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Royal Corps of Signals
Insigne du Royal Corps of Signals (R SIGNALS)

Cap Badge of the Royal Corps of Signals
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Service history
Active 1920—Present (As Independent Corps)
Role Military Communications
Size Corps
Nickname RCS
Motto Certa Cito
(Swift and Sure)
Website Royal Corps of Signals
Commanders HRH The Princess Royal
Insignia Royal Signals TRF
British Army arms and services
Flag of the British Army
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
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Special Air Service
Army Air Corps
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
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Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
<span />
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

The Royal Corps of Signals (often simply known as the Royal Signals - abbreviated to R SIGNALS) is one of the combat support arms of the British Army. Signals units are among the first into action, providing the battlefield communications and information systems essential to all operations. Royal Signals units provide the full telecommunications infrastructure for the Army wherever they operate in the world. The Corps has its own engineers, logistics experts and systems operators to run radio and area networks in the field.[1] It is responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all types of telecommunications equipment and information systems, providing command support to commanders and their headquarters, and conducting electronic warfare against enemy communications.


Training and tradesEdit

Royal Signals officers receive a general military training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, followed by specialist communications training at the Royal School of Signals, Blandford Camp, Dorset Other ranks are trained both as field soldiers and tradesmen. Their basic military training is delivered at the Army Training Regiment Winchester before undergoing trade training at 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment. There are currently six different trades available to other ranks,[2] each of which is open to both men and women:

  • Communication Systems Operator: trained in military radio and trunk communications systems
  • Communication Systems Engineer: trained in data communications and computer networks
  • Communication Electrician: trained in maintaining and repairing generators and providing electrical power
  • Communication Logistic Specialist: trained in driving and accounting for communications equipment
  • Installation Technician: trained in installing and repairing fibreoptics and telephone systems
  • Electronic Warfare Systems Operator: trained in intercepting and jamming enemy communications

Staff sergeants and warrant officers work in one of five supervisory rosters:

  • Yeoman of Signals - trained in the planning and deployment and management of military tactical/strategic communications networks;
  • Yeoman of Signals (Electronic Warfare) - trained in the planning, deployment and management of military tactical/strategic electronic warfare assets;
  • Foreman of Signals - trained in the installation, maintenance, repair and interoperability of military tactical/strategic communications assets;
  • Foreman of Signals (Information Systems) - trained in the installation, maintenance, repair and interoperability of military tactical/strategic Information Systems;
  • Regimental Duty - trained in the daily routine and running of a unit.

Whilst SSgts are generally regarded as being Regimental Duty, this rosta does not start until WO2 and therefore all SSgts in the Royal Signals who are not supervisory are still employed "in trade".



In 1870, 'C' Telegraph Troop, Royal Engineers, was founded under Captain Montague Lambert. The Troop was the first formal professional body of signallers in the British Army and its duty was to provide communications for a field army by means of visual signalling, mounted orderlies and telegraph. By 1871, 'C' Troop had expanded in size from 2 officers and 133 other ranks to 5 officers and 245 other ranks. In 1879, 'C' Troop first saw action during the Anglo-Zulu War.[3] On 1 May 1884, 'C' Troop was amalgamated with the 22nd and 34th Companies, Royal Engineers, to form the Telegraph Battalion Royal Engineers;[3] 'C' Troop formed the 1st Division (Field Force, based at Aldershot) while the two Royal Engineers companies formed the 2nd Division (Postal and Telegraph, based in London). Signalling was the responsibility of the Telegraph Battalion until 1908, when the Royal Engineers Signal Service was formed.[4] As such it provided communications during World War I. It was about this time that motorcycle despatch riders and wireless sets were introduced into service.[4]

Royal WarrantEdit

A Royal Warrant for the creation of a Corps of Signals was signed by the Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, on 28 June 1920. Six weeks later, King George V conferred the title Royal Corps of Signals. It was given precedence immediately after the Corps of Royal Engineers.[citation needed]

Subsequent historyEdit

Before the Second World War, Royal Signals recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 2 inches tall. They initially enlisted for eight years with the colours and a further four years with the reserve. They trained at the Signal Training Centre at Catterick Camp. All personnel were taught to ride.[5]

Throughout World War II, members of the Corps served in every theatre of war. By the end of the war the strength of the Corps was 8,518 officers and 142,472 men. In one famous episode, Corporal Thomas Waters of 5th Parachute Brigade Signal Section was awarded the Military Medal for laying and maintaining the field telephone line under heavy enemy fire across the Caen Canal Bridge during the Allied invasion of Normandy.

In the immediate post-war period, the Corps played a full and active part in numerous campaigns, including Palestine, Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, Malaya and the Korean War. Until the end of the Cold War, the main body of the Corps was deployed with the British Army of the Rhine confronting the former Communist Bloc forces, providing the British Forces' contribution to NATO with its communications infrastructure. Soldiers from the Royal Signals delivered communications in the Falklands War, the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor and the second Gulf War. They are currently deployed in Cyprus (TA) and Afghanistan.

