Monday, 4 January 2010

Squadron Photographs 1971 to 1973

Horseshoe Barracks Shoeburyness late 1971
click to enlarge
Thanks to Tony Hunt for this photograph

Kitchen Hill Factory Lurgan early 1973
click to enlarge

Thanks to Tony Hatch for this photograph

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Feb-Mar 72

During 1971 a Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron of the Strategic Reserve has been committed to Northern Ireland. 216 Parachute, 19 Airportable and 5 Airportable Brigades have all taken their turn. 3 Infantry Brigade Head­quarters and Signal Squadron has now been formed for per­manent employment in Lurgan thereby releasing the Strategic Reserve Squadrons to do their proper task. The Squadron organisation has been based on that of 8 Brigade.

3 Brigade previously existed from 1886 until it was disbanded in 1962 but compiling historical details is proving to be a difficult task. If any one can help our present address is Horse­shoe Barracks, Shoeburyness. After mid-February, 1972, it will be B.F.P.O. 801.

Poetic roll call
We bring you all good tiding of a Squadron newly made, the OC’s name is Ryding and it is 3 Brigade.
We started off at Bulford and then to Shoeburyness, and here we’re never bored with training in IS.
From that you’ll understand the reason for our forming. We’re all of to Ireland before next spring is dawning.
It may not be the best place but used to it we’re growing, so watch each month this space and we’ll tell you how it is going.
And now to tell you more of the names of those who’re here at least those from the Corps, who some of you hold dear.
The RSM is Thornton he came to us from 8, the Foreman’s name is Jackson, and then there’s Sergeant Tate.
And don’t forget Staff Wilkinson who is Chief Clerk by trade, and also Sergeant Hamiliton and OC ‘B’ Staff Wade.
There is Lieutenant Galpin who’s OC ‘Alpha’ Troop, and Sergeant Major Walton who runs the MT Group.
The end is getting closer, the RQ’s name is Waugh and then there is Staff Foster which leaves us just two more.
Now Yeoman Dunbar’s here and Capt Mackereth too, but only for the beer which isn’t really true.
That’s the Officers listed and the senior NCOs, the OC’s now insisted I write the rest in prose.

More about ourselves
The Signals element of 3 Infantry Brigade H.Q. & Signal Squadron met and formed in Bulford, under the watchful eye of our ‘Midwife,' 3rd Div. H.Q. & Signal Regiment, from 27th September, 1971. On 22nd October, 1971, we moved to Shoeburyness, preferring the seaside to the wastes of Salisbury Plain, and on 25th October, 1971, the Brigade staff started arriving.

Our thanks to 3 Division who found nothing too difficult and without whom we would have had a very difficult 'birth.' Thanks also to all the others who have helped us and made us so welcome here in Shoeburyness.

Our main employment is at present I.S. training and bangs, bombs and booby traps are a common occurrence in Horseshoe Barracks. We have been ambushed by day and by night, cordoned and searched all over the camp, and even strayed, by accident, outside the gates on a road block and vehicle search exercise. Grandmas driving along the front were somewhat surprised at being stopped and searched, but the locals were very friendly and helpful and joined in with spirit. Explaining to the press, who thought it was a great story, needed some careful wording but we passed them to the P.R. Officer with great dexterity.
Thanks go to Tony Hunt for keeping this
Physical fitness, from battle runs to muscle bending, is high on the programme. We even have P.T. Instructors from the Military Corrective Training Centre, Colchester, who look after us with loving care.

Now that we are settling in and getting to know each other, Squadron teams are emerging and many sports are being pursued. We hope to bring you more news next month of these activities as we shall have advanced beyond the camp perimeter to take on all comers. At home we have played Southend Transport eleven, whom we beat 11-1, and have also beaten the Proof and Experimental Establishment with whom we share the barracks, so we are now convinced we will soon be well known in the Corps.

Stop press:And now a dreadful shout and wail of anguish hounds me, there’s one that I’ve left out, It’s new boy Sergeant Downie.

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Apr-May 72

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine May-Jun 72

Corporal Tom Parker ready to move out

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Jun-Jul 72

Settling in
During February we all said our fond farewells to Shoeburyness where we had been so well looked after and enjoyed our seaside holiday. Then by cars and trains and ships and planes we made our various ways to this green and pleasant land to relieve 5 Bde besieged in Lurgan. Now spring is here and we are well and truly settled and watch over our concrete garden with a jaundiced eye. The instant peace we knew would settle on this unhappy land on our arrival has so far eluded us so we are digging in, rebuilding our knicker factory from the inside out. The OC lives in Ladies' Underwear according to the old office plan. We hope he's comfortable.

