OP SCALPEL Signal Troop War Journal
The "Sig Troop Op Scalpel War Journal" is a documented diary of the formation and deployment of a Signals Troop to the Persian Gulf. The journal was written so both the serving members and fellow Signalers could relate to the Historical sequence of events that followed, during the period 7 Jan - 17 Apr 91.
Prepared By: Sgt Bode and MCpl Cormier
Edited By: WO McMaster P.J.
Approved By: Capt Crane E. R.
Sgt Bode (left) and MCpl Cormier working on the Journal
Much thanks to MWO Greg Bode who graciously supplied the text and photos and to LCol Brian Costello (retd) for digitizing them.
|Jan 91||1st week of Jan, Canada was requested to provide a Field Hospital in support of the British Forces in Saudi Arabia. At this time deployment plans commenced for the formation of the 1st Canadian Field Hospital (1 Cdn Fd Hosp). The deployment of the Hospital to Saudi Arabia was given the Title of "OP SCALPEL". SSF HQ & Sigs Sqn was tasked to provide the Personnel and Communication support. 34 Personnel from the Sqn and 1 member from 2 Svc Bn Sigs were grouped together to form CF SCALPEL Sigs Troop.|
|Wed 09 Jan|| A DAG was set up in B-21 for all primary and secondary pers. Upon completion of the DAG, all Primary candidates were notified. The following is a list of all pers that made up the CF SCALPEL Sigs Troop and their assignment according to the Remar positions:
|10-11 JAN||Sqn begins planning and preparation for the communications requirement. Lt Whelan, WO Lane and Sgt Norton represented the Signals in the Shadow Unit. (Shadow Unit consisted of numerous MOC's that were responsible to assist in the planning and preparation for the deployment of the Hospital). DCO (Capt Crane) appointed OC Sig Tp, departed Petawawa for AL Jubail, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar to conduct a Recce. Initial communications requirement consisted of 4 x CRTTZ, 1 x MCV and DR's. Sigs personnel then began to verify veh check lists.|
|Sat 12 Jan||Sig Tp members reported to the Orderly room, 1 Cdn Fd Hosp for in clearances to the Unit. On this day we were no longer members of SSF HQ & Sig Sqn but members of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp.|
|13-19 Jan||RCR Battle School was tasked to initiate and conduct the collective training to all members of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp. 1 Cdn Fd Hosp was made up of 530 Personnel from across Canada with a large number coming from CFB Petawawa. Sigs Troop personnel completed the first serial of the collective training which consisted of:13 Jan - GSK Trg (Geneva Convention, POW, Int Briefing and Land Environmental Training) 14-15 - First Aid Training16 Jan - Briefing was held at the Base Theatre by DCO, Maj Moneypenny confirming the deployment of the Hospital. 16-17 - C7 Weapons Training and Ranges18-19 - NBCW Training and Gas hut*** Wednesday evening 16 Jan 91 - coalition forces commenced "Operation Desert Storm", The Liberation of Kuwait. During the week, QM staff began issuing stores and clothing for the operation.|
|15 Jan||Warning Order for OP SCALPEL issued by CFCCHQ Ref CCOC/OPS 1054 152246Z Jan 91|
|Sun 20 Jan||Capt Crane returned from Recce in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. He also liaised with 90 HQ & Sigs Sqn in Bahrain and Qatar.|
|21-25 Jan||Conducted Sigs Trg (Swbd, MCV Op, CRYPTO, CRTTZ, ant construction, KL-43, Map & Compass, EW, and MLVW Drv Trg)|
|22 Jan||Sig O submitted IOR demand to FMCHQ for 2 PA Systems(one for the Hospital and one for Svc Coy). PA System was shipped to Petawawa on 6 Feb 91.|
|23 Jan||DGMPO Tasking OP SCALPEL Communication: Ref DMOC 3089 231240Z Jan 91|
|24 Jan||- CE Op Order 1/91 OP SCALPEL promulgated by CFCCHQ Ref CCOC Ops 1098 242132Z Jan 91.- OP SCALPEL COMM PLAN ISSUED BY FMCHQ : REF OPS OEN 8138 241916Z JAN 91. - Sig O submitted IOR demand for Laptop computer to CenTeg Ops Toronto: Ref Ops 033 242125Z Jan 91.|
|Sun 27 Jan||MCpl Coventry and Foeller departed Petawawa for Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia with ASC 1 (Advance Surgical Centre) with the INMARSAT.|
|28 Jan - 01 Feb||During this week. the Sigs Tp carried on with Comms Trg and Kit Inspection.|
|29 Jan|| FMCHQ issue IOR demand for laptop computer for 1 Cdn Fd Hosp. Ref: OCOS Q:Js 003 291193OZ Jan 91
Evening of Tuesday 29 Jan, at building P-22, Capt Crane briefed the Troop on the Operational Comms requirement for the deployment in Saudi Arabia.
