appropriate staff.
(m) NO wireless sets will close down without authority as under:-
Corps links - Signal Officer, Corps
Div links - Comd Gp, Div Sigs
Bde links - OC Bde Sec
RA links - HQ RA
(n) Operators' cards will be prepared and will carry full particulars of every link that is capable of being operated by the same type of set. The cards will be rolled up and concealed in the largest rod of the F-type aerial. It can be recovered by pushing the smallest section through.
8. (a) Line communication will be est as soon as practicable. Before a line party is despatched, it will be ascertained from G Branch that the proposed route is clear of the enemy.
(b) (i) The following line labelling system will be used
All lines laid by C Sec will be 6D
(single odd figure for earth return)
(double figures for pairs)
CRA's lines will commence at 51
All lines laid by J Sec will be 3P
K Sec 5P
L Sec 6L
E Sec 53
(ii) Initial labelling Div HQ - 3 Para Bde 6D
5 Para Bde 6D
6 Airldg Bde 6D
thereafter as ordered by Comd Gp.
(c) Fullerphones will be est from Div HQ to Bdes as soon as practicable after line comn is est. Method - series transformer split.
(d) L/T comns to Corps: the necessary Br telegraph equipment and operators have been att to XVIII Corps.
(e) Initially all lines in the Div area will be considered liable to interception of telephone comn and the necessary security measures taken.
(f) American exchanges will be called by their code names (issued to OC 1 Coy separately).
(g) Existing enemy routes (other than permanent cable or UG routes) may be taken into use. C.R. Signals will be informed immediately of any routes taken into use. Those that are used will be isolated from any other enemy comns. See para 8 (i) (Destruction of the enemy installations). No enemy cable routes (other than field cable) will be taken into use without authority of Signal Officer XVIII Corps obtained through C.R. Signals.
(h) It is essential that all Signal Officers ensure that early information of existing enemy comns, routes and installations is obtained and passed immediately to C.R. Signals.
(i) All Signal Officers will ensure that any necessary destruction of enemy comns equipment is carried out in a scientific manner. Wholesale destruction of wireless equipment, exchanges, lines and test equipment and cutting of paper cored cable will NOT be carried out. To render systems inoperative, whilst at the same time providing for quick re-connection for use by our own tps, the following procedure will be adopted -
(1) Jumper wires will be cut
(2) Fuses will be broken
(3) Ringing machines will be disconnected
(4) Test points will be disconnected
(5) Power supplies will be cut
(6) Valves and spare valves will be removed.
On no account will batteries be destroyed or cable heads interfered with.
9. DESPATCH RIDERS
(a) As soon as practicable, OC 1 Coy will est a DRLS. Normal times of leaving Div HQ - 0800 1200 1600 2000. In the initial stages only SDR will be possible and then only when it has been confirmed from G Branch that the route is clear of the enemy.
(b) As soon as practicable, OC 1 Coy will detach one DR to XVIII Corps Message Centre.
Will not be used.
11. SIGNAL TIME.
The official time will be British Summer Time (designated by letter A). Time will be checked from BBC broadcasts. Time signals are radiated every hour at the hour on 6195 kcs.
As per Appendicies E and S.
13. AIR CO-OPERATION.
As per Appendix H.
As per Appendix G.
This order will NOT be taken by air. No personal papers will be taken other than AF.B.2606 (Revised) by Officers and A.B.64 by O.Rs.
Maps may be taken but will not be marked in any way.
OsC. Coys will make arrangement for the collection and disposal of TOPSEC and SECRET waste in transit camps.
Briefing will be carried out at Transit Camps of personnel going by air. Final briefing of dets with other formations will be carried out by the Signal Officer of that formation. OC 2 will confirm that this has been done.
In accordance with 6 Airborne Div Sigs Adm Order No.1.
Capt & Adjutant,
6 Airborne Divisional Signals.
14. Mar. 45.
Appendix A to 6 Airborne Div Sigs OO No.1
Ref Maps. GSGS Germany
1/250,000 sheets 2A, 3A, K52.
1/100,000 sheets R1, Q1
1/2500 sheets 4204, 4205, 4206, 4304, 4305, 4306.
See latest Intelligence Summaries and ISUMS, available with the Adjutant.
2. Own Tps.
(a) 12 Corps -
(i) 15 (S) Div is aslting on two Bde front in the gen areas BISLICH 1442 and NEHR 1248 - HAFFEN 1149 at H hr on D day. Subsequently 15 (S) Div are capturing brs over R. ISSEL and relieving 6 Brit Airborne Div in area HAMMINKELN 2048.
(ii) 1 Cdo Bde is to aslt in area GRAV INSEL 1841 at H-2 hrs D day and capture WESEL 2240.
(b) 30 Corps is aslting in vicinity KEES 0752.
(c) NINTH US Army is co-operating SOUTH of WESEL.
(d) XVIII US Corps (Airborne) with under comd 6 Brit Airborne Div and 17 US Div (Airborne) is to land at P hrs D day EAST of R. RHINE on 12 Corps front.
(e) 17 US Div (Airborne) is ldg on the right of 6 Brit Airborne Div.
3. Additional Tps.
(a) The following are coming under comd 6 Airborne Div after link up with ground forces in the following priority:-
One sqn Tks (less 17 pdr Tks) equipped with DD Tks.
One SP A Tk Bty (twelve SP M10 17-pdrs)
One fd regt RA (approx D+1).
(b) The following are in sp 6 Airborne Div from P hr:-
52 (L) Div Arty Gp consisting of:-
Three Fd Regts
Two Med Regts
One HAA Bty.
(c) The following are in sp XVIII US Corps (Airborne) from P hr:-
8 AGRA consisting of:-
One Med Regt
One Hy Regt
US 155mm gun gp (36 x 155mm).
4. 6 Airborne Div is seizing, clearing and holding the SCHNEPPENBERG feature 1646 and the village of HAMMINKELN 2048 together with ISSEL Brs at 223485, 217497 and 216500.
5. RIGHT - 6 Airldg Bde Gp
CENTRE - 5 Para Bde Gp
LEFT - 3 Para Bde Gp
(a) 3 Para Bde.
Under comd -
One 6-pdr tp 3 Airldg A Tk Bty RA
One tp 3 Para Sqn RE
224 Para Fd Amb
In sp -
Three fd regts - 52 (L) Div arty gp.
(b) 5 Para Bde.
Under comd -
4 Airldg A Tk Bty RA
One tp 591 Para Sqn RE
225 Para Fd Amb
In sp -
One Med Regt - 52 (L) Div Arty Gp
One Bty - 53 (WY) Airldg Lt Regt RA.
(c) 6 Airldg Bde Gp
Under comd -
3 Airldg A Tk Bty RA (less 2 tps)
Det 591 Para Sqn RE
195 Airldg Fd Amb
In sp -
One Med Regt - 52 (L) Div Arty Gp.
One Bty - 52 (WY) Airldg Lt Regt RA.
(d) Div Res -
Two Lt Tk Tps 6 Airborne Armd Recce Regt
Two Para Pls 716 Comp Coy (Airborne Lt) RASC
One Tp 6-pdr 3 Airldg A Tk Bty RA
One Sec 17-pdr 3 Airldg A Tk Bty RA
After link up of land elt:
6 Airldg A Tk Bty RA
One Sqn 44 R Tks (less 17-pdr Tks)
One SP A Tk Bty
(a) H hr is the time of aslt of 12 Corps.
