2nd Divisional Signals Company 2nd Division, AIF

About This Unit

Big thumb 5th 6th 7th fd coy engr   2 div sig sqn

Division Signals Companies belonged to the the Royal Australian Engineers during WW 1. Later, the Royal Australian Signals Corps was created. The Division Signals Company was tasked with providing communications from the Headquarters to those of subordinate formations. In the case of 2nd Division, this meant the 5th (NSW) 6th (Vic) and 7th (outer states) Brigades and Division units (Artillery, Engineers, Pioneers, MG Battalions and Services etc).

Later in the war, on the Western Front, the 2nd Division Signals Squadron was commanded by the redoubtable Stanley Holm Watson,  a railways engineer from South Australia. He had made a name for himself at Galli[oli with 1 Division Signals Squadron, where he famously led the construction of 'Watson's Pier' .   Hardly a signals task but then Stan Watson was nothing if not multi-skilled.

In the communications department, Gallipoli was not sophisticated.  Radio was in its infancy but the sets were large cumbersome and unreliable while requiring a similarly large heavy power supply.   There was a need to coordinate naval gun fire support and that is where radio's principal application lay.

Field Communications in 1915-18 would be by a combination of field telephone (requiring the laying of line) and limited radio towards the end of WW1.

At various times homing pigeons and motorcycle despatch riders were also used. On Gallipoli, horses were also used for this high risk task.

Field telephones connected by line were the most usual means of electronic communication. Line was buried where possible but it would often be cut or broken by artillery fire or road traffic. Then it would have to be surface laid to maintain communications. Laying line was one of the most hazardous jobs in the front line. The "Linies" had to move above ground carrying a reel of wire. They could often be the only moving thing on the battlefield and thus attracted fire - both small arms and even artillery fire. Hence the task was often performed at night, with the added risk of getting disorientated on the battlefield. The "linies" also had the unenviable task of locating and repairing breaks in the line.

"Power buzzers" were also deployed forward to boost the signal being borne by the line. Later when radio began to appear, signallers would have to erect antennas / aerials, often exposing themselves to enemy observation and fire in the process. As antennas are invariably associated with Headquarters they would also attract the unwelcome attention of enemy artillery Forward Observers.

Read more...