|30 Jan||2 members of 90 HQ & Sigs Sqn, Sgt Mahle and Cpl Spiers arrived in Al Jubail with 2 IMRCT Detachments.|
|31 Jan|| - MCpl Marazzo arrived in Al Jubail from 90 HQ & Sigs Sqn, Bahrain. - DCDS Tasking order development of vehicle mount INTELSAT Terminal. Project completion date Estimated 13 Feb 91. Ref: DMOC 3114 311515Z Jan 91.
Evening of Thursday 31 Jan, the members of Sigs Tp and their wives/girlfriends met at the Jubilee Lodge for a Meet and Greet. The evening consisted of the Commanding Officer SSF HQ & Sig Sqn, LCol Hanrahan speaking to the group. This was followed by a briefing from the Chief Clerk, WO Walls, the Protestant Padre, Padre Brinn, and the RSM, CWO Savoie. The function was organized by MCpl Cormier and included a cold buffet supplied by the wives. The evening was an opportunity for both Sqn members of different Troops and their wives to gather in a social atmosphere and get to know each other.
March & April 1991
|Fri 01 Mar|| 1 Cdn Fd Hosp Msg Centre and Ops Centre are fully operational. Due to the cease fire in effect, the remainder of the personnel in Al Jubail would not be deploying North and several packets returned to Camp Halla. The following Sigs personnel departed for Al Jubail:
Upon their return to Camp Halla, the following Comms were established: IMRCT and the SB-22 was set up with 12 locals.
VHF Link Al Jubail/Camp Halla closed down, Det members now working with IMRCT / INMARSAT.
The remainder of the Sigs personnel stayed behind. The manning was as follows:
The CO, LCol Kotlarz and RSM Doyle visited the Sigs Tp bivouac lines located in the Svc Coy berm. Capt Crane gave them a tour of our lines and showed them some of the eqpt we had, such as the Matel and PRC 126 Radios, which were not used due to the redeployment plan in effect. Both the C0 and the RSM were very impressed with the Sigs setup and commented particularly on the fine communication support that was provided to the Hospital.
Sig O req Call sign and freq for CFARS. Ref: Ops 181 011100Z Mar 91.
Ops Friction ComSec mat repat planning (all ComSec Eqpt to go to Bahrain). Ref: DCOMSEC 7281 010715Z Mar 91.
Received appointment for C and E Branch advisor. Ref: SO2 CP and 0 543 231500Z Mar 91.
|Sat 02 Mar|| Day break in Al Qaysumah did not appear until approx 1000 hrs, due to heavy concentration of smoke coming from the burning Kuwait oil fields.
At 1500 hrs, 1 Cdn Fd Hosp personnel took over 32 Field Hospital so the British could attend their smoker. Capt Crane held the reins as the Camp Duty Officer. The Sigs, under the direction of Sgt Bode, which included MCpl Symes, MCpl Duchemin and Cpl Montgomery operated their Swbd and PA System until 1000 hrs the following day.