Our factory home

The D.O.E. and their band of Irish contractors, who have strikes and breaks and holidays for saints you've never heard of, are somehow managing to construct new offices and conference rooms, rest rooms and a comcen. Short cuts are barred by new walls, telephones ring in offices without doors (no holes in the walls either), windows bang, hammers hammer, drills drill, saws saw, labourers swear and then the lights go out. The electricians are here again or an officer has his electric blanket, kettle, television, gramophone, radio and heater on in his room while he does a bit of ironing. When the lights go out the pumps don't pump the water to the roof, the showers stop, the lavatories block, the place begins to smell and we know it’s going to be another good week. The plumber just called the Second-in-Command Corporal.

We do have some sport
Meanwhile back on the factory floor among the 'pigs,' petrol and holes in the ground, a gymnasium is being built. A very welcome addition when sports fields are so difficult to come by, though we have had some sporting success. We have beaten 233 Sig Sqn at basketball 36-24, with Staff Sergeant Dunbar leading the team. At hockey we beat 233 Sig Sqn 2-1, Banbridge Road Girls 1-0 and drew with 39 Bde Sig Sqn 1-1. Alas a tale of woe, we have lost our football matches – with 8 Bde 2-3, 13/18 Hussars 1-11 and the U.D.R. 0-7. Signalman Crick and Signalman Egan have both played consistently well and we hope, with a bit of training, to improve the situation.

Fishing too
The Fishing Club has got off to a great start – a competition was held on 7th May with enthusiasts lining the banks of the River Bann as far as the eye could see. F. of S. Jackson settled down to a bit of 'cultured' spinning while Sergeant Hamilton tried his special worms. Corporal Smith of the Pioneers won the competition easily, though the R.S.M. was convinced he would have done if someone hadn't enlarged the holes in his keep net.

Major Ryding and R.Q.M.S. Waugh slip away to the golf course at the finish of work (?) for an afternoon of relaxation. The M.T.O., W.O.2 Walton, got wise to this and insists on driving them there, and then waiting for them at the 19th.

Girls pour in
We have discos and dances in the canteen about once a week and girls pour in from miles around to savour the delights. They have heard the rumours of long-haired soldiers, put about to encourage volunteers for Northern Ireland. Corporal Brooks and Signalman Warner wear their wigs (to encourage the myth) while R.S.M. Thornton has a barber in his pay who comes into the factory three times a week (to destroy the myth). These discos are a great success, ably organised by Lance-Corporal Hill of the A.C.C. ' James Bonds ' abound, shoulder holsters bulge and people have to leave the dance floor to adjust their weapons.

Sergeants’ Mess improvements
All the more senior contractors seem to be honorary mem­bers of the Sergeants' Mess so work on the rebuild of their bar has gone like greased lightning and a beautiful refurbished Mess is emerging. Let's hope that when it's finished they won't all sit back with their pints in their hand and forget the rest of the factory.

A vet for the ‘pigs’?
Finally we hear Corporal Quaile of the R.A.V.C. is posted in – presumably to look after the 'pigs'!

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Dec 72-Jan 73

Exercise ‘Manx Meander’
It was a pleasant change being 'on exercise' rather than on operations, for the two crews who sailed Kavala to the Isle of Man and back. Kavala is a sturdy Cutlass class cruiser based on Strangford Lough. A mist dawn saw skipper Major Ryding and his crew of Sergeant Fozard (Int Corps), Corporal Williams, Lance-Corporal Cormack and Lance-Corporal Wilks (RPC) sailing out of the dangerous and narrow mouth of Strangford Lough, heading for Port St. Mary, IOM. This crew firmly maintain that the Mountains of Mourne can be seen all the way across the Irish Sea to the IOM; this was firmly disputed at a later date by the second crew. After a couple of good days' sailing, during which Lance-Corporal Wilks was the subject of an authentic 'man overboard drill,' and doing very well in local races, it was time to hand over to the second crew, who had flown out in a chartered Piper twin-engined aircraft. The handover was finished over a couple of beers in the local hostelry, the first crew flew home to the 'Factory,' whilst the second crew, Lieutenant Galpin, Staff Sergeant Wade, Corporal Verner and Signalmen Daly and Egan, went aboard and had a brief shake out sail. Then fol­lowed two days of sunshine and gentle winds during the day with near gales at night. The day of departure dawned – just, through thick coastal fog. There was not a breach of wind and a steady two knots was maintained on the engine across a glassy Irish Sea for 13.5 hours, to bring Kavala into Ardglass, five hours overdue. The whole 'exercise' was much enjoyed by both crews and a trip next year up the Caledonian Canal is being planned already.

