London District Signals

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London District Signals
Active 1908–present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type HQ Signals unit
Part of Royal Engineers (1908–20)
Royal Corps of Signals (1920–)
Engagements Gallipoli
Western Front
The Blitz
Operation Diver

London District Signals was a headquarters signal unit of the Royal Engineers (RE) and later Royal Corps of Signals in Britain's Territorial Army from 1908. It served with a corps headquarters at Gallipoli and on the Western Front during World War I, and later became an air defence signal unit during World War II. Its successor unit continues in the Army Reserve today.

Origin[edit]

When the Territorial Force was created in 1908 as a result of the Haldane Reforms, the London Division, Electrical Engineers of the Royal Engineers (Volunteers) spun off three telegraph companies, later termed signal companies:[1][2][3]

  • London Wireless Signal Company
  • London Cable Signal Company
  • London Air-Line Signal Company

Together, these companies formed London District Signals, defined as 'Army Troops RE' in the TF organisation, serving HQ London District based at Horse Guards. The unit headquarters was at 12 Palmer Street, Westminster.[4][5][6]

World War I[edit]

In June 1915, London District Signals joined IX Corps HQ forming at the Tower of London and went to Gallipoli as IX Corps Signals. After the evacuation from Gallipoli, the Corps HQ went to France and served on the Western Front until the end of the war. The Corps Signals also ran a Signals Training Centre.[3][6][7]

Interwar[edit]

Former Drill Hall of 1st AA Divisional Signals in Regency Street, London SW1

When the renamed Territorial Army (TA) was reconstituted in 1920, London District Signals was reformed as 1st London Corps Signals (Army Troops) in the Royal Corps of Signals. It was retitled as Anti-Aircraft Signals in 1922, and then Air Defence Signals in 1925 when it formed 26th (London) and 27th (London) Anti-Aircraft Brigade Signals Companies.[3][6][8] When 1st Anti-Aircraft Division was formed at RAF Uxbridge in 1935 (with 26 and 27 AA Bdes under command), the unit provided the signals component. It was based at 46 Regency Street, the former Drill Hall of the London Electrical Engineers.[3][9] The divisional signals unit was duplicated for 6th Anti-Aircraft Division in 1939 when the TA doubled in size after the Munich Crisis. 6th AA Division took responsibility for the air defence of the Thames estuary, Essex and North Kent, with its HQ at RAF Uxbridge.[3][6][10]

World War II[edit]

Together, 1st and 6th AA Divisions defended London and the Thames Estuary during The Blitz. As the war developed, increasing numbers of women from the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) became integrated into AA and signals units, which were termed 'Mixed'. By June 1942, the composition of the two units was as follows:[6][11]

1st AA Divisional Signals

  • Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel A. Hemsley, MBE, TD (1939–45)
  • 1st AA Divisional Mixed Signal Unit HQ
    • HQ No 1 Company:
      • 1 AA Command Mixed Signal Office Section
      • 1 AA Division Mixed Signal Office Section
      • 26 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 38 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 48 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 49 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
    • HQ No 2 Company:
      • 601 AA Gun Operations Room (Class 'D') Mixed Signal Section
      • 315 AA Gun Operations Room (Class 'B') Mixed Signal Section
      • 112 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section
      • 5 AA Line Maintenance Section

1st AA Divisional Signals had provided Anti-Aircraft Command's Signals section since the latter's establishment in 1938. Between 1940 and 1942, both 1st and 6th AA Divisions came under 1st Aa Corps, but from June 1942, 1st AA Division was directly under AA Command HQ.

