History of the Royal Signals

A journey through time

Certa cito

A combat support arm

Formed in 1920

Royal Signals are responsible for installing, operating, maintaining and running telecommunications equipment and information systems.

Warrant signed by Winston Churchill

A Royal Warrant was signed by the Secretary of State for War, the Right Honourable Winston S Churchill, giving the sovereign’s approval for the formation of a ‘Corps of Signals’. Six weeks later, on the 5th August 1920 His Majesty the King conferred the title ‘Royal Corps of Signals’.

WW2 losses

World War Two saw 4,362 members of the Royal Signals give their lives. We will remember them…

Royal Corps of Signals today

Protecting the British Army’s weaponry from attacks

 

The Work of The Corps

Communications have always been a vital part of the British Army’s fighting power. Only with clear and trusted communications can commanders support, control and lead their soldiers

The Royal Corps of Signals was founded in 1920 to provide communications for the army and has been leading the development of communications ever since, delivering them in a variety of operational theatres.

Fast moving and game-changing, the Royal Signals are leaders in IT, cyber and telecommunications. Its personal are trained to become experts in engineering and operating systems, networks and cyber equipment.

 

Combat Support

First in, last out

Frequently among the first in to conflict Royal Signals soldiers have the technical and tactical skills to provide and operate Field Headquarters and to ensure commanders have battle-winning information. As a combat support arm The Royal Corps of Signals largely controls the means by which intelligence is passed to the decision makers and the mechanisms by which decisions and orders are communicated.

Problem solving, team-work, tactics and technical skills

Royal Signals soldiers fight alongside front-line troops, control and resource operations and understand, assimilate and respond to the pressures and urgent needs of commanders and staff. Within the modern-day electronic battlefield, with its increasingly complex, sophisticated and often hidden enemy Royal Signals soldiers and officers are responsible for ensuring the British Army’s sophisticated weaponry and command and control systems are protected from cyber, nuclear/ non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and other attacks.

When required Signals’ specialists will conduct electronic warfare – intercepting and jamming enemy communications. They are among the first to support humanitarian missions – restoring and maintaining lines of communication and setting-up essential, secure Headquarters – to ensure help and support is efficiently dispatched to where it is most needed. 

 

At The Museum

The Royal Signals Museum traces the story of military communications from ancient times to present day. At our interactive galleries, visitors can drive an armoured vehicle through a virtual landscape, set up a satellite network and practice Morse Code.

 

Royal Signals support the Army’s battle with cyber and information assurance

The Royal Signals Museum has joined Bloomberg Connects. The image, against a white background, gives insight on what is available on the app.

Corps History Pre Corps to WW2

Early communications – pre Corps

Early communications – pre Corps

From the earliest of times armies have used some form of signalling. The Greeks had the torch telegraph and the water telegraph, the Roman Army used coloured smoke as a means of communication

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Signals service pre 1920

Signals service pre 1920

By the end of WW1 there were some 70,000 signallers. In 1918, at the Battle of Amiens, trench warfare was largely replaced by the birth of modern warfare. The extensive use of artillery produced a further demand for dedicated signal sections, including liaison with spotter aircraft.

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Formation of the Corps

Formation of the Corps

The Corps of Signals was formed on the 28th June 1920 when a Royal Warrant was signed by the Secretary of State for War, the Right Honourable Winston S Churchill. Six weeks later, HM the King conferred the title ‘Royal Corps of Signals’.

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The inter-war years

During the years between the two World Wars the Corps grew in strength and had personnel serving in various overseas stations – Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon, Egypt, Jamaica plus many other ‘out – posts of the Empire’.

The largest portion of the Corps was based overseas with one third concentrated in India. In Britain the most innovative area for regular signals units related to the establishment of armoured forces.

The provision of more specialised signals units remained the province of the Supplementary Reserve and the Territorial Army, which formed and supported units for GHQ troops, lines of communication for air force liaison and anti-aircraft units.

A key weakness of the British Army Order of Battle remained the lack of Signals units at corps level, this changed during WW2.

WW1 & WW2 Communications

WW1 & WW2 Communications

At the beginning of the war civilian telephones were pressed into front line services. However, they were not designed to operate in damp, muddy conditions. The telephone D Mark III became the standard army field telephone an example of which is displayed in the Museum.

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Corps History WW2

Corps history WW2

Corps history WW2

Throughout World War Two (WW2) members of the Royal Corps of Signals served in every theatre of war. By 1945 The Corps had expanded to a serving strength of 8,518 officers and 142,472 soldiers; more than today’s entire British Army.

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Royal Signals Museum NAAFI Cafe 1940s feel. Hot and cold meals, drinks and sandwiches

'This is an outstanding, historic and humbling record of the contribution made by individuals in the Royal Signals plus the Indian Signal Corps who worked with Royal Signals and Queen's Gurkha Signals from 1920 to 2020.'

Mike Lithgow (via Amazon review)
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Phantom

Phantom

Shortly after the demise of Poland a GHQ Liaison Regiment known as ‘Phantom’ was established.

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Special wireless groups

Special wireless groups

During WW2 Signal intelligence was crucial to the Allied victory with a number of Special Wireless Groups established prior to and during this period.

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Women, secrets and signals

Women, secrets and signals

Women were not part of the Royal Corps of Signals during WW2 but a number of women from the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) with special skills were selected for training as radio operators.

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Corps History – Cold War to Modern Day

Cold War Era

Cold War Era

Cold War Era 1947-1991Since 1945 Royal Signals personnel have participated in all conflicts involving the nation. The end of World War Two (WW2) did...

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