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Remembered Today:

3rd (Wireless) Signal Squadron


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Came across this unit today whilst cross referencing IGSM awards to the Devons in India in 1919 / 1920. I had never heard of it before. Search on the site gave me this :




I found them in the earlier Order of Battle of the South Waziristan Field Force of 1917 and it again includes men of the Devons. I'm intrigued. Can anyone tell me more ?


I am guessing they were a unit in the Indian Signal Service, part of the Sappers and Miners. I haven't found anymore yet outside that each division had a signal Coy and a wireless squad to aid LoC duties so I am inferring that No.3 was the Lahore div'l are company which fits.


Any pointers appreciated.





Edited by ddycher
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Thanks Charlie


One to hunt down next time I am at Kew.




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I now know that the unit was part of the "Wireless Signal Service"which had its Depot at Rawalpindi, The squadron was commanded by a Major (as yet unknown), with a Squadron Officer (either a Captaincies. or Lieut.), and each Troop had a Commander and Troop Officer. The unit was expanded under Army Order 446 of 7th May 1917. Then sanctioned under department letter 8853 on 15th June 1917. This added a 3rd and 4th Pack Wireless Troop.


Still digging....





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  • 4 weeks later...

Trolling through the Army List's helps build a picture of the Wireless Signal Squadron(s) in the Signal Units. There was possibly as many as 5x Wireless Signal Service Squadrons / Sections and a Wireless Signal Service Depot formed before the end of the war :


Depot : Nothing yet known of the Depot yet apart that it was commanded by a 2nd Lieut H.S. Smitherman (Gen. List) who had been a Troop Officer with the original No.41 Squadron.

No.1 : Frustratingly I can find no ref for No.1. Wireless Signal Squadron. Looking at the men it may never have been formed with No.41 being split into No.2 and No.3 in May 1917 but this needs confirming.

No.2 No.2 was previously No.41 Wireless Signal Squadron then redesignated No.2 (LoC) Wireless Signal Squadron. There is a ref for 5th SLI men serving in No.2 in Palestine but this may be an error in the original.

No.3 : No.3 (Wireless) Signal Squadron was formed on the 5th May 1917. This is interesting as the men from the 1/5th Devons I was looking at were apparently transferred to the WSS from the 8th Res. Bn at Trimulghery. The Devons having recently embarked for Palestine. Now seeing that Troops were formed in April so need to revisit this.

No.4 : Nothing known

No.5 : Ref's to a No.5 Wireless Section appear in the January 1919 List.


Although the List's do not identify which officers served with which squadron they do identify which men in the Signal units served with the W.S.S. so I am now looking at the following :


Commandant Maj. D.A. Thomson (R.E.) Thompson founded the W.S.S. in India in March 1911. Commdt No.41 then No.2 Squadron then TBD. He was still there in July 1918 but gone by January 1919 list.


Commandant Maj. (Bt. Lt.-Col.) Henry Courtenay Hawtrey (R.E.) : Commdt No.3 Squadron. The fifth son of Rev. H. C. Hawtrey he was born in Southampton and  educated at Uppingham and the RMA, Woolwich. Hawtrey was was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1900. A mewl winner in the 1906 Olympic Games. During the War I he was awarded the DSO and the CMG. He then spent some 15 years in West Africa and India and was mentioned in dispatches in the Afghan War of 1919. He transferred to the Royal Corps of Signals in 1920 and in 1925 became Commandant of the Signal Training Centre in India and from 1926-30 was the signal-officer-in-chief for the Army HQ in India. Up to 1930 he was the chief signal officer of the Aldershot Command. In 1931 Brigadier Hawtrey was appointed an ADC to King George V but relinquished the post when he retired from the Army in 1934. In September 1939 he rejoined the Colors on the outbreak of war, being the Commandant of the Tidworth Garrison, he retired in 1942. He died at Aldershot on the 16th November 1961.


