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Chapter 5


There are currently some 2570 entries in the Forum contributed by 83 members, some more voluble than others. I mentioned earlier the incredible ability to generate a change of subject that the Forum has and this extract demonstrates it to perfection. I have taken the liberty of correcting, spelling and grammatical errors and ’typos’, mainly in my own contributions.

Subject - Watches

Having had my first lesson in how to operate my scanner/printer/ photocopier/ electric toaster – it seems to do everything - I hope to add to the 1955/6 photo album with some of the photos that I took with my Edixa 1P, my first 35mm camera. This, like most luxuries in Langeleben, was bought with the proceeds from selling cigarettes. Funnily enough it wasn't until I got to Langeleben that I bought my first watch, a self winder that was said to work at incredible depths under the sea. I didn't even dare use it in the bath on those exceedingly rare times that we had one at the MP's barrack at Helmstedt.! I digress! As usual!
I found a couple of photos of 'B' Watch 1955/6, known throughout the British Army as "Bob Wells Finest". A title a bit like that of the Scots Guards who called themselves 'First of Foot, Right of the Line and Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard' ... Anyway, again I digress. What horrified me was having worked, slept, drunk and done just about everything legal with this ‘shower’ (N0... that's far too complimentary a word), I can't remember their names. The ones whose names I do recall, like Stubbings (bless his little heart) and the Watch ‘puker’, Eddy Potts seem to have disappeared from my photographic record, sadly.
I have also dug up some 2001 (was it really that long ago?) K÷nigslutter 'March past' pictures, and my God didn't we look old! I wonder what we look like now six years on.
Anyway there is a photo of 'A' Watch there already in the album so the question is "was there a "C" Watch and if so where is it skulking?

(Referring to the mention of the Scots Guards. ed) That's the Royal Scots, (as was, now the1st Bn. Royal Regiment of Scotland ), raised in1630.
The Scots Guards are much older (1643 IIRR).
(Full of useless info like that. Managed to clean up on a few quiz nights over the years, though - ask Bob Wells).

Paul, with the number of Scottish Regiments called similarly, you can well be forgiven for any mistake. Take your pick from:-
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys
Formed 25 years ago in July 1971 by the amalgamation of the 3rd Carabiniers and The Royal Scots Greys, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are Scotland's only Regiment of Cavalry. Their forebears, the 3rd and 6th Dragoon Guards and the 2nd Dragoons, have an unbroken history spanning 320 years, through European Wars, South Africa , two World Wars and the Gulf in 1991. The SCOTS Dragoon Guards are stationed in Germany . Now part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, - The Desert Rats

The Royal Scots (Royal Regiment) (1'st of Foot), which I believe is the one you mean. Founded in 1633 by Sir John Hepburn and currently, since 1990, part of the 16th Air Assault Brigade. The Scots Guards were founded in 1642 by Archibald, Marquis of Argyle.

The only link I have with JR is that I ran (well still do for Charities) a Quiz site for Publicans in the 1990's called “Quiz Inquisitor”.

 Peter my main memory man, where do we / I know Bob Wells from, 225 or 13 Sigs? I know the name, can't even remember if he was a Cpl when I knew him, but senility has crept up on me and now I rely on tha' to fund me from tha' font of knowledge?

Bob Wells was a Cpl with me in '55/56 so, by the time you became a soldier he must have been a Brigadier at least!
Down South where we put water in't bath instead of coal like what should go in them, we get baptised in fonts and drink from founts but then ... I've hardly understood a bloody thing for the past few days. For the benefit of we ignoramuses (commonly known as 'Southerners') perhaps the moderator (or whatever he is called) could insist that entries are only in English with the obvious exception of Mr Shorep whose works in some of the more obscure Bessarabian sub-dialects should not be hindered.

Croxson, you contentious Old Git, Pot, Kettle, Black!!!! Never woz Baptized, went to me parents wedding though, does that count. The font of all knowledge is wot St Peter types it in, Sans Serif, Courier or Arabesque and here in North Staffordshire we drink from cups or mugs. Unlike you rich Suvern lot we can't afford crappy coffee in plastic or cardboard beakers. Sits back, with a pint of Black and Tan and a Wright's Pie to wait the vitriol (Luv ya reelly)
Old Fat Grey Grumpy and a Proverbial Pain In Uranus – 

You would have known Bob Wells at 13 Sigs. He left the army round about 76 as a WOII (Supervisor Radio) and then went as a Civvy Op but spent most of his time then as a civvy instructor at Woodhouse and now lives in Loughborough spending most of his time on the golf course. 

I read 'watches' and did not respond, cos I can't afford the time or tell it, so much for buying a clock 'on tick', and it 'went back’ 'last autumn. Now I know wot you lot is talking about (a rare thing these days), Bob Wells was in 9pigs as I remember, just missed him at Barrow last year. Another instructor at 224 was monsewer Widdowson, always made us use pencils, as ex merch RO (Merchant Navy Radio Operator) I tried to sneak my biro in the log sessions. 

Tom, yes that's it, thanks for that, I'm glad I am not going completely Ga Ga , tho' no doubt some will argue that. Peter, I also remember Geoff Widdowson but I'm not sure if it was 224 or where. The only one I can remember with total certainty at 224 was Rab Aitken.

I cannot bring myself to buy a cup of coffee from any of those Starlight type places. For a start I can't speak 'coffee' and secondly I cannot bring myself to spend that sort of money on a paper cupful of coffee. I am still stuck in the Joe Lyons era when you got a 'milk and a dash*' for 6d. That and a bag of broken biscuits 6d was a meal fit for any starving young man. That Scots laddy on the label would have been somewhat miffed if he had known what ‘Camp’ came to mean.