With the Canadians having control of 32 Field Hospital, this was an excellent opportunity for the Sigs to tour the facilities. During this time, the Hospital received numerous casualties both friendly and EPWS (Enemy Prisoners of War).
Medical aid being given to an EPW
Within a few kilometres of 32 Field Hospital was 22 Field Hospital and a Prisoner of War Camp. The POW Camp was large enough to hold up to 12,000 Prisoners. During our short stay, it held upwards of 4,000. Every day, helicopters could be seen off loading Iraqi POW's in front of the Camp.
|Sun 03 Mar|| 1300 - All 1 Cdn Fd Hosp pers in Al Qaysumah gathered around a Large Red Cross sign on the berm for a group photo. MCpl Crowe and other Sigs were tasked to make a large sign for the photo which read: "1 CDN FD HOSP" SAUDI ARABIA FORWARD
1400 - Sig O, Capt Crane departed Al Qaysumah for Al Jubai to discuss redeployment plans with the DCO, Maj Moneypenny
Tp WO, WO McMaster and MCpl Lepine departed Camp Halla for Kuwait City to conduct recce of Canadian Embassy.
1900 - Sgt Bode held "O" group at the Msg Centre. The Major point to pass on, was the 2 alternatives concerning our deployment.
1st alternative - begin redeployment phase to Canada.
2nd alternative - deployment to Kuwait City.
* At this time no firm decision was available.
Sgt Bode, Sgt Lebel and all MCpls prepared Post Operation Points.
The Commanding Officer, LCol Kotlarz informed all personnel that the CDS, MND, and the CF CWO would be visiting 1 Cdn Fd Hosp in Al Jubail on the 08 Mar 91.
|04 Mar|| Orders were issued to all 1 Cdn Fd Hosp personnel at Al Qaysumah to redeploy to Camp Halla.
1200 - All non essential land lines were removed and the MCV was packed up. Only the IMRCT/INMARSAT and the CP complex were left operational until 0700 hrs the next day. Remainder of the day was spent tearing down modular tentage and packing vehs.
1700 - Last supper was at the British kitchen.
General- During our stay with 32 Field Hospital, near Al Qaysumah, the weather was relatively very good, with mostly sunshine and a few periods of rain. Average day temp was 20 degrees Celsius and at night it would drop down to about 10 degrees.
WO McMaster and MCpl Lepine returned to Camp Halla from recce in Kuwait City.
|Tue 05 Mar|| 0700 - Closed down and packed up the IMRCT/INMARSAT and CP complex.
0900 - 1st packet departed. Sgt Bode is Packet Comd with all Sig Tp vehs.
1600 - Arrived in Camp Halla, Al Jubail.
1830 - MCV was attached to the comms complex. All locals were transferred into the SB-3614 Swbd.
Cpl Rees and Sig Forget began the set up of the CFARS (Cdn Forces Affiliated Radio System) under the direction of MCpl Holmes-Makcrow.
|Wed 06 Mar|| The Comm Cen and CP shifts were organized to operate the Swbd, IMRCT and INMARSAT. The shifts were as follows:
Sig Martin and Sig Watson completed OJT under the supervision of MCpl Donahue and were then rotated into the shift schedule.
The Techs, MCpl Duchemin, MCpl Symes, Cpl Aubertin and Cpl Montgomery spent the day preparing and putting together the PA system.
The linemen, Cpl Nicholson, Cpl Clark, Cpl Davies and Sig Sherrington were responsible to lay line and mount speakers around the perimeter of the camp.
The PA system that was brought over was designed to cover an area of approx 2 kms square. Therefore only a portion of the system was set up in Camp Halla.
As the camp routine settled in, time was allotted for R & R runs into Camp Four (British Camp) and to the Port of Al Jubail.
