[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

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Chapter I

Section II.
Regimental Organisation

3. - Signal Formations.

Two British Railway Telegraph Companies served throughout the whole Italian campaign. Nº. 2 Railway Telegraph Company, R. Sign. with 72 Telegraph Operating Section, R. Sigs. and two line construction sections (later to be known as 102 and 103 Construction Sections, R. Sigs) under command landed at Taranto with Headquarters 1212 Rly. Constr. and Maintenance Group in September 1943. Nº. 3 Railway Telegraph Company, R. Sigs with 76 Telegraph Operating Section, R. Sigs and one line construction section (later to be known as 104 Construction Section, R. Sigs) under command landed, the H.Q. at Salerno in October, and the subordinate sections at Naples in November 1943.

In general constitution these two units were, of course, similar, but 72 Tele. Opg. Section was trained to the use of Fullerphone telegraph machines, whereas 76 Tele. Optg. Section was trained to the use of Teleprinters. This difference had a far reaching effect on the subsequent employment of these two sections and some effect on the employment of the units of which they were components.

In September 1944, as a result of an offer by Middle East, 40 Railway Telegraph Company S.A.C.S. arrived in the theatre. This unit was differently constituted to a British company in that the functions of line construction, operating and company administration were all carried on within the framework of the unit itself and not by autonomous subordinate sections. The operators of the unit were trained to the use of Fullerphone machines.

In the first weeks of the campaign Nos. 2 and 3 Railway Telegraph Companies received direction on matters pertaining to works from Nos. 1212 and 1 Rly. Constr. and Maintenance Groups respectively. Thereafter this organisation was abandoned and these units reported direct to Tn, Headquarters for direction on works. For administration the units reported direct to C.S.O. In addition much of the technical work of the units was done in consultation, and with the assistance of the C.S.O Although these units were under the command of the C.S.O. and were merely permanently attached to Tn. for duty, and although the C.S.O. had considerable technical influence on the units through the medium of stores supply and allocation of positions and sometimes circuits on existing routes, there was never the slightest obstruction to any Tn. signal project from this source. On the other hand the full extent of assistance rendered by the C.S.O. will never be known, but it was certainly very considerable.

When 40 Railway Telegraph company arrived the organisation described in the previous paragraph was well established and this unit naturally took its place in line with the other two Railway Telegraph Companies. Administration was in this case carried out by Union Defence Force Headquarters and not by C.S.O.

In the American section each Railway Operating Battalion carried a small signal section capable of undertaking repairs and maintenance. As in the case of the British units, they were affiliated to Construction and for purposes of their direction, the Assistant General Manager (Engineering) had on his staff a signals staff officer.

As there was never at any time a British signal staff officer on Tn. Headquarters, this American officer gave considerable assistance from time to time in the technical direction of, and procurement of stores for, the British signal units.

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[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

Alessandro Tuzza