Seven peaks competition
This was a gruelling 'walkabout' in the Mountains of Mourne, involving an inter-unit race over seven never-ending peaks. The race was the brain-wave of the Deputy Commander Colonel J. G. Starling, M.B.E., M.C. (late Para), and run by the Squadron's Tactical Headquarter detachment. Each team consisted of eight men, including an Officer and SNCO. The Squadron team was Lieutenant Galpin, Sergeant McGarry, Corporal Dale (RAOC), Corporal Brett, Lance-Corporal Wynne (RAOC), Signalman Kirkpatrick, Craftsman Cook (REME) and Private Coulthard (RPC). They finally finished sixth having lost their officer with knee trouble on Peak Five. The control station and finish line were organised by Captain Mackereth, W.O.2 (R.Q.M.S.) Tuppeny, with Signalmen Howells, McLuckie, Seaton and Robinson providing the excellent com­munications. Captain McCulloch with Signalmen Dukelow and Hall controlled the start of the race.

Sports Desk
The badminton team soundly defeated a Headquarters Northern Ireland team in August. Spies are now out looking for stiffer competition.

The basketball team also seem to battle their way through a few teams, having thrashed our neighbours 233 Sig Sqn 43-22 a couple of weeks ago.

Congratulations to Corporal Brett and Corporal Crosbie (REME) on winning medals representing the Army against the RUC in a recent athletics meeting.

Sergeants’ Mess
In spite of continual IRA activities the social calendar is beginning to fill up. One notable occasion was a Supper Club Night, fine results of hard scullery labour put in by Sergeants Murray and Blay (ACC) and their slave driver Staff Sergeant Wilkinson.

On 14th September, the Squadron Officers were invited in for light refreshments, to assist the Mess in saying farewell to W.O.2 (MTO) Walton. The 'Big Man' was leaving to take up post as RSM in the Signals Wing, RMA Sandhurst. The Mess congratulates him on his promotion and wishes him all the best in his new job. The vacant hot seat on wheels is taken by W.O.2 (ex-R.Q.M.S.) Waugh, who has disap­peared on a course, muttering something about minis…

Stop Press
It is rumoured that radio operators in the Brigade Ops Room have been growing mushrooms under the duty watchkeeper's desk.

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Jan-Feb 73

Bombs and bullets continue to disturb the peace of Lurgan while the central heating contractors drill their way (pneumatically) through the factory and the RSM drills whoever he can find (regimentally) on the road outside. The Irish mists and rain have returned and even the hot air generated by the staff can't eliminate the winter cold. The Officers' Mess rebuild is at last finished, a relief to all as, somehow, the Officers' comfort seems an important factor in everyone else's peace and comfort. The contractors still manage to stretch out all the other work as though they had nowhere else to go! However, a great deal has been done and earlier incumbents wouldn't recognise the place.

Visits and social
There have been a multitude of visits and social events in recent weeks (we have to make our own entertainment you understand) so, in order not to bore, a brief resume only.

Early October Mrs. Whitelaw visited the factory and the quarters and met many of the wives. Her conducted tour of the patch was a great success and the wives expressed their views on the situation and gave one or two tips which didn't appear in the Green Paper.

Later the same month the SO-in-C came, through thick fog, to look at our knicker factory. He seemed duly impressed, acknowledged our man-power problems, toured all seven floors including lingerie (technical workshops), removed the word secure from a staff officer's privacy telephone, visited 'A' Troop in 'Corsets and Bras' (very cramped) and met many soldiers in the limited time available.

Next came Lady Windlesham, wife of the Under Secretary of State, NI office. She visited various quarters and the wives were able to report on their role in NI and express the views they'd forgotten to tell Mrs. Whitelaw. Again a very successful visit.

Other calls too numerous to mention by name have led us to instigate Mk 1, 2 and 3 tours which depend on the visitor's technical knowledge, military knowledge and rank or standing in the community. Often in some obscure corner of the factory the OC, with a gaggle of 'brass hats,' meets the Second-in-Command, with a group of 'thickies,' as they tour in opposite directions. Planned routes and conductors notes are available to would-be guides.

