Signal Troop Evolution

645 Signal Troop

The Historical Records for 14th Signal Regiment contain the first mention of 645 Signal Troop in September 1964. The first named O.C. Troop was Lt W.A. Price in March 1965, with the troop being equipt initially with SR D11/R230 air-portable radio stations, with SR D13/R234 stations added as they became available. The HF radio detachments were given a ‘Spearhead’ role in that at least one fully manned detachment was available to go onto 24 hours ‘stand-by’ to move to supply a secure HF telegraphy link from anywhere in the world.

The early exercise and operation record of 645 Signal Troop is sparse with more detail emerging in 1967 when it appears that within the Regiment, detatchments were used to provide test links into TARE from various parts of the UK. These test links enabled procedures to be developed for opening and closing links and managing intermittent weak HF circuits into TARE. But by 1968 ‘Force Rear Links’ were being provided from as far afield as Libya and Malta. From the beginning of 1967, OC Troop was Capt J.H. May who remained so until March 1968 when the troop became part of 4 Squadron, 14th Signal Regiment with Capt J.V. Fielding OC Troop.

647 Signal Troop

In December 1965, 14th Signal Regiment formed 647 Signal Troop to support and train staff to operate the fixed earth station in Singapore for the Initial Defence Communications Satellite Project (I.D.C.S.P.). After the return to the UK of 647 Signal Troop in December 1967, 14th Signal Regiment again assumed administrative responsibility. The troop replaced   the Royal Navy team in residence at SRDE, Christchurch, in Dorset where they assisted to convert the earth station to continue with the I.D.C.S.P. trials.

A notable occasion for 647 Signal Troop was on 9th February1968 when working with the troop rear party, who were still in the Far East, established a satellite link between SRDE and Singapore covering some 8,000 terrestrial miles.

In addition to carrying out the satellite trials, the troop gave practical operating training and experience to the RAF ‘Skynet’ teams (one of which replaced the 647 Signal Troop rear-party personnel in the Far East) and the forming mobile ground station troops of 14th Signal Regiment.

In March 1968, 647 Signal Troop, which under DS16/CVE/4 became titled ‘647 Signal Troop (SCTT)’came under the administrative blanket of 4 Squadron, 14th Signal Regiment but remained in Christchurch. The OC Troop Maj J. M. Newman left the troop to take up post as OC 4 Squadron, handing over to Maj M. Hales, who was attached to the troop from the MOD. 

635 Signal Troop

With the role for 14th Signal Regiment becoming Force Rear Link, there was a requirement for powerful mobile HF stations that could link into the DCN from virtually anywhere in the world, to provide multi-channel secure telegraph and voice channels. The equipment selected for this was the SR E21/R240. There were to be two troops formed, each operating a complete station.

The two new troops were allocated to 4 Squadron, 14th Signal Regiment and established in February 1967. The first of these new troops was 635 Signal Troop. A report in The Wire (April-May 1969 issue) indicates that the founder members of toop were Corporals Dutton and Stokes who were immediately sent to RAF Tangmere on a TGR 1 (AT) 26023/1 course. This equipment was the RAF (more or less identical) equivalent of the Army SR E21/R241. The next personnel to arrive were Corporals Street and Scott who joined the earlier arrivals at RAF Tangmere.

The rush to get people trained was due to the troop equipment being scheduled to arrive before the course was completed and the Regiment required people who knew how to unpack and test it. However the equipment failed to arrive until October 1968, but even then was incomplete having been delivered without the correct generators, necessary running gear  and mobilisers (wheels)!

On 8th February 1968, 635 Signal Troop came under command of 4 Squadron, 14th Signal Regiment with the troop OC Capt M.L.P. Brock. The delayed delivery of the equipment meant that the now fully established troop had under-employed manpower enabling them to be ‘loaned-out’ to other units including the R.A.F., 645 Troop and 259 Squadrons, for employment on exercises on Ascension Island, Cyprus, Singapore, Australia, Libya and Keevil.

636 Signal Troop

Although established at the same time as 635 Signal Troop (February 1967), manpower and training priority was given to 635 Signal Troop meaning that the second mobile heavy radio troop, didn’t actually begin to appear as an entity until the arrival of the second SR E21/241 station at Robinswood Barracks in early 1969. As with other 14th Signal Regiment troops, 636 Signal Troop came under command 4 Squadron in March 1968.

617 Signal Troop

The first of two mobile satcom troops, 617 Signal Troop under command of Lt R.M. Gaymour came into being in March 1968. The Foreman of Signals at this time was WO1 J.A. Coxon. The majority of the troop technicians attended a 4 month Satcom training course before or just after joining the troop.

The first UK/TSC-500 (M-ONE) station was received on 27th March 1969, giving its’ first demonstration just 24 hours later before moving to Robinswood Barracks.

643 Signal Troop

Although nominally established in February 1967 to become the second medium power HF Force Rear Link troop and share ‘Spearhead’ duties with 645 Signal Troop, it did not become operational in its own right.

618 Signal Troop

The second of two mobile satcom troops, 618 Signal Troop, was established under the authority of 3/808/1 (P&W) (NYR) but although staffed, was never operational until after the name change to T Troop, 3 Squadron 14th Signal Regiment. The second UK/TSC-500 (M-TWO) was collected by T Troop from GEC-AEI at STANMORE on the 6th February 1970 with OC Troop Capt P.J. Brunton and troop Foreman of Signals W.O.1 J.H. Lawrence.

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