Assistant tradesman for duty as checks

Discussion in 'Trux Discussion Area' started by pamak, May 19, 2021.

  1. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    Hello everybody,

    I would appreciate a clarification on two issues related to duties and trades

    First question: does anybody know the meaning of "check" in the following reference?

    from Trux's forum

    War Establishment III/25A/2. December 1943

    "3 X assistant tradesman for duty as checks"

    The second question is related to whether these "checks" were tradesmen or not. I am asking because even though they are called "assistant tradesmen" in the telegraph operating section, they are classified as non-tradesmen in another WE (Canadian) I have seen.

    For example, from

    Operating Section (CDN III/29G) -
    the CDN III/29G/1 - effective 9 June 1942 mentions under the "non-tradesmen" group
    1 batman
    8 checks
    2 drivers IC.

    Thank you

    p.s. I noticed in the Canadian WE that even drivers IC are classified as non-tradesmen. I thought that any type of driver (including a driver IC) would be considered a tradesman.
  2. Pronto91

    Pronto91 Canadian Signals Researcher

    I'm afraid I can't answer what a 'Check' is but....

    ...they seem to be non-tradesmen throughout the Canadian WEs. See the equivalent Canadian WE for a Telegraph Operating Section which differs from the British version. It has them in the same category as the Operating Section.

    ...they seem to have disappeared in the updated WEs starting in Jan 1943. Not clear if they were just done away with or what they might have been converted to as the numbers don't align.
  3. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    Yes, I noticed that in the Canadian Wes.

    I have a wild guess regarding the "check" duties based on the fact that these are signalmen (as it is mentioned in the WE). I think that in some armies, radio procedures included the use of two people in the operation of a a radio station with the assistant operator "checking" the work of the main operator. I do not have with me the related British pamphlets to see if such "check" duty was performed by the assistant operator who presumably had the lowest level of skill. I guess, if a driver IC is not considered a tradesman (even though he was taught to drive some basic equipment) then perhaps there is a similar attitude with the signal personnel which has the bare minimum signal skills.

    Incidentally, I found a link with some info about these assistant operators

    The Y service 1939-45

    The course was 20 weeks long with an examination at the end of 12 weeks, the lowest trade qualification for an operator was ‘Group E' Assistant Operator. The next 8 weeks was to train for the final examination, which was for Morse code at 18 words per minute. Speed is calculated at five letters per word, and 18 wpm represents 1.5 letters per second. Success in the final examination would earn the rating of Operator Wireless and Line, Group B Class 3, which carried a pay increase of sixpence per day (2.5p per day)

    I think that this assistant operator "(group E) is the assistant tradesman that is mentioned in the WE. If I also recall well, I have not seen (group E) mentioned in any case of tradesmen in the Wes I have seen. So, this assistant operator is for the signalmen what the driver IC is for the drivers (and neither of them is considered a true tradesman according to the Canadians at least.

    But of course, all the above are not based on solid data.
  4. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    A.C.I. 2495 of 1942, 25.11.1942
    "Army Class Intakes - Tradesmen
    1. ...
    2. The Ministry of Labour and National Service supplies tradesmen of the following types to meet the requirements of the Army.
    (a) Fully-qualified tradesmen.
    Men whose civil occupation qualifies them to be mustered in the service to which they have been posted, without further training. -
    These men are recorded in column 6 of Ministry of Labour and National Service form N.S. 23 by the code number only of the service trade in which they are posted.
    (b) Semi-qualified tradesmen (E)
    Men who belong to a civilian trade or occupation which makes them suitable for employment in the army trade to which posted, after a short period of training. -
    These men are recorded in column 6 of Ministry of Labour and National Service form N.S. 23 by the code number of the service trade in which they are posted plus the letter "E", which signifies the equivalent of army group "E" or "Leaner" standard.
    (c) Potential tradesmen (T)
    Men with insufficient experience to be classified under sub-para. (b) above, but who, by reason of their civil occupation, general intelligence, or their hobbies, may be likely to qualify as Class III tradesmen ...

    After that 174 trades are listed. No "check" trade at all, nearest are "14. Checker (railway)" and "126. Checker (docks)".
    Last edited: May 19, 2021
    worsil and Pronto91 like this.
  5. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    Thanks Aixman.