The main event of note for parties was the first anniversary of the re-establishment of 3 Brigade on 25th October. There were various celebrations including an Officers' Mess cocktail party on 25th October, a Junior Ranks' Club party on 26th October and a Sergeants' Mess dinner on 27th October. One or two gregarious people managed to attend all three and they reported all as excellent but they weren't very sociable on 28th October.

The Junior Ranks' Club rounded off the celebrations with a 'Tramps' ball' in November which looked like a gathering of the everyday occupants of Lurgan's back streets. The colour­ful costumes were suitably scruffy though some managed to look smarter as tramps than they do as soldiers (RSM's com­ment). Everyone, and there were about 200 there, thoroughly enjoyed themselves and plans are secretly being layed for a 'Pyjama party' or 'Roman orgy' to follow this great success.

As well as the entertainments already mentioned we have had a small CSE show, a band concert and a disco – so Ireland is not all work and no play. We are now, of course, looking forward to Christmas and 'Strangulated 3 Brigade Artists' are busily preparing 'Factory Frolics' for public performance. The Pioneer Ballet Team are often seen limbering up around the factory, the 'B' Troop Belly Dancers and the MT Drag Queen are also rehearsing in quiet corners. But more of that, with the rest of our very full Christmas programme, in our next bulletin.

So as not to give completely the wrong impression, over now to 'Alpha' Troop whose roving reporter has dashed in during a lull in the barrage. He states that, confidentially, the Troop suspect the OC of a secret liaison with Royal Signals Manning as they keep being sent to dangerous border outposts where 'Saracens fear to tread.' The Troop are definitely the fastest aerial erectors in the business and the speed increases in direct proportion to their closeness to the border. They are certainly kept very busy on border operations, but judging by their happy smiling faces in the Troop photograph they are none the worse for wear.

The unfortunate soccer team are still suffering from lack of training and pitches, they claim operational duties as their excuse, having played five, won one, drawn one and lost three in the league. Things are better in the minor units cup as we have reached the semi-finals. We are also running a continuous five-a-side competition with 12 teams within the Brigade HQ and Signal Squadron which is very enthusiastically supported.

Now our real success story – we recently accepted a challenge to play the Northern Ireland national volleyball team. The first set we lost 15-8 and the pessimists thought this indicated the trend of the match but honour was restored by Yeoman Dunbar slamming anything that moved into the NI side and the second set was won 15-12. The third set was so even that all players deserve a mention. The NI team showed consider­able skill close to the net and won 16-14. The fourth set was really the Squadron's best and Corporal Brett and Signalman Jarwood proved that lack of height can be overcome by deter­mination and technique to give the Squadron a 15-8 win. With all on the last set the Squadron took a quick lead 14-7 but NI fought back to 14-12 when both teams missed services thus raising the tension until Signalman Jarwood slammed in the winning ball to make it 15-12.

The game was replayed ball by ball in the canteen over refreshments and we hope this is the first of many games to come.

And now for something completely different. Our man in Craigavon the Second-in-Command getting air at a local garage. "As it you sur I've given you a few extra lbs in each tyre!"

Finally we say farewell to Signalman McLuckie who is off to 30 Signal Regiment where he says he's going to have a well-earned rest! To our Second-in-Command Captain Mackereth (our Second-in-Command? How can I be our Second-in-Com­mand?). Anyway I'm off, via No 15 JCSC at Warminster (to learn to write), to 2 Division HQ and Signal Regiment – that can't be bad – Bye bye.

Stop Press
The Documentation Team arrive with a bang!
On the evening of the arrival of the Documents Inspection Team, W.O.I Williams and Staff Sergeant Russell, the factory came under attack. Two rockets were fired. One entered the back of a four-ton Bedford where it exploded having first passed straight through an RCT coach, both vehicles being just outside the Squadron offices. Seven men of the resident rouelement company of 1 Staffs were injured, one seriously, having just dismounted from the four-toner. The other rocket finished up in the Headquarters sign – see photograph.

The Documents Team have decided to go back a day early!

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Feb-Mar 73

December has proved to be a quiet month for the Squadron as far as operations are concerned. Probably a good thing, as the social calendar was too full to permit interference by rockets, bombs and other likely disturbances to the peace and good will season.
The month unfortunately started on a gloomy note with a fatality. As a result of a mortar attack on the Squadron on the 5th December, Sergeant Roy Hills, RAOC, a Brigade ATO was killed. Since then, however, it seems that the IRA have knocked off for Christmas, giving a pleasant interlude of relative calm.

