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Photos, Articles, & Research on the European Theater in World War II
Service: Story of the Signal Corps
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[Service: Story of the Signal Corps]
"Service: Story of the Signal Corps" is a small booklet covering the history of the Signal Corps. This booklet is one of the series of G.I. Stories published by the Stars & Stripes in Paris in 1944-1945.

This is one of a series of G.I. Stories of the Ground, Air and Service Forces in the European Theater, issued by the Orientation Branch, Information and Education Services, Hq TSFET. Major General Francis H. Lanahan, commanding the Signal Corps, lent his cooperation, and basic material was supplied by his staff.

O tell the whole story of your devoted work in the European Theater of Operations, or to portray in words the unfailing spirit you have displayed in solving the arduous problems which confronted you, would be difficult indeed. This little book does not attempt so much. Here you will find only a few highlights from a story that is studded with heroism. But I sincerely hope that this account, brief though it be, will serve to pay some measure of the tribute due your labors here. And I must hope that even so thin a volume somehow will convey my gratitude for having been privileged to work among you.

F. H. Lanahan
Major General, U.S.A.
Chief Signal Officer


T WAS D-Day and 210 minutes minus H-Hour when landing craft dropped two specially equipped Signal Corps DUKWs of the 56th Signal Bn. into the churning English Channel about 10 miles off the Normandy coast. Through a hail of enemy mortar and artillery shells, the amphibious vehicles began their wallowing course toward the shoreline.

Signalmen in those DUKWs composed an information team whose mission was to furnish a fast and reliable radio channel direct from the beachhead to the headquarters command ship. The lives of men depended on this operation.

At H-Hour minus 15 minutes, still offshore, the team opened its radios and began sending messages. All went according to plan until 80 minutes later—the DUKWs' landing time—when the approach of the craft to the beach brought such heavy mortar and machine gun fire that neither equipment nor men could be landed.

Finally, at H plus three and a half hours, the DUKWs pushed ashore. Until late afternoon, the team remained in an exposed position, operating its radios without pause, amid the constant hail of enemy shells.

One of the DUKWs was knocked out, a man killed and two others wounded. But radio operation continued until dusk fell over the beaches. With darkness the enemy was pushed back and the team moved further inland to more sheltered positions.

For more than 15 hours, the one remaining DUKW and its Signal crew maintained a direct radio channel. S/Sgt. Lelland R. Raborn, Greenwood, S.C., leader of this invasion outfit, and 15 team members received the Silver Star. A similar award was made posthumously to Pvt. Obert L. Halseth, Grand Rapids, N.D. Others who earned the decoration were Cpl. Herbert J. Nelson, Pittsburgh; Cpl. John W. James, Frederick, Md.; Cpl. Joseph M. Amato, Le Roy, N.Y.; Cpl. Robert R. Chapman, Rochester, N.Y.; Cpl. Kenneth Richardson, Marshalltown, Ia.; Pfc Willard M. Woodland, Kimberly, Ida.; Pfc Robert Bergin, Connellsville, Pa.; Pfc Fred W. Combs, Nash, Okla.; Pfc Joseph W. Cunningham, Royal Oaks, Mich.; Pfc William O'Leary, Brooklyn; Pfc Robert S. Rasmussen, Lansing, Mich. Pvt. James P. Mildenberger, Minneapolis, received the Purple Heart in addition to the Silver Star.

Sgt. Raborn and his teammates were but one of the numerous Signal Corps "Task Forces" engaged in hazardous and difficult assignments that grim day. There were Signalmen of the Shore Fire Control Groups, photographers and communications men who dropped with the 82nd Airborne Div., and men of the Joint Assault Signal Companies who landed with the Engineer Special Brigades.

The over-all function of Signalmen who landed with the engineers was to furnish radio, telephone and messenger communications to the Beach Command and various shore elements. At H-Hour minus three, Signalmen of the 286th Joint Assault Signal Co., aboard LCIs, opened their radios to identical frequencies and formed a listening net to give the Brigade Commander instant control of the situation in event of last minute attack changes.

First Lt. Richard M. Bollinger, Vancouver, Wash., was assistant radio officer in charge of one Signal section. He and his men were equipped with a 300 watt radio station. Their first assignment was to find a location for the station and open a point-to-point non-tactical radio channel between Utah Beach and Plymouth, England.

