90 Years and Counting (Chapter 5)
|«--||90 Years and Counting
|Chapter 4||Chapter 6|
WORLD WAR II, 1939 - 1945
In view of the deteriorating world situation Canada initiated programs to expand and modernise its military forces commencing in the 1934-35 fiscal year. Despite this, Canada was woefully unprepared to take part in the war which had broken out in Europe in late August 1939. On 24 August 1939 Prime Minister MacKenzie King's Cabinet first learned of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. It was agreed that "Canada would participate" in a general conflict involving Great Britain although Parliament would decide the precise nature of Canada's commitment.
On 26 August 1939 General Order 124 announced the "Precautionary Stage of the Defence Scheme". This order called out 10,000 soldiers on a voluntary basis to guard vulnerable points and coastal defences. NPAM Signal units called out included 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 and 11 Fortress Signal Companies and details from 4th Divisional signals and 5, 6, and 11 District Signals.
On 1 September 1939 General Order 135 announced a "State of Apprehended War". Although war had not yet been declared, this placed the Canadian military on a war footing and initiated mobilization. The mobilized force was designated the Canadian Active Service Force.
On 1 September 1939, 1st Canadian Divisional Signals formed at Barriefield and later left for overseas service under command of Lieutenant-Colonel J.E. Genet, MC. 1st Canadian Corps Signals and four other divisional Signals were later formed there as mobilization progressed. In England later on there was a Signals Holding Unit, 2nd Canadian Corps Signals, 1st Canadian Army Signals, 1st Canadian Line of Communications Signals and a number of other units formed, all of which played important parts in the European campaigns.
When Britain declared war on 3 September 1939 Canada, unlike in 1914, was no longer obligated to participate.
On 5 September 1939 the RCAF had only 4,153 military personnel out of its authorized establishment of 7,259, eight permanent squadrons and 11 auxiliary squadrons with a total of 53, mostly obsolete, aircraft available for active service (eight on the west coast and 36 on the east coast including many civilian pattern aircraft equipped for float operation). The Signals Branch was of minimal size. There was no radar. The RCAF initial request for $136 million for the period ending 30 August 1940 had been pared to $77 million by the Canadian government. The reduced budget allowed for an expansion to only 167 aircraft, one third of the pre-war planning figure with no reserves, wastage or training allocation.
On 6 September 1939, in view of facility inadequacies, the Government reversed earlier plans and decided that concentrations by arms of mobilized forces were impossible. Only Signals, with its new school in Kingston, mobilized in one place.
On 7 September 1939 Colonel P. Earnshaw presented the 1st Division with the Signal flag which had gone overseas with the 1st Division in October 1914.
On 10 September 1939, with the approval of the Government of Canada, King George VI proclaimed the existence of a state of war between Canada and the German Reich.
On 16 September 1939 the Government of Canada decided to send a force overseas. Initially this was to be a token division to be followed by a second division, corps headquarters and corps troops when equipment became available.
By 1939, the Air Force Signals Branch peacetime establishment had grown to six officers and 75 men. During World War II it grew to over 20,000 RCAF Signals personnel who operated communications equipment, radios (including on aircraft), radar and navigational aids equipment overseas and in Canada and operated four wireless schools within Canada.
In September 1939 the RCCS formed "Special Wireless" or "Y work" as it was known, to intercept enemy radio traffic. In 1939 Number 1 Special Wireless Station opened at Leitrim near Ottawa. This was the birth of the Canadian World War II strategic electronic warfare or SIGINT effort.
In 1939 "2 RCAF Wing Signal Section, RCCS" was formed to support RCAF airfields in England. By May 1941 this unit worked at Uxbridge where it operated communications to all main airfields in southern England. In 1942 the personnel returned to 1 Canadian Corps and the unit was disbanded. This unit, along with other units, was evidence of the frequent integration of RCAF and Army Signals communications and of the cooperation among elements that was common prior to official integration in 1968.
By November 1939 units destined for overseas service concentrated at Barriefield included 1st and 2nd Divisional Signals, 1st Corps Signals, 1st Anti-Aircraft Brigade Signals, No 1 Construction Section and No 3 Wireless Telegraphy Section of Lines of Communications Signals.
On 24 November 1939 the advance party of 1st Divisional Signals departed Canada on the Duchess of York. The main party followed on the Aquitania two weeks later.
On 30 November 1939 the Russo-Finnish War started.
On 23 December 1939 the first Canadian troops (over 7,500 men of the 1st Canadian Division) arrived in England.
In January 1940 advance parties totaling 394 personnel designated 1st Canadian Corps Signals Details departed for overseas. The detachment included No 1 Line Section, No 2 Line Section, No 1 Operating Section, No 1 Wireless Section, No 1 Dispatch Rider Section, No 1 Line Maintenance Section, No 8 Army Field Regiment Signal Section, No 11 Army Field Regiment Signal Section, No 1 Medium Regiment Signal Section, No 1 Medium Brigade Signal Section and Paymaster. On arrival in England the advance force was initially attached as a fourth company to 1st Divisional Signals.
On 9 April 1940 Germany invaded Denmark. The country was overrun and its capital, Copenhagen, was captured in 12 hours.
On 9 April 1940 Norway was invaded. Fighting lasted until 10 June 1940 when allied forces were evacuated.
The German army began their attack in the West on 10 May 1940. On 15 May 1940 the Dutch army capitulated at 1100 hours.
On 29 May, 1940 Her Royal Highness, Mary, the Princess Royal, sister of King George VI, became Colonel in Chief of RCCS. During the war she frequently visited her RCCS units and showed keen interest in their welfare.
In June 1940 the British Air Ministry requested Canada to supply experienced civilian radio personnel to service radar equipment. Professional and amateur radio men were enrolled in the RCAF and sent to England without any military training to be trained on radar equipment, a field virtually unknown in Canada due to the secrecy surrounding the technology. In April 1941 recruiting began by the RCAF for "Overseas Duty" and in June 1941 preparatory radio training began in Canada.
On 10 June 1940 Italy declared war on England and France.
At dawn 14 June 1940 1 Brigade (Canadian), with J Section, 1st Divisional Signals, landed at Brest as the vanguard of an attempt to reinforce the collapsing allied front in France. The British had already decided to evacuate the British Expeditionary Force and this was the only formation to cross the channel before the recall order was executed. Sergeant D.G. Hutt of J Section was injured while riding a motorcycle through Morlaix, France. Sergeant Hutt died of his injuries, becoming the first casualty of the expedition and the first Canadian soldier to lose his life in France in World War II. E Section landed with 1st Field Regiment. After traveling almost 200 miles toward the front and without firing a round 1st Field Regiment was withdrawn to Brest for evacuation, the only British and allied regiment to bring its guns out of France, albeit the Signal Section's wireless vehicles were left behind. The force was back in Plymouth on 17 June short six men and much equipment.