(b) P hr is the time XVIII (Airborne) commences dropping.
8. Landing Areas and Timings.
(a) LZ and DZs to be issued later.
(b) Para and glider ldgs will start simultaneously in the following order:-
3 Para Bde
5 Para Bde
6 Airldg Bde
Div HQ Gp
Para Bdes Glider elt.
(a) All minefds are being fenced and marked in the usual manner.
(b) Gaps cleared in enemy minefds are being marked in the normal manner.
(a) Recognition between airtps and ground forces will be the displaying of yellow celanese triangles.
(b) Red berets may be worn after the initial drop as an aid to recognition.
(c) Ground to air - fluorescent panels.
Common passwords and replies for use by airtps and tps 12 Corps will be issued later.
These will be communicated to all ranks in transit camps.
APPENDIX 'B' to 6 AIRBORNE DIV SIGS OO No.1
LOCATIONS OF HQs
HQ 6 Airborne Div
HQ 3 Para Bde
HQ 5 Para Bde
HQ 6 Airldg Bde
Tac HQ 12 Corps
Main HQ 12 Corps
Rear HQ 12 Corps
Tac HQ XVIII Corps (Airborne) (if not with MAIN)
Main HQ XVIII Corps (Airborne)
MDS 224 Para Fd Amb
MDS 225 Para Fd Amb
MDS 195 Airldg Fd Amb
- Bldgs 189479
- Vicinity 1646
- Vicinity GRINDSDICK 1037
- Vicinity 0732
- WINKLESCHER BUSCH 0633
- In 17 US Div (Airborne) area.
- Area 1037
- Area 157472
- Area 188454
- Area 216484
Subject:- Report on Operation VARSITY
HQ, 1 Br Airborne Corps.
Ref your HQ. AirCorps/5821/SX of 4 Apr 45.
1. I propose as soon as convenient to submit a preliminary report on communications during this operation, which is all I can hope to do at present. It will at any rate provide a basis for any further report and will have been made whilst events are still reasonably fresh in the minds of those concerned.
2. Your Para 2 - Yes, I understand that accuracy was obtained without smoke. Pilots were directed on to targets by a six figure map reference and prominent landmarks. The Pilots concerned were very experienced at close support and their navigation was excellent.
3. Your Paras 3 and 4. The tentacle and FVCP were sited together with one exchange line and a two to one line to G Ops and RA. They had a remote control on the A Comd and in addition when one particular Bde was likely to require air support a set netted on that Bde FOO Net so that immediate cab rank support could be made available to a Bn if necessary. A communication diagram is attached as Appendix A. "Sited by ASSU" I think is dialest for "Sited near ASSU". No particularly special siting of the VHF was found necessary. The G2 (Air) acted as ALO and was at the FVCP.
4. Your Para 5. The suggestion made in this para is ideally that the set to work on the FOO net should be earmarked as part of the air support party and trained with it. Further that the air support parties should carry its own telephones and a certain amount of cable to produce the required special air support lines themselves.
5. Your Para 6. I can give no reason possibly the NCO i/c the party now with you can explain. I agree that the 300w charging set is normally a most reliable equipment.
6. Your Para 7. FVCP did not apparently have the necessary crystals.
7. Your Para 8. It is desirable that all Airborne Equipment be capable of working on the move. It cannot be foretold at what stage in an operation defence of the original objectives may not develop into mobile operations. It is felt that the possibility of using a normal 'contact car' (white scout) in a Hamilcar is worthy of consideration.
6 Airborne Division.
10 April 45
Subject:- Wireless Report No.3
Chief Signal Officer,
HQ 1 British Airborne Corps.
Herewith report on Wireless Eqpt on trial with this fmn for the period 24 Mar - 15 Apr 45.
The report covers the initial airborne assault and the subsequent rapid advance, when the Div was often operating over areas 50 miles and more in length and movement was almost continuous. In general skies were clear and climatic conditions good. Interference particularly at night was heavy.
1. Wireless Set C52. - mounted as previously.
(a) Type of net - A Comd R/T, RA Comd, RA Airborne Support, all Rear links.
(b) Ranges - no change. Short range sky wave comn was not a success owing to increased noise/signal ratio.
(c) No change.
(d) No change. It is again emphasised that the V-adaptor is very fragile. A possible remedy is to set it at an angle. The cap shakes off the VIG valve and results in no modulation.
(e) i. R. 384 - 10,000 ohm bleeder resistance. This resistor is situated directly above the contacts at the rear of the vibrator unit. Due to excessive vibration of the set on the move or clumsy replacement of the vibrator unit, the HT connection on the resistor shorts to the case.
ii. 0Z4As still blown in the remote receiver. The turning down of gain controls prior to switching on has not proved a complete success.
(f) The C52 still proves to be a most successful set and the main stay of the divisional comns front and rear. A modification to the CVLP which is not strictly in connection with the C52, but is worthy of consideration, is that the 1260 watt charging engine should be more easily removable from its compartment, in order to prevent damage by fire after refilling with petrol, with the consequence filling of the compartment with fumes. At present it is very awkward and cannot be quickly removed. Cutting down the engine framework and removal of the lip formed by part of the side wall of the CV where it joins the floor of the cab would effect a remedy.
2. Wireless Set 62 Jeep and Para Stas - mounted in a jeep or as a man pack and ground sta.
(a) Type of nets - A Comd RT (airborne assault), Bde Comd, Bde FOU nets, RA Air Support net, RE Comd, Traffic control
(b) Ranges - 8 miles by day reduced to about 4 by night using 14ft aerial. On one occasion 15 miles was obtained using a 32ft mast. Again short range sky wave working was not a success owing to increased noise/signal ratio.
(c) Screening and interference - NTR.
(d) Mechanical faults -
i. Battery lead plugs are very liable to loosen. Opening the pins on the plugs helps but does not rectify. Faults in the moulded plug make maintenance very difficult. A different type of power lead is recommended.
ii. Flick mechanism is not strong enough. The set sometimes goes off net when jolted or when switching the flick.
iii. Aerial turning inductance - the roller pick up spindle breaks.
iv. In the aerial coupling condensers, the rotating vanes are screwed by grub screws to the spindle and if forced whilst turning, the positive and negative vanes are liable to short.
v. Crystal - MO switch. This switch has no stop and the rotary leaf is inclined to overshoot the contacts.
vi. The aerial base on the para sta is not strong enough, the aerial "flops" on the move.
vii. Screws fall out of main on/off switch due to vibration causing intermittent fault.
viii. Grid cap comes off V2A due to vibration.
(e) Electrical faults:-
i. C24A - 8 uf 75v bias decoupling condenser has broken down on several sets. Symptoms - excessive drive reading on the meter.
ii. Gang condenser gets dirty and shorting occurs.
iii. Drive adjustment has been frequent. This may have been due to incorrect setting up originally.
iv. Calibration has had to be corrected on several sets - maximum error so far found approx 100 kcs.
v. VT 510 - Several faults have been experienced in connection with this valve.
