Royal Corps of Signals
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. 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.
Cap Badge of the Royal Corps of Signals
|Active||1920 – present|
|Garrison/HQ||Blandford Camp, Dorset|
|Motto(s)||Certa Cito |
(Swift and Sure)
|March||Begone Dull Care (Quick); HRH The Princess Royal (Slow)|
|Colonel-in-Chief||The Princess Royal|
|Master of Signals||Lieutenant General Sir Nick Pope|
|Corps Colonel||Col J Gunning ADC|
|Corps Sergeant Major||WO1 D Corcoran|
|Tactical Recognition Flash|
|Arms of the British Army|
|Combat Support Arms|
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. On 1 May 1884, 'C' Troop was amalgamated with the 22nd and 34th Companies, Royal Engineers, to form the Telegraph Battalion Royal Engineers; '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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In late 2012, 2nd (National Communications) Signal Brigade was disbanded. Soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals saw extensive service during the eight years of the Iraq War before withdrawal of troops in 2011, and the 13 years of the War in Afghanistan before it ended in 2014.
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".
Training and trades
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, 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".
Dress and ceremonial
Tactical Recognition flash
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.
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.
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.
The Corps motto is "certa cito", often translated from Latin as Swift and Sure . It is easily seen on any of the Corps Badges.
The Colonel in Chief is currently the Princess Royal.
- Satellite ground terminals
- Terrestrial trunk radio systems
- Combat net radio systems
- Computer networks
- Specialist military applications (computer programs)
Royal Corps of Signals units
There are now two signal brigades:
- 1st 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.
- 11th Signal Brigade: 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 . 2 Signal Group however disbanded on 31 July 2018 as part of Army 2020 Refine.
The structure of the Royal Signals has changed under Army 2020. The listing below shows the present location of units and their future location:
- 1st Signal Regiment - Supporting 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade at Beacon Barracks (moving to Swinton Barracks)
- 200 Signal Squadron
- 246 Gurkha Signal Squadron
- Support Squadron
- 2nd Signal Regiment - Supporting 2nd Strike Brigade at Imphal Barracks (moving to Catterick)
- 214 Signal Squadron
- 219 Signal Squadron
- 249 Gurkha Signal Squadron
- Support Squadron
- 3rd (United Kingdom) Divisional Signal Regiment supporting 3rd (UK) Division HQ at Picton Barracks
- 202 Signal Squadron
- 206 Signal Squadron
- 228 Signal Squadron
- 249 Signal Squadron
- Support Squadron
- 10th Signal Regiment depth signals support at Basil Hill Barracks
- 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment, Blandford
- 13th Cyber and Electromagnetic Activity Signal Regiment (to be formed)
- 14th (Electronic Warfare) Signal Regiment, Cawdor Barracks
- 15th Signal Regiment (Information Support) at Blandford Camp (moving to Swinton Barracks)
- 16th Signal Regiment at Beacon Barracks (supporting 12 AI Brigade)
- 207 (Jerboa) Signal Squadron
- 230 (Malaya) Signal Squadron
- 247 (Queen's Gurkha Signals) Squadron
- 255 (Bahrain) Signal Squadron
- Support Squadron
- 18th (United Kingdom Special Forces) Signal Regiment, Hereford
- Special Boat Service Signal Squadron
- 264 (Special Air Service) Signal Squadron
- 267 (Special Reconnaissance Regiment) Signal Squadron
- 268 (United Kingdom Special Forces) Signal Squadron
- 63 (United Kingdom Special Forces) Signal Squadron (Reserve)
- 21st Signal Regiment, Colerne
- 22nd Signal Regiment, Stafford
- 30th Signal Regiment, Bramcote
- 244 Signal Squadron (Air Support)
- 250 Signal Squadron
- 256 Signal Squadron
- 258 Signal Squadron (early entry squadron)
- Support Squadron
- 1st Signal Brigade Headquarters and 299 Signal Squadron (Special Communications), Bletchley
- 16 Air Assault Brigade Headquarters and 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, Colchester
- HQ 38 (Irish) Brigade Headquarters and Signal Troop, Northern Ireland
- 600 Signal Troop - (Attached to 15 Signal Regiment (Information Support))
- 628 Signal Troop (GBR DCM D) - 1st NATO Signal Battalion (Formerly 280 (UK) Signal Squadron 4 Dec, formerly (28th Signal Regiment)
- 643 Signal Troop (COMSEC) - (Attached to 10th Signal Regiment)
- 660 Signal Troop (Attached to 11 EOD&S Regt RLC for support in ECM and communications)
- Joint Service Signal Unit, Cyprus (Ayios Nikolaos Station, Cyprus) (electronic intelligence gathering)
- Regimental Headquarters
- 234 Signal Squadron
- 840 Signal Squadron RAF
- Engineering Squadron
- Support Squadron
- Cyprus Communications Unit (British Forces Cyprus)
- Joint Communications Unit (Falkland Islands)
- Band of the Royal Corps of Signals (Corps Band)
- Royal Corps of Signals Pipes and Drums (P&D)
- 32 Signal Regiment [RHQ Glasgow]
- 37 Signal Regiment [RHQ Redditch]
- 33 (Lancashire) Signal Squadron [Liverpool and Manchester]
- 48 (City of Birmingham) Signal Squadron [Birmingham/Coventry]
- Stafford Signal Troop [Stafford]
- 50 (Northern) Signal Squadron [Darlington/Leeds]
- 54 (Queen's Own Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry) Support Squadron [Redditch]
- 64 (Sheffield) Signal Squadron [Sheffield/Nottingham]
- 39 Signal Regiment [RHQ Bristol]
- 71 (City of London) Yeomanry Signal Regiment [RHQ Bexleyheath]
- 31 (Middlesex Yeomanry and Princess Louise's Kensingtons) Signal Squadron [Uxbridge/Coulsdon]
- 36 (Essex Dragoons (Yeomanry)) Signal Squadron [Colchester/Chelmsford]
- 68 (Inns of Court & City Yeomanry) Signal Squadron [Lincoln's Inn/Whipps Cross]
- 265 (Kent and County of London Sharpshooters Yeomanry) Support Squadron [Bexleyheath]
- Central Volunteer Headquarters Royal Signals (CVHQ Royal Signals) [Corsham]
- 63 (UKSF) Signal Squadron (Reserve) [Thorney Island] (part of 18th (United Kingdom Special Forces) Signal Regiment)
- Royal Signals (Northern) Band [Darlington] – attached to 32 Signal Regiment
- Joint Forces Command
Corps changes under Army 2020 Refine
The future structure of the Royal Signals will change under Army 2020 Refine. A presentation by the Masters of Signals indicates that 16 Signal Regiment will shift from 11 Signal Brigade to 1 Signal Brigade and focus on supporting communications for logistic headquarters. Similarly, 32 and 39 Signal Regiments will shift to 1 Signal Brigade. 15 Signal Regiment will no longer be focused on Information Systems but will support 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade while 21 and 2 Signal Regiments will support the 1st and 2nd Strike Brigades respectively. Furthermore, a new regiment, 13th Signal Regiment, will form up under 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade and work with 14th Signal Regiment on Cyber and Electromagnetic Activity.
- Career paths
- The Royal Signals Museum: Telegraph TP & Boer War
- The Royal Signals Museum: Corps History
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- at 2:18pm, 21st June 2019. "Falkland Islands: Signals Unit Gets Its Own Crest For Protecting The Islands". Forces Network. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
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- Warner, Philip (1989). THE VITAL LINK : The Story of Royal Signals 1945-1985. London: Leo Cooper. ISBN 0850528828.
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