On 21 June 1940 France surrendered to Germany at Compiégne. On 24 June 1940 an armistice was concluded between France and Italy.
In June 1940 Number 1 Canadian Signal Reinforcement Unit began as a company of the Canadian General Holding Unit in England. It was the receiving depot for reinforcements coming from Canada. In September 1940 it became an independent unit, initially operating at Tournay Barracks. As the unit grew, Delville and Morval Barracks were also added to the establishment.
From July 1940 to July 1943 No 1 Dispatch Rider Section averaged 33,000 miles per month.
On 27 August 1940 20 officers and 402 men of 1 Canadian Corps Signals, along with 21 officers and 457 men of 2nd Divisional Signals departed Canada for England aboard E-64, the Scythia. Eight days later they arrived in England.
In September 1940 a brigade signal section which had been detached to join "Z" Force (occupation of Iceland) returned, No 2 Light Anti-Aircraft Signal Section arrived from Canada.
In August 1940 Britain asked the Canadian Government to begin manufacturing radar equipment in Canada. Research Enterprises Limited opened a factory at Leaside, Ontario which was soon producing enough radar equipment to supply most of the military requirements of Canada, Britain and the United States. Shortly after, other factories opened in the United States. The National Research Council of Canada opened a field research station near Ottawa to manufacture and test experimental radar equipment. Interestingly enough the first early warning sets off the production line were given to the United States to be used in the defence of the Panama Canal. In February 1942 RCAF personnel went to the Canal Zone to install these sets and instructed the Americans in their use. The Canadian made sets were superior to those being manufactured by the United States and, hence, more effective. At the same time the United States provided some American made radar for Canadian west coast surveillance.
On 15 September 1940, following legislation passed in August, single men ages 21 to 24 were called up for home defence.
In November 1940, the first Canadian radio direction finding (Radar) course was held at Anti-Aircraft Defence, Wireless Wing, Halifax. Called the First Canadian Radio Group. it was made up of RCCS, Artillery and 23 RCAF candidates and was later the 13th class "Special Signals" of the Royal Air Force.
14 November 1940 - the Germany "terror bombing" raid on Coventry England. The British knew of the impending attack thanks to the secret ULTRA decoding machine which enabled them to read coded German messages. The decision was made that retention of the ULTRA secret was ultimately more important than saving Coventry. To their credit the British believed that they were not leaving Coventry completely without protection as they had a technological "ace in the hole" which would misdirect the bombers. They relied on BROMIDE, a radar jammer used to jam the X-Gerat radar used by German bombers. Unfortunately, and to Coventry's misfortune, BROMIDE did not work!
In December 1940, the first RCCS field electronic warfare unit "1 Canadian Special Wireless Section, Type B" was formed to support 1 Canadian Corps. Canadian electronic warfare units worked in Canada, Europe and Australia.
In late 1940 three RCAF Signal Officers were sent to the United Kingdom to receive complete training in all aspects of radar. They returned to Canada in May 1941 where they were instrumental in organizing Canadian radar training at Clinton.
During World War II women were enrolled in the military to free up men for combat duties. The Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division was formed in 1941, the first Canadian Military element to employ females. By January 1944 15,000 women were serving in air force blue and the trades open to them had gone from eight to 60. In the process, one OBE, eight MBEs, 14 BEMs, six Associates of the Red Cross and 27 mentioned in dispatches had been earned. The Canadian Women's Army Corps had a large signal service component which was fully integrated into the RCCS (while retaining their unique cap badge). The RCAF and Royal Canadian Navy also employed women in uniform for signals duties. WRCNS or "wrens" staffed many of the navy's high frequency direction finding stations.
In 1941 RCAF began planning its early warning radar detection and defence of Canada. By February 1945 35 detachments were in operation. Radio homing beacons for aircraft were also deployed with 37 in operation by January 1945.
During 1941 many signalmen training in England learned to their expense that, in addition to the small arms training and military subjects required of all troops, for Signals, failure to carry a pencil, illegible writing, transmitting incorrectly, exceeding the time limit for clearing a message or overlooking a breach of security had been added to the list of chargeable offenses.
In January 1941 No 1 Canadian Radio Location Unit, RCCS, was formed. Its role was the operation of radar in conjunction with Anti-Aircraft defences. The unit manned radar stations on the south coast of England until disbanded in early 1943. Anti- Aircraft radar however, generally became the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Artillery with technical support from Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (Engineering) (May 1944 redesignated Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers).
In February 1941 authority was granted to form Army Tank Brigade Signals in Canada.
In March 1941 the Air Council of Canada agreed to the establishment of a radio direction finding school in Canada. Two months later the Tyndall farm outside Clinton, Ontario was selected and construction of the new school was under way. The only vestige of the original farm to survive was the silo which is still in existence today. The school was ready for the arrival of staff on 20 June 1941.
On 22 June 1941 Germany invaded Russia, Operation BARBAROSSA.
In July 1941 1st Army Tank Brigade Signals moved to England.
In August 1941 3rd Canadian Division arrived in Aldershot, England after six depressing months training at Debert, Nova Scotia.
On 6 August 1941 K Section, 1 Divisional Signals departed on the Empress of Canada for EXERCISE HEATHER. This "exercise" was the cover name for OPERATION GAUNTLET, the British and Canadian raid on Spitsbergen. The Canadian rank and file did not find out that this was a real operation until 22 August 1941.
On 11 August 1941 "GEE", a navigational aid to assist bombers over Europe, was used for the first time.
19 August - 3 September 1941 OPERATION GAUNTLET. 35 men under Captain W.H.T. Wilson, all of K Section, 1 Divisional Signals arrived at Hvalfjord, Iceland enroute to Spitsbergen as part of "111 Force". On 25 August four signalmen under Lieutenant M.H.F. Webber, made the first landing (from the destroyer HMS Icarus) at the wireless station at Kap Linne, Spitsbergen. Meeting only friendly Norwegians they organized deceptive weather reports indicating fog over Spitsbergen, effectively canceling routine German reconnaissance flights for the raid's duration. On 3 September the Kap Linne station was destroyed. The rest of K Section landed at Barentsburg where, in addition to signals duties, they helped destroy several German radio stations and strategic supplies including 540,000 tons of coal and 275,000 gallons of petrol, oil and lubricants. Russians stationed on the island were evacuated to Archangel in the intervening eight days. When the Empress of Canada returned from Archangel the force then withdrew taking the Norwegian civilians from the island.