Someone has to do it!
|Thu 07 Mar|| Sigs Troop spent the day on veh maintenance, cleaning stores/vehs and repacking in preparation for deployment.
Sig Tp lines - Camp Halla
Sig Martin's artistic skills were utilized in designing a crest for a Sig Troop T-shirt.
|Fri 08 Mar|| 0900 - The CDS, Gen De Chastelain, the MND, The Honourable Bill McKnight, the CF CWO, CWO Marr and the Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia arrived in Camp Halla.
0930 - The CDS and MND addressed the troops in the Mens Dining Hall. The CDS stated that the Minister of External Affairs, The Honourable Joe Clark, was to meet with the Ambassador of Kuwait on Sunday to determine whether or not personnel from 1 Cdn Fd Hosp would deploy to Kuwait City. At that time the MND said that it was less than a 25% chance for deployment.
The CDS, MND, and the CF CWO, spent approx the next 45 minutes meeting and talking to members of the Field Hospital.
1100 - The CDS and entourage departed Camp Halla for Bahrain.
1300 - 1 Cdn Fd Hosp personnel gathered for another group photo. It was followed by a HQ Coy photo and a Sig Troop photo taken by Sgt Bode.
1430 - The remainder of the day was designated as a sports day.
1700 - The sports day terminated with a steak BBQ.
1900 - The evening Consisted of a "Hootenanny" (Singsong) and a "NEAR BEER" party.
|Sat 09 Mar|| To date, no firm answer was given as to our next phase, but all indications point towards a redeployment to Canada.
0900 - MCpl Marazzo, MCpl Lepine and Cpl Spiers departed Camp Halla to return to 90 HQ & Sigs Sqn in Bahrain.
Recreation runs were now authorized into the City of Al Jubail. Sig Troop members took advantage and went on a souvenir shopping spree.
Effective today, 1 Cdn Fd Hosp was placed on 9 hours notice to Move.
|Sun 10 Mar||Sunday routine in effect.|
|Mon 11 Mar|| 0900 - The DCO, Maj Moneypenny addressed all pers reference the "RUMOURS" that were around the Camp and reaching Petawawa concerning the redeployment of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp. There was still no confirmation on any commitment or redeployment of the hospital and that he would inform us as soon as the information was available. He also stated that the Director of Ceremony in Ottawa was presently working on the design for a Campaign Medal with Emblem that would be presented to all members of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp.
1000 - Sgts Bode, Lebel and Mahle departed Camp Halla for Bahrain to return DA CRYPTO to 90 HQ & Sigs Sqn
WO Lambert and Sgt Bode on the pier where 90 HQ and Sig Sqn was located.
Bahrain Souk (Bazaar)
|Tue 12 Mar|| The British SCRA Detachment closed down and returned to their Unit.
1630 - Sgts Bode, Lebel and Mahle returned from Bahrain. Clearance Certificate received on closure of DA CRYPTO Account.
|Wed 13 Mar|| Sig Tp organized a ball game to help pass the time.
1930 - Capt Crane gave warning order to Troop. 1 Cpl and 5 ILTIS were placed on 48 hrs standby for deployment to Kuwait on "OP Magnolia", (an EOD tasking). The remainder of the evening was spent organizing stores and ILTIS with radio installations. Cpl St Martin was selected as the Sigs rep to deploy.
|Thu 14 Mar|| 0800 - Tp continues to prepare the ILTIS and stores for deployment. MCpl Crowe is i/c for loading stores and the techs conduct radio installation checks for the vehs.
1130 - WO McMaster passes on the following points to the Troop: Received verbal orders only: 1 Cdn Fd Hosp pers will repat to Canada on a Boeing 747 with the first flight departing Al Jubail on the evening of 18 Mar. Sig Tp pers will be on the first flight as part of HQ Coy, with the exception of the pers remaining behind as part of the Svc Coy Rear Party. The tear down of the commcen will begin tomorrow morning to include all telephone lines and the switchboard. The INMARSAT is to be placed in the Ops CP, and the IMRCT will close down at 1600 hrs. The PA System will be the last priority.
