101 Special Wireless Section North Africa

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by brithm, Aug 20, 2015.

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  1. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Does anyone have any information relating to No. 101 Special Wireless Section in the North African campaign.

    I have been trundling through the interweb and finding only scraps of information on the unit.

    The information I am looking for is between late 1941 and 1942, something to do with finding German coordinates for their artillery firing.

    Thanks

    Brithm
     
  2. Trackfrower

    Trackfrower Member

    You might want to contact Phil Webb of the Bedford QLR Group as he has a great interest in the Y Service and has a preserved R Truck.

    Lawrence
     
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  3. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

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  4. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    The Y Service history is 'Spies of the Airwaves' by Hugh Skillen - it's not a cheap one, though. If you can hang on for a day or two and I can find my copy, I can give you an idea of what might be in there on 101.
     
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  5. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Trackfrower, Andreas & idler thanks for the tips and advice. Did not realise this was Y Service.

    I was speaking to a veterans daughter who told me how her father and a fellow officer managed to deciper the German co-odridnates for their maps.

    Thanks again guys!

    All the best

    brithm
     
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Hmm... not an easy read, but the only specific mention I've found of artillery 'spotting' by intercept is attributed to the Polish Special Duties Section in the Tobruk garrison (101 SWS being with XIII Corps on the outside trying to get in):

    101 SWS also begat an 'Experimental Armoured Division Special Wireless Section' that operated with 7 Armd Div. Although they were probably more concerned with tactical intercepts, one of their members believed that they had no direction finding capability. Conversely, the Poles had been ordered to make 3 D/F sets (shades of Scrapheap Challenge: cables from crashed aircraft, dials from guns and copper tubes from a restaurant!) which is what enabled them to locate the German transmitters.
     
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  7. Trackfrower

    Trackfrower Member

    I believe that both sides did well out of wireless intercepts, as lcal commander were usually a bit slack!
    Some of the British?Indian General useds Urdu and Hindustani as a code.
    Rommel lost his intercept unit just before El Alamain, rather inconveniently.

    Lawrence
     
  8. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    On one of my battlefield studies at Cassino a few years ago, I had a wonderful chap who has been in the Special Wireless element of the Royal Signals. His job was to follow 90 Pz Gren Div wherever they went and to listen in to all their radio transmissions. He spent weeks up on Snakeshead Ridge listening to the Div until they were relieved by 1 Para Div and were temporarily withdrawn from the line.

    His was quite a story of quiet endurance.

    Regards

    FdeP
     
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  9. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I remember reading in the book, Ultra Goes to War, about the SLU (Special Liason Unit), later to become SCU (Special Communications Unit) in North Africa.

    Would the Special Wireless Sections have a connection with the above due to all wireless transmissions being sent by Enigma encryption.

    The secret radio station location near Cairo called the Cottage, probably handled the communications gained by the listening posts.

    Regards
    Tom
     
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  10. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Thanks for all your and help and Idler for taking the time looking for artillery spotting reference.

    This is the information I received about the artillery spotting not sure if this helps.

    "An officer arranged a few concentrations of fire in certain spots, to which the Germans gave the reference in their code. If the morning reports agreed every day, he was able to transpose the meanings so or so many up or down and continue for the day. Both officers who helped with the code breaking received a congratulatory telegram from the Divisional Commander and the Corps Commander."

    Thanks again

    Brithm
     
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    That's something different, then: trying to crack a code by looking for known information (the coordinates of the target, presumably on a German/Italian map) in a message.

    The fact that a Div commander knew what was going on might suggest that this is the Experimental Armd Div SWS in action. Will have another look to see if there's anything else about them.
     
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  12. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    I have a little more info the congratulatory note came from 13th Corps Commander during 1941 sent to the 4th Indian Division if this helps.

    I think the two officers were operating with 4th Indian Division.
     
  13. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Any chance you could post that?

    With kind regards

    Andreas
     
  14. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Sorry I don't have the note but have been only told about the Corps and Division above but I assume 101 SWS would be attached to 4th Indian Division's Artillery.
     
  15. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    A section would have been. Just as the WD I posted showed a section having been posted to the NZ Division.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
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  16. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    I am hoping at some point to go and have a look at 101 SWS' war diary hopefully something will crop up and then I can post my finds.

    Brithm
     
  17. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Very helpful curator at the Royal Signals Museum copied 101 Special Wirless Section's War Diary for 1941, sadly September & October are missing which are the details I was looking for the details of breaking the German code.

    It's a terrific read though.
     

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