On 27 August 1941, Number 31 Royal Air Force Radio School opened at Clinton (three weeks after the arrival of the first contingent of staff from England). Staff consisted of 360 Royal Air Force personnel and included the three RCAF officers who had been trained in England the previous year. The first commander was Wing Commander Cocks, RAF. This station was created to provide a secure environment to teach radio direction finding or radar as it later became known. Security of the technology was very tight and the camp had electrically charged fencing and armed guards, something virtually unheard of in Canada. Even local civilians were unaware of the nature of training or of the station's contribution to the war until long after. The first course, started in September 1941, consisted of United States Army, Navy and Marine Corps students taught by Royal Air Force instructors. Even before America entered the war Britain was assisting them to develop radar and other technologies in a form of reverse "lend-lease". By war's end 2,345 Americans and 6,500 Canadians had graduated from Clinton.
In September 1941 land was purchased just outside Whitby, Ontario, for use by Special Training School 103 (a British unit also known as "Camp X", the famous spy school) and later for the long range HYDRA radio station linking Canada and Britain which evolved into Oshawa Wireless Station after the war.
On 27 October 1941, C Force embarked aboard the Australian liner Awatea escorted by HMCS Prince Robert. They arrived in Hong Kong on 16 November 1941. This force consisted of an under strength brigade headquarters and two infantry battalions, the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. The Signals component was commanded by Captain G.M Billings from 1 Canadian Corps Signals and had 31 men drawn from the original 4th Divisional Signals at Barriefield. Because of hasty planning the partly trained force sailed without transport. It was still without vehicles when the Japanese attacked 40 days after their departure from Canada.
In November 1941 1st Canadian Anti-Aircraft Brigade Signals, RCCS, arrived in England. The unit was based at Colchester. Within five months, it was employed in the defence of England. The unit was disbanded in April 1943 and the personnel were transferred to No 16 Canadian Anti-Aircraft Operations Room Signals, later the only Canadian signal unit to go to Normandy in 1944 with an anti-aircraft artillery role.
In November 1941 5th Canadian Division departed for England aboard HMT E-355, the Sobieski.
On 7 December 1941, Canada declared war on Japan following the Japanese surprise attack on American forces at Pearl Harbour (the first allied country to do so).
On 9 December 1941 Special Training School 103 (also known as "Camp X", the famous spy school) opened for business at Whitby Ontario. This was a British Special Operations Executive, or SOE unit, hidden within the Canadian Military District Number Two. It trained intelligence agents for overseas "secret warfare" duty. While undergoing training the prospective agents, normally Canadians or recent emigrants from a targeted area of operations, were enrolled in the Canadian Army, usually RCCS, and were then released upon graduation to be enrolled in British Intelligence. STS 103 was a well kept secret which, if they even heard of it at all, was known to Canadians as "Project J" or "J Force". Its existence was well hidden from even Prime Minister MacKenzie King. STS 103, in addition to training agents for British employment overseas by British Intelligence, provided initial training for the American agencies such as the Office of Strategic Services which later evolved into the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA. STS 103 operated until April 1944.
On 8 December 1941 the Japanese began their attack on Hong Kong. The One officer and 31 signalmen who were part of the Canadian brigade (C Force) operated on both the Island of Hong Kong and the Kowloon Peninsula, sustaining the first Canadian battle casualties of the Pacific war on that date. By 12 December the mainland had fallen to the Japanese and the defenders had withdrawn to Hong Kong Island. On 19 December the Japanese assaulted Hong Kong Island. On 25 December the Hong Kong garrison surrendered. Nine of the 32 died, three while in captivity, the highest percentage of casualties for any Canadian unit involved.
In 1942 French speaking Signals personnel were recruited to work with the French resistance movement in occupied France. Of 28 Canadians involved, seven were killed or disappeared in the course of clandestine duties.
No 1 Coast Watch Unit RCAF was established in 1942 in the uninhabited west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands to provide visual surveillance. In 1943 when radar coverage permitted, the coast watchers were withdrawn. 1 CWU had eight detachments (each with a "woodsman", two radio operators and a man with "some cooking and camping ability") at Frederick Island, Hippa Island, Kindakun Island, Marble Island, Hibben Island, Tasoo Harbour, Barry Harbour and Big Bay.
In 1942 construction of a chain of radar stations for surveillance of the Pacific Coast began. By November 1943 it was in place. Initially the stations were called "Radio Detachments" and in 1943 the title "Radio Unit" was adopted. The term "RADAR" was not adopted by Canadians until late 1943. The chain ceased operations with war's end in mid 1945.
In February 1942 RCAF personnel went to the American Panama Canal Zone to install Canadian early warning radar sets and instruct the Americans in their use. The Canadian made sets were superior to those being manufactured by the United States and, hence, more effective.
On 6 April 1942 Headquarters, First Canadian Army came into existence at Headley Court, England. Colonel J.E. Genet was promoted to brigadier and became the Chief Signal Officer.
On 27 April 1942 a referendum on conscription was held in Canada. Conscription for home defence was favored in all provinces except Quebec.
In May 1942 HYDRA commenced operations at the "Camp X" site just outside Whitby, Ontario. This was a Canadian terminal for a 2.5 Kilowatt (soon upgraded to 10 Kilowatt) high frequency radio link to Britain. This station provided the essential and unbreakable link between the countries. Originally British Security Coordination, BSC, based in New York and run by Sir William Stevenson (the famous INTREPID), had used commercial underwater cables or the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) radio station in Maryland. On 19 November 1941 J.Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI (and a perennial thorn in the side of allied intelligence operations), denied BSC further use of FBI facilities after BSC refused an FBI request for their codes. The HYDRA at Camp X, a short commercial cable or courier trip from New York, became the alternate system. Initially the system used a British TYPEX cypher machine to provide security however, in 1943, ROCKEX, a highly modified version of a Western Union on line cypher machine, was introduced. Rockex derived its name from the famous New York Radio City Music Hall "Rockettes" dance troop rather than from the, more usual, mythology. Hydra was often used for the passage of ULTRA - highly classified information based upon interception of enemy communications and the breaking of their codes and cyphers. While not a Signals Intelligence, or SIGINT, station HYDRA was occasionally even employed to intercept enemy radio signals coming from occupied Europe. At war's end HYDRA evolved into the RCSIGS Oshawa Wireless Station and continued operation until the mid 1960s.
On 11 May 1942 Canada's Parliament passed legislation for full conscription for home defence.
In June 1942 2nd Canadian Corps Signals was formed in England. It became operational in January 1943.
In June 1942 the Northwest Communications System began when the United States Signal Corps arranged to have line communications parallel the Alaska Highway. On 1 May 1943 the system opened. It ran from Edmonton to Fairbanks Alaska, 3012 kilometres (1871 miles) of line. 95,000 poles and 23 repeater stations at 160 kilometres intervals were constructed. In mid 1945 the Canadian Army assumed responsibility for the Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway and the RCAF for the pole line. In mid 1946 the RCAF was directed to turn the pole line over to the Department of Transport which then contracted it to Canadian National Telegraphs. On 1 April 1947 CNT officially took over.