Under a deluge of German mortar fire, the men went ashore at 1035. After rushing across the beach, heading inland several hundred yards and crossing a large mine field, the group established radio communications while they dug in along the hedgerows. By 1200 hours, the section was furnishing communications to engineer battalions.

Throughout the initial phases of the beach landings, Shore Fire Control Teams carried out one of the most dangerous jobs allotted to Signal Corps personnel. Equipped with portable field sets, these men landed with assault troops. Their mission was to go inland, sometimes ahead of the infantry, and observe and correct battleship gun fires.

These teams were headed by one Army and one Navy Fire Control Officer whose messages were sent back by Signal Corps enlisted personnel who carried radio sets on their backs.

All volunteers, these Signalmen fully understood the danger connected with their work. Some shore parties were wiped out; many men sustained wounds, others were captured. Damage to equipment was extremely high, but this had been anticipated. Reserves of both men and equipment were available. The Navy's success in obliterating enemy strong points was largely due to the firing data radioed by the Signalmen.

Forty-eight per cent of the men became casualties and 60 per cent of the equipment was rendered useless. But, the message got through and the mission was successful.

As the enemy was pushed back, additional men and Signal equipment came ashore. Telephone lines were laid, switchboards installed and channels opened. These wire installations had been urgently needed. Radio transmissions, after the invasion was fully launched, were being increasingly intercepted by the Germans. Frequently Nazis tried to enter the voice nets which were furnishing lateral communications to the beach command. Once, the Germans were successful in getting bogus orders relayed to a ship at sea. A quick check proved the fraud.

Signal Construction Companies with heavy equipment for permanent and semi-permanent wire installations landed between D plus 1 and 3. Equipment consisted of office-type switchboards, teletype units, high frequency radio stations, tremendous amounts of wire and cable, spare parts and vehicles. By D plus 3, CPs had been established on the beaches, complete with wire communications. One beach alone had 26 large switchboards in operation.

At one switchboard, operating just off the beach, an operator was repeatedly blown from his position by blasts from an exploding ammunition dump only 200 yards away. He returned to his position each time to complete urgent calls and remained until the exploding ammunition had severed all trunks to his board.

First Communications Zone Signal personnel arrived D plus 4 and immediately surveyed French and German communications facilities. The large exchange at Cherbourg was rehabilitated immediately following the fall of that port.

Science and Skill Guide Operations

OR more than 80 years, U.S. Army Signal Corps personnel has dedicated its lives and abilities to the famous and indomitable motto: "Get the message through." Destinies of millions of American soldiers depended upon the skill of Signalmen to live up to this proud pledge. Many Signalmen made the supreme sacrifice to assure its utter dependability.

From the days of smoke and wig-wag signals, through years of pioneering, research and constant development, the Signal Corps advanced with science to perfect the ultra-modern organization which today employs telephone, telegraph, radio and radar to direct and guide the operations of America's military forces.

The story of the Signal Corps' activity in the European Theater started long before actual U.S. entry into the war. In addition to the military attache in England, a Signal Officer was assigned to the Special Army Observer's staff in May, 1941. This officer kept U.S. military authorities abreast of significant Signal developments. Months before the war declaration, plans were made for establishing a U.S. Army headquarters in England and for storage space of U.S. Signal equipment. This Signal officer also was concerned with plans for U.S. occupation of Iceland. During this same period, some 500 Signal Corps officers were in the U.K. receiving training from the British in electronics.

The U.S. declaration of war resulted in even closer British-American cooperation. On Jan. 3, 1942, U.S. Army headquarters was established as United States Army Forces in the British Isles, commonly called USAFBI.

Mid-year, 1942, the U.S. started the tremendous buildup of troop strength in the U.K. for the coming invasion of Africa and ultimately, Europe. From a few local switchboards and motor messengers, Signal communications expanded rapidly into a large and complex network of telephone, teletype, radio and messenger services. Telephone switchboards were installed in Ports, Base Sections, SOS Headquarters at Cheltenham and at ETO Headquarters in London. The main London switchboard consisted of 108 operating positions serving approximately 3300 subscribers.