1. Low emission.
2. Cathode insulation breaking down. The above may be due to a fault batch of valves.
3. The VT 510 is held in position in W.A:62 by means of a locking collar around the base. It has been necessary to warn those concerned not to withdraw the valve without releasing this lock and also trying to replace valves in a similar way.
vi. C 23 A - 8uf 550v H:T: smoothing condenser. This condenser is insulated by a piece of celluloid and held in position by a bracket. This fitting is not sufficiently rigid and the condenser due to vibration, slips out and causes at H:T: short. A remedy is to insert a piece of tape or cork underneath the bracket.
vii. Low aerial rending - meter circuit trouble, thought to be a westector.
viii. Occasionally a loud carrier is heard which can be cleared by turning on/off switch on and off.
ix. "Rec on" switch must be used with caution as it then takes the transmitter too long to warm up when required.
x. The expected trouble with the power unit has been successfully dealt with by the carriage of spare units which are very quickly changed when trouble threatens. An estimated life of the power unit will be provided in my next report, though is varies so considerably that it is difficult to give a figure.
(f) General. This set has been most successful and is undoubtedly the best answer to date for use in airborne operations - a great improvement on the 22 set. The set stood up very well to dropping and very few sets which landed normally were dis on the DZ. Battery drain is heavy with the consequent wastage of man power with the pack stas. In this connection I question the wisdom of the projected use of a 14 ah battery. Jeep stas should include 1 12v 75 ah battery. The set is easy to operate and has gained the confidence of the operators, particularly in the FOU who achieved great success with it in the operation. The new rod antenae is very popular. Performance on crystal working is excellent. It is unfortunate that the crystal had to be cut above radiated frequency as flexibility in working with other sets on crystal control is lost. There is no question that the great assistance given at the W:O to obtain the set in time for the operation was repaid many fold.
3. SCR 300 - used for odd nets such as TCPs and most successfully as the Div HQ intercomn set on the move and in a new location before lines were laid. Nothing new to report on this set. A really good "odd job" set and most promising as a future answer to the short range man pack set in the army.
6 Airborne Division.
20 Apr 45.
Subject:- Operation VARSITY - PLUNDER.
Report on Communications of 6 Airborne Division.
Chief Signal Officer.
HQ, 1 Br Airborne Corps (3).
I submit herewith as requested a report on the communications of this division for operation VARSITY - PLUNDER. It is by no means a complete report, but in the nature of a preliminary survey of what occurred whilst it is still reasonably fresh in the minds of those concerned. Even now it is based on already slightly hazy memory, but is the result of cross questions. I propose to deal first with the general points and to attach as appendicies more detailed reports.
1. No difficulties were experienced in the signal planning which was greatly assisted by the fact that I had been in the position to have preliminary discussion with CSO 2nd Army whilst the Division was in Holland and that a draft signal plan had already been prepared for a similar operation with Signal Officer XVIII US Corps previously. Final details were thoroughly arranged at CSO 2nd Army's conference at HQ, 21 Army Group. There is no doubt from CR Sigs Airborne Division's point of view that such a conference where everybody concerned is present makes all the difference in the world. In addition the settlement of so many admin details of mobilization by your office whilst we were still overseas was of great assistance.
2. The signal plan is contained in 6 Airborne Div Sigs Operation Order No.1 (Varsity - Plunder) of 14 Mar 45 as amended.
3. Owing to limited lift, the quantity of signal equipment and numbers of men in the air lift was reduced below the normal 100% reserve coverage. This in fact proved adequate, but ONLY JUST. There is no doubt that at Div HQ in particular we were sailing very close to the wind indeed. If the operation had not proved 100% successful and air casualties in 1 Coy and casualties on the ground generally had been high, it is possible that communications would have failed when most required.
B. COMMUNICATIONS IN TRANSIT CAMPS. These were first class and adequate in every way. Detailed report is attached as Appendix A.
C. OPERATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS.
1. All landings were opposed and the landings at Div HQ in particular were very scattered with the consequent delays in opening communications from there.
2. However essential communications were quickly established throughout the division as sets became available and on the whole communications worked well. In particular RA support communications throughout and in the rear of division were very quickly established.
3. Detailed reports mostly concerned with the wireless communications are attached as follows:-
Appendix B - HQ, 6 Airborne Div less RA
Appendix C - RA Comns.
Appendix D - Bde Comns.
4. Line was laid to 5 and 6 Bdes on the evening of D Day and to 3 Bde when the route was clear on D + 1. A line came in from TAC 18 US Corps at approx 1830 hrs on D + 1. Bde Sig Secs laid lines as soon as the operational situation permitted and line parties were available. In the case of 5 Bde there was some delay, as their signal gliders were missing. On D + 1 a small dot and the necessary equipment were sent out to 5 Bde from 1 Coy.
i. A certain amount of confusion reigned at first over cipher as the cipher operators had very scattered landings and the cipher officer seriously injured. Hence there was slight delay in reporting to higher formation what one time pad ciphers had arrived intact.
ii. Neither of the M209 machines with 1 Coy were available and there were consequent delays on several messages received in that code over the one to one W/T link to XVIII Corps which had to be referred back. As a temporary measure the arty machine and settings were utilised.
iii. No cipher was ever used to Bdes.
6. CODES. Nothing to report.
7. AIR SUPPORT COMMUNICATIONS. One FVCP arrived at the Div HQ RV quite early and was very soon in VHF communication with FCP. The first ASSU arrived later but made contact very soon after setting up station. Signal arrangements for air support worked very satisfactorily - a report on this subject has already been forwarded my Sigs 1661 of 19 Apr refers.
8. PHANTOM. The phantom set arrived at the RV soon after the A Comd was opened and soon had contact with the outside world.
9. COMMUNICATIONS TO LAND ELEMENT. There was no direct communication with the LE as it moved up and I dont think it was really required. Good communications existed from the Division to 12 Corps who controlled its movement. In addition the APM who was early across the river to control LE traffic had a set on the A Comd. Even this set had to be ordered to close down as it "talked too much" and was delaying operational communications. Another set with the LE on the A Comd would have been out of the question. It might possibly have been on the Div - 12 Corps Q link, although this was a W/T link.
1. The main wireless sets used by the division were 38 Mk II, 68R, 62, C52 - a small number of 76 sets were taken for use on the base wave and B Comd. The latter in fact never opened as there was no set available at Div HQ. The lack of it was never felt. In addition all commanders and staffs of 5 Para Bde jumped with SCR 536 on their bodies. They proved absolutely invaluable for immediate communication on the DZ, which were established without having to wait for operators and sets to RV. Its employment of course can only be at the discretion of the Bde Comd concerned as its usefulness is dependent on the Commanders carrying the sets themselves.
2. The equipment used was satisfactory and in my opinion the most suitable at present available for an Airborne Operation.
3. I have submitted a detailed report on the WS 62 jeep and para stations in my wireless report No.3 (Sigs 1011A of 20 Apr). There is nothing to report regarding other sets.
1. Total casualties in the unit on D Day were as follows:-
Personnel (incl Attached).
Missing on D Day
Wireless Sets. (incl attached)
Missing on D Day
2. The value of scouring the DZs and LZs for equipment as soon as the operational situation permitted was well learnt. A great deal of equipment was recovered in this way, and in addition a great number of glider batteries were obtained which were invaluable. This would not have been possible on the LZs and DZs which remained under heavy fire. The supply drop allegedly contained a good deal of signal equipment, but not much was available in the dump by D + 1.
