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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

GHQ Signal Company 2nd Corps


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Dear All,


I am trying to find out more about the RE signals sections in relation to a chap I am researching. I have to admit that I know nothing about the signals units other than what I have read on the forum, and I was keen to find out if any members here might be able to help me.


The chap I am researching started off with 11 Signal Coy and served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from July 1915 before returning to the UK for a spell Haynes Park after which he was promoted to Acting Sergeant and moved to Base Signal Depot. The files also note that he was re-mustered as a Sapper (Acting Sergeant) and listed as a Teleg Field Line Prof (is this Telegraphist Field Line?) . He then moved to France (on the 17/7/16) fore being transferred to BCHQ (or possibly BGHQ). This move seems to be dated 5th March 1917, and it states he was appointed P O No13.


His file then notes that on the 13th April 1917 he joined 2nd Corps HA (or HQ) Signals Section from B Corps Signals Company, and then a final note records BCHQ (or BGHQ) Signals Co No. 19.


 So. Am I correct in thinking that he would have been with 2nd Corps HQ? If so what would his role have been? Is it possible to say what kind of work he would have been doing? Would he have been sending and receiving signals? Would he have been near the front or quite a way back?


Does No. 19 mean anything?


And now for something different, but linked. Do any members known what the C Forms were. I can see that they are signals forms, but how were they used? Was the C Form a standard form used for sending signals? Was it for receiving signals?


I have also need a note of 'blue' signals, where the writing on the C Form was in blue rather than black. Did this signify anything?


As you can probably tell I am at something of a loss, so any help would be great.




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Hello Johnnie


The Corps Signal Companies were denoted by letters, an "B" Corps HQ Signal Company was indeed the company served 2nd Corps. 11 Signal Company was with 11th Division, and did indeed serve with that division at Gallipoli.


It is likely that "No.19" referes to a specific section within the company, probably the section specifically dealing with artillery signalling.


The Signal Service (France) by Major R E Priestley is available somewhere online (I haven't got the web address but you should be able to find it via Google). It is a good overall history of the RE Signal Service in France, and is written in a very readable style for the non-expert. It should answer most of your questions.


Army forms all had a reference consisting of a letter and one to four digits. Forms in the range starting C2120 seem to have been various forms used by the Signal Service. (C2118 is the form used for War Diaries.) Here is a small selection:

C    2120    Army telephone message    
C    2121    Field message form "A"    
C    2122    Field message form "B"    
C    2123    Field message form "C"    
C    2127    Urgent postal telegram    
C    2128    Message form    
C    2130    Messages and signals    
C    2136    Message form, small  



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Many thanks for the help with this so far.


I have downloaded a copy of the book and will have a read.


I have attached two C Forms that were sold with the medals of the former RE signaller I am researching. He was a Sgt and I was wondering if these are messages that he would have sent or received.



C Form_001.JPG

C Form_002.JPG

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Hi Johnnie,


Thanks for posting.


This form was sent by the millions at all levels right down to battalion levels and possibly lower, so you are on the right track.  Probably retained as a souvenir as it came from 2 Corps the day before Armistice.  One of my grandfather's WW1 signal form 'C' is here with me and others he wrote are published by the Australian War Memorial - you can tell who wrote it down by looking at the Received Group - From is usually a code word for the unit and only decipherable if you have the Unit War Diaries and some luck.  By is the surname of the person who wrote it down.  My grandfather's have his name written here and the one he kept has the name of someone in his signal section.


Pity you didn't post his name.  In message 2, Sheeles or similar would have been the duty signaller (one of many) at 2 Corps HQ on November 10th 1918 and at 7:40 pm Corps HQ received a hand delivered message of the intention to seek an armistice.  Signals companies were large organisations and the good sergeant would have run a section and been in a great position to see every signal, then souvenir the most interesting ones!  The previous one is even more interesting and shows how 2 Corps will hold any line or position reached on 11am on 11 November and hold firm.  They use a widely used phrase from WW1 that has a somewhat different modern usage - troops are told that there is to be no intercourse of any description with the enemy.  The three letters aaa represents the convention for a full stop.


This is a wonderful find - the original signals to 2 Corps HQ denoting the end of WW1 and still readable!


You need to put these in archival preservation sleeves (not plastic) to preserve them.  I thought I was looking after mine really well and one day it literally split in two.


Blue crayon meant something and we still used to use it 30 years ago, but I've now forgotten any significance.


Priestley's is a good book and I've read it a few times.  I've also looked at hundreds of these signals in the AIF records, so post any specific questions you have.

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  • 1 year later...


This is fascinating ! I've just started reading the Priestleys book you have suggested above !

My grandfather Ernest Keeling  was a M/C corporal/acting sergeant (France) in B corps signals.  I have just finished reading the amazing  diary of OH Davies :Triumph on the western Front . He was sent to work for B sigs when he first went out to France.

Diary entry for Saturday 19th August 1917 O H Davies writes about my  grandfather converting the basement of EN1 loft (pigeons) into a buzzing signal office for  all the surrounding mobiles lofts .  Am I right in thinking that all of their messages from the mobile pigeon lofts would then have gone on directly then to '2 Corp head quarters?'. 

According to the diary my  Grandfather set up the signal office for his Major Day . 

OH Davies writes that my Grandfathers colleague Mason ,weather-bitten and case hardened  said 'never have we had such a cutting up in our life. The Somme was nothing to it .Heart rending to read all  the messages'......


 We have a lot of photographs of men that we are trying to identify from B Corp who were with my grandfather . I would be very interested in any names that you have on any signals forms. 

We know they were in the Poperinge /Ypres area . Taking the birds to 'Birr Cross Roads' but they managed to get moved back to Ypres as the shelling was so heavy.

many thanks 



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  • 2 years later...


I have just found this thread so don't know if it is still active.

I also have some signal c forms from 2 Corps which were given to me by my grandfather Spr William Hepburn AP cable section.

One is almost identical to the first image above and was directed to the 9th Division. It was written by Payne.

I also have the message from 2nd Army to 2 Corps written by my grandfather. It is 4 pages long but I have attached the first page. He also gave me the peace signal from 1919 written by him in blue crayon !


Armistice 2 Corps - 1.jpg

Armistice 9th Div - 1.jpg

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