In 1994, The Royal Corps of Signals relocated its training regiments: 11th Signal Regiment (the Recruit Training Regiment) and 8th Signal Regiment (the Trade Training School), from Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire to Blandford Camp in Dorset, where the Royal School of Signals was already based.

In late 2012, 2nd (National Communications) Signal Brigade disbanded.[6]) The Brigade Headquarters was previously located at Corsham and the brigade comprised 10, 32, 37, 38, 39 and 71 Signal Regiments, plus 299 Signal Squadron (Special Communications), Specialist Group Royal Signals with 81 Signal Squadron, Land Information and Communications Services Group (LICSG), Land Information Assurance Group (LIAG) and the Central Volunteer Headquarters (CVHQ) Royal Signals.

The FutureEdit

The Royal Signals future structure can be found on pages 56 and 57.

Dress and ceremonialEdit

Tactical Recognition flashEdit

The Corps wears a blue and white tactical recognition flash. This is worn horizontally on the right arm with the blue half charging forward. Aiborne elements of the Royal Signals wear a Drop Zone (DZ) flash on the right arm of their combat jacket. It is square in shape with its top half white and the bottom half blue. When 5 Airborne Brigade was re-formed for the Falklands Crisis, Signal elements adopted the Airborne Bridges Headquarters DZ Flash but this changed back to its original colours in the mid 1980s.

Cap badgeEdit

The flag and cap badge feature Mercury (Latin: Mercurius), the winged messenger of the gods, who is referred to by members of the corps as "Jimmy". The origins of this nickname are unclear. According to one explanation, the badge is referred to as "Jimmy" because the image of Mercury was based on the late mediaeval bronze statue by the Italian sculptor Giambologna, and shortening over time reduced the name Giambologna to "Jimmy". The most widely accepted theory of where the name Jimmy comes from is a Royal Signals boxer, called Jimmy Emblem, who was the British Army Champion in 1924 and represented the Royal Corps of Signals from 1921 to 1924. It is one of the eight chalk hill figure military badges carved at Fovant, Wiltshire. It is the latest one to be made, as it was placed in 1970 following the Corp's 50th anniversary. The corps are also nicknamed 'Interflora's' due to close resemblance of the symbols.


On Nos 2, 4 and 14 Dress the Corps wears a dark blue lanyard signifying its early links with the Royal Engineers. The colour is royal blue and thus much lighter than that worn by the Engineers and the knotting is identical[citation needed]. It is worn on the right shoulder, signifying the Corps as cavalry[citation needed]. The Airborne Signals Unit wears a drab green lanyard made from parachute cord which dates back to the Second World War. Following a parachute drop into France the unit's Commanding Officer ordered all Signal personnel to cut a length of para-cord from their chutes in the event they may need it later in the fighting.


The Corps motto is "certa cito", often translated from Latin as Swift and Sure, although it actually translates from Latin as "fixed quickly" . It is easily seen on any of the Corps Badges.


The Colonel in Chief is currently HRH The Princess Royal.


The Corps deploys and operates a broad range of specialist military and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) communications systems.[7] The main categories are as follows:

  • Satellite ground terminals
  • Terrestrial trunk radio systems
  • Combat net radio systems
  • Computer networks
  • Specialist military applications (computer programs)

Royal Corps of Signals unitsEdit


There are now two signal brigades:

Regular ArmyEdit



Other UnitsEdit

  • 628 (NATO) Signal Troop (Supporting 1 NATO Signal Battalion)
  • 660 (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Signal Troop
  • Headquarters, Joint Service Signals Organisation
  • Joint Service Signal Unit, supporting SSU (D) and JSSU (D)
  • Saudi Arabian National Guard Communications Support Unit
  • Defence School of Communications Information Systems
  • DE&S Signal Unit
  • London District Signals Unit (Supporting London District)
  • Joint Service Signal Unit, Cyprus
  • Cyprus Communications Unit
  • Joint Communications Unit, Falklands Island

Territorial ArmyEdit



Other UnitsEdit

  • Central Volunteer Headquarters, Royal Signals (Volunteers), under 11 Signal Brigade

Cadet ForcesEdit

The Royal Corps of Signals is the sponsoring Corps for several Army Cadet Force and Combined Cadet Force units.[8] They also, quite unusually, sponsor small groups of signals trained cadets in cadet detachments which are affiliated to a different Regiment or Corps.

Order of precedenceEdit

Preceded by
Corps of Royal Engineers
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Foot Guards

See alsoEdit


  1. Career paths
  2. Royal Signals Careers - Soldier Trades
  3. 3.0 3.1 [The Royal Signals Museum: Telegraph TP & Boer War]
  4. 4.0 4.1 [The Royal Signals Museum: Corps History]
  5. War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  7. Royal Signals Equipment
  8. "Homepage of ACF/CCF Signals Training". Retrieved 28 October 2008. 

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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