Signal Station

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Signal stations were set up in trenches and gun pits to maintain contact between troops on the front lines and with commanders at headquarters. Messages were transmitted in Morse Code using various means such as flares, lamps, telephone, telegraph or wireless radios.

Mr. MacKay describes being selected from a pool of signalmen to join the 46th Battalion, and then describes his responsibilities during an infantry advance.

Transcript

There was a bunch of us signallers sent over to France from England. But we didn't go straight to the front line or we didn't go direct to any battalion, we went to this signalling pool. And, while there, we took further training or we were kept in training. And then we waited until we were called for. Well, I suppose it would depend upon what casualties they got in the signalling section of the front line. And all that I can recall about it was, there was so many signallers for this unit, so many signallers for that unit. And I was sent up for the 46th, that's all that I remember about it. I found the signal work interesting and I liked being a signaller, but when I got in the front line, we had to... if we were making an advance, as they usually were trying to do in the last two or three months when I was there, we as the signallers, followed up the troops, the infantrymen that were ahead of us. We followed them up and reeled out the double insulated wire, you see, as we went along. And when we reached our objective, our job was to move in some room somewhere and set up a signal station - contact back to headquarters. And we'd be like setting up a company station up on the front line and we'd have connection with the battalion headquarters behind us.

Images

Caption: German rifle being used as telephone wire pole. Advance East of Arras. August, 1918

(Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-040216)

Caption: Heliograph message

(Credit: Sons of Our Empire/VAC2000.634)

Caption: Signal Station Gibraltar Pozières,[France]. November, 1916.

(Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-000838)

Caption: Canadian Signallers repairing wire in communication trench. February, 1918.

(Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-002444)

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