The raid on Dieppe, originally designated OPERATION RUTTER, was originally planned in April 1942 and full scale rehearsals, YUKON I and YUKON II, were held by 2nd Canadian Division and its supporting armour, the Calgary Tank Regiment from 1 Army Tank Brigade in June 1942. According to Vice-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, the performance of the force's communications on these exercises were of a higher standard of efficiency than that previously found in any British exercise. On 7 July 1942 OPERATION RUTTER was canceled. One week later the operation was reactivated as OPERATION JUBILEE.
9 August 1942 saw the first jamming by the Germans of "GEE", the radio beacon navigation aid for allied bombers.
With the early successes of Axis forces, the Japanese in the Far East during 1941 - 42 and the Germans at Dieppe in 1942, many Canadian servicemen found themselves as prisoners of war. Three Canadian prisoners of war who distinguished themselves while in captivity were:
- (then) Major G.M. Rolfe, DSO, MBE. This Signal Officer of 1 Armoured Tank Brigade Signals was captured at Dieppe where he earned his Distinguished Order and was made a Member of the British Empire for his subsequent activities in organizing escapes while a prisoner of the Germans;
- (then) Sergeant R.J. (Ron) Routledge, DCM captured at Hong Kong, who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his role as liaison between senior allied officers and allied agents who were organizing mass escapes of prisoners of war in the Chungking, China region. Apprehended by the Japanese, he refused to divulge the names of colleagues despite severe torture, starvation and beatings; and
- Flight Sergeant E.W. (Eddie) Goodchild, one of seven RCAF radar technicians seconded to the Royal Air Force, who was captured by the Japanese on 1 February 1943 during the fall of Singapore. Placed in charge of a work party of fellow prisoners he was ordered to punish a Lebanese prisoner for stealing some wood chips by administering a beating. He refused and was himself beaten savagely by five or six pairs of guards for over an hour while continuing to defy them. On 12 October 1944 (two weeks later) while enroute to Hareoka, Japan, F/Sgt Goodchild died of the injuries he had received during his beatings. His body was dropped into the sea. It is reported that, after this incident, Japanese guards ceased requiring allied prisoners to administer beatings to other prisoners. He was promoted to WO1 while in captivity but received no award for his heroism.
In 1942, Colonel Elroy Forde retired from the Canadian Army. On 29 August 1942 the first 25 Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) arrived in Kingston for radio operator training.
In September 1942 4th Canadian Armoured Division reached England after a period of many reorganizations unparalleled in Signals history. Mobilized in 1940 at Vimy it was dismembered to form other units, remobilized, moved to Debert in August 1941 and redesignated as armoured in February 1942. With the many organizational changes equipment was always in short supply while all training had to be conducted by unit personnel for lack of other instructors.
In 1942 distribution of an improved Canadian version of the wireless set number 19 began. The Canadian model (Wireless Set Number 19, Canadian Mark 3) was a vast improvement over the original British version. There is a rumor, unconfirmed, that German developed technological changes led to the Canadian improvements. Since it was provided to allied forces versions were produced with English, English-Russian and English-Russian-Chinese labeling. A higher power capability, utilizing a 100 watt linear amplifier, was also developed.
In 1942 Petty Officer Woodfield of HMCS King's College in Halifax convinced his superiors that the Royal Canadian Navy required messenger pigeons. He convinced pigeon fanciers to donate the birds at no cost and by 1943 he was in the RCN Communications Branch and in charge of a West Coast loft providing pigeons for ships on Pacific Coast patrol duty.
On 6 November 1942 Canadian Army Routine Order (CARO) 2524 authorized the Army Committee on RDF. On 28 November 1942 CARO 2628 amended the organization to add the Director of Signals who had been inadvertently left off the Committee.
In 1942 A23 Coast Defence and Anti-Aircraft Advanced Training Centre, Radar Wing was conducting army radar training at Debert, Nova Scotia. The term radar appeared to be already in common, if not official, use. S5 Canadian Ordnance Corps Training Centre at Camp Barriefield had commenced training army technicians in radar maintenance. This school evolved into the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) School when that Corp was formed. The RCEME School trained army radar technicians until 1969 when all radar training was amalgamated at the new integrated school at Kingston.
In January 1943 No 1 Canadian Line of Communications Signals began to assemble at Patcheson Park near Leatherhead, England, rapidly becoming a formation of some 1,200 personnel.
On 11 January 1943 a new engineering branch of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC) was formed. The new RCOC(E) then evolved into the Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers which was authorized on 24 February 1944.
On 23 February 1943 Naval Radio Station (NRS) Massett (note original spelling with two "t"s) opened. The station was soon recognised as the most effective of five west coast relay stations for ship communications. It used call sign "CZT". RCAF Unit 9 CMU soon arrived at the site and the better RCAF amenities immediately improved life for the naval contingent.
In March 1943, at RCAF request, the Army provided ten GL Mark III (anti-aircraft artillery control) radar sets for deployment at ten mile intervals from Matane to Gaspé and created No 1 Radar Direction Finding Operating Unit, Royal Canadian Artillery to man them. These sets could detect submarines at a range of 25 kilometres. The first two were operational in June 1943 and six by July 1943.
In 1943 the Australian Government purchased 86 anti aircraft radar equipments (AA Number 3 Mark 1 (APF) and AA Number 4 Mark 1) from Canada. At the time a request was also made for sufficient radar technical personnel to maintain the equipment and to instruct at the Radar Wing of the Australian School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, New South Wales. The Minister of National Defence, Ralston, granted the request (Order In Council Number PC 3464 29 April 1943). The resulting detachment was formed at Ottawa in June 1944.
In May 1943 experimental Microwave Early Warning/Ground control Intercept (10.7 cm wavelength)MEW sets were rushed into production. Eight sets were ordered by the RCAF to cover Cabot Strait, Strait of Belle Isle and the Gaspé Passage. The first experimental station was erected near Fox River (Gaspé) in 1943. When the operational sets were installed in 1944-45 submarine tactics had rendered them useless and the chain was not completed.
In July 1943 2nd Army Tank Brigade Signals moved to England. For a short while personnel of this unit were detached to form 3rd Army Tank Brigade Signals. However, after several months, the 3rd was disbanded.
In June 1943 NRS Gloucester opened as an operational direction finding station. In 1948 it became the RCN school for "communicators supplementary", later "radiomen special". In 1950 the station was commissioned as HMCS Gloucester. In 1971 the training function was moved to Kingston and the station then closed in 1972.
On 21 June 1943 the allied "Committee on RDF" was renamed the "Committee on Radar" and on 23 August 1943 the American term "RADAR" (RAdio Direction And Ranging) was adopted in place of "Radio Direction Finding".
On 28 June 1943 1st Canadian Division departed Greenock in the United Kingdom to join Force 545 in OPERATION HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily.