6 Airborne Division.
27 Apr 45.
REPORT ON COMMUNICATIONS AT HQ, 6 AIRBORNE DIVISION
OPERATION VARSITY - PLUNDER
Appendix 'B' to Sigs 1335 of 27 Apr 45.
1. The following report deals with the measures taken to implement the provision of comns at HQ 6 Airborne Div as planned for operation VARSITY and the extent to which these measures were successful. RA comns are not dealt with in this report.
2. The wireless links which were to be established at Div HQ were as follows:-
(a) 'A' Comd - 62 set.
(b) Lateral link to XVIII US Airborne Div - 62 set.
(c) GOC Rover - 62 set.
(d) 'B' Comd - 76 set.
(e) Rear link to Br Airborne Corps - 76 set.
(f) Rear link to XVIII US Airborne Corps (C1) - 52 set
(g) Rear link to XVIII US Airborne Corps (C2) - 52 set
(h) Rear link to 12 Corps (Hiform Q) - 52 set
(i) Common Recognition - SCR 300
(j) One to one RV - SCR 300
(k) ASSU - 62/52 sets
(l) FVCP - SCR 522/1143 sets
(m) Phantom - C9 set
(n) Press link - 76/52 sets
As a last minute arrangement it was decided, for tactical reasons that div HQ should have 2 separate RV's, half going to one and half to the other. For liaison between signals at the RVs a one to one SCR 300 net was arranged.
3. The links (a) to (j) were provided by 1 Coy as follows:-
for 3 WS 62 links 5 sets were taken (60% spare)
for 3 WS 52 links 5 sets were taken (66% spare)
for 2 WS 76 links 3 sets were taken (33% spare)
for 3 SCR 300 links 3 sets were taken (no spare)
Of these 1 x 62 set, 1 x 72 set and 1 x 52 set were "brewed up" immediately after landing. In crashed gliders, 1 x 76 set, 1 x 62 set, 1 x 52 set and 1 x SCR 300 were destroyed. Owing to enemy opposition and the difficulty in unloading, 1 x 52 set was not available until D + 1.
4. The links (k) to (n) were provided from outside sources as follows:-
ASSU - 2 complete dets (100% spare) 62/52
Phantom - 1 complete det (no spare) C 9
FVCP - 2 complete dets (100% spare)
Press - 1 x 76 set and 1 x 52 set (100% spare)
Of these, although personnel casualties were negligible, only 1 ASSU, 1 Phantom and 1 FVCP reached Div HQ on D Day. The second ASSU set was recovered on D + 1. One FVCP was "brewed-up" on landing. The press 76 set was "brewed-up" on landing and the press 52 set could not be unloaded due to enemy action and was finally "brewed-up" on D + 3.
5. The losses at the end of D Day were therefore as follows:-
(a) 1 Coy Resources.
2 x 62 set (40% of air scale).
2 x 76 sets (66% of air scale).
3 x 52 set (60% of air scale).
1 x SCR 300 set (33% of air scale).
(b) Outside Resources.
ASSU - 1 x 62/52 sets (50% of air scale)
FVCP - 1 x SCR 522/1143 sets (50% of air scale)
Press - 1 x 76 set and 1 x 52 set (100% of air scale)
The rear link to XVIII US Corps (C1) was not established till D + 1 and the 'B' Comd was not established until arrival of the build up party.
6. By the early afternoon of D + 1 two more 52 sets and 1 x 62 set were extricated from crashed gliders (these included one ASSU station). The rear link to XVIII US Corps (C1) was established and a 52 set was put on the 'A' Comd.
7. The total signal personnel at Div HQ who took part in the air scale was 9 Officers, and 89 ORs (this included H Sec). By the end of D Day 1 Officer and 8 ORs were reported wounded and 1 Officer and 13 ORs were missing. Excluding H Sec, 8 Officers and 74 ORs came in by air with Div HQ. Of these 1 Officer (Cipher Officer) was seriously injured and 8 ORs were wounded. One Officer (Lines Officer) and 9 ORs were missing. This missing personnel were all passengers of one glider which landed WEST of the RHINE. These personnel joined Div HQ at approx 1500 hrs on D + 1. It was reckoned that 24 was the minimum essential number of operators required to man wireless links. The number taken on the air scale was 32 (25% spare). Of these 4 were wounded and 2 were missing until the afternoon of D + 1. Ten outdoor linesmen were taken in by air - 2 were wounded and 2 were missing until the afternoon of D + 1.
8. The 2 Div HQ RVs were referred to as 'Main' and 'Rear' Div RVs, in general the G links RV-ing at 'Main' and the Q links at 'Rear'. The SCR one-to-one link between the RVs worked excellently and was most useful.
'A' Comd. The first set to arrive at Main was the 'A' Comd set. It opened immediately and on first call (1110 hrs) established contact with 3 and 5 Bdes. 6 Airldg Bde was contacted at 1128 hrs. Comns were entirely satisfactory during the day but at night was subject to heavy chopping up by interference. A C52 (spare ASSU) was erected as a ground sta on D + 1 and took over the control of the 'A' Comd during the afternoon. It was decided that working crystal control 62s to a MO 52 would be impracticable. The group therefore became MO controlled throughout. The maximum range to any Bde was 3½ miles.
'B' Comd. As only one 76 set arrived, the 'B' Comd was not established until the arrival of the build up party.
Lateral. The GOC's rover (crystal control) on 'A' Comd was the second set to arrive at Div HQ (Main). It arrived at 1200 hrs and opened on its MO controlled flick frequency - the lateral to XVII US Airborne Div. Contact was not established till approx 1600 hrs, communications were intermittent.
Rear Link to XVIII US Corps (C2). A C52 set (Ground resupply spare) was the next set to arrive at Main Div (approx 1315 hrs). It opened as soon as possible on its flick frequency - (C2) and established contact in approx 15 mins (approx 1335 hrs). Contact on this net was never lost.
Ground Resupply. The fourth set to arrive at Main was the ground resupply C52. It had reported in the first instance to 'Rear' Div at approx 1400 hrs when it opened on the resupply net at approx 1415 hrs. Contact was not established before it was necessary to close down the Rear Div RV owing to heavy enemy sniping. The set was moved to Main Div and set up by 1530 hrs. Contact was established at 1600 hrs approx. Contact was never lost.
Q Base. The Q Base 76 set arrived at Rear Div HQ at approx 1310 hrs, set up station and was through to base on first call at approx 1345 hrs. At approx 1515 hrs the set close down in order to follow up Rear Div when it moved to Main. It was set up again at Main at approx 1630 hrs. Contact was not established before approx 250500 hrs, although it could hear Base on and off S/S 2 throughout the night, through heavy interference. Contact was established on the 'day' frequency.
Rear Link to 18 US Corps (C1). This link was manned entirely by US Army Signal Corps Personnel. It was a CW link and all traffic on it was to be cleared in American Army Cipher (M209) and airborne slidex. Two M209's were brought in by air. One of these was "brewed-up", the other was destroyed to avoid falling in to enemy hands. As no M209's were therefore available in the early stages C2 was opened in preference to C1. No C52 set was available until noon on D + 1, when contact was established at 1305 hrs, within 10 minutes of opening up. British cipher and slidex was used on this link until an M209 cipher machine was provided. This net worked excellently until closed.