 *a dash of that wonderful nectar Camp Coffee in milk and water. 

Sorry I forgot the Aitkin. Also in charge of them was Geordie Richardson another ‘goodun’. He taught me all I know but I forgot it by next morning,(irish mother jeans). Geordie was traumatised by 36 squad, Dave Pegg, Trev Wood, Andy Ross, Terry Proudman, Jack Loftus and possibly Dave Doig (might be the squad after). I bet all these read this but never post (on the Forum). Tom,get the 252 pad out and run amok,(whatever that means)

I was instructing at Woodhouse with Geordie Richardson, Rab Aitken and Graham Widdowson. Rab left the army to become a policeman. The last time I saw Graham he was a YoS at 223 Signal Squadron Winchester in 1967 and Geordie made his one and only visit to Barrow about three or four years ago but still leaves messages on our guest book.

Here is a stupid but well meaning question:-
Does the British or any other army use morse? With modern satellite techniques and encryption, to a mere I Corps chap it all seems a bit redundant. Am I wrong yet again?
Bob Wells can now be seen on the photo page for those who could not remember him! Amongst B watch I was reminded of Norman Williams, who fancied himself as a bit of an artist, drawing Satchmo Armstrong mostly. He was also a good footballer. Played for Tooting & Mitcham and then Wimbledon and was there when they went into Div 4 for the first time. 

Far from it, by no means a stupid question. There is no major country that still uses Morse as its primary meanns of communication, this applies to their Armed Forces, Coastguard, Flying Doctor or ow't similar. Several, however, still use it ' as and when communication is difficult ' but that means when satellite, terrestrial radio or similar can not be used. Basically, everything has gone over to satellite and terrestrial radio, with the Coastguard and similar using the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. There is, however, a plethora of people in the Amateur Radio world that are still keeping Morse alive and kicking. The foremost of these is FISTS, The International Morse Preservation Society. Originally founded in 1987 by the late George Longden - a Brit (G3ZQS) It is now a worldwide force with thousands of members, the British side being run by the Radio Society of Great Britain but i it the Americans who are by far and away the major influence.
In a twist of technologies, there are even operators who communicate in morse via the internet. They can reach sending and transcription speeds of 20/30 wpm, wait until they discover the side swipe.

I knew of the side swipe but never saw one being used. I remember talk of morse being sent and read at vast speeds but never knew what really could be done and sustained. There was a famed/notorious s/Sgt in my day at Langeleben 'Panda' Arnold who was supposed to be pretty good. Funny chap! He was against swewaring and when doing so would 'fine' himse3lf by digging holes. The nickname came from his having fallen asleep whilst wearing dark glasses when serving in Cyprus , So it was said!

 Hi Paul, Great to see your pictures, brought back some memories. I recognised a couple of guys but could not remember names. In the second picture, the guys 2nd and 3rd from right were familiar. I think the third one was a Ken (Birchell. Ed) The picture of the reindeer really brought back memories, going round and tossing sweets to the kids of Konigslutter. You have convinced me that I have to have another search for my pics of the same era. Great, 

Paul. worry not about Kampf Coffee, I loved it then and I still love it. My favourite had used be Gordons Gin - but then 'The Gay Gordon's'? No, I have neither the spirit or the inclination to suggest ow't to our Scottish Bretheren. I once asked 'Nibloe' Jarvie if there was ow't worn under the kilt, 'Dinna be so daft, it's all in good working order', is the best translation I can give to his reply.

I don't know who is the biggest prat, you or I, Keith. The gormless plonker second from the right wearing a tie is an I Corps chap called Croxson. And ... it is an I Corps tie that I am wearing too which must have rated me as the berk of the week in Langeleben. A tie??? I wonder where I had been, couldn't have been Schumanns. I've got another couple of me somewhere, one wearing my BD proudly showing my one stripe. It was on my return from receiving a 'reprimand 'after being charged with losing my paybook. I think I have already bored the world with that pathetic story. That was the only occasion, I think, that I ever wore a BD at Langeleben, it was always denims, wasn't it.? My remember being very proud of the suit, by the way. Charcoal grey with a single slit at the back. I bought it from Willerby's. 'Made to measure' as they used to say. I think that I paid for it over 2 years! The chap you think was called Ken was a really nice chap, and quite civilised. The blond chap in shorts (very Hitler Youth) was from Manchester straight from school. His German, even pre University, was absolutely perfect even to the extent that he could adopt regional accents, His 'ich bin ein Berliner' (well before Kennedy) was a hoot. He was a very good friend and we drank together quite a lot. He was going to be a teacher. The chap with glasses and hands in his pockets possibly came from Suffolk and was a useful golfer. He had one club and he could only chip with it. It wasn't a putter or a driver. (His name was Ames.ed)
Oh for a better memory and, how good it would be to spend an hour again with that lot. I'd happily buy the beer. Sadly, Re-unions are a bit like what Alan Bennett (playwright and ex I Corps  said about going to China.
"I've always wanted to go to China but what would you do in the afternoon?"
Its 04.45am and I am off back to bed having woken myself with my snoring.

Good day Paul, Sorry to disturb you but have just had a thought, was it Ken Birchall? See what you have done to me. 

Ive been up since 7am, written my will (sorry you get nothing) been and ordered new glasses and then started my day's work.
You are absolutely right about Ken. Now that you have seen the picture of me does it ring any bells? 6' 1" and skinny, that was me. Nowadays read 'corpulent' for 'skinny'.
Do you remember 'Lilli' Palmer? He will be on my conscience for life.