Shortly before D-Day, teleprinter traffic on the SOS network reached a peak of 8,000,000 words per week and overseas traffic also reached a high of 2,000,000 groups per week. Radio facilities were readied for the invasion and Very High Frequency stations were installed to provide communication facilities across the Channel.

Largest single Signal Corps task was the buildup of Signal supplies sufficient for the coming campaign as well as for normal consumption by troops stationed in the U.K. Thousands of tons of supplies and equipment required a storage and warehouse system on a scale greater than ever before conceived. Loading and shipping problems created situations without precedent. Approximately 520,000 tons of Signal equipment and supplies were sent from the U.S. to the European Theater.

The history of the Signal Corps in the ETO is a record of constant work around the clock, seven days a week. Wherever battles raged, wherever armored and infantry forces advanced, Signal Corps installed essential lines of communication. Signalmen dug holes, planted poles. They climbed poles, placed wire, repaired breaks. They operated so close to the front that Signal Corpsmen often were atop poles stringing wire as infantrymen plodded through the hedgerows.

Working in mine fields, under constant enemy mortar fire and occasional strafing, wire teams of the 32nd Signal Construction Bn. placed 14 miles of Spiral-4 cable between 5th Engr. Special Brigade Hq. and a British unit on the left. This was accomplished in 48 hours although work was delayed because engineers, clearing a path through the mine fields, were slowed down by booby traps.

It was this organization and the 35th Signal Construction Bn. that supplied most of the wire communications for First Army across France, Belgium and into Germany. From D-Day to the end of June, 1945, First Army used more than 5000 miles of a single type of field wire. Many miles of German military and French civil communications were rehabilitated and hundreds of miles of new cable were installed as well.

The 211th Signal Depot Co. was typical of the supply and repair outfits which landed with assault troops. Men who first set up shop on the beaches were overwhelmed with the quantity and complexity of supplying and repairing Signal Corps equipment. More than 100 tons of equipment was First Army's daily requirement. The superior services of this outfit earned its members the Meritorious Unit Plaque.

Signal supplies, arriving on the Continent at the rate of 6000 tons weekly, were composed of approximately 31,000 separate items. Communication facilities were expanding and enemy action constantly interfered with established lines and circuits. Patrolling wire lines was a 24-hour a day job, necessitating prompt action when breaks were discovered.

While the work of installing new stations for radio and telephone was in progress, Signal Corps Motor Messenger Cos. filled the breach. Messengers traveled day and night through areas covered by exploding mines. Casualties were suffered, vehicles knocked out. It sometimes was necessary to destroy documents to prevent their falling into enemy hands.

Sometimes, small aircraft were assigned to these companies to facilitate delivery of high priority messages. Pilots often flew over enemy territory, braved flak and attack by enemy planes.

With the opening of the Red Ball highway, trucks loaded with Signal supplies and equipment rolled forward in a steady stream to the front. Not only did the Signal Corps make full use of the highway, but Signalmen played a large part in the operational success of the route.

The communications system set up by the Signal Corps in August, 1944, enabled the Motor Transport Bn. to control the flow of traffic. Directing convoys to destinations was accomplished by a six-station radio net using SCR-399 radio sets, which were mounted in 2 1/2 ton trucks. The 990th Signal Service Co. installed and operated the system until relieved by elements of the 3159th Signal Service Bn.

Signalmen Jump Off with Assault Troops

S THIRD Army joined First Army in the drive across France, the speed of the advance became so great that wire communications proved inadequate. To meet this problem, a system of Very High Frequency radio relay equipment was installed.

Months of planning and experiment went into the new system. Because, with this equipment, each station must be beamed or sighted like a rifle on the next station and communication is possible only when there are no terrain features obstructing the line of sight between antennae, a description of conditions which were expected to be found in France was gathered by the Office of the Chief Signal Officer months before the invasion. An area in Maine was chosen where water paths and elevation factors were nearly identical with those of Normandy.

As a result of these experiments and experience gained in North Africa, the radio relay link system was developed to the point where it provided four tele-printer circuits in addition to three radio telephone circuits. The system proved excellent in providing communications for the rapid advance despite the fact that transmissions were subject to enemy reception.