6th AA Divisional Signals

  • Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel G.J. Morley-Peel, MBE, TD (1939–44)
  • 6th AA Divisional Mixed Signal Unit HQ
    • HQ No 1 Company:
      • 6 AA Division Mixed Signal Office Section
      • 6 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 102 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section
      • 103 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section
      • 329 AA Gun Operations Room (Class 'B') Mixed Signal Section
      • 37 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 309 AA Gun Operations Room (Class 'B') Mixed Signal Section
      • 15 AA Line Maintenance Section
    • HQ No 2 Company:
      • 328 AA Gun Operations Room (Class 'B') Mixed Signal Section
      • 28 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 56 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 101 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section
      • 310 AA Gun Operations Room (Class 'B') Mixed Signal Section
      • 71 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 16 AA Line Maintenance Section

When AA Command was reorganised in October 1942 the two divisions became 1 AA Group and 2 AA Group, with the signals units renamed 1st and 2nd AA Group (Mixed) Signals. The two groups operated alongside No. 11 Group RAF and taking a leading role in defence against V-1 flying bombs (Operation Diver) in 1944–45.[3][6][12]

Postwar[edit]

On the re-establishment of the TA in 1947, 1 and 2 AA Group Signals re-merged and were numbered 11 AA (Mixed) Signal Regiment, 'Mixed' now indicating that members of the Women's Royal Army Corps (successors to the ATS) were integrated into the unit. The new unit was based at Kensington.[3][6][13] The unit was retained when AA Command was disbanded in 1955, becoming Eastern Command Mixed Signal Regiment, the East Anglian District Signal Regiment of the Army Emergency Reserve (AER). Eastern Command Signal Regiment was numbered 83 Signal Regiment in 1959.[3][6]

Meanwhile, elements of 11 AA Signal Rgt joined the disbanding 259 (Home Counties) (Cinque Ports) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery to form Home Counties District (Mixed) Signal Regiment with HQ at Shorncliffe. This became 62 (Mixed) Signal Regiment (Cinque Ports), and merged with 44th (Home Counties) Divisional Signal Regiment in 1961.[14][15]

The size of the TA was reduced in 1967, when 83 Signal Regiment (AER) became 83 Signal Squadron (Volunteers) and later 83 Support Squadron in 31 (City of London) Signal Regiment, which was disbanded in 2010.[3][6][16][17]

In 2010, 83 Support Sqn was renamed 47 Signal Troop, (recognising the former 47th (2nd London) Division) and became part of 71 (City of London Yeomanry) Signal Regiment. The Troop is based in Uxbridge and Southfields.[18][19]

Honorary Colonel[edit]

The first Honorary Colonel of London District Signals was Col A. Bain, TD, MICE, MIEE, appointed on 14 July 1912.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ London Gazette, 20 March 1908.
  2. ^ London Gazette, 14 October 1910.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lord & Watson, p. 184.
  4. ^ a b Army List, August 1914.
  5. ^ London Cable Signal Company at Great War Forum
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nalder pp. 618–9.
  7. ^ Becke, pp. 185–91.
  8. ^ Titles and Designations.
  9. ^ 1 AA Division 1936–38 at British Military History.
  10. ^ 6 AA Division 1939 at British Military History.
  11. ^ Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 14 May 1942, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, file WO 212/81.
  12. ^ AA Command 1940 at British Military History.
  13. ^ Watson, TA 1947
  14. ^ Lord & Watson, pp. 152-4.
  15. ^ Nalder, p. 598.
  16. ^ 83 (London) Signal Sqn at Air Formation Signals
  17. ^ 31 Signal Rgt at British Army website Archived January 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ 83 Support Sqn at British Army website
  19. ^ 71 Yeomanry Signal Rgt at British Army website

References[edit]

  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 4: The Army Council, GHQs, Armies, and Corps 1914–1918, London: HM Stationery Office, 1944/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-84734-743-6.
  • Cliff Lord & Graham Watson, Royal Corps of Signals: Unit Histories of the Corps (1920–2001) and its Antecedents, Solihull: Helion, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-92-2.
  • Maj-Gen R.F.H Nalder, The Royal Corps of Signals: A History of its Antecedents and Developments (Circa 1800–1955), London: Royal Signals Institution, 1958.
  • Titles and Designations of Formations and Units of the Territorial Army, London: War Office, 7 November 1927.

Online sources[edit]