Hi Paul, What type of glasses did you get, pint or whiskey? Your photo helped me to remember you, who could ever forget such an imposing figure of manhood. Sometimes the memory needs a little help after 50 years. Do you remember a Sgt 'Windy' Gale? A couple of other guys I remember are Brian Cox, a good footballer, and Spud Murphy. I am sure a few more will come to mind now I have got started. Hope you managed to get some shuteye. Keith.

I haven't lifted a pint of beer for years due several weaknesses, not least the forearm and bladder. So, here Ii am drinking my hot chocolate at 20.40. Yes, I do recall Windy Gale but as a name not a face. it is so embarrassing that having spent so many hours, most days 24 of them with these chaps we can't remember the names. Keep working on the grey cells.

Genitals it's easy to spot the Gentry from t'workers. There ain't no bugger up at 0400, unless he's a shift worker, pensioner, or t'idle rich.

Hi, I have just been visiting the Birgelen Site, as I had nothing else to do, and in looking at the photos came across the one of Sgt Len South, with cigarette as usual. Can anyone remember him at Munster in the 50's? Quite a character. He was the only person I have known who would smoke a cigarette whilst taking a shower. True. How's that, Old, Fat, Grey and Grumpy, I've had the last word today, sorry first one today. 

Good morning Keith
I, too, hardly dare raise a finger to the keyboard for fear of incurring the wrath of someone or other. I feel for you! The truth or otherwise of these accusations is easily tested by looking at the 'last postings' and, apart from that chap Croxson, there is someone called Hudson whose name appears quite a lot too.
No, don't remember anyone fitting that description but then I spent more time at Butlins than I ever did at Birgelen. Funny' when we first went there, we all called it Munchen Gladbach. I wonder when it changed. (Possibly when we tried to go home after the first night out). In those days a visit to the Netherlands was the most popular destination, at least to those having passports. There were apocryphal stories of visits to Nijmegen and Arnhem and following claims that "my Father was in the Paras", being fed with freee beer all night. Funny, in those days, most of us knew who our Fathers were, except for senior NCO's. How things have changed with one parent families. I have a 2 year old next door who thinks his Father is a monthly cheque. That's all he hears of him from the USA .

 I know it’s a while since you were discussing this but I’ve only just seen your postings re: the Morse code and the side swipe Morse key. I had one when I was at Langeleben but it was rarely used because, if my memory serves me, the relays in the electrical ‘gubbins’ that we used to send messages etc down to Rabke couldn’t handle the speed of the thing. It was actually made from an old standard WD issue straight Morse key.The centre ‘up and down’ bit of the key was replaced with a piece of hacksaw blade and some longer screws to hold it secure, which of course enabled one to flick it from side to side more rapidly that using a straight key. It was given to me in Cyprus by an ex Merchant Navy radio Op and I passed it on to Bob Kerr when I left Langeleben for demob.
As for sending and receiving speeds, I remember some years ago an American bloke claiming to be able to receive, without any electrical or mechanical aids, at 70 wpm. Now I wouldn’t say that he had been over indulging in the local hooch, but if anyone has ever listened to a Creed machine (or whatever it was called) churning out Morse at 70 wpm they would know that it was unreadable or, at least, that’s how it appeared to us.The fastest I could manage was 32wpm, and that was when I was absolutely sober.

I can’t claim to ever have emulated Mac's fete of 32 wpm, in fact I was always pushed to do the mandatory 25 wpm. One thing I did manage though was transcription at 25 wpm. (for those none spec ops amongst us, transcription is listening to Morse through headphones then typing what has been sent). I did my A1 as I left Langeleben in ‘66, at the time transcription was not part of the A1 test, but they were thinking about bringing it in, so we acted as guinea pigs and for the whole three months plugged away trying to master this strange skill. To be fair, I must admit that I had learned to type at Denbury, so had a good head start on most. I well remember some of the others throwing their headsets off in exasperation and cracking up saying they were never going to get the hang of it. I left ‘Y’ service the following year so I don’t know if transcription became part of the course, I expect it did. Perhaps someone can tell us. Back on the speed thing, while we were in basic training I recall hearing that a woman in the States could read Morse at 78 wpm and to cap it all I believe she did it using a typewriter

You are right about speeds. Lower to high twenties are the norm, if the ship is in danger of sinking the SOS should be sent at 16's,but you will understand, in the authors case at least, water rising around one’s ankles had an inverse effect on transmission speed. Personally speaking I was the advocate of screwing down the key and going for help! At least merchant navy sparks/ops could ask them to slow down. Sadly spec ops did not have this opportunity and just had to keep up in between sharpening the 2H and swearing aloud. Weather forecast transmissions were always fast ,plain language and figures between about high twenties and lower end thirties, taken down with biro. Don't tell Graham Widdowson though!

What was "Mercury Grass"?

