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Integration and Unification
"Integration and Unification," on 19 July 1966 created the Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio Systems (CFSRS) and the inception of Military Occupation Code 291, Communicator Research (Comm Rsch) Trade.
Modeled after the Supplementary Radio Station organization that existed in the Navy for 20 years, CFSRS would be responsible for all stations actively involved in Communications Research.
Stations previously controlled independently by the three services would now be directed by a Commander headquartered at HMCS GLOUCESTER. Each station name to be preceded by Canadian Forces Station (CFS) and the officers were made Commanding Officers responsible to the Commander in Gloucester. Army and Air Force personnel at all ranks were posted to HQ as staff for this integrated system.
Canadian Forces Stations
The Army sites to join this organization would now be known as CFS Alert NWT, CFS Leitrim Ont and CFS Ladner BC. The RCAF's stations would now be known as CFS Whitehorse Yukon, and CFS Flin Flon, Manitoba. Remaining sites being provided by the RCN would now be known as CFS Churchill Manitoba, CFS Inuvik NWT, CFS Gloucester Ont, CFS Bermuda, CFS Frobisher Bay NWT, CFS Coverdale NB, CFS Gander NF and CFS Masset BC.
This newly organized system known as Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio Systems, would be responsible for the operation of facilities conducting communications research and HF direction finding, providing information to CFHQ and other authorized agencies.
The 291'ER IS BORN
On 1 October 1966 members from the Royal Canadian Navy Radioman Special (RS) trade, along with Radio Telegraphic Operators (R & TG) of the Royal Canadian Signals Corps and Royal Canadian Air Force Communications Operators (Comm Ops) woke up and began their duties under this name, Communicator Research. Their new Military Occupation Code (MOC) was 291.
Prior to this date, men from the Army R & TG trade and the Air Force Comm Op trade had the option of remaining in their original trade or becoming a 291'er. Having had a taste of what this trade was all about, the majority of operators chose to become 291'ers.
Not long after the inception of CFSRS did people see the need for cost cutting measures. SRS had several isolated stations costing enormous amounts of money to maintain.
The combination of high costs and advancements in technology lead to reorganizing and modernizing SRS activities under "Project Beagle". The goal of this project was to reduce maintenance cost and enhance operational effectiveness all the while maintaining continuity.
By May 1972 Project Beagle had largely been completed. The first of several stations to close was located at Frobisher Bay (closed 1 Nov 1967), followed by Churchill (closed 15 June 1968), Whitehorse (closed 1 July 1968), Coverdale (closed 15 June 1971) and Ladner (closed 15 July 1971).
Alert, Inuvik, Leitrim, Gander, Masset and Bermuda all saw expansion and modernization. In fact, upon the closure of Ladner, personnel and equipment at Ladner were moved to CFS Masset to complement the newly built operations building. The same was said for Coverdale's closure, all operators and equipment were transferred to Gander's newly constructed ops building (present day location).
In her infancy, NRS Gloucester was a HFDF site. Operations began here on 23 February 1943. By 1945, Gloucester's role began to change, with a portion of the facility being deactivated and used as a training ground for Communications Special. Eventually the site became the official school for the Special Communications Branch with its first course commencing in 1948. Commissioned in 1950, HMCS GLOUCESTER became not only the training facility, but also the home of the Special Communications Branch. Its CO being the Senior Officer for all Special Radio Stations (SOSRS); responsible for the administration and supervision of all Special Communication Stations. Gloucester's motto would become "Knowledge through Discipline".
HMCS GLOUCESTER continued to be home for many naval recruits through the 50 and 60s, until the fall of 1972 at which time it was moved to Canadian Forces School of Communications Electronics & Engineers, Kingston Ontario. (Now known as Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics.)
The following was taken from a recruit's brochure on HMCS GLOUCESTER and the Special Communications Branch printed in 1960 stated the following:
The Special Communications Branch maintains normal point-to-point naval communications links and provides radio direction-finding support for the US-Canadian Search and Rescue Service. It lends communication support to the Distant Early Warning Radar Line, and it supplies information used in communication research and development. These, of course, are only its shore commitments. The Branch also has its sea-going component, a component whose men are engaged in what is called Electronic Warfare.
The Basic Course which the trainee faces in Gloucester prepares him towards qualifying for his first trade group. The course lasts twenty-two weeks, during it the trainee learns to read the Morse Code at twenty-two words per minute and to type at thirty words per minute.
He also learns communication procedures used in the handling of messages and is taught how to operate and maintain many pieces of radio equipment.
When he has completed the Basic Course in Gloucester the Radioman Special is drafted either to sea or to one of three operational stations - either NRS Aklavik in the NWT, HMCS CHURCHILL at Fort Churchill Manitoba or to HMCS COVERDALE in Moncton NB.
He then commences a three month on-the-job training period at the end of which he is eligible to write his trade Group One qualifying examinations.