The march across France was a nightmare to the hard-pressed technicians. The 143rd Armd. Sig. Co. with the 3rd Armd. Div. built more than 1200 miles of wire lines by the time the Argentan-Falaise gap was closed. In the sweep across France, these Signalmen handled an average of 1000 radio and messenger messages daily. Mileage rolled up by the Signal crews was eight to 10 times that covered by the division in attack.

To save time, wires were strung along hedges and through fences. In more open country lines were built of a type known as "rapid pole line constructions," using small poles made of 2 x 4 timber which didn't require digging large holes for placement. Temporary lines were strung on lance poles, even tent poles.

When the 80th Inf. Div. established the initial Moselle River bridgehead against some of the stiffest opposition encountered in the entire battle of France, Signalmen used assault boats to reel wire across the flooded river. Clamping wires to the piers of a blasted bridge, Signalmen tied cables to the initial strands installed above the raging waters by engineers. This work was accomplished under constant artillery fire by the enemy who tried desperately to knock out the bridge.

American and French forces landed in Southern France—in what was called "Operation Dragoon"—Aug. 15, 1944. Once more Signalmen were among the first to go ashore. These initial elements included the 1st Sig. Bn., which had supplied communications while the invasion force was afloat, and the 71st, 72nd and 74th Sig. Cos., which handled the initial communications ashore. Other elements were the 207th Sig. Depot Co., 177th Sig. Repair Co. and three additional Signal repair teams accompanying the three assault divisions.

Signalmen with assault waves set up equipment under heavy fire and quickly established communications by telephone and radio. As the forces pushed north, increasing use was made of French lines which were tied into Signal Corps circuits. Much of the rehabilitation of French telephonic systems was accomplished by American technicians who showed unusual aptitude and ingenuity in rebuilding lines and switchboards partially destroyed by bombs, land warfare and German demolitions.

Probably the first Signalman to enter Paris was Sgt. Earl J. Spoon, Lamont, Okla. Driving a jeep carrying a powerful two-way radio (SCR-193), Sgt. Spoon accompanied Col. Otto M. Low, First Army Intelligence Officer. Their job was to report progress of operations to First Army headquarters.

Despite constant sniper fire, Sgt. Spoon was transmitting the required information from high ground adjoining the St. Lazaire railway station within 30 minutes of his entry into the capital.

Same day, Maj. Lloyd C. Sigmon, Los Angeles, radio engineer on the staff of the Chief Signal Officer, and 2nd Lt. (then M /Sgt.) Lavon M. Young, Abilene, Tex., made a preliminary survey of communication facilities in the city. Free French forces had seized radio stations and telephone exchanges, thereby limiting damage the Germans had hoped to inflict.

By the end of 1944, the American wire system comprised approximately 3500 long distance underground cable circuits, rehabilitated from the French. These totaled 125,000 circuit miles or 250,000 wire miles. The Signal Corps also installed 1200 miles of new pole lines constituting 20,000 miles of open wire.

By V-E Day, 1,916,187 wire miles of French cable and 30,968 wire miles of French open wire pole lines had been rehabilitated. The Signal Corps had constructed 2995 miles of open wire pole lines, constituting 52,778 miles of wire.

In addition, 12,968 miles of pole lines were rehabilitated for use of the Military Railway Service for operation control of rail movements. This constituted 51,871 wire miles. Three pole line systems were constructed for the Military Pipe Line Service, comprising 3997 miles of construction and 4652 miles of wire.

Working in conjunction with French and Belgian communications agencies, the entire long lines communication system was rehabilitated, in many cases substituting American repeater equipment for destroyed stations.

The main axis of communications was the Posts, Telegraph and Telephone cable system from Cherbourg to Paris and lines to Nancy and Metz, a distance of 700 miles.

The Signal Corps was directly concerned in resuming wire communications along the vast network of continental railways. In the west, this system linked Cherbourg, Le Havre, Rennes, Le Mans and Orleans with Paris; in the east, it kept pace with advancing American forces, establishing communications for railway supply lines to Dijon, Luxembourg, Aachen, Antwerp, Lille and Amiens.

The American Military Communications Network was centered at Paris where the local military telephone system handled about 225,000 calls daily. A long distance switchboard handled 5000 every 24 hours.