Oh no, not another subject!. Ed

If it wasn't the stuff that 225 fed their Moufflon then it was a radio provided by the NSA that could receive an exceptionally narrow bandwidth signal in the FM range. Attached circuit boards allowed it to decode the signal as it was received.
The Army Security Agency (ASA) code name for the system was "Mercury Grass." The Soviets didn't know they had the technology, which was good. That exceptionally narrow bandwidth FM signal was how the Third Shock Army commanders communicated with Moscow . They didn't believe anyone knew about their new coded signal. They didn't believe it could be detected. And they believed that if anyone did find out about it and did intercept it, it would take them weeks to break the code. Instead, whenever a field officer would talk secretly with his commanders in Moscow , an American spook ( Spec Op) would be listening in. The official name of this job in the protocol of Military Occupation Specialties was "voice-intercept operator." However, that was just a>cover name. Within the Agency, the job was actually known as >"scanning." The one doing it was known as a "scanner," as an "MG scanner," or as a "Mercury-Grass scanner." All scanners were graduates >of the old U.S. Army Language School at the Presidio of Monterey, CA, >now known as the "Defense Language Institute (West-Coast Branch)," The >concept of intercepting radio-relayed telephony and translating it in real time was itself known as "Mercury Grass." Supposedly, the British
>were the first to develop this concept and "Mercury Grass" was their code name for it. Further deponent knoweth I not.
Hope this proves to be what you are after.

Fascinating and very helpful Mike, thank you.
To think that my time at Langeleben covered the introduction of technology that just a few years later was 'old hat'. I remember being lectured on things like "skip distance", "Heaviside layers" and other stuff which is as obsolete as a thermionic valve. VHF was new on the block and the signal went horizontally
I sat night after night as did every I Corps discriminatotor flogging through logsheet after logsheeet looking for things that might indicate something happening, then bundling them up to go to GCHQ.
Mike, do you think (or know) whether anything was done with this vast output? I know it kept a lot of Op Specs off the street! Was that all?


Thanks for an understandable explanation of Mercury Grass. I did once find some references on Google, but they were aimed at people with a lot more background knowledge than I have. I recall having to record MG on the log - a warbling, high pitched tone, if I remember correctly.
Mike, you do yourself a grave injustice. I don't believe you are as old, grey or grumpy as you make out. I bet you are nice to animals and never tire of helping old ladies across the road. 

I think that this is a very worthwhile topic. Why the reluctance to discuss what we were doing in what is militarily and technologically a previous century?
Day after day in the 50’s I produced deliciously drawn networks - just as I had done the previous day and the day before etc., nothing moved. Like it or not, perhaps we were really timeserving canon fodder, ready should the big horror ever come about. I have a good friend who still mysteriously talks of his time at GCHQ as if it was at the heart of Cold War Intelligence. All that he was doing was training the next generation of I. Corps to do the same again.
I am not belittling our work IN THE SLIGHTEST, I just wish that we talked more of what we were doing, why and to what effect. Even those ‘on the job’ 10 years later were living in a different world with the Royal Signals having taken over so much of what the I Corps did, then to have it taken back again  The Intelligence only just avoided being closed down completely at one time. 

Dave...Such speeds were not unusual in a certain section of 'E' Troop,2 Wireless Regt (9 Sigs) back in the fifties. Mind you, I needed to be going down hill with a following wind.

Good Lord, not going backwards are we? Ed

Ah, skip distance ionosphere, upper layers, it will all come back some day ,as will changing frequency as dusk approached so one could still 'keep comms'; plotting the frequency plans for the voyage across the 'pond'. Dare we mention sun spot cycles and the affect on comms, QRX'ng for a skip to another frequency? .
See you lot did not think you would miss the world of comms. Me and Prof Clarke know better, we told you so.!!!!
On a lighter note,because of skip distance,the SOS from the Titanic is still going around the world so ignore it like all the ships in the vicinity did on the fateful night..

Paul, yes I think that reliable and good info did come from the logs that the Spec Ops put in. Remember, however, that most of the info logged was routine and of no interest to anyone except the ' Code Breakers '. I can recall however the XXX that kicked off the invasion of Czechoslovakia and then plotting the movements of certain units by DF.
There is also an Apochryphal story, that I tend to believe, from other instances, where 'Plain Text' site references were given, that were for 225, 226, 13 Sigs and other similar intercept sites.

Hi All, We certainly seem to have covered a lot of ground in the last few posts. Mike, Thanks for the explanation on Mercury Grass, until Gordon asked the question, I had never heard of it, but now I am much wiser. Personally I still find it quite difficult to discuss what we were doing. Years and years of keeping silent on the subject is a habit that takes some breaking. I must admit that over the last few years I have told the first Mrs Thomas what my job was, but none of the details. Somehow the organisation of 3rd Shock Army comes a long way behind what the grandchildren have been up to, or more importantly, what’s for tea. The couple of visits I’ve made to Poland and Berlin have got me wondering just what the opposition was up to, and when we come over next month, I intend that we should have a good look at places like Potsdam and Magdeburg , both names that conjured images of the Russian hoards. I think that the discussions we having are great, if anyone wants to reminisce of what, when and how we did things back then; then bring it on, if the subject strikes a chord, then others will pick up on it, if not it will go the way of lead balloons. Shorep (PS), Never mind skip distances, inverted refraction and 11 year sun spot cycles, what about sparodic "E". 

Dewi, my little Bristly Bristolian (a reference to bearded DT), for reasons known to the Hierarchy, I only gained my A2 and that as a Cpl. I, with a good few more, got to 224 expecting no problems and a reasonably cushy time. Only to find banks of Underwood / Imperial typewriters and the William Tell overture blasting out. How the Hell I ever passed is still a mystery and yet, within a few days of getting back on to Shift, I was typeing like I was born to it. They still refused to let me wear a skirt and blouse, however, nor sit on anybody's lap. I can honestly say though that I never had to pass a test on sending morse, other than when I got my Amateur Radio certificate - G2AOB.

I know that for me the 25 year proviso is well over, so RM** 139** is probably dead and buried. There were certain sites that I never moved from as I 'had an affinity' with them and could even distinguish between operators. Whether in plain speech or morse you came to recognise certain characteristics that distinguished certain operators. This became of use when they were seconded to other units for what ever reason. I don't know if it is my memory playing tricks but I seem to remember, both with 225 and Birgelin that there was always a good relationship and interchange of info twixt the Spec Ops and I Corps. 

