Vintage Signals Team & 32 Signal Regiment – Another Great Success!
The Vintage Signals Team are a motley team of Veterans from Signals Units in Southern Ontario as well as volunteers who are passionate about sharing the Signals story. The Team rose out of the vision of one man who looked around and saw the voices of World War One Signalers had been silenced and knew that we had to work to ensure that the voices who remained were not lost. And so with one Heliograph a Team was born. Through interactive displays, the Team share the stories of Signals. The Team use the equipment of Boer War soldiers like the Heliograph to chart the growth of the tools available to early Signalers. The Team also tell the story of coding from the Caesar shift to the Enigma Machine and into cyber.
D-Day Gala at CWHM 1st June 2019
The following is in part going to appear in a workplace newsletter.
All military historians point to D-Day as the turning point for the Allies in the Second World War. But few know the almost unknown role of communications in its success. The D in D-Day is simply a way to mark the day of an important operation or invasion.
I am the President of a group of medically discharged Veterans who work tirelessly to share the mostly unknown stories of Signals with the public. We go to retirement homes, schools, museums and anywhere that people have a thirst for knowledge. We use Vintage equipment to tell the story of Signals from the Boer War to the Cold War. The best part about having this working equipment is that we allow visitors to use it, so we are interactive.
This weekend the Team was part of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s D-Day Gala. It was an incredible event where I was able to help honour several of Hamilton’s Veterans – those who had landed on the beaches June 1, 1944.
D-Day had been almost a year to prepare for. First there were the secret visits to Normandy to collect samples of the sand to ensure that the vehicles to be used didn’t get bogged down and rendered useless.
As part of the display I got to share the part I love talking about. The Deception Plan. This was key to the success of D-Day and involved spies and double crossing agents. Two other operations were put in place as part of the overall deception plan and as part of the overall operation which consisted of 35 interlinked operations codenamed Operation Bodyguard.
One of the things I am most proud of is that my Team gets to share the stories of Signalers. My Team has been proud to support one of two surviving Dispatch Riders who landed on the beaches. Hughie Patterson is a wonderful and humble 95 year old man who will walk the beaches of Normandy this D-Day.
32 Signal Regiment Change of Beret Parade 15th June 2019
“Can you please teach me how to use your lights,” asked a curious seven year old boy who was captivated by the equipment during a visit to the Vintage Signals Team display.
The young man had listened very carefully as a member of the Team explained to him how he could use Morse Code to write his name so that his big brother and sister wouldn’t be able to figure out what he had written. He giggled with delight at that prospect. One that led him to ask how to use the Signal Lamp.
The Vintage Signals Team did double duty at the Fort York Armouries recently when they provided a display to the family and friends of the serving soldiers of 32 Signal Regiment. As well the Team provided a display in addition to demonstrating the vintage equipment for the 142 Mimico “Determination” Squadron Cadet Corps and their families.
The Team were honoured to have provided the backdrop to the soldiers of 32 Signal Regiment as they commemorated the official change of beret from the old green to the new dark blue colour. After the Parade some of the participants and their families stopped by the display to check out for themselves the equipment that their predecessors would have used. More than one was fascinated at the complete lack of computer chips in the equipment.
Before the Team knew it, time had flown by and all the practicing that the Cadets had been doing was about to be demonstrated to family and friends. As well, the G6 was in attendance as a special guest.
The Team’s young guest was not impressed at all with the pomp and ceremony. What he was impressed with was the fact that he could use a flashlight to send his own Morse Code messages. A fact he gleefully shared with his big sister. He was waving the Team’s postcard sized card which demonstrate how to use Morse Code and Semaphore flags.
When he visited each member of the Team to learn about the equipment they specialized in, he spent some time going over it all over again. This time with the Honorary Colonel’s wife – Julie.
Sadly for young Matteo, his mom rounded up his sister and brother and insisted that they had to really go home. With a wave and the promise to return, the day ended for him and the Team. And with the thanks of the visitors to their display ringing in their ears, the Team reluctantly packed up their equipment and headed home. Knowing that they would be heading to another event the very next day!
Hamilton Military Museum 9th June 2019
“Where did you find that Amazing speaker? And when can we get him to come back and speak again?” exclaimed the Curator of the Hamilton Military Museum after the first of several lectures given by a member of the Team.
The Team was at the Hamilton Military Museum and had several members demonstrating vintage Signals equipment such as the Heliograph and Signal Lamps outside. While inside team member Ken Lloyd gave a well received lecture on the D-Day Deception Plan. There was not an empty seat in the packed room where Ken gave his lecture.
He used a PowerPoint presentation to explain a simplified version of the 35 individual operations that made up Operation Bodyguard – the deception plan. As well, he provided the story of several women and men who took part in Operation Overlord to demonstrate the effect Operation Bodyguard had on the success or failure of the invasion force. This part was very well received as these stories of the ordinary folks who took part in the invasion are often overlooked.
