There are a number of well-known Corps heroes, heroines, role-models and inspirations. Those whose actions resulted in medals for gallantry include Major General Anthony Dean-Drummond CB DSO MC*, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Clarke GM QGM* MBE and Sergeant Len Owens MM. There are famous names in the world of sport, entertainment and politics – whose achievements are recognised within and beyond the Corps family too but what of others?
As part of the build up to the Corps Centenary units and individuals were asked to submit nominations so their example could be celebrated at Centenary events and in the future. The brief was:
‘Whence researching, units and sub-units may wish to identify former or current members of the Corps who set an example in a broad range of categories: gallantry; sporting achievement; the arts; public life; and business. We may also wish to consider men and women who inspire through overcoming personal challenges, illness or injury, and those who have contributed to charity or other noble causes in their free time. We have a rich heritage to explore, celebrate and take inspiration from. Go to it.”
The following have been selected by HQ Royal Signals from the nominations, additional names will be revealed over the coming weeks. There is no significance in the order of the postings. If anyone wishes to add to the list please email your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sig Gordon Banks OBE - World Cup winning footballer
Gordon Banks OBE 30 December 1937 – 12 February 2019. Banks was born in Sheffield and was a former England international football goalkeeper indeed he is still regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers of all time. He started every game of England’s World Cup win in 1966.
Like many other young men in the 1950’s Banks was called up for National service, a standardised form of peacetime conscription. All able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 30 were called up. They initially served for 18 months. But during the Korean War (1950-53), this was increased to two years.
Banks served as a Signalman driver with 101 Troop, 1 Wireless Regiment and was stationed in Langeleban, Lower Saxony, West Germany as part of the BAOR. His unit was responsible for monitoring the radio transmissions of the Warsaw Pact troops stationed in East Germany during the “Cold War”.
“Yorkie”, as he was known in the Troop was quickly noticed for his football skills and he played for his troop and the Regiment, helping them to win the Rhine Cup in 1957. He also played for the local German team SV Viktoria Königslutter where he is an honorary member.
After National Service, and a spell at Chesterfield, Banks was signed by Leicester City in 1959 for £7,000 and paid £15 per week. A far cry from the modern game today. He made 628 appearances during a 15-year career in the Football League, playing for Chesterfield, Leicester and Stoke and won 73 caps for his country and achieved everlasting fame and glory by helping England win the FIFA World Cup in 1966.
Lt Col Michael Butler - WW2 veteran, PTARMIGAN expert, 73 years of service to the Corps
MICHAEL BUTLER 4 January 1931 – 28 April 2018
Mike joined the Royal Signals as a 14 year old boy soldier, in 1945. In 1970, after 25 years as a soldier, he was commissioned as a Technical Officer Telecommunications.
From boy soldier
In the mid-70s he joined Combat Development Wing, at Blandford where his technical talents and skills were best utilised in the design and procurement of PTARMIGAN as well as being closely involved with the United States of America and the European Standardisation committees. His outstanding achievements whilst at Blandford were recognised with the award of the MBE.
Recognised as one of the leading experts on PTARMIGAN, he became responsible for PTARMIGAN equipment management at the Logistic Executive, Andover, which followed with his selection for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.
He played a pivotal role during the critical phase covering the introduction of PTARMIGAN into service, as the SO1 (W) PTARMIGAN Support Team. In 1987, following 17 years commissioned service, Michael Butler retired from active service and assumed a Retired Officer’s post in Headquarters 4 Signal Group. With the draw-down of forces within Europe, he transferred to the Communications Branch HQ UKSC(G) retaining responsibility for static PTARMIGAN, cross channel satellite and commercial radio projects, and Project RODIN, the replacement and modernisation of the telephone and fixed radio relay system within theatre.
Michael Butler had served 9 years as a Retired Officer on final retirement in 1996. His selfless service to the Corps, the Army and country will have totalled some 51 years. His talents, skills and attainments have marked him out amongst the best communications and technical engineers of the era. His contribution has been of the highest order and is considered manifestly to have enhanced the reputation of the Royal Corps of Signals. His achievements are marked by the presentation of the Master of Signals Award.
From boy soldier to revered volunteer
Mike served with the Museum as a volunteer and was working as acting Head of Research until he died in 2018 having given 73 years of service to the Corps. He is very sadly missed.