On the 19th December, Lord Carrington, the Secretary of State for Defence, honoured our knicker factory with a flying visit. After a quick lunch he just had time to speak to a few members of the Squadron before shooting off to visit other Brigade units.

Lord Carrington talking to the Brigade Commander's crew. From left to right: the Squadron O.C., Major K. Ryding,Lord Carrington, Signalman "Monty" Monti-Colombi, Lance-Corporal Geordie Harrison, Signalmen Bob Hanlon and Bob Daly.

Staff-Sergeant Bob Foster models the latest in sports wear
Apart from two concerts, one by the Portadown male voice choir, and the other by the band of the 9/12 Lancers, the highlight of the winter entertainments was undoubtedly the Squadron revue 'Factory Frolics.'

The sketches were all of a surprisingly high standard involv­ing a lot of detailed preparation and hardwork by all concerned. But perhaps the two most memorable sketches were the 'MT Fashion Show' and the 'Whistling Men of Borneo.' Staff Sergeant Bob Foster modelled the latest sportswear for the heavyweight elderly lady in Northern Ireland, with W.O.2 Tony Waugh as compare in the background. The whistling men of Borneo, Captain Neil Mackereth and W.O.I (R.S.M.) Jim Thornton had everyone guessing.

The many and varied Christmas social events culminated in two memorable events, the Sergeants' Mess draw and the Junior Ranks' Club dance.

The Sergeants' Mess draw was ably organised by the Committee, W.O.2 Tony Waugh, Staff Sergeant Les Wilkinson and Sergeants Les Downie and Tony Collard. The noise of the band though loud could not be used as an excuse for the many fuddled heads the next morning, though everyone agreed they enjoyed themselves immensely.

The evening was tinged with a degree of sadness as it was the 'final' farewell to the Squadron Second-in-Command Captain Niel Mackereth. and his wife Dona. All the best to you both in Germany, leave some duty free booze for us! Almost forgot an important event; the RSM won a Hoover vacuum cleaner at the draw.

The Squadron beat 12 Int and Sy Company, at soccer, 4-1 in the semi-finals of the Northern Ireland Minor Units Cup. We go on to play the Depot Kings Division in the finals on the 10th January. The team is in rigorous training under the RSM, 'the squad will score goals by num­bers, Squad one…!’

Our basketball team has also been in hard training under Y. of S. Alan Dunbar as they prepare for the semi-final of the Northern Ireland zone of the Army Cup, against 233 Signal Squadron.
Stop Press: Unfortunately we have to report a defeat of 27 points to 19 points and regrettably one casualty, that of our main striker Y. of S. Dunbar who received a potts fracture to the right ankle. That's the only excuse we can offer. Well played 233, may you go on to win the final.

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Apr-May 73

The Squadron has now had a year of service in Ulster and this would seem an appropriate time to review the life and activities of the inhabitants of Kitchen Hill factory. As our last notes were more about the Christmas season we thought we'd concentrate in this edition on the everyday operational events which make up life in the Squadron.

Protective duties
Apart from the normal Signals activities there are a few others which the Squadron gets involved in. Every night we supply two men for local protection, on foot patrols with the resident rifle company around the Lurgan area. We also supply an eight-man armed guard on the married quarters; for who's protection we are not quite sure! To ensure that the inhabitants of the luxurious accommodation of Kitchen Hill Knicker factory don't forget what Northern Ireland is all about we run a system of attachments to roulement Battalions. Signalman Sage, our orderly room clerk and general man about town, has recently had a 48-hour attachment with 1 Royal Hampshires, so we asked him to give us a written report on the attachment, Here it is:

It was 07.30 hours 26th February that I left Lurgan by SDS on detachment to 1 Royal Hampshires at Newry. I arrived at about 10.00 hours and was introduced to the section Commander and Section with whom I would be spending my 48 hours. Within 10 minutes we were out on a mobile patrol through the streets of Newry. The patrol consisting of two open Land Rovers and five soldiers in each. It didn't give you a lot of confidence to start with, going round the streets of Newry and getting dirty looks and V signs from the local inhabitants. We then received a message over the radio of a bomb in the Ulster bus depot and on arrival there we found a large crowd had gathered just outside the depot, we had to move them back as apparently the bomb was due to go off in 30 minutes. It was an hour later that the bomb went off, completely destroying the Bus Depot main building. A quarter of an hour later we were again on the road to continue our patrol, setting up VCP's at different road junctions for periods of 10-15 minutes and then moving on. The Land Rover moved at varying speeds to avoid any gunman getting a fix on us with a rifle or rocket launcher. The patrol lasted about four hours. By this time my eyes began to get tired from constantly looking out for gunmen who might appear at any moment from behind a door, tree, rooftop, etc. These type of patrols went on through­out the day and night with very little time off, and I can tell you by then I was beginning to feel very exhausted.

