The Y Service 1939-1945

Reminiscences of Dennis Underwood, Royal Corps of Signals (retired)

"I have belatedly read the Training item and find it bears no relation to my training. I had volunteered for the The Royal Signals and after the standard initial six weeks (in North Wales) I was posted to Catterick in September 1943.

Had only been there a couple of weeks when a recruiting party came (we later discovered from the Special Operators Training Bn at Douglas, IoM). A group of us was given a test writing down groups of five letter which were read out and I and some others were told we were being posted to Douglas but not told what it was about.

On arrival we were given an outline of what we would be doing and told we were subject to the Official Secrets Act. I was already fairly proficient in Morse (some 15 wpm) and so found that part quite easy.

We learned German and Italian procedures as well as D/F work. By then (late 1943 and early 1944) the new arrivals were mainly ATS."

"I was at Harpenden in the autumn of 1944 and things were very different from those described.  Interception had switched to long range Japanese transmissions and the watches were no more than around 25.

From there some half dozen of us were posted to India/Burma. After a short time in Mhow (barracks would have seen birth in Victorian times I think) up to Abbottabad on the Northwest frontier which had been involved in intercept work since the 1920s.

Then into Burma. I joined C(Indian) Special Wireless Group. Watches were around 35 strong with only six or so being BORs (British Other Ranks).  Two other Units, all British, were 5A Special Wireless Section and 6A Special Wireless Section. There were others but I have no details.

Having reached Rangoon we left the XIV  Army and joined the XII Army (not happy with that!!) and also became 310 (Indian) Special Wireless Section.  5A was closed and most of the members joined us."

Thank you Dennis - hope there's more to come( (GL)

Return to index page