Signals Platoon

A Signals Platoon in an Infantry Battalion was responsible for maintaining communication between the companies of the battalion and battalion headquarters.

First World War

During the First World War, a Signal Section was part of Battalion Headquarters.

Second World War

The Signals Platoon was the Number 1 Platoon in Headquarters Company throughout the war. While company runners could be used when other means were not available, the battalion in action usually relied on field telephones, and wireless (radio). In the event that communications failed, the signalmen were also employed as runners.

The platoon consisted of thirty six all ranks commanded by a lieutenant who although not a trained infantry soldier was on permanent loan from the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals because of his technical knowledge in maintaining signal sets and phones, etc.

The battalion's signallers were attached out to rifle companies with complete equipment which they carried and maintained, however, they did not carry the wire to lay lines.

The following was published in the Regimental newsletter of the Calgary Highlanders, "The Glen", in 1945 as a summary of the service of their Signals Platoon:

Most of the times there were three signallers at each rifle company, two with the mortar platoon, one with the carrier platoon and four at Tactical Headquarters. When the battalion was attacking, the only means of communications was by wireless - the 18 set being use at the "out" stations (company and platoon headquarters) and at "control" station (Tactical Headquarters). The 22 set was used from Tactical Headquarters to Brigade Headquarters. Operating these sets was by no means an easy task due to shelling, mortaring and small arms fire. The only reasonable excuse any operator could give for not being in direct communication was a damaged set or jamming and heavy interference which was caused mostly by the enemy.

When the companies were consolidated after an attack a telephone line was usually laid out to them and this is where the Line party played their part. There were usually two to four men on this party and after they had the line put in, it was up to them to repair damaged lines due to shelling and mortaring. The switchboard was set up at Tactical Headquarters and the operators on the wireless sets then had an easier time because when the battalion was "on the air" the sets had to be manned twenty four hours a day. The signal officer and sergeant had the responsibility of seeing that communications were in at all times. The storeman kept the platoon supplied with equipment and he often repaired broken or damaged sets - when this couldn't be done he had to replace them with new ones.

Signallers on duty were identified by an armband divided horizontally into white (upper) and blue (lower).

Typical Organization

  • Platoon Headquarters
    • Signals Officer (Could also be Lieutenant)
    • Signals Sergeant
    • Driver/Batman
  • W/T Section
    • Corporal
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Driver
  • Line Section
    • Corporal
    • Corporal
    • Orderly
    • Orderly
    • Orderly
    • Orderly
    • Orderly
    • Orderly
    • Orderly
    • Storeman
    • Signaller
    • Signaller
    • Driver

Additional Reading

  • Holm, Frank P. A Backward Glance: The Personal Story of an Infantry Signaller with the Calgary Highlanders in World War Two Self Published, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, 1989

 


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