It was later on that night that I was introduced to the famous Derrybeg Estate. I have never seen so many bottles and bricks flying around. It's times like this that you feel you would like to be back at Brigade H.Q. with a pen in your hands. But the Gods were with us and we got out alright with just a few scratches and bruises and my heart beating a little faster than usual!

The second day started at 06.00 hours with a 2-hour patrol through Newry and then back to camp to load up the 'pig' with VCP equipment, and then off to the border on the Dublin road for the first of two 6-hour duties, checking vehicles. It was during this first stag that the BBC visited us at our location just outside the Customs post. Having stripped their cars down and frisked them thoroughly they started to film us checking cars, and passengers. This was shown on the National 9 o'clock news that evening.

The second stage of six hours started at 23.59 till 06.00 and was more eventful with one arrest under the special powers act and some aggro when two men at first refused to be searched. After being 'kindly' spoken to they eventually condescended to be searched.

These past 48 hours had left me with a great deal of respect for 1 Royal Hampshires with whom I had spent my time, and also a lot wiser to the situation in Ulster, and the rough time these lads get down near the border.

Limelight on ‘Bravo’ Troop
On the Signals side as Alpha Troop had a big splash in The Wire not so long ago, we'll concentrate on Bravo Troop led by W.O.2 (Y. of S.) ' Pegleg' Dunbar. The Lurgan comcen, a tributary station, has a main link to H.Q. Northern Ireland and nine simplex pony circuits forwards to Brigade units. All these circuits are manned by a three-man shift and life can get fairly hectic. One of the problems of working to roulement units is that the procedure and sometimes the typing is not all that accurate, so virtually every message has to be repunched before onward transmission. (Nimble fingered Data Telegraphists only need apply for a job here.) For the statisticly minded we show the analysis of traffic for the last year:

In Messages 68,463 - Out Messages 69,412 - SDS 85,688
Total 223,563

As you can see the SDS performs a vital function within the Brigade communications set-up. Without the efficient service provided by Corporal Hobday and his four merry men over the Brigade area (approximately 120 by 50 miles), there is no doubt that at peak times the comcen would be overloaded, to the detriment of the service we provide.

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Jul-Aug 73

The last two months since our previous Wire notes have been full of activity, sporting as well as operational. The major sporting event was perhaps the marriage of the Officer Com­manding; Major K. Ryding to Miss Sue McWade at Wilton on the 18th April. Congratulations and best wishes to you both from the Squadron.

The Mourne Mountains Patrol Race
The patrol race is an annual event sponsored by the Brigade over a course of some 10 miles and seven peaks of between 1,500 and 2,500 feet high. Each team by the end of the race has climbed a total of 5,000 feet and not surprisingly descended 5,000 feet as well. The Squadron team of eight led by Lieutenant P. Richards completed the course in 3 hours 21 minutes, a good time which ensured second place behind the winning team, 2 Para. Later some of the team took part in a 20 mile walk round the same Peaks, and even more peaks just for kicks. All that fresh air made a welcome change to the stuffy air in Kitchen Hill factory. The communications which helped to make the race a success were organised and executed by Staff Sergeant Hamilton and the TAC HQ crew. Needless to say, the control set up was at the bottom of a deep valley, overshadowed by a high dam, with some outstations the other side of a mountain ridge, just to make things a little difficult. Well done lads, even if one of you did scoff the Second-in-Command's haverbag, Lance-Corporal Titman.

