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Royal Signals
Cap Badge of the Royal Corps of Signals
Active 1920 – present
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Garrison/HQ Blandford Camp, Dorset
Motto(s) Certa Cito
(Swift and Sure)
March Begone Dull Care (Quick); HRH The Princess Royal (Slow)
Commanders
Colonel-in-Chief The Princess Royal
Ceremonial chief Lieutenant General Sir Nick Pope
Corps Colonel Col J Gunning ADC
Corps Sergeant Major WO1 D Corcoran
Insignia
Tactical Recognition Flash Royal Signals TRF.svg
British Army arms and services
Flag of the British Army.svg
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Infantry
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
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
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.

History[edit | edit source]

Origins[edit | edit source]

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.[2] On 1 May 1884, 'C' Troop was amalgamated with the 22nd and 34th Companies, Royal Engineers, to form the Telegraph Battalion Royal Engineers;[2] '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.[3] As such, it provided communications during the First World War. It was about this time that motorcycle despatch riders and wireless sets were introduced into service.[3]

Royal Warrant[edit | edit source]

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.[4]

Subsequent history[edit | edit source]

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 and all personnel were taught to ride.[5]

During the Second World War (1939–45), members of the Royal Corps of Signals served in every theatre of war. In one notable action, Corporal Thomas Waters of the 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 June 1944.[6]

In the immediate post-war period, the Corps played a full and active part in numerous campaigns including Palestine, the 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 Soviet Bloc forces, providing the British Forces' contribution to NATO with its communications infrastructure. Soldiers from the Royal Signals delivered communications in the Falklands War in 1982 and the first Gulf War in 1991.[7]

In 1994, The Royal Corps of Signals moved its training regiments, 11th Signal Regiment (the Recruit Training Regiment) and 8th Signal Regiment (the Trade Training School), from Catterick Garrison to Blandford Camp.[8]

In late 2012, 2nd (National Communications) Signal Brigade was disbanded.[9] Soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals saw extensive service during the eight years of the Iraq War before withdrawal of troops in 2011,[10] and the 13 years of the War in Afghanistan before it ended in 2014.[11]

In 2017 the Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team, then in its 90th year, was disbanded; senior officers had complained that it "failed to reflect the modern-day cyber communication skills in which the Royal Signals are trained".[12]

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Training and trades[edit | edit source]

Royal Signals officers receive 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 at Winchester before undergoing trade training at 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment. There are currently six different trades available to other ranks,[13] 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
  • Royal Signals 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 Sergeant & 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 roster does not start until WO2 and therefore all SSgts in the Royal Signals who are not supervisory are still employed "in trade".

Museum[edit | edit source]

The Royal Signals Museum is based at Blandford Camp in Dorset.[14]

Dress and ceremonial[edit | edit source]

Tactical Recognition flash[edit | edit source]

The Corps wears a blue and white tactical recognition flash. This is worn horizontally on the right arm with the blue half charging forward.

Airborne 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 War, Signal elements adopted the Airborne Bridges Headquarters DZ Flash but this changed back to its original colours in the mid 1980s.

Cap badge[edit | edit source]

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.

Lanyard[edit | edit source]

On Nos 2, 4 and 14 Dress, the Corps wears a dark blue lanyard on the right side signifying its early links with the Royal Engineers. The Airborne Signals Unit wears a drab green lanyard made from parachute cord. This dates back to the Second World War, when, 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.

Motto[edit | edit source]

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

Appointments[edit | edit source]

The Colonel in Chief is currently the Princess Royal.

Equipment[edit | edit source]

The Corps deploys and operates a broad range of specialist military and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) communications systems.[15] 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 units[edit | edit source]

Brigades[edit | edit source]

There are now two signal brigades:

  • 1st (United Kingdom) Signal Brigade: The Brigade Headquarters is co-located with HQ ARRC at Gloucester and the ARRC Support Battalion. The Brigade is made up of four specialist units, each trained to carry out a unique and challenging role in support of the overall brigade mission and is prepared to deploy at short notice anywhere in the world. The Brigade consists of ARRC Sp Bn, 16 Sig Regt, 22 Sig Regt, 30 Sig Regt, 32 Sig Regt, 39 Sig Regt and 299 (SC) Sig Sqn.[16]
  • 11th Signal Brigade and Headquarters West Midlands: The Brigade Headquarters is located in MoD Donnington, near Telford. The Brigade is divided into one Signal Group: 7 Signal Group comprises 1 Sig Regt, 2 Sig Regt, 3 (UK) Div Sig Regt, 21 Sig Regt, 15 Sig Regt (IS), 37 Sig Regt, 38 Sig Regt, 71 Y Sig Regt. 2 Signal Group comprises 10 .[17] 2 Signal Group however disbanded on 31 July 2018 as part of Army 2020 Refine.[18]