Ken spoke for well over an hour about the deception plan and not one person moved out of their chair. A fact that was not lost on the curator who was sitting in the room while Ken spoke. As well, when given the opportunity to ask questions arose, audience members enthusiastically asked so many questions of Ken that they had to stay after the event to get them answered.
The Team enjoyed spending time sharing the Signals story with so many enthusiastic visitors. They look forward to when they will be coming back to the Museum.
Toronto Garrison Ball 23rd February 2019
“Oh yeah. I’ve been around a bit.”
After pointing out the impressively large rack of minature’s, the Gentleman – a Senior Officer – spent several minutes with Friends of Haida member Andy Barber – asking questions about their display at the Toronto Garrison Ball as well as asking questions about communication onboard the Haida and in the trenches of the First World War.
The Vintage Signals Team as well as Friends of Haida impressed the Officers and guests at the 2019 Ball.
The Team, made up of Rick Little – OPI, David Hayward, George Stal, Andy Barber, Ron Kirk, Mike Vencel and Robin Poon delighted the 1000 or so assembled guests.
The highlight of the dinner came when Jacquie Perrin pointed out to the guests that they may have seen some folks dressed in First World War uniforms and they were the VST. And thanked them for sharing the story of communication with visitors.
Bravo Zulu to them all!
1626 West Lincoln Niagara Cadets December 21st 2018
The Vintage Signals Team were delighted to have been asked to attend the Annual Christmas Dinner of the 1626 West Lincoln Niagara Cadets recently. The Team was thrilled to be able to honour Captain Daniel Rodrique for his work with both the Cadet Corps and with the Team. Captain Rodrique created a video for the Team that has been seen around the world! Congratulations Capt. Rodrique!
The Vintage Signals Team video with special thanks to Daniel R. Rodrique – Producer of the series – The Veteran’s. To view the Series go to vimeo.com/channels/theveterans where you can also view video of Canada’s Military History Documented from First World War to Post Afghanistan. One Veteran and Historian At A Time. Thank you Captain Rodrique for your help with these videos.
Cipher Workshop at Dundurn Castle 17th November 2018
“I want to be a spy,” Callum who came up from Baltimore with his family for the Cipher Workshop was with The Vintage Signals team at the Military Museum in Dundurn Castle on Saturday 17th November 2018.
In partnership with the Hamilton Museum Staff and the Cadets from 1626 (Signals) ACC the Vintage Signals Team presented a Workshop for visitors on the Secret War of Code breaking.
The Team gave an introduction to early code breaking and then guided visitors to use Morse Keys and Code wheels to send messages in cipher.
The Cadets of 1626 Army Cadet Corps lead by Capt Cel Petrini, and Warrant DeJong assisted visitors at the event and demonstrating equipment. Museum Staff lead by Luke DuCharme prepared the publicity material and enthusiastically took part in guiding the visitors in constructing the keys. The presentation team of Terri McGillvray; Kirk Campbell; Rick Little; George Stal and Mike Leatham provided personalized coaching for the Alberti wheels. This was the first joint venture with the Hamilton Museum and with the visitors enthusiasm for further workshops further events in the “Crack the Code” series will follow.
709 (Signals) Toronto Army Cadet Corps with the Vintage Signals Team.
At the Queens Own Rifles Day 10th November 2018 at Casa Loma.
“I want to come back next year!” the five Cadets were needed to help with the amazing number of visitors to the Signals display at Casa Loma with the Queens Own Rifles.
The visitors from as far afield as Taiwan, Korea and the Baltic States were amazed at the knowledge in the equipment that the Cadets exhibited. Whether it was a switchboard and magneto phones or a Duplex Heliograph, the Cadets were up to the task.
An energetic and satisfying display with many questions from our visitors on code breaking and the authenticity of the film “The Imitation Game.”
Armistice Centenary Gala dinner
Royal Regiment of Canada 10 Nov 2018 with the Vintage Signals Team
“I didn’t know that”, another guest at the Royal’s Gala Dinner learned about the importance of pigeons for carrying messages in two World Wars. Flags were carried amongst the guests and conversations generated about the advance on Mons being so rapid by the 4th Division that flags and the new radios were the main way messages could get through when Dispatch riders could not. The Vintage Signals Team had been invited to add a WW1 flavour to the Royal’s Armistice Dinner. We had the pleasure to meet Veterans who were at the Foret de Londres during WW11 and to mix with old friends and colleagues as well as new members who now a little more of the Canadian Signals story.
Ken Lloyd CD, MA
17th Veterans Luncheon by Access Abilities, Oakville on 5th November attended by the Vintage Signals Team with 32 Sigs family.
The Vintage Signals Team enjoyed a wonderful suprise at the Annual Access Abilities Veterans Luncheon in Oakville. The Minister for Veterans Affairs had just visited our display and tried a magneto phone with the Oakville MP when our next visitor was our own LCol (ret’d) Jack Lee and CWO (ret’d) John Spiers.