    Your source verifies that a "check" is a type of duty that is performed by low-skilled semi-qualified tradesmen (Group E) who are considered non-tradesmen. I guess it is similar to having a person performing the duty of sentry. There is not a trade of "sentry" but some soldiers (usually the ones with lower skills) are chosen daily for guard duties . Still, this duty performed by these low-skilled signalmen was important enough to be considered in the WE.
  6. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    I have one question Aixman. Does your source give for every trade a brief explanation of the basic duties and responsibilities?

    I am asking because the equivalent (I assume) source for the US (TM 12-407) gives such description 12-427.pdf

    If that is the case, then can you see the description for the Assistant Operator (Group E)?

    Based on a previous post, the Group E Assistant Operator was "the lowest trade qualification for an operator," (signals) so perhaps the description of his duties may include the duty of "check" which appears in the OP's War Establishment.

  7. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    There is only the list with the qualification term as I quoted the two examples.
    This list was appended several times during the war. There are nearly 100 entries in A.C.Is. returned for the search string "trade" in my collection which is in no way complete. While the quoted list shows only pure numbers, an amendment of 27.05.1944 shows several entries with the usual additional A and B replenishments, so that it will be difficult to form a complete list. Trades seem to be a science of their own.

    Great Technical Manual, by the way. Thanks for sharing. A British equivalent is not expected to be published in A.C.Is. There would be only a short entry telling that an Army Order, Pamphlet or whatever had been published elsewhere.
  8. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I thought the term 'checks' rang a bell, but only just realised where to look for it.

    Signal Training (All Arms) Pamphlet No.8 - Signal Office working 1944 (May 1944)

    Check - a soldier who carries signal traffic between the signal clerk and terminals.

    Signal clerk - the NCO or man at a signal office who is responsible for the control and registration if signal traffic.

    Terminal - a signal instrument and those who man it, eg a wireless set together with its crew.

    The above are three examples from the short glossary at the start of the pamphlet that briefly note what a check did and where he fitted into the system. The earlier WE for an Operating Section (III/137/1 of Jan1942) had two men as Checks, both Group E Tradesmen. The Tech Maintenance Section (III30D/4) of Dec1941 included a storeman as a Tradesman Group E. I noticed looking through there is a billet for an Assistant Tradesmen for duty as Storeman in a number of Sigs WEs for the 1943-45 period. I won't pretend to be an expert on tradesmen (especially given the breadth of the subject outlined by Aixman), however I wonder if Assistant Tradesman was the successor to the Group E status, with full Tradesmen being in the A-D bracket? That differentiation of tradesmen by letter I think, and just going from memory, disappears from WEs during 1943ish.

    Pronto91 likes this.
  9. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    Thanks for the effort Aixman.

    I am certainly way more familiar with US practices and I often find quite challenging to follow the British terminology and practices (English is my second language).
  10. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    It seems you nailed it mate!

    I was always interested in the organization of the signal office in large British formations. Again, I am more familiar with the US practices. Below is a video which shows in detail the procedure for outgoing messages in a message center (the equivalent US term for a signal office) which serves a Corps HQ.

    Notice the "check" soldier who acts as a local messenger carrying messages from the signal clerk to the wireless station.

    While messengers who carry documents from one HQ to another must have considerable skills (like driving, navigating, etc) and initiative to perform their mission, I would expect that local messengers who carry signal traffic from one tent to another at a short distance within the same headquarters signal installations can be low-skilled personnel.

    Here is a document with cross reference of US and British terminology. Page 41 shows that a "message center" is the US equivalent of a "signal office"

    My understanding up until now is similar to yours and that the term "check" was dropped in later WE but was always assumed to be one of the duties performed by the "orderlies, privates mentioned in the later WEs.
    There is also the issue of the formation of a "staff message control" which makes the issue of distributing signal traffic more complicated for later HQ formations.

    Trux's Wes shows the staff message control composition for for 2nd Army Rear HQ

    War Establishment XIV/250/2. December 1944.


    Staff Message Control
    10 X clerk RASC including
    Warrant Officer Class II
    2 X corporal
    6 X private

    (later amendment deleted the quartermaster)

    It is interesting that there is no mentioning of staff message control for the Army's main HQ

    I know from US practices that staff message control was often formed to deal exclusively with the routing and delivery of messages inside a HQ and relieve the signal office personnel from such task so that it could focus on other things like testing and addressing signal faults. so I assume the British followed a similar practice later in the war when bigger HQs had to deal with a lot of signal traffic.