On 10 July 1943 OPERATION HUSKY - 1st Canadian Division and 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade landed at Pachino, Sicily, as part of the 8th Army under General Montgomery. A proper communications system wasn't in place until 12 July and the entire campaign was plagued by poor communications caused by the rough terrain and the lack of spares. Mules became the "de rigueur" transportation for many radios.
On 16 July 1943 1st Canadian Division captured Caltagirone and advanced on Piazza Armerina against heavy opposition.
On 20 July 1943 Canadians advanced to Leonforte, Sicily.
On 31 July 1943 No. 31 RDF School, RAF at Clinton officially became No. 5 Radio School RCAF. It was actually handed over to the RCAF, Wing Commander Patrick, RCAF commanding, on 15 October 1943.
On 2 August 1943 Canadians took Regalbuto, Sicily.
On 16 August 1943 83 signalmen of Pacific Command Signals landed at Kiska Island in the Aleutians as part of a joint Canadian/ American force to repel the Japanese who had invaded the Islands in June 1942. While the previous American assault on Attu had involved bitter fighting, Kiska had already been evacuated by the Japanese. This was the first time Canadians operated under American command. The force returned home in January 1944.
Sicily was secured by 17 August 1943.
On 19 August 1943 Italy made discrete diplomatic approaches toward the allies to negotiate a surrender. Extreme care was taken to ensure that Germany did not find out.
In 3 September 1943, 1st Canadian Division landed at Reggio, Italy. 1st Canadian Tank Brigade was also employed in Italy. Communications were stretched with some divisional radio links of up to 220 miles. With over 1000 radios in use by Canadians a Wireless Security Section was formed to ensure security and order.
On 3 September 1943 General Castellano signed the Italian surrender at Cassibili Sicily. This was not announced until 8 September when the actual surrender of forces began. German reaction was swift and they rapidly took over the country. On 12 September Mussolini, who had been deposed and arrested on 25 July was rescued by the Germans.
In October 1943 1st Canadian Corps and in November 1943 5th Armoured Division, less much of their equipment (which arrived late), landed in Italy. This consolidation of much of the Canadian Army in Italy was done at the request of the Government of Canada. As with Canadians in England, the Corps was dependent upon the British for resupply and support. Equipment the British initially provided for 5th Armoured Division proved to be the dregs of British left overs from the earlier North Africa campaign, trucks arrived worn out, without major components such as engines and often virtually useless. Disagreements over equipment condition raged between 5th Armoured Division personnel and the British suppliers as late as 1993 when a major confrontation took place among visiting veterans at the C & E Museum in Kingston.
On 13 October 1943 Italy declared war on Germany, its former ally.
On 15 October 1943, 31 RAF Radio School at Clinton, previously slated for hand over to the RCAF, was finally transferred and became Number 5 RCAF Radio School. During the war it graduated 2345 Americans and 6500 Canadians.
On 15 October 1943 Canadians took Vinchiaturo Italy.
On 28 December 1943 Canadians captured Ortona, Italy.
By 1944 Royal Canadian Artillery coast defence batteries in the Maritimes had been equipped with sufficient radar resources to permit the RCAF to withdraw its supporting detachments from 117 (Coast Artillery Co-operation) Squadron and assign them to other duties. The radar sets were artillery operated and maintained by Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps radar mechanics who were soon to be transferred into the new Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. RCCS personnel did not have radar duties in Canada.
In 1944 No 1 Canadian Air Support Signal Unit (1 ASSU) was formed from personnel previously employed in air-ground-air roles in 1 Canadian Corps Signals. In OPERATION VERITABLE in February 1945 the unit was involved in an important role, coordinating air strikes on land targets which were blocking the army advance.
In 1944 "CANO CODE" operators arrived at NRS Massett to commence "secret duties" (involving the interception of Japanese radio communications). Japanese communicators, working in a language which did not lend itself easily to morse code, used a phonetic system called "KATAKANA" involving some 71 morse symbols versus our standard 26 letters. Messages were sent in plain text or encoded and often standard abbreviations or letter groups were substituted for common names. Reliance upon plain text, same or similar codes for periods in excess of six months often simplified the "cracking" of messages. Sending speeds of 40 to 50 words per minute, on the other hand, were common among Japanese operators, creating the occasional dilemma for intercept operators who could not request a "say again"!
On 24 February 1944 the Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (CEME) were authorized effective 1 February 1944 "from personnel holding specific trades within the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps" (RCOC). RCOC maintenance personnel had been previously grouped into RCOC(E), an Engineering Branch, on 11 January 1943. The CEME designation followed the example of the British Army which had formed the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1942. Formal transfer of units to the new Corps did not occur until 15 May 1944 and this later date is generally recognised and celebrated as the Corps birthday rather than the date of authorization. On 20 May 1944 CEME was redesignated Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) after King George VI had granted CEME the title "Royal". RCEME personnel provided light and heavy aid detachments, recovery units, field workshops and base workshops for the Canadian Army at home and overseas. They also provided the radar technicians serving with Royal Canadian Artillery radar units.
In April 1944 Special Training School 103, the famous Camp X spy school ceased operations. HYDRA, the radio station, continued to function on the site.
On 1 May 1944 the Canadian Signals Research and Development Establishment, an outgrowth of the Signals Inspection and Test Department, was formed and occupied a new building in the National Research Council Annex near Ottawa.
On 15 May 1944 1 Canadian Corps was put into the line to exploit the collapse of the Gustav Line in Italy. They then advanced toward Pontecorvo in the Liri Valley. By 20 May they were assaulting the Senger Line which they broke on 23 May.
On 27 May 1944 the abbreviation "RCCS" was replaced by "RCSIGS" (ALL IN CAPITALS - NO SPACES). Although "RCSIGS" had been authorized and used for some time prior to World War II this change was not popular with many wartime members of the Corps. RCCS had been worn on uniform formation badges during the war and RCCS brass shoulder titles continued to be worn as late as the mid 1950s before the new RCSIGS replacements became available.
On 28 May 1944 Canadians took Ceprano, Italy.
On 29 May 1944 Canadians began their advance up Highway 6 toward Frosinone which they captured on 31 May.
In June 1944 No. 5 Radio School Clinton was transferred from the Commonwealth Training Plan to Home War Operations Training.
On 1 June 1944 the first coded message for OPERATION OVERLORD went out (transmitted by the BBC) to the resistance in occupied France.
On 3 June 1944 Canadians captured Anagni, Italy.
On 6 June 1944, OPERATION OVERLORD - D Day - the invasion of France took place. The Allies came ashore on five beaches in Normandy, two American, two British and one by Canadians. 3rd Canadian Division, supported by 2nd Canadian Army Tank Brigade, assaulted Juno Beach, the leading element of what was to become 1st Canadian Army. The Canadian assault was among the most successful. By day's end 15,000 Canadians were ashore. To resolve the many transportation and logistics problems communications were essential so Signals mounted a radio relay link (Wireless Set No 10) across the English Channel until cross-channel cable terminations were captured and could be put into service.