This wire system was interconnected with 740 underground cable circuits totaling 85,000 miles. The British operated a parallel system in Northern France and Belgium, thus completely integrating Allied communication facilities for each sector.

Pictures No Words Can Describe

HE Signal Corps communications system expanded steadily. With the establishment of Paris as headquarters of the Communications Zone, a Signal Center was opened which handled a volume of military traffic second only to the War Department. The center was installed in a former German blockhouse, with walls of reinforced concrete 10 feet thick. Using 123 pieces of major equipment and operating 82 teletype and 13 radio circuits, this installation interchanged approximately 1000 messages daily with the War Department alone.

Of the 50,000 messages handled each week, about 95 per cent were radio-teletype and teletype, the remainder being transmitted and received by high-speed radio, manual radio and courier. An even greater volume was handled direct by the Signal Dispatch Service without passing through the Signal Center.

Using the same channels over which messages were sent, an average of 10 to 15 photographs were radioed to the War Department every 24 hours. These pictures appeared in news publications throughout the U.S.

Traffic originating and terminating at Com Z headquarters alone often exceeded 250,000 words each day. In addition, this Signal Center served as the major relay unit point for the entire Theater, transmitting and receiving approximately 7500 messages or 1,750,000 words every 24 hours. Between 15 and 20 miles of teletype tape were used daily.

Shortly after the fall of Paris, a modern, multi-channel, single sideband 40 kilowatt Signal Corps radio station was delivered in the French capital. A thousand crates and boxes were required to pack this equipment for the Channel crossing. Within 25 days, 45 soldier technicians had installed the station and trans-Atlantic radio messages were being sent and received.

Direct hookups with the War Department, London and the Signal Corps' world-wide radio communications system enabled the Signal Center to transmit messages to any point Allied forces were operating throughout the world.

Since D plus 38 when the first Signal Corps Message Center Wac, Cpl. Aurelie Durkin, Danbury, Conn., landed in Normandy, Wacs played an increasingly important part in speeding messages from one vital center to another. Their presence relieved hundreds of men for more advanced echelon work.

The 3341st Signal Service Bn., consisting of skilled messengers and operators, was the first activated women's battalion in the Army. Women worked as telephone operators, radio operators, cryptographers, draftsmen, typists, clerks and message center couriers.

The most complete and graphic records of World War II were made by members of the Signal Corps who went out with lens and gun to cover the story of the army's participation in the liberation of Europe.

Cameramen went into battle by parachute and glider, they rode on tanks, trudged on foot with the infantry. Wherever man and machines were in battle, these Signal Corpsmen clicked their cameras to provide pictures no words could describe.

Members of the 165th Sig. Photographic Co. made the initial landings with paratroopers in Normandy and operated with advanced elements of First Army in the sweep across France, Belgium and Germany. Men of this outfit won 20 Bronze Stars, one Silver Star and a Croix de Guerre in addition to numerous Purple Heart awards. The company was presented with the Unit Citation for Meritorious Service.

Photographer Cpl. Ernest B. Braun, Covina, Calif., and his driver, Pfc Ivan "The Terrible" Babcock, Ludington, Mich., were pinned down with a 9th Inf. Div. platoon during a German counter-attack. Crawling back to where they had left their jeep, the two men set out to obtain help. Near Malmedy, they spotted a number of men gathered around some tanks at a crossroads. "Gee, those guys are wearing funny helmets," remarked Babcock. "They're Krauts, let's go!" was Braun's answer. Help was obtained from the 7th Armd. Div. and the beleaguered platoon was relieved.

There were men like Pvt. Herbert J. Stark, New York City, who landed at Normandy with a Ranger Assault Battalion. When the unit was being swept with murderous machine gun fire and his camera had been damaged beyond use, the photographer snatched a rifle from the body of a dead German and wiped out three machine gun nests.

The mission of a Signal Photo Company was to procure still and motion pictures for training and historical purposes and for public release. The teams usually went out in pairs, consisting of a movie cameraman and a still photographer.

S/Sgt. Reuben A. Weiner, Los Angeles, not only had a penchant for getting into the fighting, but also developed a technique for alternately shooting with camera and gun. While on a reconnaissance mission with 7th Armd. Div., Weiner reached the center of a German town with snipers firing from all sides. He blazed away with a machine gun, then, during a momentary lull, discovered he was the only living man in the street. All others had taken shelter in the houses.