Common Recognition. Fortunately, an SCR 300 was picked up on the LZ (a 17 US Div Para Bn set). This opened on the common recognition wave at approx 1400 hrs. This net was very useful from an intercept point of view, but was quite useless otherwise since no other formation or unit recognised our HQ Code sign.
9. A summary of times of opening, and contact on the various links, based on a 'L' hour of 1045 hrs - (the time Div HQ was to commence landing) is therefore as follows:-
L + 25 mins
L + 1 hr
L + 2 hrs
L + 26 hrs 40 mins
L + 2 hrs 30 mins
L + 4 hrs 45 mins
L + 3 hrs 15 mins
L + 25 mins
L + 5 hrs 15 mins
L + 2 hrs
L + 26 hrs 50 mins
L + 2 hrs 45 mins
L + 5 hrs 15 mins
L + 3 hrs 15 mins
(a) Netting. All sets on MO were pre-set on flick mechanism by crystal control wavemeter SCR 211 before going to transit camp. They were subsequently checked in camp and found to be "dead on". This locking on flick proved entirely satisfactory in all cases.
(b) Frequencies. Q Base 'night' frequency was always a bit 'gammy'. Otherwise frequencies were very good, particularly the rear link frequencies.
(c) Charging. One charging engine 1260 watt, was brought in by air, in addition to 11 x 300 watt CH's and 2 x 80 watt engines. By the evening of D Day charging facilities were just holding their own against battery consumption, owing to the heavy losses on the air scale and breakdowns.
(d) Only 2 x M209's were brought in by air. Casualties were expected to be heavy and as these were required for the higher formations comd net, and since it is known that the enemy already possesses these machines, more of them should have been brought in by air.
REPORT ON RA COMMUNICATIONS - OPERATION VARSITY - PLUNDER
APPENDIX 'C' to Sigs 1335 of 27 Apr 45
1. 2 FOU.
(a) Planning. No difficulties.
(b) Crystals. Crystals were asked for late but were produced very quickly by Br Airborne Corps and arrived in time. FOU Signallers had no opportunity for practice in the use of them, but they were tested on the final netting and worked fairly satisfactorily. It was found, however, that 52 set crystals differed by about 1 KC from the 52 set crystal calibrator, also that crystal controlled 62 sets were not accurate to more than 2 KCs, and one 62 set was 3 KCs different from the others; also that all crystal controlled 62 sets worked on about 1 KC higher than crystal controlled 52 sets. It was therefore decided to open up 62 sets on crystal control, but to switch to MO as soon as contact was made and to renet. This was done successfully.
(c) Charging. Owing to weight of arty eqpt that had to be carried, the 2 x 52 sets for control of airborne sp net were only able to carry one 300 watt chore horse each. As all 52 sets arrived safely and only one 68 set chore horse was lost at HQRA there was sufficient charging eqpt available, but if there had been a shortage of sets and any chore horses had failed, matters might have been different. Para Bde HQ FOOs took one glider each, and Airldg Bde HQ two gliders. Each glider carried one 300 watt chore horse and spare batteries. 3 Sec's glider got down safely and the Bde FOO was OK for batteries. 5 Sec's glider was lost (as was the Inf Bde HQ glider) and there was serious shortage of charged batteries. This was overcome by using glider batteries and by sending out 2 chore horses one from FOO HQ and one from H Sec. One of 6 Sec's gliders was shot down and one landed 400x from LZ; they were OK for charging. Bn OP batteries were charged at Bn HQs. Chief difficulty was transportation of batteries which had to be done for the most part on foot. Bde HQ FOOs did not send out charged batteries to ops.
(d) Frequencies. Sp net Freq was first class. Bde FOO freq were OK but 6 Sec had greatest distance to work and had highest and worst freq. Recommended that Bde FOO freqs should be lowest possible in 68 set band.
(e) Ranges. Ranges worked were 17,000 yds str five 62 set to 19 HP and vice versa, and 12,000 yds str three 68 set to 19 HP. The only sets through to the guns direct at night on the sp net were 52 set - 19 HP str three at about 10,000 yds, and 52 set - 52 set str four and five at 8000.
(f) Netting. Had to be done prior to move to airfds owing to dispersal of FOU in different airfds. Netting was done by crystal calibrated 52 set sending tuning and netting calls for all sets on all freqs. This was done with 52 sets at 3 miles distance from other sets, 52 set on LP and 62 sets on full radiation. The security risk involved was considered negligible compared with the advantage of being confident that all sets were correctly netted. Every 52 set and 62 set on the FOU and HQRA that was not normally working on sp net had either a crystal or a flick freq netted on the sp net freq. Netting of LO and ground forces was done by checking crystal calibrator of step-up 52 set against airborne sp net control set; step-up 52 set then netted all LO and gd force sets on all freqs at last possible moment prior to the op. Difficulty was experienced in finding a practical way of sealing sets after netting. Apart from locking flicks and giving strict orders against touching tuning dials, the only scaling done was the placing of the wooden fronts over 62 para sets and tying and sealing them in place with string and sealing wax. Care was taken that all sets were switched on for half an hour before netting and results proved that all netting was successful.
(g) Wireless Sets taken. Sets taken were as follows:-
Bn OPs - 1 x 62 and 1 x 68 with 1 Offr and 3 Sigmn.
Para Bde HQ - 3 x para 62 sets and 1 x glider 62 set and 68 set.
Airldg Bde HQ - 4 x glider 62 sets + 68 sets.
HQ 2 FOU - 2 x C52 sets (H Sec) and 2 x 62 sets (in two gliders).
HQRA (H Sec) also took a further 2 x 52 sets and 2 x 62 sets in 4 gliders.
(h) Glider Losses. Glider losses were 5 Sec FOU 1, 6 Sec FOU 1, 2 FOU HQ 1 (broke adrift and landed 4000 yds WEST of RHINE), HQRA one lost and one smashed. The glider that broke adrift carried the CMO but it was a def pl glider in which he was travelling for recce purposes, the glider containing the 52 set with which he would have normally travelled arrived safely. Thus at HQRA the sets available were
H Sec 4 out of 4 52 sets. 1 out of 2 62 sets (the set being salvaged from smashed glider).
2 FOU 2 out of 2 62 sets (carried on jeeps pulling 52 set trailers).
(i) Establishing Comn. Comns were established as follows:- on the sp net:-
3 Sec - P + 15 minutes.
5 Sec - P + 24 minutes.
6 Sec - P + 50 minutes.
HQRA - 25 mins after first div hq glider landed.
At Bde HQs and HQRA the first set to arrive was opened on the sp net. At Bde HQs comns were est on direct sp as soon as second set opened. At HQRA first set to arrive at RV was C52 with OC H Sec; the set was planned normally to work as rear link but being first to arrive it was opened on sp net and heard step-up calling as soon as it was switched on, and made contact immediately. Bde HQs were then called and 3 and 5 Secs answered first call. HQRA took control forthwith, CRA being first to arrive at RV (less crew all of whom were cas) and 6 Sec was contacted ten minutes later. Comns were est on direct sp nets as follows:-
3 Bde HQ - P + 15
8 Para Bn - P + 20
9 Para Bn - P + 25
1 Cdn Para Bn - P + 35
5 Bde HQ - P + 55
7 Para Bn - P + 34
12 Para Bn - P + 43
13 Para Bn - P + 46
6 Bde HQ - P + 60
2 of 6 Bde ops were cas and third one was unable to open wireless comns for a considerable time after landing.