Often overlooked within Canadian military history is the contribution of Number 1 Canadian Lines of Communications Signals which provided dispatch rider, telegraph and telephone communications between SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) and armies in the field. Divested of their duties in England components began deploying in June 1944 and by July 1944 most were in France where they provided in-theatre communications within 21 Army Group and even had a cipher and high powered wireless section attached to General Patton's 3rd United States Army.
An advance party of Lieutenant Colonel C.A. Manson, RCA, and Major H.P. Cadario, RCEME, departed for Australia on 15 June 1944 for liaison and planning duties for the employment of Canadian soldiers on radar duties in support of Australian forces as agreed to by the Canadian Government in April 1943.
On 17 June 1944 the Canadian Radar Detachment on Loan to Australian Military Forces was formed at Lansdowne Park Barracks, Ottawa. The unit consisted of four officers and 28 other ranks of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, five officers and 35 other ranks from the Royal Canadian Artillery and one Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps NCO. On 4 July 1944 the detachment left Ottawa for Australia. The first draft arrived at Sydney aboard the SS Fort Dennison on 19 August 1944. The second draft, aboard the SS William I Chamberlain arrived at Melbourne 6 September 1944. Personnel were sent to a number of units and locations and were employed, not only as instructors and maintainers, but also deployed operationally in Australia, New Guinea, Borneo, Philippines, Morotai and Cocos Island. Some operated as part of the Allied Intelligence Bureau as operators and mechanics. Several of these participated in the Allied reoccupation of Java in August 1945 and were caught in native uprisings against the Netherlands East Indies Forces following the war. The Java contingent was replaced by British Signals personnel and, two weeks later, departed Batavia on 26 January 1946. The main body returned to Canada arriving in Vancouver on 14 February 1946 aboard the SS Kootenay Park and 27 February 1946 aboard the SS Socotra. The last original, Lieutenant I.A. (Don) Mayson, RCA, of the contingent departed Australia for Canada on 12 April 1946.
In July 1944 4th Canadian Armoured Division Signals arrived in France.
On 8 July 1944 in OPERATION CHARNWOOD 3rd Canadian Division attacked Caen, France.
Caen and Carpiquet Airport were captured by 3rd Canadian Division on 9 July 1944.
On 18 July 1944 OPERATION GOODWOOD - a Canadian - British push from east of Orne southward to high ground beyond Caen. The Canadian operations involving 2nd Canadian Corps (2nd Canadian Division, 3rd Canadian Division, 2nd Armoured Brigade) were designated OPERATION ATLANTIC. More than 7000 tons of bombs were dropped in support of the operation. 3rd Canadian Division made its crossing of the Orne River during this operation. On 19 July Canadians took Vaucelles, Louvigny and Fleury-Sur-Orne. During this operation the road from Verson to Caen, known as "Mortar Alley", was marked with the following ominous sign"
By 25 July 1944 in OPERATION SPRING Canadians were attacking along the road to Falaise but meeting heavy resistance. Initially three infantry divisions, two armoured divisions, one independent armoured brigade and two artillery groups occupied a frontage of five kilometres, a true nightmare for line communications. As a concession to Signals narrow lanes called "Tank Runs" were laid down by the Corps Commander. Following two set piece attacks, OPERATION TOTALIZE and OPERATION TRACTABLE, Falaise was captured by 17 August 1944. TOTALIZE (the main assault along the Falaise road A-10, 7 - 10 July 1944) involved the development and use of a Signals improvised radio direction beam to keep the armoured units on the line of advance. Severe disruption to the attack was caused by accidental United States Air Force bombing of the rear areas on 8 August 1944. TRACTABLE, which began on 14 August 1944, completed the capture of Falaise and provided the stepping off point for the closing of the famous "gap" in the Falaise Pocket. On 1 August 1944 1 Canadian Army became part of the newly formed 21 Army Group under Montgomery.
On 24 August 1944 Canadians took Elbeuf.
In September 1944 the Canadian Government assumed the costs of running the HYDRA radio station at the old Camp X site at Whitby, Ontario. At that time the station had a staff of three officers and 60 other ranks. For Security reasons the station was also renamed No 2 Military Research Centre.
On 1 September 1944 2nd Canadian Division, the same division which had staged the 1942 raid, liberated Dieppe.
On 1 September 1944 General Order 406 changed 1st Canadian Infantry Division Signal Regiment's title to 1st Canadian Divisional Signals.
On 2 September 1944 Canadians in Italy made a partial breakthrough of the German Gothic Line in Italy and advanced to the Conca River. San Giovanni was taken. By 14 September 1944 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade had captured Coriano and the Germans had decided to reinforce the Italian front. During 20-21 September 1944 the battle for San Fortunato Ridge ended and Rimini was captured by a Greek brigade serving under Canadian command.
On 8 September 1944 Canadians took Nieuport and Ostend. On 9 September they captured Bruges.
On 16 September 1944 2nd Canadian Division occupied Antwerp, the largest seaport in Europe. Although this inland port was free German forces still blocked access and it was not open to shipping until 22 November 1944.
During the Second World War, many Royal Canadian Air Force radar mechanics served in British units. Flight Sergeant Semon (Blondie) Lievense, a native of St. Boniface Manitoba, was one of these. He was in charge of one of two Light Warning radar crews (Units 6341 and 6080) that went on OPERATION MARKET GARDEN, the ill-fated 1944 airborne assault at Arnhem, Holland. Their assigned role was to provide forward fighter control for Beaufighters. On 18 September 1944 they were transported to Arnhem in four Horsa gliders which were towed in by two Stirling tow planes. After release the crews came under accurate enemy anti-aircraft fire as they glided toward the Landing Zone and severe mortar fire on landing. Conditions and casualties were so severe that the equipment was never erected and the surviving personnel fought as ground troops. Of the radar crews, five officers and 40 airmen went into Arnhem, three officers and one airman came out. Semon Lievense was killed on 22 September while fighting as an infantryman. He is buried at Oosterbeek War Cemetery in Arnhem. Arnhem was finally liberated by the Canadians on 15 April 1945.
On 22 September 1944 3rd Canadian Division captured Boulogne.
On 20 September 1944 1st Canadian Army attacked around Antwerp while Calais surrendered to 3rd Canadian Division.
On 30 September 1944 3rd Canadian Division completed the capture of Calais. The German flag which had flown from the citadel at Calais was captured by 3rd Division Signals personnel. Today, this flag is displayed in the Communications and electronics Museum in Kingston.