    See an example of signal traffic with clear remarks about the distribution of the message to different officers and the stamp of the staff message control at SHAEF

    I suspect that some (all?) 6 privates of the staff message control in the Rear HQ of the 2nd British Army were acting as "checks" and delivered incoming signal traffic to the various staff officers. I am not sure though if they were also exclusively responsible for delivering also outgoing messages (for transmission from the staff to the signal office) as they were returning back to the staff message control or if other privates within the different staff sections were also responsible for such job.

    So, perhaps the flow of incoming messages in a Rear Army HQ was something like this: orderlies (privates) from the various signal sections were delivering the messages to the staff message control where they were recorded, reproduced for delivering them to numerous departments within the HQ and then orderlies (privates) from the message section were taking the copies and delivered them to the various officers based on the distribution list. As for the smaller Main Army HQ, the procedure was probably more straightforward and privates (orderlies) from the different signal sections were delivering the message to the signal office where it was registered and perhaps reproduced in limited numbers and from there to the War Room (G2/G3) where the message was posted on the board and every officer became aware of it.

    I recall I have somewhere some files about the SOP of the First Canadian Army from the Heritage project. I will see later if I can locate them to see if they describe in more detail the routing process of incoming and outgoing signals. I know that in the US Army, it is the responsibility of the Adjutant to organize a system of internal distribution of documents.
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
  11. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    I absolutely know what you are talking about as I am in the same situation.
  12. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    Okay, I found some relative material in the Canadian online archives regarding the distribution of messages within the First Canadian Army Headquarters. The provisional standing orders explain the purpose of the staff message control.

    From T 6675

    see attachment 392

    If you go to the Heritage site and open the T 6675 , you will find the whole document of the standing orders which is very enlightening regarding the organization and functions of the Army HQ.

    Also, from T 21313 (First Canadian Army Signals diary's appendix (5) from the Admn HQ signals diary) we see that the Canadians were using the SMC only to facilitate the distribution of messages at the Main Command Post. Notice the last entry in the 1312 attachment. This entry also implies that the orderlies in the different HQ sections were also tasked with the internal distribution of messages.

    W.E. of Tg Op Sec changed, increasing the number of Oprs Swbd to 9 and decreasing the number of orderlies to 6. This change is not especially helpful to us as we have had as much need of orderlies as of oprs swbd, but does help the Tg Op Secs at Main Army HQ, their orderly problem being lessened by the existence of Staff Message Control, which Adm HQ does not have

    Attached Files:

  13. worsil

    worsil Member

    This is really helpful - thank you. Can I ask what your source is for this quote?
    I am trying to find out what trade "122N" refers to on my great-uncle's record - is that listed in the 174 trades you mention? (thanks in advance)
  14. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    A.C.I. 2495 of 1942, 25.11.1942. Army Council Instructions, periodically issued, first occasionally, than twice a week during most of the war. They referred to many things concerning the army, some more, some less obvious: the promulgation, superseding, amending and cancelling of war establishments (that's why I found the A.C.Is. once), promulgation ... of pamphlets (training and others), instructions, courses, organizational things (e.g.: changing artillery regiments to infantry battalions ...), ranks, promotion and appointments, clothing, equipment, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, camouflage, but also things as tax regulations, coal procurement and many more.

    A wealth of information!
    TNA: WO 295.
    WO 295/20 is for 1932.
    WO 293/34 is for 1945.

    The are no letters, only numbers.
    122 is Driver (I.C.)
    "I.C." means "internal combustion", to distinguish from the "traditional" driver (of horse wagons).
    worsil likes this.
  15. worsil

    worsil Member

    The 122 code appears twice on my gr-uncle's record - once in the section about occupation/industry, and also on another form in conjunction with him being certified as a qualified driver i/c on the date he enlisted. We suspected that it had something to do with driving, so this is a helpful confirmation - thank you.
  16. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    Maybe they registered his civilian driver's licence (and probably his experience) which enabled him to become a military driver, perhaps with easier conditions (given the sudden need of many drivers).
    worsil likes this.

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