On another mission, Weiner was with assault troops storming Geigan. Seeking a more advantageous point to get motion pictures of American artillery, Weiner, accompanied by Cpl. Edward Vetrene, Philadelphia, still cameraman, discovered three Germans in foxholes. When the cameramen fired shots over the foxholes, two of the Germans came out, hands over heads. The third tried to escape and was dropped by Weiner's .45.

Sgt. Thomas J. Maloney, Ishpeming, Mich., and Peter J. Petrency, Youngstown, Ohio, landed with the 4th Inf. Div. on D-Day at Utah Beach. Debarking in 15 feet of water, the pair swam to shore, towing their equipment despite intense enemy mortar and machine gun fire. Because their equipment was water-soaked, they fought the first few hours as infantrymen. Maloney later was awarded the Bronze Star.

S/Sgt. Joseph W. Le Gault, Los Angeles, came in with the 82nd Airborne Div., floating to earth by parachute two and a half hours before H-Hour. He injured a knee in making the landing and barely had time to destroy his equipment before being captured. Later, he was liberated from a hospital in Cherbourg.

Bulge: Communications Never Failed

HE long wait in eastern Belgium from early September until mid-December was marked by the rehabilitation of several underground cables from Liege to La Calamino on the German border and the cable from Liege to Verviers. This work was under the supervision of S/Sgt. Charles L. Andes, Birdsboro, Pa., whose prowess as a cable splicer was a feature of the remarkable rehabilitation record of French and Belgian cable lines throughout the campaign.

Sgt. Raymond A. Johnson, Chicago, was manning a test station at Bullingen Dec. 16, 1944, when he called Maj. Sydney S. Stabler, Hyattsville, Md., battalion executive officer, to report the town was being shelled by enemy artillery. The sergeant was ordered to remain with his crew at the station. The same night, a company commanded by Capt. Herman B. Siebken, Madison, Wis., was alerted when enemy paratroopers were reported to have landed within four miles of the Sert-les-Spa headquarters.

Next morning, when Sgt. Johnson phoned to report that the enemy had been sighted along the road to Bullingen, he was ordered to remain and keep communications open as long as risk of capture was not too great. An hour later, the sergeant relayed the following message from Maj. Gen. Walter M. Robertson over one of the few remaining circuits to V Corps:

"The situation is grave; we have lost Bullingen," the general's message read. Johnson quickly confirmed this by running outdoors and spotting German tanks at a crossroad only 300 yards away. He rounded up his crew, took all testing Instruments and escaped by a back street with the enemy in pursuit.

During the German breakthrough, construction battalions continually were pressed to re-establish communications. Men suffered from the extreme cold and the pressure of fighting through snow and ice to their objectives. Through January and February, under most trying conditions, the Armies never lost communications and the eventual turning point of the Nazi drive was due, in part, to the excellent communications which enabled the command to keep in constant touch with field units.

Scattered units under key non-coms labored almost around the clock. Work was slowed by mine fields through which wire had to be laid. Casualties occurred, but the job went on. Lines were being constructed and put into operation at unprecedented speed as the Germans were driven back to their native soil.

One of the most decorated Signal Corps outfits was the 56th Sig. Bn., serving with V Corps, First Army. From D-Day until April 30, 1945, its men received 216 awards, including 115 Bronze Stars, two Oak Leaf Clusters to the Bronze Star, 15 Silver Stars, one Legion of Merit, 62 Purple Hearts, one Oak Leaf Cluster to the Purple Heart, 15 Certificates of Merit and five Croix de Guerre Medals.

The first American cable crossed the Rhine River at Remagen shortly after First Army captured the bridge. The sudden crossing of the Rhine made cable communications immediately essential, but Signal supplies were not quickly available. Fortunately, a large quantity of captured German cable had been stored and could be used for such an emergency. By insulating the cable in record time, S/Sgt. James L. Lewis, Sweetwater, Ala., and members of his team had it ready within a few hours.