Mike is pictured below with PTARMIGAN in the Royal Signals Museum, Blandford
Cpl Steven Dunn - Killed in action interdicting insurgents on Op HERRICK
Steven Dunn joined the army in September 2000 after the completion of his basic and trade training he progressed to serve with 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron. Corporal Dunn having previously completed a tour in Iraq and two tours of Afghanistan deployed on Op HERRICK 13 along side 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.
Sadly on 21 December 2010 he was working with 2 PARA Patrols Platoon on a deliberate operation to interdict insurgents in the Bowri desert. During the operation his Jackal vehicle hit an IED.
Major Alistair Fawcett, Officer Commanding 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron said: “Corporal Steven Dunn died doing a job he loved while supporting 2 PARA Battle Group, a unit he had already served alongside on a previous Op HERRICK tour. 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron was a richer place for his presence and he is missed deeply already”. Steven is survived by his wife Cheryl and his daughter Emily.
Lt Gen Sir John Fowler KCB, KCMG, DSO - Mentioned in Dispatches 8 times, first Colonel Commandant
Sir John Fowler was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1886, joining the Telegraph Battalion in 1889. He enjoyed a full and exemplary military career, seeing action in numerous campaigns in the North West Frontier of India and was recommended for a Victoria Cross during the Chitral campaign of 1895, and was awarded the DSO and mentioned in Despatches. During the Boer War, Fowler served as Director of Telegraphs in the Orange Free State and in the decade prior to the outbreak of World War I, served in a variety of staff and command posts including Commandant of the Army Signal Schools at Aldershot and Bulford. This wealth of practical experience led to his appointment of Director of Army Signals in 1914.
Knighted for services
By 1918, Fowler had been mentioned in Despatches 8 times, promoted to Major General and knighted for his services as Director of Army Signals. He was the only senior officer who served on the staff at GHQ continuously from 1914 to 1918 and received notable praise from both Sir John French and Sir Douglas Haig who commended him on his “skill, energy, smoothness and efficiency.”
Sir John Fowler was appointed the first Colonel Commandant of the Royal Corps of Signals in 1923. From this position he successfully guided the Corps, during their formative years until 1934.
Sgt Neville Clifford Henshaw - Legion d'honneur
Neville Clifford Henshaw was born on 9 Nov 1924 in Nigeria, to parents Ernest and Georgiana Henshaw; missionaries working for the Sudan Interior Mission. Due to his mother’s illness, the family returned to Liverpool, where he was educated at Liverpool Institute and joined the Officer Training Corps.
D Day landings, Gold Beach 6th June 1944
In 1939, when Neville was 15, war was declared. By the age of 18, Neville received his call up papers and reported to General Service Battalion, Tweed Camp on 3 Mar 1943. He was posted to Royal Corps of Signals Unit in Chester, where he trained as a Teleprinter Operator. On 5 Jun 1944, Neville reported to Gosport to board the Landing Ship Tank for the D Day Landings. He landed on Gold Beach on 6 June with 92nd (WING) Signals Troop, a detachment of the 17th Air Formation Signals, where his role was to inform landing Units of their formation points.
He saw action in the Battles of Falaise and Caen, as well as in Ghent, Belgium, when he was detached to RAF Air Sea Rescue in Ostend. He escaped serious injury while on route to fix a line fault near Antwerp, when his Jeep drove over an anti-tank mine.
On return to Ghent, his unit received orders to join the XXX Corps (30 Corps), when Neville was further involved in action at Reich Wald Forest. He was then stationed at Schloss Bruhl near Cologne on the Rhine in the American Sector and spent time in the village of Wellingholzhausen near Osnabruck, until the campaign in Europe came to an end.
Post war service
On return to Bury following VE Day celebrations in Manchester, Neville boarded a troop ship to Egypt, serving at the base camp in Quasasin, then onto Maadi south of Cairo, and finishing his service in Israel.
In the 1970s, Neville married Elizabeth and moved to Rostrevor, Northern Ireland where he lived until his death on 24 Sep 2018, at the age of 93. He was awarded the Legion d’honneur by the French Government in 2017, and was the President of the Royal Signals Association, Northern Ireland Branch, until the end of his life.
Sergeant Henshaw is a true Hero of the Corps, a loyal soldier and RSA member throughout his extraordinary life.
Capt Alexander D Mackintosh - Killed in action, Jerusalem
Captain Mackintosh was serving with the Royal Corps of Signals in Jerusalem, after serving the war In Europe. He famously became the first victim of the attack on the King David Hotel. Unarmed at the time, he became suspicious of a group of ‘Arabs’ and began to ask questions. He was gunned down by a member of a Jewish gang and succumbed to his wounds the following day. The Hotel was subsequently bombed.