On 1 October 1944 General Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the decision to flood Walcheren Island by bombing the dikes. This attempt to isolate German forces on the island has often, incorrectly, been attributed to the defensive efforts of the German defenders. On 3 October 1944 dykes around Walcheren Island are breached by the RAF. The campaign to clear the approaches to the port of Antwerp, at the time the largest seaport in Europe, had begun.
On 6 October 1944 2nd Canadian Corps began attacks to eliminate German forces south of the Scheldt.
On 11 October 1944 1st Canadian Division began its October offensive in Italy. On 20 October 1944 a bridgehead was established across the Savio River and the division broke out onto the Lombard Plain. On 22 October 1944 Canadians took Cervis, Italy.
On 24 October 1944 2nd Canadian Division advanced along the Beveland Isthmus in Holland.
On 27 October 1944 1st Canadian Corps was withdrawn into reserve after two weeks of intensive fighting.
On 1 November 1944 2nd Canadian Division attacked across the causeway to Walcheren Island in Holland. Commando landings occurred at other parts of the island.
On 4 November 1944 4th Canadian Armoured Division advanced to the Maas River.
On 6 November 1944 The last Germans on Walcheren Island surrendered to 52nd British Lowland Division. along with the 104th US, 1st Polish and 49th British it was a part of 1st Canadian Army's international order of battle.
On 9 November 1944 2nd Canadian Corps occupied the Nijmegen bridgehead to begin a winter of aggressive patrolling.
On 22 November 1944 Prime Minister MacKenzie King agreed that conscripts, originally conscripted for the defence of Canada only, would have to be sent overseas.
On 28 November 1944 a Canadian merchant ship was the first to enter Antwerp. Europe's largest port was now available for the allies and Canadian supply lines were considerably shortened.
On 5 December 1944 Canadians took Ravenna, Italy.
On 7 December 1944 OPERATION MICKEY FINN provided the first test for the 2nd Canadian Division's new counter-mortar organization. This included experiments with the army's newest unit, 1st Canadian Radar Battery.
In late 1944-45 EXERCISE ESKIMO was held in Saskatchewan, a major winter exercise involving operational deployment of Canadian soldiers in an Arctic tactical setting. For the first time the difficulties of cross country vehicular movement and arctic survival techniques were closely studied. It led the way for the post war EXERCISE MUSKOX experiments.
On 13 January 1945 No 1 Special Wireless Group, RCCS departed Victoria B.C. enroute to Australia, arriving in Brisbane, Australia on 16 February. At that time the Australians were the recognised Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) experts in the South West Pacific Area with over 5,000 personnel involved in SIGINT duties. The Royal Australian Air Force, alone, had six mobile wireless units (WU) and considerable fixed plant. General Douglas MacArthur, area Supreme Commander and his Chief Signal Officer, Major General Akin (both Americans) preferred Australian WUs over more lavishly equipped American Special Radio Intelligence Companies, of which there were eight in theatre. At the time Canada had begun to refocus its military effort which was concentrated on the number one Allied priority, defeat of Germany. With Germany defeated massive pressure would then be brought on Japan. Canada's assigned army contribution was 6 Canadian Division however hostilities ended before the division could be committed. In view of massive differences between the two theatres of war and the lead time necessary for it to be come proficient this SIGINT group was formed and deployed to gain the vital experience necessary. Working with the Australians provided an excellent opportunity for this Canadian group to come up to speed in this very different Pacific war. After initial training with No 1 Australian Special Wireless Group the 13 officers and 277 men of the Canadian electronic warfare unit commenced operational duties against the Japanese from Darwin on 13 April. They were in continuous operation until war's end. On 5 February 1946 they departed Australia arriving back in Canada on 26 February 1946.
On 8 February 1945 OPERATION VERITABLE began as 1st Canadian Army rolled into the Reichswald. On 9 February they reached the Rhine River.
On 11 February 1945 Canadians took Cleves.
On 28 February 1945 No. 5 Radio School, Clinton had a staff of 478 all ranks with 627 trainees.
In February and March 1945 1st Canadian Corps was withdrawn from Italy and sent to North-West Europe for service as part of 1 Canadian Army, itself a truly multi-national force.
On 3 March 1945 Lieutenant Bernard Lafleur, Signal Officer of the Fusiliers Mont Royal, won the Military Cross for his actions in restoring communications to the battalion's forward company which had had its communications destroyed during an attack in the Hochwald Forest. Interestingly enough, of the five officers who recommended the award, four became Chief of the Defence Staff or equivalent (Lt-Col J.A. Dextraze, Brig J.V. Allard, Lt-Gen G.G. Simonds and Gen H.D.C. Crerar).
In early 1945 Canadian casualties since D Day and the lack of volunteer reinforcements brought the question of Canadian reinforcements to a head. The Canadian Government had finally decided to commit conscripted home defence troops to action in Europe. Out of 158,043 home defence conscripts 16,000 were slated for overseas service but only 3,500 were eventually sent, some arriving after the German surrender. The Hochwald Forest battles saw Canadian conscript "zombies" in action for the first time in numbers. They fought well but did little to change the composition of the Canadian Army overseas which retained its volunteer status for all intents and purposes.
On 24 March 1945 Canadians crossed the Rhine at Speldrop as part of OPERATION PLUNDER.
In 1945 the RCN took over a radio site at Gander, Newfoundland which became Naval Radio Station Gander, a high frequency direction finding (HFDF) station. Newfoundland, a British Colony, did not become part of Canada until 1949.
On 15 April 1945 Canadians took Arnhem.
On 24 April 1945 25th German Army in the Netherlands contacted 3rd Canadian Brigade radio operators requesting a conference with Allied Supreme Headquarters regarding the provision of food supplies for starving civilians behind German lines. This conference occurred on 28 April with subsequent relief operations mounted and, most importantly, a parlay for the surrender of German Forces in the area.
As Canadians drove into Germany they were often saddled with many unanticipated problems in the newly conquered areas. In late April 1945, for example, 2nd Canadian Division found itself suddenly responsible for medical support for inmates of 36 large displaced persons and concentration camps and for 500,000 German soldiers as well as for its own troops.
On 25 April 1945 patrols of the American 1st Army linked up with Russian patrols of Marshall Konev's 1st White Russian Army west of the town of Torgau on the Elbe River.
On 28 April 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide in a surrounded Berlin. Admiral Doenitz was declared the new Fuehrer of the disintegrating German Reich.
On 29 April 1945 German forces in Northern Italy and southern Austria surrendered unconditionally.
On 30 April 1945 British 2nd Army cut Denmark off from Germany, isolating the German forces there.
On 2 May 1945 the last defenders of Berlin surrendered.