Capt. J.L. Drummond (Royal Scots Fus.) : No.41 Troop Commander

Lieut then A/Capt then temp.Capt. B.M. Peek (1/7th Hants) : Joined 23rd March 1917. No.41 Troop Commander then No.3 Troop Commander from 22nd April 1917

temp.Capt : R.A. E. Blake (1/4th (alt. 1/6th Hants) : No.41 Troop Commander then No.3 Troop Commander from 22nd April 1917

A/Capt then temp.Capt. B. Mead (2/7th Hants) : No.41 Troop Officer then No.3 Troop Commander from 14th September 1917 ~ 17th October 1918 then TBD

temp.Capt. G.C. Henry (Gen. List) : No.3 (?) Troop Commander

A/Capt. E.L Smith-Masters (R.E. (T.C.)) : No.2 Troop 

A/Capt. R. Walker (R.E. (T.C.) : No.2 Troop Commander

Lieut. F. Tomlinson (105 Mah. L.I.) : No.2 Troop 

Lieut. W.J. Williams (Manchester Regt.) : No.3 (?) Troop Commander

Lieut. A.P. Wilmshurst (R.E. (T.C.) : No.2 Troop 

2nd Lieut. C.C. Goulding (IARO) : No.41 Troop Officer

2nd Lieut .W.S. Morse (1/7th Hants) : Joined 6th September 1916. No.41 Troop Officer then No.2 Troop Officer

2nd Lieut. C. Leng (Gen. List) : No.41 Troop Officer then No.2 Troop

2nd Lieut. then A/Capt. E.H. King (IARO) : No.41 Troop Officer then No.3 Troop Commander from 29th March 1918

2nd Lieut. then A/Capt. F.J. Foxlee (IARO) : No.41 Troop Officer then No.2 Troop then No.3 Troop Commander from 25th July ~ 31st August 1917

2nd Lieut. then A/Lieut then A/Capt. P. Ryan (TBD) : No.41 Troop Officer then TBD No.3 reverted back to 2nd Lieut on 7th October 1918 then No.3 Troop Commander from 1st November 1918

2nd Lieut A.J. McCarthy (7th Gloucesters) :

2nd Lieut H.G. Gregory (IARO) :

2nd Lieut. G.E. Raynor (IARO) :

2nd Lieut G.E. Pennell (Gen. List) :

2nd Lieut. A.E. Deacon (Gen. List) :


2nd Lieut William Edward Hambly (4th Devons then I.A. (T.C.)) : No.3 Troop Officer. Commissioned from the 4th Devons in January 1918 having served with the 2nd Dorsets in Mesop. Posted to No.3 from the Officers School of Instruction in Bangalore. Known to have commanded the Wireless Station at Quetta. Served with No.3 in the Waziri and Mahsud expeditions. Established the Wireless Station in Karachi. Commanded the mobile wireless section at Amritsar during the riots of 1919. Spent some time on Staff with Northern Command, Died of pneumonia at the Calaba War Hospital, Bombay on 25th December 1921.


2nd Lieut. J.B. Minhinnick (IARO)

2nd Lieut. R. Vaux (2nd SLI)

2nd Lieut. H.G. Swales (2nd RWK) : No.3 Troop Officer

2nd Lieut W.L.F. Woods (R.E.) : No.5 Wireless Section

2nd Lieut W.H. Shaw (R.E.) : No.5 Wireless Section

2nd Lieut F.C. Robinson (I.A. (T.C.))

2nd Lieut. H.V. Randall (IARO) :

2nd Lieut A. Garcia-Henry (Gen. List) :

2nd Lieut J.T. Lego (Gen. List) :

2nd Lieut N. St. J. S. Clarke (IARO) :

2nd Lieut. George Christopher Henry (TBD Leicesters) :


So far I have only located 4x Devons officers being transferred to Signal Units. These being Capt. C.A. Mitchell and 2nd Lieut's William Edward Hambly and A.H. Hearn (4th Devons) and  Lieut. E.M. Pennefather (6th Devons). Only Hambly so far identified as in the Wireless Signal Squadrons. I as yet been able to identify any Devons in No.32 Div'l Signal Coy which was allotted to the Lahore Div. and HQ'd at Kasauli prewar. Yet I continue to find men from the battalions attending signal courses at Lucknow and Kasauli.