(1) 3 Sec FOU packed 22 A/H batteries in kitbags before moving to airfd, and found on arrival that acid had spilt. Batteries should be checked for tight vent plugs before packing, and if possible be kept out of kitbags until last moment.
(2) Para Bde ops found that a crew of 1 offr and 3 men was not sufficient to carry man pack 62 set sta as well as 68 set, 4 signallers are recommended.
(3) Para Bde ops were foot slogging for 3 or 4 days. 62 set is not easy to work on move as man-pack sta owing to it being a two-man pack, and owing to poor design of battery connector.
(4) Most ops used 68 sets during day time to conserve 62 set batteries.
(5) Personnel should be briefed that glider batteries are available to replace wireless batteries in an emergency. This was not done in all cases.
(6) Para Bde HQ FOO found it impossible to deliver batteries to ops owing to continual moving of Bde HQ and ops. Suggest this difficulty might be overcome if necessary.
(7) All para 62 sets that landed safely worked OK. One set had porcelain ae terminal broken after landing.
(8) Bde HQ FOOs were supplied with 34 ft aes (in glider) but did not use them. Comns were actually OK with 14 ft rod but might have been improved by use of 34 ft ae. FOO states sufficient men not available to erect the 34 ft ae. Suggest inf could assist.
(9) One 6 sec jeep was completely wrecked but set still worked OK.
(10) 22 A/H batteries and chore horses should be incl in the re-sup drop. It was intended that this should be, but none were found.
(11) It was found necessary to send tuning and netting call every half hour throughout the night on sp net, to keep stas on net.
(12) RA sets were not used by G Staff, except by comd 6 Bde whose glider landed on the Div LZ, & to XVIII Corps before C2 was established. CRA detailed Sig Offr and first set to arrive at RV NOT to take part in clearing ops but to concentrate on comns and to remain at RV rather than wait to reach the proposed HQRA locn before opening up.
(13) CM in first 48 hrs was fairly successful on bde level, but non-existent on Div level owing to CMO acting as BM and ACMO landing west of RHINE. Owing to cas at HQRA there were not enough operators to man a CM net in any case.
2. HQ RA.
(a) H Sec's chief commitment was the airborne sp net and report on 2 FOU has covered the chief points. Further to that:-
(b) Charging. Never any difficulty as 2 x 52 sets carried 2 x 300 watt chore horses of which one each was spare, and although 2 gliders carrying 62 sets and chore horses were written off, the set and chore horse was recovered out of one.
(c) Function of sets. It was planned that one 52 set should work on XVIII Corps Arty Liaison freq with flick to Fire Director freq, and the other 52 set on a one-to-one link to the Brit CRA of supporting gd arty. This was carried out, the latter channel only being opened when necessary by passing codeword over the sp net, thus economising in operators. Two 62 sets were brought in, one as control set for CRA Comd net, and one as duplicate or CRA's rover. The first was lost in the BM's glider with Sec Sjt and wrls det. The second was in CRA's glider which crashed. Jeep was wrecked but set worked OK. All passengers except CRA were cas. The CRA comd net was not opened until late on D Day owing to the following facts:-
(i) Both H Sec 62 sets were cas (it took some time to recover the set from the wrecked glider and the crew were not available either for salvage or signalling.
(ii) E Sec lost a 62 set.
(iii) Lt Regt HQ was only 400 yds from HQRA and a line was laid with German Cable (captured) by H Sec.
(iv) A tk RHQ was at HQRA.
(d) Establishing Comn. Apart from CRA's comd net, all nets made contact immediately on opening.
(e) Operators. There were glider seats available for only 2 operators per set. At the last moment 2 extra operators were fitted in, in a def pl glider. We were lucky in that we did not have hy cas, and had bulldozers and POW to do our digging in, and an early link up with the gd forces, but we were sailing very close to the wind. 2 Ops were replaced by American operators for working American rear link.
(f) Netting. CRA comd net had been netted before moving to airfds, but rear link 52 sets relied purely on crystal calibrators. This proved satisfactory.
(g) Line. No line personnel were available from Div Sigs so wrls ops laid to 53 (WY) Lt Regt with captured eqpt.
(h) Remarks. No great difficulties were encountered apart from lack of personnel. There was just enough operators to work sets but not sufficient for salvage work, digging and local protection.
3. 53 Lt Regt RA (E Section).
NETTING beforehand was done by fixing control with an SCR 211 (and netting groups in normal manner.) 5 Sets were flown in netted as follows:-
(1) Netted on (a) CRA Comd Net ) FL
Netted on (b) 53 Lt Regt Comd Net )
(2) Netted on (a) CRA Comd Net ) R.L.
Netted on (b) 53 Lt Regt Comd Net )
(3) Netted on (a) CRA Comd Net ) A/B Sp Net
Netted on (b) Airborne Support Net )
(4) Netted on (a) 53 Lt Regt Comd ) Z
Netted on (b) Airborne Support Net )
(5) Netted on (a) 53 Lt Regt Comd Net ) Z2
Netted on (b) Airborne Support net )
First set to arrive was Z2 which opened up as Control set on 53 Lt Regt Comd net. Second set to arrive was RL which took over from Z2 while Z2 went out to 211 Bty as third 'H' net set since no 211 Bty sets had by that time arrived (approx 1300 hrs). Shortly afterwards a 211 Bty set arrived and Z2 assumed the job of 'Rear Link' on Airborne support net but without success. Z arrived approx 1430 hrs and was used in its normal role. Reasonable comn within the Regt was not established until 1600 hrs. Comn was then also established on the Airborne support net. The greatest mistake made during the operation was to fly in the Bty sets netted on their baty frequencies. If all the sets in the Regt had been netted on the 'H' net comn could have been established much sooner and we should have known what sets had not arrived within the Regt much earlier. But with both Bty net control sets missing much difficulty was found in organising the sets which arrived safely to the best advantage. Two sets failed to arrived in E Sec:-
(1) F.L. (2) Airborne Support Net.
APPENDIX D to Sigs 1335 of 27 Apr 45.
COMMUNICATIONS 3 PARA BDE SIGNAL SECTION.
DURING OPERATION VARSITY - PLUNDER.
BDE COMD NET.
1015 hrs - Opened Comns.
1020 hrs - 8 Para Bn contacted.
1030 hrs - 9 Para Bn contacted.
1045 hrs - 1 Cdn Para Bn contacted.
Delay with the Cdns was due to the fact that the man carrying the remaining battery dumped it at the Bde HQ RV, the Cdn Bn allotting this man to their B party, divorcing him from the set itself which was with A party. The Sig Sec was short of aerial rods, and so were the Bns. As many F type rods were broken when the kit bag hit the ground. Communications remained OK to the 8 Para Bn and Cdn Bn throughout the day, communications to the 9 Para Bn being rather difficult for a short period about mid-day as they only had a 68 set and advanced into a very thick wood. The rover set at no time was used.