1330 - Several members of the Troop departed for downtown to spend the day and evening at the Holiday Inn. The afternoon was available for shopping/laying on the beach/swimming or bowling. The evening consisted of a meal with HQ Coy pers.
BZ received from J6 HQ CANFORME/CO 90 HQ & Sigs Sqn CO'S 040 140745Z Mar 91 refers.
Comms plan for redeployment of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp sent to J6 HQ CANFORME. Our Sigs 066 140900Z Mar 91 refers.
1 Cdn Fd Hosp Sig Tp sends thanks to 90 HQ & Sigs Sqn for assistance during operation. Our Sigs 067 141640Z Mar 91 refers.
|Fri 15 Mar|| 0730 - Tear down of Camp Halla communication facilities begins. The INMARSAT terminal is moved into the Ops Cen bldg. All telephone locals are removed and the MCV with Swbd is packed up.
1000 - Sgt Mahle departed for Bahrain with the mail run to complete our clearance with 90 HQ & Sig Sqn.
1600 - The IMRCT Detachment closed down.
Only two INMARSAT terminals and the PA system remained as operational communications for Camp Halla.
MCpl Crowe completed both the issue of comms eqpt for Cpl St Martin's deployment to Kuwait City and the triwalls for redeployment to Canada.
1800 - WO McMaster passed on the following points to the Troop:
Redeployment flights are now confirmed, and the first flight is scheduled to land in Ottawa on 19 Mar at 1300 hrs.
1 Cdn Fd Hosp is expected to be welcomed home by numerous dignitaries and a mass media.
Cmdr Summers is scheduled to visit 1 Cdn Fd Hosp in Al Jubail on 17 Mar. Timings TBA.
|Sat 16 Mar|| 0800 - Cpl St Martin departed Al Jubail with the Engineers for Kuwait City on " Op Magnolia ". The tasking is scheduled for a minimum period of 30 days.
Capt Crane, Sgt Lebel and MCpl Coventry departed Al Jubail for Bahrain to return IMRCT CRYPTO and to finalize POR points.
0815 - Sig Tp pers sign for their desert boots at the QM, then draw weapons for cleaning.
The remainder of the morning is used to complete any last shopping.
1230 - Remainder of PA system is packed up.
MCpl Duchemin spent the afternoon giving Troop members their last "PERSIAN" haircut.
The Post Office sells the "Commemorative Envelope" for Operation Scalpel.
|Sun 17 Mar|| 1130 - Capt Crane and Sgt Lebel returned from Bahrain.
1330 - Commodore Summers, Commander CANFORME, arrived at Camp Halla. He addressed all members of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp and passed on his appreciation and thanks for a job well done. He told us to "prepare for a very large Homecoming that the likes have not been seen in about 40 years."
1400 - Commodore Summers departed Camp Halla to return to Bahrain.
1430 - Final out clearances are completed at the Pay Office
1800 - Sgt Mahle and MCpl Coventry returned to Camp Halla from Bahrain.
1830 - MCpl Cormier organized the troop to take Sigs vehicles downtown for a wash prior to turning them over to the rear party.
MCpl Mondoux picked up and handed out the OP SCALPEL Sig Tp T shirts.
|Mon 18 Mar|| 0800 - Final out clearances are started.
Sig Tp pers pick up weapons at QM. MCpl Donahue was responsible to pack them in weapon bags for the redeployment home.
The Post Office and Orderly Room are the final places that are cleared.
The remainder of the morning is used for final kit packing.
1430 - Ruck sacks, kit bags, and barrack boxes are loaded onto transport vehicles.
1530 - Capt Crane addressed the Sigs Tp regarding the return to Canada and the overall Job performance by the Troop during OP SCALPEL.