Spot the watt’s-it competition
Alpha Troop continue to be kept busy with innumerable and varied tasks, not all of a communications nature. The photo shows some of them helping to land one of the latest anti IRA devices on our factory roof. A prize of a free posting to 3 Infantry Brigade HQ and Signal Squadron (Royal Signals Manning and Records permitting) is offered to anyone able to identify this very technical and highly sophisticated piece of electronic equipment. Answers (with the part numbers) to the Second-in-Command, envelopes to be marked "SPOT THE WATT'S IT". A clue to its identity; its powered by a 22KW/ 1OOv generator which is tended by Signalman Robinson, Alpha Troop's resident powerman
Royal Signals with bomb disposal
Attached to the squadron is 3 Section 321 EOD RAOC who cover the 'bomb disposal' tasks or the 'Boomwatch' in our area. To assist in communications they have several Royal Signals combat radiomen attached and so we felt that they deserve a mention for all their sterling work, attending to things that go bump in the night. The photograph shows the Boomwatch crew relaxing whilst waiting for the next explosion. Lance Corporal Moy is at present detached from 22 Signal Regiment and apart from driving a Matra sports car is a dab hand at repairing Goliath, the bomb disposal robot. Corporal Brooks who is now posted, normally worked as documents clerk in the SHQ. He often used to ride 'Shotgun' to the team by way of a break from routine. Signalman King from 21 Signal Regiment is one of the operators required to operate the various electronic equipments in use with the EOD. Its a funny thing, every time the barber visits the squadron they just happen to be going out to deal with a bomb.

Ship to shore communications
One running battle we have apart from the IRA is trying to maintain communications with Royal Navy patrol boats on the Brigade coastline. Their weird and wonderful radio procedure coupled with their voracious appetite for radio spares has turned Corporal Simpson, the troop storeman, off naval communica­tions in a big way. The score so far – 4 x A40's, 12 headsets, 15 A40 antennas, 2 x 12v 75 AH Batteries for A40's!) – This is in addition to a Pye Westminster a week that Staff Sergeant (F. of S.) Hall and Sergeant McGarry end up trying to waterproof/desalinate.

As the ships are only 75 feet long and toss about uncomfortably even in calm seas there seemed a dearth of volunteers to stay on board to sort things out. At last we have a volunteer, Signalman (I’ll buy myself out') Widdall. Among his many tasks will be to man the HF command net back up, for when the ship parks itself at the bottom of steep cliffs. For a combat radioman his morse is in quite good shape.

Exercise ‘Bodkin’
To keep Alpha Troop combat radiomen occupied during their long off duty seconds the Second-in-Command Captain M. A. Rowbory organised a morse link up with the Apprentice College Harrogate, Exercise 'Bodkin'. "But sir, morse is no longer taught to combat radiomen" sez we, "Rubbish", sez he, "we all wear a Jimmy". So twice a week we slowly but surely under the guidance of Corporals Harrison, Parker and Simpson pass traffic by way of the morse key over our C11/R210 link. Tis a crying shame that we's don't get paid for it! We'd like to thank the Apprentices and Captain (Tfc) T. Johnstone of Harrogate for their co­operation and for organising the link for us.

In amongst all the activities the Squadron has run inter-troop 5-a-side football and volleyball competitions. Alpha Troop won the football and Bravo Troop the volleyball. The trophies them­selves were presented to the Squadron by members of the Northern Ireland Volley Ball Association as a gesture of thanks for the Squadron's assistance over the past year.

Arrivals and departures
We wish the following members of the Squadron the best of luck in their new units/careers, W.O.2 (Road runner) A. Waugh the MTO, W.O.2 (F. of S.) D. Jackson, Staff Sergeant Foster, Sergeant Ed Little, Corporal L. V. J. Brooks, Singapore bound Lance-Corporal Pakes, Signalman K. Barratt and D. Pescod.

We also welcome to sunny Lurgan (on the one day in the year its not raining, that is), Staff Sergeant (F. of S.) G. Hall, Lance-Corporal D. Priday, Signalmen D. Cornfield, D. Gilfillan, G. Butler. We trust you enjoy yourselves with all the amenities on offer here, shooting (not rabbits), fishing, hunting (bombs?), and the many other delights to be found in the gymnasium.

Royal Signals 'Wire' magazine Nov-Dec 73

Extract from the WIRE November-December 1973

The most notable event since we last contributed to the Wire, happened on 18th September when our RSM, W.O.I Jim Thornton, was awarded a Mention in Despatches in the Honours and Award List for Northern Ireland. W.O.I Jim Thornton has been a tower of strength since the squadron was formed in Shoeburyness on 25th October. All members of the unit offer him our warm congratulations.