On 2 May 1945 a telephone link between opposing Canadian and German forces was established to coordinate relief and surrender activities in Holland. Earlier, German forces had threatened to blow up the Dutch dykes and flood the country if attacked, effectively halting Canadian advances. When surrender was eminent fighting virtually ended and Canadian and German forces worked together to ward off mass starvation among Dutch civilians. Canadian military food convoys found themselves driving through German defence to deliver humanitarian aid behind the lines while aircraft dropped supplies and ships headed for Dutch ports to discharge their cargoes. This collaboration paved the way for German-Canadian cooperation for the, soon to occur, surrender of Denmark, Holland and northern Germany and the subsequent demobilization of the defeated German forces.
On 3 May 1945 the allies captured Hamburg and Oldenburg effectively ending any hopes the Germans may have had of retiring into Denmark or Norway. On this date Germany then sent a mission to Field Marshall Montgomery, headed by Admiral von Friedeberg, commander of the German Navy. The admiral requested Montgomery to accept the surrender of three German armies retreating before the Russians. Montgomery replied, "No, certainly not. Those armies are fighting the Russians ... I have nothing to do with happenings in the Eastern front. You must surrender to the Soviet commander ...". Montgomery then asked them if they were prepared to surrender their forces in the northwest including Denmark and Holland. After an extensive situation briefing by Montgomery this was agreed to.
At 0800 hours 5 May 1945 German forces in the Netherlands, Denmark and North-West Germany surrendered to 1 Canadian Corps. That afternoon, at Wageninggen, Holland, Colonel General Von Blaskowitz formally surrendered his 120,000 men to General Charles Foulkes, Commander 1st Canadian Corps. An interesting aspect was the rapid conversion of the "surrender" into a "capitulation", a unique Canadian solution to a massive command and control problem. The technical difference is that surrendered troops become prisoners of war while, with a capitulation, they are merely defeated soldiers. The German hierarchy remained in place and answerable to the allied forces and was then used to control, discipline, supervise, demobilize and return the defeated German troops home. This arrangement was in violation of the Geneva Accords for the handling of prisoners as the Germans had surrendered first. Further problems occurred when the Canadians initially overlooked continued German use of its military law rather than conquering power's military law as required. One month after war's end a German military court tried two sailors in Holland, found them guilty of desertion and sentenced them to death by firing squad. The court utilised procedures and guidelines for the Nazi military legal system which was, with the fall of Germany, no longer lawful. Guilt was assumed and little defence possible. Sentences were in accordance with severe German policies put in place prior to the surrender while the Canadian military law requirement for a delay of at least thirty days before executing the sentence was completely ignored. Canadian military deferred to German authorities for approval of sentencing and the victims were promptly shot by German troops using Canadian supplied rifles and ammunition. As late as 1966 these illegal executions were the subject of law suits initiated by the victims' families in West Germany and of discussion in Canada's House of Commons where the Canadian Minister of National Defence, Paul Hellyer, initially denied any Canadian wrong doing. Despite the questionable legal situation a generally efficient demobilization and hand over took place, in many instances due to the highly efficient German staff work and close cooperation between German and Canadian military authorities. In many cases German troops remained armed and, under 21 Army Group Civil Affairs Administration direction, assisted in maintaining essential services, law and order within the newly liberated areas until such time as allied or civilian infrastructures could be set up to assume these responsibilities. Without this German "help" 21 Army Group, including 1st Canadian Army, would have been totally incapable of coping with the administration of the surrendered areas let alone handling the large numbers of prisoners of war.
Late in the evening on 7 May 1945, at General Eisenhower's tactical headquarters in Rheims, France, General Jodl signed the document which committed Germany to unconditional surrender effective 2301 hours 8 May 1995 (Central European time). The German radio message requesting this surrender meeting had been received by a Canadian wireless operator in Montgomery's headquarters. The German operator had joined the allied radio net and asked the operator in English to take down the message which was then transmitted in German. The original pencil copy is on display in the Communications and Electronics Museum.
8 and 9 May 1945 were formally declared VE Day (Victory in Europe) by Winston Churchill in recognition of the unconditional surrender of Germany. The surrender ceremony with the allies, except for Russia, took place late on 7 May 1945 and was effective the following day and the treaty was then ratified in a separate ceremony held in Berlin the next day for Russia's signature. Thus VE Day is actually both 8 and 9 May 1945.
On 21 June 1945 the Royal Canadian Signals Dutch Signal Company was disbanded. This unit was raised from among Dutch government telephone workers some three months earlier to assist Signals in restoring line communications in the newly liberated Holland and had a strength of three officers and 40 men.
In mid 1945 the Canadian Government had second thoughts regarding the wisdom of allowing the United States to have control of the Alaska Highway and its accompanying communications. As a result of negotiations between the two countries the RCAF took over the Northwest Communication System (paralleling the Alaska Highway) from the United States Signal Corps. This 2,400 kilometre long system had been originally built by the United States Signal Corps in 1942 to link Alaska with the continental United States in view of the potential threat against their west coast and submarine cable communications. The system was completed on 1 May 1943. Construction involved some 95,000 poles and 23 repeater stations built at 160 kilometre intervals. On 1 April 1947 Canadian National Telegraph officially replaced the RCAF.
On 26 July 1945 Major-General E.G. Weeks unveiled a cairn at No. 1 Canadian Signal Replacement Unit at Southwood Camp in Cove, Farnborough, Hampshire. The cairn contained the complete nominal role of the camp from inception in June 1940, some 12,000 names. 1 CSRU had been the first English home for reinforcements arriving from Canada, a manning depot, a training and testing establishment and a mobilization centre, indeed, the European equivalent of Vimy Barracks. On 18 June 1976 the RCSIGS Cairn was rededicated at the Royal School of Signals, Blandford.
On 15 August 1945 following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (8 August) Japan surrendered unconditionally. the surrender was signed on 2 September 1945.
In September 1945 the United Nations Refugee Relief Agency (UNRRA) began arriving in North West Europe to assist with civilian relief. Until this time 21st Army Group and its Civil Affairs Administration had handled much of the civilian relief and the critical food shortages had been resolved. The initial performance of UNRRA provided an early black mark for the newly formed United Nations. Many civilian UNRRA representatives lived an easy life and openly indulged in private business transactions or diverted relief supplies to the black market. General Morgan, in charge of UNRRA, abruptly released some 600 persons from the organization and with the resulting changes "UNRRA finally got down to business clouded with as bad a name as any organization ever started with". The troops could now start heading home.
On 9 September 1945, at war's end, RCSIGS counted 24 officers and 359 men among its ranks who had given their lives for their country. Total Canadian casualties were 102,954, of which 37,905 were dead.
On 9 September 1945 General Orders 46 & 52 authorized disbandment of 1st Canadian Divisional Signal Regiment at Hilversum Holland.
In the spring of 1946 3rd Canadian Division (Canadian Army of Occupation) returned to Canada, the last troops to return home.
The RCAF Women's Division was disbanded in 1946 as the Canadian military was drastically reduced.
During World War II members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals earned the following honors and awards:
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