DIV 'A' NET.
1015 hrs - Opened Comns.
1110 hrs - Div contacted. Sigs LO set was heard and contacted fairly early on and no time can be given.
DIV 'B' NET.
1045 hrs - Opened Comns.
1115 hrs - 6 Airldg Bde heard, no contact. No other station was heard at all throughout the day nor was 6 Airldg Bde heard after the initial call. Both sender and receiver were checked and were definitely OK. Common Recognition Wave no set.
All three Ciphers ops arrived safely with Equipment. OTP was never used.
8 Para Bn Para
9 Para Bn Para
1 Cdn Para Bn Para
Bde HQ Para Div 'A'
Bde HQ Para Div 'B'
Bde Comd Set
8 Para Bn - Glider. Glider containing COs jeep with 62 set landed in France - arrived D + 3. On D + 1 charging engine less kit plus 3 batteries were collected, the remaining 5 glider borne batteries being lost.
9 Para Bn - Glider. Trailer arrived approx 1700 hrs D Day with 62 set complete less aerial rods, 2 good batteries and 4 which contained no acid, (this was thought to be due to absorption by the new plates). In addition charging engine complete.
1 Cdn Para Bn - Glider. On D Day jeep arrived with 62 set complete, 8 good batteries and charging engine complete.
Bde HQ Para.
Div 'A' - lost battery carried by man who was killed, collected D + 1.
Div 'B' - 76 set and 109 set OK. Pack charging engine arrived OK with this crew.
Bde Comd Set. 1 lost battery with 'missing' man.
SCR 300. 2 lost (one pierced by shrapnel).
MISCELLANEOUS EQUIPMENT AND REMARKS IM and ES (one) arrived safely with kit. The kit of other ES who was wounded recovered D + 1. Of the three folding cycles none arrived. It is questionable whether they were even thrown out. Of the 4 Lightweight m/c's (dropped for 2 DRs) only one was found which ran backwards. Three m/c's were recovered from the DZ on D + 1, all of them useless. The kitbag holding the second portable generator was shot away from the man during his descent. The reason for the losses are numerous. Trees accounted for about a third. Quite a few men have said that although the kitbag straps were tight around their legs yet the kitbag slipped off as they were jumping from the A/C, (this happened although second parties had tightened the straps for them. Ropes broke after the kitbag had fully let down suggesting that a stronger rope is required.
Bde HQ - Gliders. Of the three, the two signal gliders arrived, the Bde Comd's landing to the East of the DZ and was shot up. Loads were approx the same as regards to wireless, each carrying a 62 set, 4 - 12v 22aap hr batteries and a charging engine. In addition the jeeps most of them modified for line, carried a duplicate set of line equipment including seven miles of cable. One 76 set complete and a spare 68 set were also carried.
5 Para Bde Signal Section.
Report on Communications OP VARSITY - ASSAULT PHASE
1. Communications were hampered owing to heavy losses in equipment, particularly in the glider element. However communications were in fact quickly established and maintained.
2. Bde Comd net - SCR 536 were carried by Commanders and Staffs and originally were the only means of comn to Bns. The set operated by the Bde Comd was through to Bns at 1010 hrs, 5 mins after the drop. Communications were maintained on this set until after 1200 hrs when during the move from the RV to Bde HQ, communication to Bns was established on a 62 set on the move on the Bde Comd. Delay in establishment was due to sets arriving at the RV dis or with no audio gear or no batteries.
3. Div A Comd - the first 62 set at the RV opened on the Div A and was through to Div when the latter opened at 1110 hrs.
4. Div B Comd - not opened.
5. Casualties in Sets.
Arrived at RV
Each Bn dropped with one 62 set and 2 68 sets. 2 Bns arrived with 1 62 set and 1 68 set each, the third with 1 68 set only.
6. Owing to the non arrival of the Sigs glider element, charging facilities and line equipment were non existent. Assistance in both cases was given from 1 Coy resources when called for.
6 Airlanding Bde Signal Section.
Report on Communications OP VARSITY - ASSAULT PHASE
1. Communications were excellent throughout and no difficulties were experienced.
2. Bde Comd - Control landed 1025 hrs and opened immediately. Contact was immediate with 1 RUR. Other stations were through as follows:-
Bde Comd Rover
1055 - with a Bn set as both Bde Sec Sets were lost.
3. Div "A" - a set was not available to start with. It was eventually through at 1128 hrs.
4. Div "B" - no contact - subsequently ascertained no set available at Div HQ.
5. Casualties in sets.
Taken in Air scale
Arrived at RV
Bns Air Scale
Arrived at RV
Oxf. Bucks lost both sets.
Report on Comns D + 5 to D + 27 - Div HQ less RA.
Appx A to Sigs 1335 dated 29 Apr 45.
1. The main build up party arrived on the evening of D + 3, prior to the first move of Main Div HQ from the LZ area to the area south of HAMMINKELN. Here the switch over from air scale eqpt to Inf Div scale eqpt was begun. Three comd vehs were ready to take over immediately; the remainder had to have sets installed before taking over links. Approximately two to three days elapsed before the switch over was complete with the exception of one set for which there was no veh. It remained in the trailer, but has since been put into a veh.
2. The main sets in use were C52 and these functioned exceptionally well throughout the adv. All sets on the A Comd net C52s. During the adv a Tac HQ was est well fwd prior to nearly every move of Main HQ, very often with the object of acting as a step up and in order that wireless control by the Comd could be assured. On occasions it was at extreme range and comn was difficult at night between Tac and Main. Tac HQ however having taken over control and being well fwd was able to keep in contact with the leading Bdes. The system of establishing a step up was used to maintain contact between Tac and Main. This however was not always possible owing to the presence of enemy pockets along the main axis. To offset this it has been decided therefore that when Tac is expected to be operating at extreme range, it should, if the availability of sets permits, take another C52 set with it to open on a one to one link with Main HQ working on W/T. Normally two Bdes were operating and the third resting in rear which sometimes meant that the div was operating over 50 miles or more of road, which stretched comns to the utmost. It was essential that all stas were at all times prepared to set as relay stas and on more than one occasion comn was maintained through two such relays. Relay drill improved as time went on.
3. The B Comd net was est at the first available opportunity after the arrival of the main build up (approx D + 5). Although the net was equipped throughout with 19 HP sets, the Bdes for various reasons had to interchange the 19 Hps with 62 sets from time to time. In consequence, contact on this net frequently broke down (especially during moves) as the ranges over which the net worked were too great for the 62 set.
4. Having reached the crossed the river LEINE the Div came into Corps reserve and rested. It was not until then that the A/Qs R/T net could be properly est. Although a powerful set was provided as control sta, 62 sets were the only available sets for outstations, in consequence the net did not maintain constant comn. Higher powered sets are now available and the net should improve considerably.
5. On the rear links to higher fmn there has been no difficulty whatsoever except on one occasion when contact on both the R/T and the W/T nets was lost owing to extreme range. Comn on the Corps Q net has been exceptionally good throughout the adv. As sets became available, links to the CE and DDST were est. Comn on these nets has been satisfactory. CRASC Comd net was also est but as the outstations were very low powered sets and operated at extreme range with RASC personnel meaning the sets, the net has not been satisfactory.