The structure of the Royal Signals has changed under Army 2020.[19] The listing below shows the present location of units and their future location:[20][21][22]

Regular Army[edit | edit source]

Army Reserve[edit | edit source]

Cadet Forces[edit | edit source]

The Royal Corps of Signals is the sponsoring Corps for several Army Cadet Force and Combined Cadet Force units, such as in Blandford Forum, home to the Royal School of Signals.[25]

Order of precedence[edit | edit source]

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

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Career paths
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Royal Signals Museum: Telegraph TP & Boer War
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Royal Signals Museum: Corps History
  4. "Royal Corps of Signals". National Army Museum. http://www.nam.ac.uk/research/famous-units/royal-corps-signals. Retrieved 27 September 2016. 
  5. War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  6. "Pegasus Bridge hero honoured in exhibition". Dorset Echo. 23 July 2004. https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/5363595.pegasus-bridge-hero-honoured-in-exhibition/. Retrieved 15 October 2019. 
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  8. "Blandford Garrison". Army Garrisons. https://www.armygarrisons.uk/blandford-garrison/garrison/local-information-military-172824/. Retrieved 15 October 2019. 
  9. THE SIGNAL OFFICER IN CHIEF'S MESSAGE ON CHANGE FOR THE CORPS, dated 19 Sep 11
  10. "Chilcot report: Who were the 179 British soldiers who died during the Iraq War?". The Independent. 5 July 2016. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/chilcot-report-iraq-war-inquiry-british-soldiers-how-many-died-who-were-they-cause-of-deaths-a7118676.html. Retrieved 15 October 2019. 
  11. "UK ends its war in Afghanistan: These are the 453 British men and women who died fighting the Taliban". The Independent. 27 October 2014. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-ends-its-war-in-afghanistan-these-are-the-453-british-men-and-women-who-died-fighting-the-taliban-9820014.html. Retrieved 15 October 2019. 
  12. Sawer, Patrick (1 September 2017). "'Old fashioned' White Helmets display team wound up as Army looks to promote more high tech role". https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/01/old-fashioned-white-helmets-display-team-wound-army-looks-promote/. Retrieved 8 December 2019. 
  13. Royal Signals Careers - Soldier Trades Archived 29 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "About us". Royal Signals Museum. https://www.royalsignalsmuseum.co.uk/about-us/. Retrieved 8 June 2018. 
  15. Royal Signals Equipment Archived 13 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. "1st United Kingdom Signal Brigade - British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. http://www.army.mod.uk/signals/25267.aspx. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  17. "HQ 11 Sig Bde - British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150828110954/http://www.army.mod.uk/signals/25269.aspx. Retrieved 2015-02-10. 
  18. "The Wire Autumn 2018". royalsignals.org. August 2018. https://royalsignals.org/FileTransfer/E-Wire/PDF/17-18/TheWireAutumn18.pdf. Retrieved 30 November 2018. 
  19. "Royal Signals Journal". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140419012446/http://www.royalsignals.org/files/RSI/Journal/PDF/RSI%20Journal%20March%202014.pdf. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  20. "Army 2020 listing". https://britisharmedforcesreview.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/army-2020-refine-orbat.pdf. 
  21. "Royal Signals Changes". https://royalsignals.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/20170921-Master-of-Signals-Presentation.pdf. 
  22. "The Wire". https://royalsignals.org/news/the-e-wire/. 
  23. "299 Sig Sqn (SC)". Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20171213220353/http://www.army.mod.uk/signals/25873.aspx. 
  24. at 2:18pm, 21st June 2019. "Falkland Islands: Signals Unit Gets Its Own Crest For Protecting The Islands" (in en). https://www.forces.net/falklands/crest-fit-queen. 
  25. "Homepage of ACF/CCF Signals Training". http://www.acfccfsignals.org.uk/main.php. Retrieved 28 October 2008. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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