First Lt. James E. Mullican, Birmingham, Ala., and a crew of 16 men raced to the river and immediately set to work. Capt. Siebken previously had located a termination on the west bank of the Rhine, then crossed over by ferry to establish the other terminal point.

Because no boats were available, Capt. Siebken decided to take copper wire across on the ferry and allow it to drift downstream to the point of the cable crossing, then pull the heavy cable across. This was accomplished after much difficulty due to the debris and wreckage in the river. Several times, work was interrupted by German planes attempting to knock out the bridge. During the entire operation, German artillery shelled railroad and ponton bridges across the river.

Five additional submarine cables were placed across the Rhine between Bonn and Andernach. On one occasion a sunken barge slipped downstream and rested on the cable at Remagen, yet no internal trouble developed. Signal Corpsmen entered the town of Halle with infantry units April 17 to capture eight German officers and assorted Nazi Signal personnel and took over the German switchboards.

First/Sgt. George C. Vaupel, Irvington, N.J., entered the building of the local telephone exchange with pistol drawn and was greeted by the German officers ready to surrender. Vaupel had come to Halle as a member of the advance party of the 32nd Sig. Service Bn. under command of Capt. Casimer J. Halicki, Maroa, Ill., to investigate the communication system.

The Signalmen passed members of the infantry and engaged in street fighting before locating the telephone building. Operators still were at their positions, sending the last German messages telling of the fall of the town. Other members of the group included First Lt. Wilburt W. Royson, Irvington, N.J.; T/Sgt. Eugene Smith, Lexington, Ky.; Pfc William E. Dooley, Lewistown, Pa.; Pfc William J. Kingery, Cincinnati; Pfc Raymond E. Greulick, Perrysburg, O.

On another occasion, 15 members of the 569th Sig. Co., 69th Div., held off an entire German garrison for one and a half hours when they entered the city of Weissenfels to establish communications. These wire crewmen were under the impression that the 9th Armd. Div. already had captured the town. Actually, the 9th had by-passed Weissenfels.

On the outskirts of the city, three enemy machine gunners opened up on the Signalmen who immediately returned the fire. After cleaning out the machine gun nests, this crew was subjected to sniper fire for 90 minutes. One sniper was picked off by Cpl. Robert L. Coval, Zionsville, Ind. The group, under Lt. Robert Hoelke, Pittsburgh, repelled several small-scale attacks before the 27th Inf. Regt. arrived to clear out the town and allow the Signalmen to establish communication lines.

Then there were the members of a wire team from Co. B, 56th Sig. Bn., headed by Sgt. Donald P. Schulte, Ellsworth, Wis., who were called upon to handle more than they bargained for when they were attached to the 102nd Cavalry Group in March, 1945.

They crossed the Roer River and joined the cavalry outfit in Germany, only 2000 yards from the main lines. At this time, the Americans were advancing so rapidly that it was impossible to maintain communications by use of land wires so the wire team established a radio link to division headquarters. When the crew members took up temporary billets in Schwerein, they were the only Americans in the town except for kitchen personnel of the 102nd and five men operating the radio link. As German soldiers in civilian clothes were surrendering, the task of searching and guarding the prisoners fell to the wire team.

As the advance continued, wire couldn't be rushed forward fast enough so this team constructed a line from the next town to the radio link. Once, the wire team's trucks were halted to allow cavalrymen to clean out a pocket of 14 Tiger tanks which were gasless but still holding out. Crewmen were busy setting up the radio link when shells landed in the area. It later was discovered that this was American artillery plastering a German convoy jammed bumper to bumper on the road ahead.

Throughout the Reich, the use of German underground cables greatly enhanced the work of Signal Corps. Nazi civilians sometimes were put to work, but more often the trained GI cable splicers and technicians solved the mysteries of the foreign communication system and adapted it for Allied use.

"Get the Message Through"

HEN Allied forces began their final advance across Germany, the course of operations caused single Armies to spread over hundreds of miles of territory. The Signal Corps' intricate system of communications was extended more than ever before.

During these operations, First Army staff officers were in constant touch with all activities by high-power radio stations capable of transmitting and receiving messages over distances of more than 100 miles. Stations were mounted on jeeps and operated by the 17th Sig. Bn. As American lines advanced, liaison officers went forward to maintain a running description of the fighting. Messages were encoded by radio operators and transmitted to CPs.