I don't know about 225 (what was it?) or Birgelen but I can speak with authority about Langeleben in the mid-fifties. We all took the piss about each other, we poncy lot (I. Corps) taking the mickey of those thick operators but we worked INCREDIBLY well together. A 'Watch' was in my day at Langeleben totally a team. Not 'A' watch, I mean 'B' Watch if you know what I mean.

(Careful, we are back to the original subject. ed)

 We ALL shared the pleasure, no, Glory of getting the keys first and I took it as a group personal insult if anyone beat us. Very rarely, I promise, did that happen, ask Bob.  I hope(d) the relationship was based on mutual respect firstly but much else followed, otherwise - why would I still get so much pleasure just saying "hello" to Bob Wells and Pete Ellis. I'm still very much in touch with Mike Stubbings. These friendships are amongst the strongest that I have ever had, lasting 52/3 years. Not bad, Eh?
By the way. I just can't get used to it being called 'Langy'. It never was that in the early days, from my recollection. I wonder when the change took place. Off to my country estate for an hour or so (Ok, allotment to you lot!) 

It was this special skill that really saved the day when the Russkies switched from B to E type callsigns. To see a wagon full of Ops totally lost was not a sight for sore eyes I promise you. DF also came very much into its own. 

Paul, I don't know if you were serious or not when you ask what was 225 Signal Squadron? It was the home of C Troop, possibly the greatest gathering of Spec Ops and I Corps the world has known. 225 were the invading horde that swept in from the hills of Scarfoldendorf and breathed life into Langeleben in '67. A little before Marlene and her band of Temperance Ladies made the NAAFI rock.
I can honestly say that in my 9 years as a Spec Op, I NEVER, found any animosity twixt us and you, with one exception, WOII Strachan. Luckily he never made 225 at either site, I ran across him in 13 Sigs, where I was unlucky enough to have him as a next door neighbour. WO11 Strachan, pronounced Strawn frowned upon everything and virtually everyone.
He apart, I totally agree, that ALL the Watches were a team and worked together as such. The one area where there was competition was in the GUHOR Book and I confess that the I Corps were the champions. This was raised a bit before you blessed us with your presence, sincerely meant and you may have known it under another name. Basically it was a book, left in the 'Set Room', in which all and sundry could contribute their thoughts, feelings, ideas, gossip etc.
With regard to Lasting Friendships, I cannot go back quite as far you but I confess to having a soft spot for Peter Aloysius Talbot Fabius Shoreland, M.Inst S M, who I have been proud to have as a friend for well over 40 years and Tom N, who, due to the difference in our ranks was never a friend but certainly someone I trusted and admired. 

I was deadly serious. You Signals chappies always talk in numbers, No1 Wireless Regt, 12 this and 225 that. Don't forget that I was petrified (turned to stone rather than frightened) in 56 and knew of nothing apart from Munster / Munchen Gladbach/Langeleben. Apart from saying the 'Regt' or ‘on detachment’ that's how we addressed postings. No NAAFI just two dear old ladies from the Church of Jocks once a week, snow permitting.
The GUHOR book was either before OR after me certainly not 'during'. I think I would have known about it - even contributed! Now someone has to explain what G....R meant, please. 

St Paul , if you wish to see what a Guhor was like look on the photos for Langeleben 1958 - 59 and the very bottom one, under B watch you will see the ' Peanut ' shape of Guhor. In the Z codes it was ZAN GUHOR, meaning - ' I HAVE NO RESPONSE' For the US Gentex network it meant ' HEAVY DELAY'
To me, GUHOR on it's own meant ' I HEAR SFA '.This was when INT was used before the Q signals; viz INT ZBZ or QSA IMI. Do I really know what I am on about? I doubt it.


Paul, Not all Ops talked in numbers, especially in our day. By the way, do you know the name of the good looking guy standing on Fred Sanderson is right in the picture of the four skiers under your photos? 

Oh enlightened one from the Hanham hinterland (MH),yer sporadics cannot be ignored, Ceasar geezer had the 'beware the ides of March',but ignore yer sporadics at yer peril.! 'is majesty Croxson will have a problem wiv that lot not to mention lowly A2,ace 4.45,no mpc Hudson !

Dear Pietro, how disappointed I am in your lack of belief in my ability. I attained my A2 (God knows how, 'cos I still type with 6 fingers - 3 on each hand) and for some reason, being only a lowly 2 striper, but having been part of the team that won the Rheindahlen area First Aid championship for 13 Sigs in '69, my reward was to be allowed to participate in my MPT1, GOD IS GOOD AND THEN THERE'S DEATH. Such fun, perhaps if we had lost I would have been promoted to Acting Signalman. Surprise, surprise (Cilla 'ere) I passed and got me piccie again in the Wire. For some reason Peter Baldwin,( I claim familiarity, as a CIVILIAN, but still respect a truly magnificent C.O), had more faith in me than I had, or anyone before me had. Come to think of it, I got more recognition in Birgelin than I did anywhere. It must have been the old maxim, (no, not the lads mag),’if you don't know what to do with them, promote them’.

