Special Communications Unit No 4

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by GnrGnr, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    The outline service record of a R Sigs wireless operator shows him belonging to Special Communications Unit No 4 in the Middle East from April 43 until late 44. There are a few miscellaneous papers relating to these units at the National Archives but (surprise surprise) no diaries. Any pointers to put flesh on the meagre bones?

    Max
     
  2. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    More meagre bones to put with your meagre bones:
    Special Communications Unit

    This biography has S.C.U. No. 4 being formed in August 1944--are you certain on units/dates?
    Tuesday Writing Conversation: John Main
     
  3. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hi,
    Are these the War Diaries you are looking for?

    WO 169/16715 Royal Signals : SCU 4 (MERS) 1944 Jan.- Dec.

    WO 169/11277 Royal Signals : SCU 4 (MERS) 1943 Jan.- Dec.

    Regards

    Danny
     
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  4. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Charley - Those are both very helpful thank you. I am currently working from only an outline service record which has April 43 but the relative has yet to send for the man's detailed record which may change the dates/places. With your permission please I shall pass on these links via another less specialised forum?

    Danny - Separate answer.

    Max
     
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Two earlier and later diaries:

    Royal Signals: Special Communication Unit (4 MERS) (Sigs)
    Reference: WO 169/5583
    Description:
    Royal Signals: Special Communication Unit (4 MERS) (Sigs)
    Date: 1942 Oct.- Dec.

    S.C.U.4 (MERS)
    Reference: WO 169/23442
    Description: S.C.U.4 (MERS)
    Date: 1946 Jan.- June

    You need to find out what superior unit they were under and look at their paperwork. Purest guess based on nothing at all beyond a hunch, but could it be here?

    CBME cypher communications
    Reference: HW 51/55
    Description: CBME cypher communications
    Date: 1942 Dec 10 - 1944 Mar 11

    That's the Combined Bureau, Middle East.

    The Combined Bureau Middle East (CBME) was established in late 1940 at Heliopolis near Cairo in Egypt as the signals intelligence centre for the Middle East. It comprised army, air force and naval staff working on signals intelligence, and continued until March 1943.

    More possibles:

    Organisation of communications at CBME | The National Archives
    Government Code and Cypher School: Combined Bureau Middle East (CBME): Records | The National Archives

    Edit: Danny's got them--good work.
     
  6. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Danny - thank you, spent hours searching and never thought to use initials only doh! Bit of a date and place clash with the biography. If MERS means Middle East Royal Signals perhaps there were two SCU No 4 or the Jan-Dec 44 date for the second diary isn't right and the unit went to UK in August? Obviously the diaries would answer the question.
    I swore once to keep off the sneaky beakys!

    Max
     
  7. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Thanks Charley - I saw fleetingly in the NA catalogue reference to connection between SCU and CBME.

    Max

    HW 51/66
     
  8. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Danny

    My email says you posted another reply since the war diaries info above - was there another or is it perhaps just the flash to bang between here and my email.

    Max
     
  9. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Hello Max,
    No, I only posted one reply.

    Ah, the joys of “Discovery”. Spent many an hour trying to find a unit there.

    If you know the theatre of operations reference then it’s worth just putting the unit number in the “all of these words” box and say “signals” or “army service corps” etc in the “any of these words” box and wading through the results.

    Hope you find what you are looking for.

    Regards

    Danny
     
  10. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Many thanks - useful tips!

    Max
     
  11. StanAmes

    StanAmes Junior Member

    SCU4 was part of MI6 Section 8 (Communications). Special Communication Units were involved in interception, direction finding and two way communication from abroad back to secret two way stations in U.K. in the region of Bletchley Park. SCU3 was the Radio Security Service that intercepted enemy agent transmissions and their Abwehr control Stations. SCU4 referred to similar stations operating abroad. Staff of both wore Royal Signals uniforms but this was just a cover story. They were engaged in intelligence collection for MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service. There were also SLUs, Special Liaison Units, these were involved in highly secure two way communications conveying Ultra (Bletchley Park) intelligence to commanders in the field.
    MERS was Middle East Radio Security an associated organisation. RSS also employed 1500 radio amateurs “Voluntary Interceptors” to intercept the German agent messages from their homes.

    Max
    If you examine the the army record papers of the Royal Signals operator, you will see that it refers to “Special Enlistment”. He was not paid from army funds but from the Foreign Office by bank transfer. His pay was much higher than ordinary Signalmen. When abroad he received normal pay from the army and the rest was paid into his bank account. The whole operation was of the highest secrecy and even wives were not allowed to know what their husbands were doing. It started to leak out in 1979 with a TV program about RSS and more information has since been been released by GCHQ to The National Archives since. MI6 never release any information!

    Stan AMES
     
  12. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Stan

    Thank you - fascinating additional information. To my great frustration, I seem to have lost contact with the actual originator of the query (I acted as piggy in the middle). I have a vague memory of being in touch with a descendant who eventually was able to have her relative entered on the Bletchley Park Roll of Honour. I shall re-double my efforts in trying to make the connection again and pass this on.

    Max
     
  13. GnrGnr

    GnrGnr Well-Known Member

    Stan

    I managed to find the contact and have passed on your information, some, not all, of which, she was aware of. She remarked that it explained why the chap's wife was convinced her husband was a Japanese POW! The radio programme has probably long since disappeared I imagine.

    Max
     
  14. Dave Presland

    Dave Presland New Member

    Hi,
    I am trying to find details of my dad's service in SCU4 1944-48. I have only really started to look through his old paperwork/possessions, much of which is from his time in the middle East and contains among other things, photographs of people and places from that time. I have known for a long time that he was with SCU4 but didn't realise what they done and would love to get more information if possible. Can anyone point me in the right direction please, I would be glad to share copies of photos, paperwork etc,
    Dave
     

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