On This Day…
21st April 1974 NI conflict claims its 1000th victim
On this day in 1974 the Northern Ireland conflict between republican and loyalist paramilitaries, British security forces, and civil rights groups, claimed its 1000th victim.
The role of the Royal Corps of Signals
The Royal Corps of Signals provided communications for commanders and staff at brigade and theatre level, as well as the infrastructure to enable patrols on the ground to communicate with each other and with higher and lower commands.
Initially soldiers deployed with Larkspur radios. Larkspur provided secure fixed links between HQs but was ineffective for patrolling in the urban areas where many operations took place. As a result, in the early 1970s the urban (and some rural and maritime) tactical radio systems were replaced by commercial 2-frequency simplex systems using smaller and lighter radios, primarily built by Pye and Storno.
The Pye PF70 weighed less than 2lb. Unlike combat-net radio that sent and received on the same frequency, these transmitted and received on different frequencies. Operators communicated indirectly through ‘talk-through’ sites, installed on buildings and high ground, much like rebro stations. One of the talk-throughs was located in Scotland. The talk-throughs received on the patrols’ transmit frequency and then retransmitted on their receive frequency.
In some areas, military radio nets were still the best means of communications. Royal Signals Technicians did a superb job designing and building electromechanical relays to enable the military nets to be linked seamlessly to the commercial nets. This was known as ‘mess-tin’ technology because the relays were deployed in aluminium boxes.
The Royal Corps of Signals also provided Rear Link Detachments, and support to specialist units such as bomb disposal units, guards at the Magilligan and Maze prisons and squadrons in the infantry role. In addition, the Corps supported Special Forces with bespoke communications.
At the height of of the troubles the total force occasionally reached 20,000 with The Royal Corps of Signals providing the second largest element of the force (only the Infantry provided more).
The Corps Centenary book ‘Roger So Far” celebrates many of the Corps’ achievements during its first 100 years.
This hardback, illustrated coffee table book is packed full of stories about people, units and events in the context of campaigns, technologies and equipment. RRP £30 with discounts for Regular, Reserve and Retired Corps members.
Buy now from the Royal Signals Museum Shop
At its peak in 1972, the Army’s strength in Northern Ireland was 28,000. The Corps was the second largest element in the security force, after the infantry.
On this day in 2007 Operation Banner – the operational name for the British Armed Forces’ operation in Northern Ireland – came to an end.
This day in 1972 saw the Birth of Heli-Tele in Northern Ireland and 45 years earlier, in 1927 the first public demonstration of a one-way videophone occurred between Herbert Hoover and officials of A T & T.