6. Throughout the adv, the battle has been fought on the A Comd net. In consequence traffic on it has been very heavy except for brief periods when it has been possible to provide line comn. Traffic on the B Comd net has been practically non-existent. This has been attributable to poor comn and the lack of suitable tfc. The A/Q R/T net when est was little used by the Staff, still less were the remote control facilities used, although always available.
7. River crossings entailed a further wireless commitment in the form of a TCP net. This net was est at all river crossings and the bottle-necks. As many as four stas were provided. The sets used were either 62 sets or SCR 300s. Both sets functioned satisfactorily. In addition special Bridge LOs and TCP stas have been used on the A Comd.
B. Line Comns.
1. Owing to the rapid and constant moving of fmns during the adv, the provision of line comn has been very difficult indeed. The main effort of the line org was directed throughout the adv towards the provision of a main artery, as far fwd as possible, along the Div axis. Two circuits were aimed at, but on many occasions, resources were so strained that one circuit had to suffice, on others, affairs moved too fast and attempts had to be abandoned. As the Bdes moved fwd they were te-ed in on the main artery, and as the Div HQ moved up the Corps lines were strapped through to the main artery, when such an arrangement was practicable. On two occasions only no attempt was made to maintain the main artery. These were during the very long move from LENGERICHE to the MINDEN area and again when the Div HQ moved from RHADE to BILLERBECK.
2. Every opportunity was taken to utilize the GERMAN civil line systems. Underground cable was never used as there was never sufficient time to trace circuits. Overhead circuits however were used to a very great extent. Without them it would have been impossible to maintain the main artery for any length of time. Overhead circuits on the main rds were generally in bad condition. The enemy did not appear to make any attempt to destroy overhead line, but during the course of the fighting along the axis the lines suffered badly. Railway circuits were on the other hand invariably in very good condition.
3. A good supply of D8 twisted cable was brought in with to build up party. This met all needs until the R. WESSER was reached. Supplies from Corps were not plentiful and in fact dropped so low that on one occasion D3 single cable had to be used.
4. Line comn was provided linking up all TCPs on nearly every river crossing.
5. Considering the movement involved the line comns during the period of the adv, were good. As an example for one over-night period line comn was est and maintained to a Bde HQ which was 40 miles away.
C. Equipment - General.
The eqpt available was similar to an Inf Div Sigs and suitable. It is emphasized once more that an airborne div signals to function in such a role must be equipped to a scale equal to an inf div sigs.
By withdrawing personnel from Bde Secs and reducing them to Inf Bde Sec strength it was found possible to provide the bare minimum of personnel required to man the comns. Inspite of attachments made by CSO Second Army, the Unit has remained approximately 15 OWLs short on its own est and at times this shortage of personnel has been the cause of very real strain with consequent loss of efficiency.
Report on Communications D + 5 to D + 27 Brigade Signals.
Appx 'C' to Sigs 1335 of 29 Apr 45.
(a) The majority of the period consisted of mobile operations and the Bde HQs were not often established in one location for more than 12 hours.
(b) Frequently the Bdes were stretched over a length of up to twenty miles when on the move.
(c) The usual order of march for the Bdes was as follows:
(1) Leading Bn.
(2) Tac Bde HQ.
(3) Two Bns.
(4) Main Bde HQ.
This was the main means of comn and generally worked well.
(a) Bde - Bn. Usually Tac HQ consisted of the Bde Comds Rover (62 set) which on many occasions was not powerful enough for comn to Main Bde HQ. It was often necessary for each Bn to act as a step up. It is recommended that the Bde Comds Rover is at least a 19 set or better a 19 HP, provided Power 3 frequencies are available.
(b) Bn Rear Links. On several occasions it was not possible for the White Scout car to keep with Bn HQ due to its size and lack of manoeuvrability and to obstacles such as river crossings. Trouble was also experienced due to the infantry moving at marching speed and over heating of the engine. It is recommended that:-
(1) The White Scout car is replaced by a more manoeuvrable armoured vehicle. This is a matter of general army policy.
(2) Each Bn has 2 x 62 Sets, one being fixed in the vehicle and the other complete and ready as a man pack station for use at river crossings or similar obstacles. The Para 62 set is suitable for this purpose and is already being used in 3 and 5 Bdes but Bns sometimes use the second set as the COs Rover working on the Bde Comd net and expected to be manned by the Bde Signal Section. This set should only be used when it is impossible to keep the vehicle with Bn HQ but both the sets cannot be manned by the Signal Section at the same time.
(c) Bn Comns. The 68 set generally worked well but trouble was experienced during the hours of darkness, owing to high noise level of the receiver and the distance involved. The SCR 300 has given good results on special tasks such as patrols.
(d) Bde Rear Links. The high power sets available were used as follows:-
(1) "A" Comd (C52). Worked satisfactorily and this link proved to be the main comn with Div.
(2) "B" Comd (19HP). Did not work well, partly due to the 19HPs not being available at the beginning of the operation and the lower power sets not making the grade, consequently operators lost confidence. It is most important from a Signal point of view that this net works on mobile operations as it is the only message traffic channel available to the Signal office and it is essential that all stations are "up" at the same time as most of the message traffic is for all Bdes.
(3) The A/Q net (19HP). Did not work well for similar reasons as (2) above. Very little traffic was passed when it was through but it is considered that once the Staff have got confidence in it as a means of comn it will justify it existence.
(e) General points.
1. The importance of siting and using maximum aerial has proved itself while working in wooded country and at extreme ranges.
2. The provision of wireless sets for LOs; 2 jeeps supplies by Bde should be fitted with 62 sets for the use of and manned by LOs.
3. Step-up sets. It has been necessary to use step-up sets on many occasions and it is essential that one is available for this purpose at short notice.
(a) Owing to the speed of movement lines were not used extensively and Bn lines were only laid when it was anticipated that the stay would be for at least 12 hours. The exceptions were when there was a major obstacle to cross such as a river or canal in which case line was laid to the Bn involved and also lines for the use of the traffic control over the obstacles.
(b) Local PL was used when it was thought to be in good order but much time was wasted in trying to put it through without previous recce of the state of repair.
(c) Considerable overhearing was experienced when using earth return and metallic circuits on the same route.
(d) Close liaison must be kept with C Section on the use of various routes as on several occasions Bdes used circuits which were either in use or earmarked as Div circuits.
(e) Fullerphones. On many occasions there was considerable delay in putting the fullerphone on the Div line. This should be done at the first available opportunity on the line being put through. Exchanges and superposing units should be wired up permanently.
(f) On a few occasions lines were laid to Bde before it arrived at the new location and the recce parties had no telephone available to put on the line. On Bde arriving it was found that the line was "dis" but had a phone been available when the line was laid any fault could have been found as soon as it occurred.
4. DESPATCH RIDERS.
(a) SDRs were used extensively as it was not always possible owing to the frequent moves of units to organise SDS timetable.
(b) It is important that during the night DRs work in pairs due to the possibility of snipers and that they are given all the available information re locations and the presence of enemy pockets.
During the majority of the time charging had to be done by dets and some trouble was experienced with the 300w chore horse. After continuous running for 4 or 5 days it was often found necessary to carry out a complete overhaul. This was due to some extent to the use of red petrol. It is recommended that the issue of 300ws is increased to allow at least 2 per detached set.