SIGNALS BIRTHDAY WO&Sgts Mess CFB BORDEN
24th October 2018, a cake was cut, beverages were drunk and “Jimmy” was loyally toasted in the Warrant and Sergeants Mess in CFB Borden.
WO Whelan, organized another Birthday bash for the Signallers of 1 Sqn and the Base ‘Jimmies’ to celebrate being a ‘Siggie’.
HLCol Lloyd put up a replica of the first Signals flag flown in Borden and
gave a quick overview of part of the Signals story. The questions from fellow signallers are always an opportunity for learning and the Tech members in the group quickly got the Morse Code keys working and the faint clicking of keys added happily to the conversations. After the presentation there was an opportunity for members to explore and rediscover some of the vintage Signals equipment and share stories of the last time they had used such kit.
The presentation focused on the secret signals war and some of the techniques from the first and second World Wars for dominating the ether and disadvantaging the enemy.
Topics that attracted interest after the presentation included the role of the German Moritz equipment and whether it was deployed in 1916 at Beaumont Hamel. If anyone has information regarding these members would really like to know.
A super initiative, well done well done 1 Sqn. Capt Caron and WO Whelan.
31 Signals Regiment Mixed Signals Dinner 19th October 2018
This year the Mixed Signals Dinner was extra special for a couple reasons.
First the assembled guests were honoured to receive a visit from Brigadier General (Ret’d) William Richard.
But another special event took place when former Commanding Officer Kenneth Lloyd CD was presented with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd was nominated for this award by members of the Vintage Signals Team.
HLCol Lloyd was nominated because of the work undertaken to tell the unknown stories of Signalers.
HLCol Lloyd looked around when the last World War One veteran passed away. He realized then that something needed to be done to ensure that the stories of the Signalers from World War Two were not lost to the mists of time.
As a result he put together a team of dedicated former Signalers from 31 Signal Regiment as well as 32 Signal Regiment. Through his dedicated work, the Team have shared the Signals story at Vimy Ridge on the Centenary of the Battle. As well as in Berlin. As well, HLCol Lloyd represented the Team at a Language Conference in Brussels in September.
As part of his commitment to ensuring that our story is remembered, the Medal was well earned.
And when he was presented with his award HLCol Lloyd gave a short speech to those assembled. Always a humble man, he said.
“I accept this honour not for myself, but on behalf of the Team.”
I wanted to share a couple of really amazing photos of the Vintage Signals Team (VST) recently taken. We were part of the Fort York Great War 100 Days Commemoration. While there, we had the pleasure of being supported by the personnel of 32 Signal Regiment. One of the photos shows our Honorary Colonel Ken Lloyd demonstrating the heliograph to one of the current soldiers. I love how the photo demonstrates three different eras of history: the cannon represents the War of 1812; HCol Lloyd represents the WWI era; and, the young soldier represents today!
Just as exciting is the light beaming towards the camera from the other side of the parade square. The Team was asked to demonstrate the power of light from the heliograph and they happily obliged, but used only half its strength for safety sake.
The VST had over 1,000 visitors through the display, and have been asked to attend other events! Please feel free to share these amazing photos. I am so very proud of what the Team has been able to accomplish and share the story of Signals around the planet!
Thank you, Terri McGillivray, Vintage Signals Team President
The Vintage Signals Team in Berlin
Dear C&E Association Members. Please find attached the report on Hamilton’s Vintage Signals Team visit to Berlin. The Vintage Signals team was invited to tell the story of Canadian Military signals at the EF Education Global Leadership Summit in Berlin, Germany. The theme was “The influence of Technology in Society”. The event involved 1,500 students and the VST’s workshop sat 73 people.
Congratulations again to the VST and all the individuals who contributed to this effort. The VST continues to highlight and showcase our signals heritage to our youth both nationally and now on the international stage.
Hamilton Vintage Signals Team at Borden Air Show
Below is a short newsletter about the Hamilton Vintage Signals Team attendance at the Borden Air Show.
Newsletter provided by HLCol Ken Lloyd – 32 Signal Regiment.
Hamilton Vintage Signals Team In Action
Hello Fellow Communicators…
On Saturday the Hamilton Vintage Signals Team did their usual display for the 32 Signal Regiment’s 142 Air Cadet Squadron in Mimico.
The event finished with an inter team challenge. A message had to be passed by phone to a switchboard then connected to a second phone by landline.
Then the message hand carried to a lamp station and sent in Morse Code to a Flag station and then sent in Semaphore to the Judges.
Simple enough and not beyond any average Signaler in 1918. Two of the teams had ex Sea Cadets in them and that’s where it got exciting. It was all down to the Semaphore
The Cadets wanted to do the competition again only encrypted this time. Sadly their parents were waiting to take them home.
Two pictures of our Semaphore experts in action. Well done 142!
The above information was provided by:
Ken Lloyd CD, MA
32 Signals Regiment