I can only concur with your thoughts, Paul, all through my long and illustrious service with the I Corps the relationship with the Signals was generally excellent. A certain rivalry, perhaps, but never came to blows. That "comradeship" was certainly a feature of life in all the Y Service units I ever served with, like you I still have contact with friends I served with over thirty years ago. Problems came mainly from outside the Y trades, I think some of the Neanderthals from the Training Wing of 13 Sigs were of the opinion that the Regiment existed solely for their benefit. The one day a month we were turned over to these sons of bachelors was usually an unpleasant one, to say the least. (Reminded me of the scenes where the recruits are being trained in "All quiet on the Western Front"). To be fair, the Spec Ops ("What's so special about you?") - and especially Radio Technicians, for some reason - also got a beasting. Fortunately I didn't spend very much time at Birgelen. 

St Paul, don't come the knuckling of the forelock, ever so 'umble me Lord, it does not do you justice. The thing that baffles me is when tou say you do not recognise the numbers. Depenedent where you were and when you were, was't thou not aware of the Regiment, Squadron or whatever you were attatched to???
Viz: If tha' found tha'self at Scharfoldendorf it wer' 225 until we buggered of down the road to Langeleben in '67 and then 'twere still t' same. Prior to that however it wa' 13 Sigs that ruled.
Eeh Lad, a person of tha intellect and dunna know t'arse from t'elbow? My good friend Pietro, perhaps you could elucidate and phrase it so these Intelligence Wallahs can understand where they were. But use the Nato Phonetic, Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog - NOT - Alpha, Bravo etc, (probably a bit after their time) 

As far as I am concerned "A2" takes me to Dover .
The last time that I used a number as an address on this forum Tom had to point out that I had got it wrong, and as for Squadrons and Regiments how do you expect someone who merely spent his time in a 'Corps' to understand.
'Squadrons for me belong to Douglas Bader, the Battle of Britain and Dam Busters. "regiments" apply to ''monstrous women". I await some learned gentleman now telling me the origins of both, it's OK, I think I know. Blast, just made a hole in the carpet with my bloody spurs. 

You probably know this already but the Royal Signals are classed as being mounted as opposed to being foot soldiers and as such our main unit is a Regiment consisting of Squadrons and within the Squadron, Troops.
This equates to the infantry Battalion, Company and Platoons. 

I  can’t remember the last time I was ‘mounted’, in fact if I was given the chance I would have to get out the instruction manual to see what I had to do,

Ere, knucklin forelocks and being ‘mounted’ ,where is this site going and Tench talking about wellies and sheep,will it be safe to turn up at Barrow in May?
A very concerned spec op (so it states in the discharge book)

The Army as an (dis)organisation has always been, to me a matter of wonder and, sadly, amusement. Tom, your explanation only goes to prove it.
In my day in the I Corps we did what was called "Corps Training". For two incredibly intense weeks we had to study and learn the British Army's order of battle and structure, longer than we spent learning that of the Russian Army.
Look what the army can do with such a thing as a 'Corporal' when it gets to the Cavalry and the ranks of Generals are only slightly less confusing than Admirals.

Croxson you swine, how dare you use language like that on a site that genital folk and the occasional lady view? Take back the A2, until at at least those Bloody Roadworks from the M25 have been finished!
Unless it has escaped your memory, The Intelligence Corps and the Royal Corps of Signals are both ' Corps '. I cannot believe that you were never attatched to anything that did not have a number. You'll be telling me next that you never had a Coop Divi number or even a telephone number.

My Grandmother's Co-op number was 16 12 48. We never had one, living in a Council ‘ouse, we were too posh. Everything in her house was ‘Wheatsheaf’ brand from the Co-op. They buried her too but we didn't dare ask for the divi on that!
I served two weeks and a few days in the Royal Army Service Corps. in No5 training Battalion, Blenheim Barracks Aldershot. Ah ha, a number that's why I fled its ranks.
The Intelligence Corpse never spent any time mounted, not being re-formed until 1941, and we were not infantry at least I don’t think so! More Post Horse than Post Haste. It was, until the arrival on the scene of the Parachute Regt, the youngest in the British Army. Motorbikes rather than Dobbins were our thing.
Pollards 7059 ws my first telephone number, well half of it was a number.
When I have bugger all else to drivel on about I will bore you all with the little story of the chap in a gun crew who just stood there doing sweet F.A. On investigation it was found that he was there to hold the horses steady when the guns were fired, except the guns were not horse drawn.
Did I hear the word 'tradition'? Damn, Now I've spoilt the story.

St Paul , you should have been a Politician, because you never answer a question fully, just merely start another topic.
I have, on two occasions delivered to Pollards in Fenny Stratford but have never come across a district or area called ' Pollards', could it by any chance be Pollards Hill in Mitcham?
For years I have been convinced that my parents Coop number, from the Burslem and District Coop was 40945, but a few days ago I half heard something on the Radio, where someone had said his' Divi ' number was 5 figure and was told that all numbers were 6 figure. Testicles, I thought, me Mum's woz 5, then you come up with Grand Mater’s as 6 digits! Does anyone else have or had a 5 figure Coop Divi number?
Lastly, with the I Corps you were presumably attached to other units that had a number, must have if you were at Langeleben. You even had an Army number, now was that 5 or 6 digits?


Sir, Do you never give in or up? As far as I am aware GCHQ never had a unit number, no doubt you will correct me in due course!
Yes, I confess to 2 weeks at No. ONE Witless Regt at Munster before fleeing from that only to find to my horror that even those grotty tents at Langeleben had been given a number (was it 101?). Madness on a grand scale.
So ... in addition to the Army saluting anything and painting or blancoing everything one has to add an obsession with numbering everything.
Love and kisses

Now, you have really intrigued me (as no doubt you intended to do). As yoiu know damned well, I went to Pollards Hill Junior Mixed School , Greenwood Road (I forget the number) Mitcham Surrey. One of Britain 's leading Prep schools allowing a seamless path to Eton, Harrow and Mitcham County School for Boys. Twas from there I took my 9+, it was before inflation perhaps I should add.
My sister and two brothers also attended there too.
Get a new subject out of that lot if you can.

