Author Topic: Royal Corps of Signals  (Read 605 times)

Offline claireirons

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Royal Corps of Signals
« on: Monday 08 January 18 18:00 GMT (UK) »
I'm trying to research what my dad did during WWII. Unfortunately he died a few years ago and would never talk about the war. I've got his war record and here's what it says.

2345067 Acting Lance Corporal John Humphrey O'Donovan - Royal Signals
1st Depot Battalion 30/5/40
1st Operators Training Battalion 30/6/40
8 Corps 16/12/40
Base Depot & School 14/5/41
6 Line of Communications 24/5/41
7 Armoured Division Signal Squadron 26/10/42
7th Armoured Motor Brigade Signals 2/12/42
Special Communications Unit No 4 11/4/43
Released to Territorial Army Reserve 28/4/46

His work in SCU 4 looks interesting but very hard to research.

Any help, suggestions gratefully received as I seem to be going in circles.

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Offline MaxD

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #1 on: Monday 08 January 18 21:51 GMT (UK) »
Starting with a bare outline, the units up till May 1941 were in UK when he underwent initial training at the Depot Battalion and then his technical training as a wireless operator at the Operators Training Battalion followed by work with 8 Corps which commanded a slice of the UK Home Forces.

From May 1941 on he is in North Africa with units responsible for communications down the "tail" of the forces and then with 7 Armoured Division (the Desert Rats) and then 7 Armoured Brigade which was spun off the division (and also known as the Desert Rats). 

As I think you've guessed, most things with "Special" in the title tend to be more difficult than most to research.  As far as I can tell, and I have been able to scratch the surface only, the Special Communications Units were originally Signals Liaison Units and were involved in gathering intelligence from enemy radio traffic and producing reports and handling ULTRA high level coded intelligence.

One would normally answer your basic question by saying get the relevant war diaries to see what his units were up to.  That said, it would be best first to interpret his record more fully.  There should be posting and movement records that add more detail, if you know how to read them, with hieroglyphics such as "TOS MEF or BNAF (date)" and "Pt 2 Order "which would help confirm my guesswork.  It may also be that, particularly with the SCU, a more specialist view is needed.

Are you able to post the record - in bits if necessary?

MaxD
Double  Essex/Suffolk
Randle/Millington Warwicks
Sokser/Klingler Austria/Croatia

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Offline GrahamSimons

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #2 on: Monday 08 January 18 22:29 GMT (UK) »
A planned visit to the archive at https://www.royalsignalsmuseum.co.uk/ might help
Simons Barrett Jaffray Waugh Langdale Heugh Meade Garnsey Evans Vazie Mountcure Glascodine Parish Peard Smart Dobbie Sinclair....
in Stirlingshire, Roxburghshire; Bucks; Devon; Somerset; Northumberland; Carmarthenshire; Glamorgan

Offline claireirons

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 09 January 18 12:37 GMT (UK) »
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. The information I wrote down is all that is on his war record. It shows the dates he was posted then his ranks, discharge dates, service with the colours dates, overseas service dates as Middle East 20/3/41 - 24/10/44, military conduct - exemplary and medals issued.

Is there another type of record I can get?

Offline Ruskie

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 09 January 18 12:54 GMT (UK) »
Claire, when you say that is all the information that you have from his "war record", do you mean his service record, obtained from the MOD (for which you probably paid 30)? :-\

Offline StevieSteve

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 09 January 18 13:52 GMT (UK) »
And as your father only died " a few" years ago, might this be the basic information only unless you are (or have the consent of) the next of kin?
Middlesex: KING,  MUMFORD, COOK, ROUSE, GOODALL, BROWN
Oxford: MATTHEWS, MOSS
Kent: SPOONER, THOMAS, KILLICK, COLLINS
Cambs: PRIGG, LEACH
Hants: FOSTER
Montgomery: BREES
Surrey: REEVE

Offline claireirons

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 09 January 18 14:45 GMT (UK) »
Having searched through all my family history paperwork I have found the original letter from the MOD and apparently it's a service record. I actually obtained it over 10 years ago as I had always been told he was a POW but as it didn't say anything about that I put it away to concentrate on my mother's side of the family. It is only recently I've re-visited it all with an urge to really discover what happened to him in WWII.

I am the only next of kin and I guess my aim would be to see if he would qualify for the Roll of Honour at Bletchley Park as some compensation for the both mental and physical state he was left in after the war which affected him for the rest of his life.

Offline MaxD

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 09 January 18 15:14 GMT (UK) »
Claire

Take a look at :
https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records which will explain the questions posed by Ruskie and StevieSteve.

As his daughter (whether or not there are other children) unless his spouse/civil partner is still alive you are his next of kin as far as the MOD is concerned and can go ahead with a death certificate and 30, and apply for his full record.  If the spouse/partner is still alive then you simply have to certify that you have their permission (you don't have to prove it).

His full record will be more detailed about dates and unit titles which is important if you want then to go on to look at what his units were doing while he was with them.  How much detail you then want to go into will be up to you.  I would only caution that war diaries covering for example his 3 and a half years in the Middle East can work out expensive and, particularly in the case of his type of unit, can be disappointing as they are not written to show the daily life of individual wireless operators.
Better perhaps once you have his record, initially to visit the R Sigs museum as Graham has advised, and to Google as much of "Royal Signals in WW2" or "Royal Signals in the Western Desert" and 7 Armoured Division and 7 Armoured Brigade as you can find.

Specifically though, as you mentioned yourself, the Special Communications Unit may well be worth a closer look.  While there are miscellaneous papers at the National Archives relating to these units, I find (no surprise) no war diaries.  I'll cast around in more specialised areas to see what clues I can come up with.

MaxD

PS just seen your post.
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Sokser/Klingler Austria/Croatia

Offline claireirons

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Re: Royal Corps of Signals
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday 09 January 18 16:44 GMT (UK) »
Thanks MaxD I've downloaded the forms and will send them off. It seems that as my dad has now been dead over 25 years (can't believe it) I can now have more detailed records which will be great.

I would like to get to the Royal Signals Museum but as it's over 650 miles away it will take a bit of planning.

Again many thanks for everyone's help.

Claire