As the squadron is now two years old there has been a large change-over in personalities during the last few months. The most notable of these being new Brigade and Squadron Com­manders. Brigadier P.J. Bush, O.B.E. handed over command of 3 Infantry Brigade to Brigadier C. S. Wallis-King, O.B.E. on the 24th August. Five days later after two years as Officer Commanding the unit Major Keith Ryding handed over command to Major Rodney Dorrell. In September 1971 Major Keith Ryding started to form the squadron, the unit was officially formed on the 25th October, 1971 and came to Lurgan four months later. His two years in command have not been without incident and the various headaches associated with forming a unit, moving it to Northern Ireland, and making Kitchen Hill Factory a habitable place to live, work, sleep and play have taken their toll. Major Keith Ryding, so rumour has it, did have a good thatch of hair once, he left semi-bald. All concerned thank him for his efforts and wish him and his wife Sue, who he met and married in Northern Ireland, a good tour in Berlin. As a parting gift to the Squadron, Major Ryding planted a flowering Cherry tree in the dog compound, the only piece of green real estate owned by the unit.

On Wednesday, 26th September the complete cast of 'Does the Team Think' programme visited the factory to record a show. This is the first time the programme has been recorded outside the BBC studios since the show started some 15 years ago. The team arrived at mid-day and looked remarkably well after their flight from London, Jimmy Edwards was the pilot for some 20 minutes. After a couple of quick drinks in the Officers Mess, the jokes come quicker after a little lubrication, the show started. The recording lasted one hour and will be edited before going on the air in late October. The audience feel that the better parts will be edited, but it can safely be reported that Jimmy Edwards, Ted Ray, Arthur Askey, Cyril Fletcher and MacDonald Hobley were in good form, Sylvia Simms, the guest questioner added a touch of glamour and colour to the proceedings.

We are constantly being reminded that during internal security operations everyone is in the front line. At the beginning of August the IRA decided to disturb the Saturday afternoon peace by firing several mortar bombs at the Factory. Fortunately they 'lobbied' short (local word to describe IRA mortar flight) doing little damage, apart from shaking some dust about in the convent school next door.

Staff Sergeant Brown, RPC the Pioneer platoon commander had a much closer shave when the guard land rover he was driving from the quarters area was ambushed. Only one bullet pierced the makralon armour, hitting the fire extinguishers by Staff's knee before being deflected down into the engine compartment. The fire extinguisher exploding caused more fear to its occupants than the fact that they were under fire.

One evening in August Terrorists bombed the pub near to the married quarters, in the mistaken impression that it was used by our squadron families. The quarters guard attempted to stop the terrorists getaway, but were hampered by women and children being in the line of fire. This emphasises the point that though one attempts to lead as much a normal life as possible here, everybody must be prepared for the unexpected, must be able to think quickly and in extreme cases be able to use their weapons effectively.

The operational activities still continue apace with Alpha Troop regularly providing communications for special operations as well as maintaining their normal communications commitments. Bravo Troop cleared 50,000 messages through the comcen between July and September. On three occasions though the SDS nearly didn't get through. Most afternoons the SDS has a helicopter available to help cover locations in the Brigade Area. One after­noon the helicopter caught fire over Bessbrook, County Down, another time an SDS helicopter found it couldn't fly forwards whilst over Omagh, Tyrone and the last occasion the rotor gearing gave up, again over Bessbrook. We are assured that the fact that Signalman Warner, one of the Comcens SDS drivers, was aboard had nothing to do with it.

MT Troop under W.O.2 Tuppenney successfully overcame the problems of having a UEI whilst maintaining a 24 hour operational transport service, thanks to the splendid effort of all concerned, the RCT drivers led by Sergeant Corner as well as the Combat Drivers. Many thanks as well to Sergeant Bentley and his three REME craftsmen.

Staff Sergeant (F. of S.) Hall and M Troop (all six of them) managed to acquit themselves well over UEI whilst continuing to assist the Brigade in all things communicating. For example Sergeant McGarry ably assisted by Lance-Corporal Priday and Corporal Byrom have become quite expert in intercoms, after fitting them into almost every infantry border location in Counties Down, Fermanagh, and Armagh. This involved crawling in and out of sangers, over roofs and generally exposing them­selves in locations where any sane angel would fear to tread.

Indoor sports flourish in our magnificent gymnasium, Badmin­ton and Squash being the favourites. W.O.2 (R.Q.M.S.) Donovan organised a very enjoyable tournament which illustrated the general high standard of the participants. Staff Sergeant Cook, RAOC, won the squash final narrowly beating Sergeant Downie in the final.

Our lack of playing fields continue to plague our hockey and soccer teams, nevertheless despite several resounding defeats our sportsmen are not deterred and have even won a few victories lately.

There have been so many changes of faces in Kitchen Hill recently that to name everybody would take up too much space. Suffice it to say that to all the old original members of the squadron who have left, you have all done a difficult but valuable job, well done.