I believe the man holding the non existing horses was No 6 in the gun crew and even Langeleben had a No when I was there being 101 Wireless Troop.

I have just decided to join the 'regiment entrenge'.(the foriegn legion to the uneducated),they all speak different languages, but I think I still have more chance understanding wot is occurring,than ere on dis site!! Will the interprewters be in attendance on the 12th? 

Paul, you should know by now I am THE Old Phart Grey Grumpy Git, hated by all, loved by none, with the possible exception of Shorep, who still thinks I am the Moufflon arisen. So, like so many your Primary is no more, or has it changed its name and location to Garden, Sherwood or William Morris. As a total aside, how come you have a Tamworth Manor Secondary, when Tamworth Manor is in God's and my County, Staffordshire? Dare I say 'tis a pity you did not live in Longthornton, then you could have gone to the ' Lonesome First School '?
So your Alma Mater was Mitcham County Grammar School for Boys, does that make you an Old Mitchamian? Mine was Hanley High School and that makes me an Old Hanlensian. 'Carmen litem nunc audite etc,' never made a Prefect but never had a detention. Alas, never had syblings either, when a Dr Dash, who was the School Doctor said, ' Mrs Hudson, if you can breed them like that then you should have more' - she hit him!
Of course GCHQ had a number, 01242 709 095 as I remember though I think that 0845 330 4572 rings a bell, (no pun intended).

Incidentally, when can we get Shorep back from his attempt to be Beau Geste? The ony thing he has ridden is the Moufflon, I would hate to see him on a Donkey, Horse or Camel.

No. 4 Communications Company, Intelligence Corps ("4 Comms"),
with a sub-unit "Loughborough Detatchment, 4 Communications Company" ("Det 4 Comms").


What do you mean 'occasional lady'...there is nothing occasional about this lady!!

I knew it!
I will claim immunity on the GCHQ on the basis that when I was there (1954) it had no number, but then, I could be wrong - it happens frequently.
Aha, El 'Udson walked straight into my fiendish trap. NO, I did not go to Mitcham County School for Boys (or Girls for that matter, even though my sister did).
I went to Rutlish School Merton which was an extraordinary school in its time. Apart from me, the most famous of its Old Boys (Old Rutlishians) being John Major and Jerry Cottle. It was literally virtually destroyed by Merton Borough Council as a Political act as it could not get the Governors to release its vast playing fields and the considerable sums of money in the Rutlish Charity and the John Innes Charity. Funny, but a number of the school names you mention have either disappeared or appeared post-me in Mitcham. "Lonesome" brings back memories as we hated walking along the little road called 'The Lonesome' as all the cemetry workers lived there. Only the Salvation Army penetrated its murky depths, 10 o'clock every Sunday to the Citadel.
I don't do puzzles on the basis that it is in direct contravention of my professional status, but thanks for the thought.
Can't stop as I am working today, trying to earn enough money to buy anyone who is nice to me a drink in Konigslutter. By the way, which is the cheapest Bar there?

Ay up O' comely Buxom Wench, dunna get tha' knickers in a twist. I am not importuning tha' reputation but treating thee as one of t'lads. T' lasses I referred to were Gill Robson (ex Spec Op Clem Robson's ex missus) and Andrea Wiestra (Royal Canadian Signals), both of whom ' peek' but I have not yet persuaded to go all the way, (by contibuting). Nay lass, tha's nowt occasional about tha', tha's 100% 'Reet Gradeley', dunna know about Clivicus but tha' brings me out in Hot sweats.

That's all right then, so long as I am 'one of t'lads', I feel well honoured.
Some of the army wives were a bit snobby about me. I remember one do we had in the cookhouse and one lad spoke to me and his wife told him off for talking to to such 'trash' as me. Then others felt it was a shame that I was alone with all you men and said I could join them on the ‘Wives Nights’ which was so kind. I was no threat to any woman's man, I was a good catholic girl I was, (so my priest said when I married Olive).

If you are at the reunion at Koeniglutter next month, look up Robbie McCallum and Ron Mason (God help you all that they will be there together for the first time in over 30 years, lock up the ladies..) they know me and old Gypo

Molly, I'll find summat to annoy thee, cos I am the proverbial pain 't rectum. I honestly cannot EVER remember seeing a Hausefrau, or even a Wife at Langeleben, how things changed in a short space of time. Without prejudice, I'll bet ow't that it wanna a SIGGIES WIFE! Or at least, not unless tha'd been giving tha' Gina Lollo whatsits air room!
I never really came across wives, at least not in the way that could be interpreted, until I went to Birgelin and then I met very few that were ' Snobby'. If you met any ' OPPOSITION' ' , It was probably because they were jealous, tha's a comely wench!
I always remeber a certain Occifers wife at Scharf, who reminded me that ' Ladies Glow, Horses perspire and soldiers sweat '.
Without the NAAFI Lasses, Quarancs, WRAC ET AL, WE POOR LITTLE SODS COULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED. Just put your 'Super Slapper ' down as all Fur Coat and now't else underneath. I doubt I'll Get much opposition when I say you lasses were t'salt of the earth.

I am sorry Marlene but I am a bit confused. Who was the forward looking Priest who was willing to marry you to Olive? Was that before or whilst you were married to Clive, if before, I hope that you got a proper divorce. These menages a trois can be SO difficult.