Gazette entries run from February 1917 ~ September 1923


The expansion of the Signal Units during the war a challenging picture to build.


Would appreciate any insights.






Edited by ddycher
Gazette entries added, No.2 in Palestine. 32nd Div. Signal Coy at Kasauli
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  • 1 year later...

Back to this.


Still not able to construct what happened in the Div’l Areas after the Div’s left for active service. I am trying to put together what happened in the Punjab after the departure of the 3rd Lahore Div. / No.32 Div’l Signal Coy through the forming of the 16th Div. Going round in circles. The Wessex Div. arrived in India without its Div’l Signal Coy which went to France. After No.35 was raised for the Meerut Div. embarking for France in August 1914 there was no unaffiliated Div’l Signal Coy’s raised in India until No.36 was raised in April 1916. 14th, 15th and 17th Div’s raised Div’l Signal Coy’s. 16th Div did not until January 1917 implying there was an infrastructure in place through the period in the Punjab that I can not put together. The 16th Div. ultimately utilising No.40 Divisional Signal Coy.


The Wireless Signal Squadrons and Signal Service Depots are proving impossible to place. How they were located in Northern Army and across the Divisional areas I am still trying to understand.


I believe what I am looking for could be answered around the activities of the Signal Service Depot formed in Kirkee in October 1914 but have no idea how to progress this. I know it was re-organized in November 1916 but what happened in between is alluding me.


Anybody have any insights or ideas how to move forward with this ?




Edited by ddycher
Forming date of the 16th Div'l signal coy
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On the declaration of war Birdwood was aggressively pushing for the expansion of the signal companies. Due to the shortage of signallers men from the Imperial Service Troops were engaged with the IEF's from late 1914. This continued through 1915 where they were attached to existing Signal Coy's.


Locations as so far identified as of May 1915 :


No.31 Div'l Signal Coy at Rawalpindi

No.32 Div'l Signal Coy with Lahore Div. / IEF "A"

No.33 Div'l Signal Coy at Quetta

No.34 Div'l Signal Coy with IEF "D"

No.35 Div'l Signal Coy with Meerut Div. / IEF "A"

There was an TBD Army Corps Signal Coy with IEF "A"

There was a TBD Signal Squadron with IEF "A"

There were 2x Brigade Signal Sections with IEF "B"

No.41 Wireless Signal Squadron was with IEF "D"


A 2nd (date as yet unknown) and 3rd (November 1916) Wireless Signal Squadrons were formed. The Wireless Signal Squadron was relocated from Saugor to Rawalpindi in March 1915. The amalgamation of all Wireless Signal units in India into No.3 Wireless Signal Squadron under a single Comdt. happening at the end of 1916. At that time, in country, there was only No.1 Pack Wireless Troop (formed in July 1915) and No.2 Pack Wireless Troop (formed in July 1916) plus a wireless detachment at Seistan which was attached to No.1 Troop.


By May 1915 there are ref's for a Signal Service Depot at Poona which I don't understand. The Depot had come into existence at the end of September 1914 and as far as I can tell it remained in Kirkee through 1916. British troops were attached to the Wireless Troops from the depot forming a to be determined number of mobile wireless stations.


So as far as my original challenge goes I am back to looking at No's 36~40 Divisional Signal Companies. Will update if I find more.







Edited by ddycher
Converging on No.36~40 DSC's
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No.36 Div'l Signal Company formed on 1st April 1916

No.37 Div'l Signal Company formed on the 5th March 1917 (became the 18th Div'l Signal Company)

No.38 Div'l Signal Company formed 8th January 1917

No.39 Div'l Signal Company formed 2nd June 1917

No.40 Div'l Signal Company formed 2nd June 1917


It appears the 16th Div'l Signal Coy being formed in January 1917 never came into being and by June it was either redesigned No.40 D.S.C. or was replaced by No.40 D.S.C. This focuses me into the histories of No's 36 and 40 D.S.C.'s




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