1630 - The DCO, Maj Moneypenny, informed the first group of pers to return to Canada of the expected large homecoming welcome.
Sig Kwan wins $300 from the canteen draw
2200 - Bus shuttle begins to take pers to the airport in Al Jubail.
The following pers remain behind as part of the Rear Party:
Cpl St Martin remains in Kuwait City as part of Op Magnolia.
|Mon 19 Mar|| 0245 - Boarded Nationair Flight 197 - Final destination - Ottawa.
0330 - Departed Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
0645 - Arrived in Athens Greece. Temperature 12 degrees C. All pers deplaned, and shopped in the terminal.
0945 - Departed Athens. Flight time to Ottawa is 9 hours 45 minutes.
1130 - (Eastern Standard Time) the crew of Nationair handed out travel handbags to all members on board, as a souvenir for flying home from the Gulf on their airline.
1305 - Nationair Flight 197 arrived at CFB Uplands, Ottawa. Weather was clear and sunny, temperature 6 degrees c.
The AMU had large crowds of well wishers and family members waving and cheering our arrival. On the tarmac were 9 CF-18s and a tanker refueller which landed just prior to our flight. The Royal Canadian Artillery Band was playing and a large reception line of handshakes awaited all members as they deplaned. Among the VIP Dignitaries were, The Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, his wife, Mila Mulroney, The Governor General, The Right Honourable Ray Hnatyshyn, The CDS, Gen De Chastelain, The MND, The Honourable Bill McKnight, The Associate Minister of Defence, Mary Collins, Commander FMC, LGen Foster and many others.
After meeting with veterans, and a speech by the Governor General, members boarded buses for the final leg of the return journey to CFB Petawawa.
1730 - Arrived at the Centennial Club, CFB Petawawa, where another warm welcome was given by the Comd SSF, BGen Crabbe, MGen Stewart, Comd LFCA and MP for Renfrew County, Mr. Len Hopkins.
CO SSF HQ & Sigs Sqn, LCol Hanrahan, and the CCOP, MWO Vienot were also on hand to welcome home the Signalers.
1815 - Picked up kit at Bldg B21, turned in weapons to C5 and then returned home to family members.
The final out clearance of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp would take place on Tue 20 Mar at 1300 hrs.
All members of 1 Cdn Fd Hosp cleared the Unit on 20 Mar and were sent on disembarkation leave. On 03 Apr, Sig Troop pers reported back into the Sqn.
|Sun 07 Apr||Rear Party members returned to CFB Petawawa after receiving a VIP homecoming welcome at CFB Uplands.|
|Mon 17 Apr||Cpl St Martin returned to CFB Petawawa with other members of the Rear Party.|
The deployment of the Sigs Troop on "OP SCALPEL" proved to be both a challenge and a memorable experience for all those who were involved. Although the War lasted only several days after our arrival, the fact that Signalers were deployed into a Theatre of War, was an event that will long be remembered.
Kneeling: Sig Finn, MCpl Foeller, Cpl St Martin, MCpl Lepine, Sgt Bode, Sgt Lebel, Capt Crane, Sgt Mahjle, WO McMaster, MCpl Holmes-Makcrow, MCpl Mondoux, Sig Sherrington, MCpl Duchemin, Cpl Aubertin
1st Row: MCpl Symes, MCpl Cormier, MCpl Donahue, Sig Richardson, Sig Frenette, Sig Roberts, Sig Kwan, Sig Dawe, Sig Gregory, MCpl Marazzo, Cpl Keenan, Tpr Graham, MCpl Crowe, MCpl Coventry, Sig Martin, Cpl Rose, LCpl Smith, Sig Forget
2nd Row: Cpl Crowely, Cpl Clark, Cpl Rees, Cpl Davis, Cpl Nicholson, Cpl Montgomery, LCpl Darke, Sig Watson, Cpl Spiers, Sig Whelan