Paul, perhaps it was Clive, before the surgeon did his little trick and grafted on one of JR's sausages. Or could it be that Mo the Mighty is really Popeye in disguise?

Thats it,Hudson dropped into vernecular(and verneculee),even Tom is talking about non existent horses, I'm orf to count the ducks in Dinton pastures and make sur they are all in a row.

Oh Shorep the Mighty, was't talkin' about ' Vernacular '? If so I dont think that Verniculee applies to whosoever you were indicating. On t'other hand, coulds't tha' have meant Funiculý, FuniculÓ? Which is a famous song written by Italian journalist Peppino Turco and set to music by Italian composer Luigi Denza in 1880. It was composed to commemorate the opening of the first funicular on Mount Vesuvius . It was sung for the first time in the Quisisana Hotel in Castellammare di Stabia and met with huge success. It was presented by Turco and Denza to celebrate ‘Piedigrotta's Day’ during the same year. Piedigrotta (meaning, literally, at the foot of the grotto), a section of the Mergellina quarter of Naples , Italy . It was so-called due to the presence of the Church of the Madonna of Piedigrotta near the entrance to an ancient Roman tunnel. The area was also well-known for a yearly festival, which gave rise to a song writing competition leading to the commercial birth of the popular Neapolitan Song.
La La, La La, Dumty dumpty dum, Funiculý, FuniculÓ etc. Just off on me Ice Cream round,

Paul, you may not have seen my previous post where I told the story (true) that poor Clive was christened ‘Olive’ by a shortsighted vicar and we found out just prior to the wedding when we applied for the certificate. Don't talk to me about those ‘menages a trois’, those little peas are the devil to pick up with your fork!

Just to say ‘hello’ Marlene (and Clive), at long last, I have enjoyed reading all your comments although when I was at Langeleben in 56-57 we did not have a NAAFI let alone a NAAFI girl!! You mentioned at one stage wives looking down on you but I do not think that had anything to do with you being NAAFI or German but some wives are just like that. A case is point is that on my last posting to Cyprus during the Turkish invasion our RSM died of a brain tumour and the CO Lt COL H Johnstone said I had to take over as RSM. At the time I was WO1(Supervisor Radio) 2i/c in the Ops Block. When my boss Stan Brice pointed out to the CO that it should be an RD type who took over he was told in no short terms that the CO wanted me to do it.
At first my wife had a hell of a job from some of the wives who kept telling her that it must be great for her that I was RSM and not their husbands until she pointed out that I was already getting paid more than an RSM and in fact it was a come down for me and that put them straight. I must admit that I had no trouble at all from the husbands although I could understand how they felt.
It was unfortunate that during my 22 years I found that some wives took more note of ranks than their husbands did and, more to the point. thought the rank was theirs.
Anyway Marlene that is life but from your postings on this site it has not bothered you too much.

Thanks for that and I totally see where you are coming from and as you say "some wives took more note of ranks than their husbands did and more to the point thought the rank was theirs." That must be exactly it. You see it in footballers/cricketers wives and so on and I agree it happens in the forces too.
Firstly I think too that one can be judged on what they do as a job and judged accordingly. without incriminating any NAAFI girl in particular, I know that 'some' had a name for themselves which can happen in all walks of life. I was always mindful of this and count myself lucky to be in Langeleben with a team of gentlemen who took "no" as "no" and treated me with the respect they would have accorded to a loved sister if you catch my drift. We had a great time as a result! The night I am talking about where ONE wife took the attitude she did and wouldn't allow her husband to talk to me, I guess she was worried about him. He was one person who was most definately not like the other gentlemen of Langeleben and constantly made a pest of himself. Maybe he gave her cause to be how she was, who knows..

The wives in the main were lovely and they often held their wives club in the social area of the Naafi and knowing I didn't get much female company even invited me to join them. My Naafi Manageress wouldn't allow it as she said they had never invited her so why should I go..so I had to refuse. Remember I was only 20.
You know all of my memories of the men in Langeleben are wonderful, I have NO bad memories connected with any man there and judging by the lovely men on this forum and in the guestbook, nothing has changed. But some of the English women I encountered there were very strange in behaviour. It was a little like this in Colchester too (Roman Barracks). Maybe it's me

Thanks for replying and identifying; it helps a lot. as you say it hasn't bothered me too much.. I married one of the best and we have been very happy for 35 years this year. Can't ask for more.

Marlene de Wunda Wumman, I gather from your comments that you never lived in 'Married Pads'. The phrase ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ springs readily to mind.
My first ' Put Down', was at 225 Scharfoldendorf. Myself, Screw Crofts, Drew Duncan and, I think, Bob McReady had been out a Cross Country training run. As we emerged from the woods onto the 'Pads road', we came upon a horserider whose mount was 'lathering' and the female rider was perspiring profusely. I made the comment that they looked as sweaty as we did, to be told: Soldier, Horses and other ranks sweat, Gentleman perspire and Ladies Glow.
My only addendum is that this was not a R Signal wife and she sweated, and anyone who was at Scharf in the mid 60's will probably know who I am on about
Other than said wench, the only P I A, (Pain in the 'arris) was a male I Corps WO2, who I had the misfortune to live next door to at Birgelen. He was an Enigma, named Strachan, pronounced Straun and like a Pelican or Zebra, cross at your peril! (You’ve mentioned him before.ed)
Just beating tha' in the marital stakes, Octember 6th and me and Senior Management will have done 39 years. Now wait for the TOGS to go int treble figures!

End of chapter 5

Last updated 08 March 2008


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