The high antennae carried with jeep radio stations often were added danger to radio operators. Easily visible, they drew artillery fire to such an extent that on several occasions officers demanded jeeps be drawn away from the vicinity of troops and installations.

Cpl. Glendon G. Mitchell, Patmos, Ark., serving with the 1st Inf. Div., once became the target of a Nazi artillery barrage. While he huddled in a nearby ditch, both the top and steering wheel were blown off his jeep. The vehicle still could be driven, however, and after a few adjustments the radio functioned.

Cpl. William D. Baxendale, Johnstown, O., serving with the 7th Armd. Div., had difficulty in getting his messages through near Bad Codesberg. He used all the antenna he had but still couldn't make connections. Finally, he backed his jeep up to the road and placed the whip antenna against some telephone wires. With approximately 40 miles of additional antenna, he blasted the message through.

Sgt. Obey D. Johnson, Forest Hill, La., was in the party with Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, 3rd Armd. Div. CG, when the general was killed as he attempted to surrender. Previously, Johnson, along with Pvt. Everett Wick, Louisville, Ky., was at Remagen when the first crossing of the Rhine was achieved. Their messages brought the reinforcements that guaranteed the holding of this vital bridgehead.

One of the most interesting developments in field radio was the construction of a powerful 60 kilowatt mobile radio station. Called "Sigcircus," this mobile station had all the facilities of a fixed station of comparable power and was completely self-sufficient. It was equipped with broadcast and radio facsimile transmission facilities in addition to the normal message-handling radioteletype channels. The station could also make recordings on wire, film and disc and carried its own Signal center complete with radio teletypes for simultaneous sending and receiving between Europe and the U.S.

When the landing barges of the Allied forces scraped the world-famed Riviera beaches on D-Day, Aug. 15, 1944, invasion troops found a basic system of radio and telephone communication installed and in operation.

This communication network was established by Signalmen of an Airborne Signal battalion who landed by parachute and glider prior to H-Hour. Lt. Col. William L. James, Little Rock, Ark., a battalion commander, was in one of the first gliders to take off on this invasion. His aircraft was over the Mediterranean when the tow rope broke away from the skytrain and the glider crashed into the sea.

After being in the water nearly two hours, the colonel and his men were rescued, then returned to Italy. Knowing that the third series of gliders had not left the airfield, Col. James collected his men, hitch-hiked to the field and arrived just in time to make the hop.

The colonel's second glider also was doomed to crash. It reached its destination, however, before tangling with a tree. Already the possessor of the Legion of Merit, Col. James received the Bronze Star Medal for his outstanding action near Les Arcs, France, during the airborne invasion of Southern France.

In addition to its primary mission, the Signal Corps also was charged with the responsibility of maintaining and repairing the equipment necessary to do the job, along with Signal Intelligence work and the processing of V-mail.

The tremendous task of repair and maintenance of Signal Corps radio, telephone, teletype, cryptographic, radar and other types of equipment demanded that repair companies operate a system of workshops at Signal Depots as well as send crews of skilled technicians out into the field to keep front line equipment functioning. Thousands of Signal Corpsmen, many of whom came from similar jobs in civilian life, kept the equipment working.

Signal Intelligence, using the latest developments in radio, intercepted enemy transmissions and obtained information invaluable to field commanders in their tactical planning.

Little known to the millions of GIs and civilians using the V-mail service was the fact that the Signal Corps was directly responsible for the laboratory processing of this handy form of personal mail. Working with the Army Postal Service, Signal Corps V-mail laboratories were set up in London, France and Iceland and rapidly photographed and printed incoming and outgoing V-mail on a scale that reached several million individual letters per day.

The success of American air and armored forces, the close liaison that carried all troops to victory was due in a large measure to superior Signal Corps equipment, developed specially for each branch and arm of the service.

The story of the Signal Corps activity in the European Theater is rich in achievement. Ever alongside of the paratrooper, assaulting infantryman and armored crews, the Signalman was always on the job accomplishing his mission. Regardless of the odds, the Signal Corps always could be depended upon to "Get The Message Through."

Photos: U.S. Army Signal Corps
Printed by Desfosses-Neogravure, Paris

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