From the wreckage of the Hotel the rescuers managed to extract six survivors. The last to be found was D. C. Thompson, 24 hours after the building had collapsed. He appeared to be more or less unhurt, but later died due to shock.
As a result of the explosion 91 people were killed, most of them hotel staff or Secretariat: 21 were first-rank government officials; 49 were second-rank clerks, typists and messengers, junior members of the Secretariat, employees of the hotel and canteen workers; 13 were soldiers; 3 policemen; and 5 were members of the public.
Maj Gen R F H Nalder - Col Commandant, WW1 & WW2 veteran, Author
Born in 1895 and educated at Dulwich College Reginald Francis Heatoon Nalder served in France, Belgium and Italy during the First World War, becoming battalion signals officer in the East Surrey Regiment from 1916 to 1918. He was seconded to the Royal Engineers Signal Service in 1918 and transferred to the Royal Signals in 1922. He served in France and Belgium as OC 1 Division Signals in 1939-1940 and was CSO IV Corps in 1940. Between 1941 and 1943, he was at the War Office, acting as liaison officer with the Middle East and then serving on the Godwin-Austen Committee. He became CSO 15 Army Group in Italy between 1943 and 1945. He retired in 1947.
Nalder wrote the two official histories of the Royal Signals – The History of British Army Signals in the Second World War. General Survey (London 1953) and The Royal Corps of Signals. A History of its Antecedents and Development (c1800-1955) (London 1958).
He served as Colonel Commandant of the Royal Signals from 1955-1960 and died in 1978.
Extracted from British Army Communications in the Second World War by Simon Godfrey.
His portrait his held by the National Portrait Gallery.
2Lt Peter Vaughan - WW2 veteran, Actor (GoT)
Second Lieutenant Peter Vaughan was born Peter Ewart Ohm on 4 April 1923, in Wem, Shropshire, the son of a bank clerk, Max Ohm, who was an Austrian immigrant, and Eva Wright, a nurse. The family later moved to Wellington in the same county, where he began schooling: he later said it was while reciting a poem at infant school in Wellington that he experienced the applause and admiration coming from a good performance.
Service in Normandy, Belgium and the Far East
After leaving school he joined Wolverhampton Repertory theatre and gained experience in other repertory theatres before Army service in the Second World War. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Signals on 9 June 1943, and served in Normandy, Belgium and the Far East. At the end of the war, he was in Singapore and present during the liberation of Changi Prison.
Game of Thrones
His final role between 2011 and 2015 was as Maester Aemon in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Vaughan was partially blind in his old age. He died peacefully at 10:30 AM on 6 December 2016 at the age of 93 from natural causes.
Sir Norman Wisdom OBE- WW2 veteran, Actor
Norman Wisdom was an English actor, comedian and singer-songwriter best known for a series of comedy films produced between 1953 and 1966 featuring his hapless onscreen character Norman Pitkin, “the successful failure”.
He joined the Army in 1930 as a drummer boy in the 10th Royal Hussars, eventually becoming the flyweight boxing champion of the British Army in India. After leaving the Army, Wisdom was employed as a switchboard operator for Willesden Telephone exchange.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1939 he was soon back in uniform, this time in the Royal Corps of Signals. Wisdom was sent to work in a communications centre in a command bunker in London, where he connected telephone calls from war leaders to the Prime Minister. He met Winston Churchill on several occasions. He later transferred to a Comcen in Cheltenham, where his talents as an entertainer were recognised and put to use playing in various bands and concert parties until spotted by the actor Rex Harrison who suggested he should become a professional entertainer.
Coming soon - More inspirational people
‘Gordon Banks OBE- World’s Best Goalkeeper
From 1966 to 1971 Gordon Banks was voted the world’s best goalkeeper by FIFA.
When serving with the Royal Signals he won the Rhine Cup with his regimental team; the start of an illustrious career culminating in a World Cup Winners medal.
Sir Norman Wisdom – Charlie Chaplin’s favourite clown
Born into poverty, and as a child living alone on the streets, Royal Signals veteran Sir Norman Wisdom credits the Army with transforming his life. He says it gave him a home, marvellous mates and a chance to hone his comedy skills. In return he gave so much to others through entertainment and extensive charity work.