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WW2 Signal Corps and Communication Paperwork

Below is a collection of Signal Corps-related paperwork for use in WW2 Reenacting.

Radio

Form 138 Operators Number Sheet Front and Back | Print front-to-back pages on natural or ivory paper and stack+trim to the same size. Run a few beads of rubber cement along the top edge to have a tear-away stack.

I’m not sure what this form was exactly used for.

Form 159 – Number Sheet | Print pages on natural or ivory paper and stack+trim to the same size. Run a few beads of rubber cement along the top edge to have a tear-away stack.

I’m unsure what this was exactly used for.

Telephone

Signal Corps Station Log – Signal Corps paperwork to record traffic at what appears to be a telephone station. Form number unknown.

Print pages on natural or ivory paper and stack+trim to the same size. Run a few beads of rubber cement along the top edge to have a tear-away stack.

Other

Form 158 – Route Delivery List – Signal Corps form for delivering messages. Print 25 pages on natural or ivory paper and stack+trim to the same size. Run a few beads of rubber cement along the top edge. You’ll have a tear-away pad of 50 sheets.

A “route delivery” seems to connect more points.

Form 160 Local Delivery List – Signal Corps form for delivering messages. Print 25 pages on natural or ivory paper and stack+trim to the same size. Run a few beads of rubber cement along the top edge. You’ll have a tear-away pad of 50 sheets.

A “local delivery” seems to connect fewer points.

Message Book M210a Front and Inside – A printable pdf file for the M201a message book. This book would be used in a message center. It would be unlikely to appear in a map case. You can download the front+back here and the insides here.

Print on regular paper and then trimmed to size. The book has overall dimensions of approximately 6-1/8″W x 4-1/4″H x 1/2″ thick. Inside the book are 25 each triplicate message forms for regular use, three each duplicate forms for carrier pigeon use, and 25 sheets of tracing paper. The back cover has an extension that can be placed under the topmost form, so that it can be filled out without marking the carbon-copies of the following forms. The book also includes instructions for its use and a list of authorized abbreviations.

For best results, print on 8-1/2″ x 11″ US letter-sized paper with no scaling. Finished forms should be 4.75in wide by 4.25in tall.

I’m not sure if anyone is reproducing these but if they are I’ll add a link. Note that this only includes a single blank message form and not the carbon copies or map overlay.

Now there’s also an M 210-B message book which looks like it came out in late 1944. This is according to the Signal Corps Technical Information Letter Nov 1944 No 36. The major differences are some measurement tools on the front-cover, the removal of the pigeon forms and map overlays. This was all done to help speed up the message processing as it was found soldiers experienced difficulty removing the copies in the M210a book.

There’s also an M-105-A message book. I’m not sure what the difference is. If I found I’ll write about it.

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Spectacles and Glasses in WW2

Spectacles had been provided in World War One, but it was not anticipated that this service would again be required. It was believed that the Red Cross would provide any needed spectacles. The only provision for the Army to provide spectacles was found in Army Reg. 40-1705, which authorized procurement only when they were necessary to correct visual defects resulting from violence suffered in the performance of duty. In all other cases the Army doctors would write prescriptions and the soldiers would have to pay out of pocket.

The problem became clear after the first draft when soldiers couldn’t afford out-of-pocket glasses or had broken their personal ones and couldn’t afford new ones. The military glass frame was to be 10% nickel silver with a reinforced bridge. It was found that this frame corroded in hot weather causing discoloration of the skin. An 18% nickel silver frame with the pad arm, pad arm assembly, endpieces, and cable winding of pure nickel solved this problem.

This was essentially the Ful-Vue style of glasses with the P3 frame that GIs wore.

Each man was entitled to two glasses. However, delivery problems abound. It took 5 months to get all the materials needed to make glasses and due to this instead of a 3-day turnaround period, it wasn’t unusual to have a 3-4 months turnaround period for the glasses. Some men never received the glasses, other men got them months and sometimes years later, as the glasses would be forwarded to the post where the men would be, only to find out that the said soldier had moved on.

Part of the problem lay with instead lay with 20% instead of 10% of the men needing glasses and not having enough materials to meet demand. The biggest problem, however, was that the eye examiners kept the receipts from the eye exam 7-10 days after, then forwarded all the accumulated receipts to the optical company.

The optical company couldn’t fill all the orders at once and so a backlogged ensued. Making the desired 3-day turnaround period impossible to fulfill. The frames were about $1.00 and the lenses about 75 cents. The average total cost of a pair of eyeglasses was about $2.50.

See: United States Army Medical Department – Medical Supply in WW2 1968 pp.75-80.

There are several other well written guides that go into glasses in more detail. Such as P3 Glasses – The U.S. Military Spectacles, GI Glasses: Are Modern Reproductions Worth It?, and Four Eyes: Eyeglasses and the WWII GI (a link to my Google Drive for a pdf).

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WW2 Reenacting Reports and Unit Histories

This page will describe and link to reports by different units as well as various unit histories.

After-Action Reports

After Action Report for 75th Armored Medical Battalion of 5th Armored Division – Discusses actions related to the medical battalion. Also a good example of how to write an after-action report and what it looks like.

It covers August 1944 to May 1945 and includes A, B, and C companies. Mostly a mention of movements, events, losses, and personal changes.

The 60mm Mortar Team in the Assault Section – This isn’t a field manual per se but some kind of restricted handout. To build a 60mm mortar see: How to Build a 60mm for WW2 Reenacting. For the firing tables see: WW2 Reenacting Ordinance and Firearm Printables

Medical Support of Landing Operations: Assault Training Center March 1944 – A pdf link to my Google Drive. Discusses how to conduct medical triage and operations during a landing. Mentions a few case studies as well as what equipment should be included when, where, and who.

One interesting thing is that it goes into detail about how operations change as the beachhead is expanded. Essentially, the wounded is pooled and treated during the initial 30 minutes. After an hour a battalion aid station is created. After 3 hours additional battalion aid stations are created as the beachhead expands forward, close to the front. You also get a primary collection point for all wounded. 12 hours you get vehicles such as jeeps and ambulances. After about 4 days you get evacuation hospitals.

Communications in Assault Operation – Nov 1943 from the US Assault Traning Center ETOUSA. Outlines what teams have what kinds of equipment, where they are positioned, and what net they operate on. Essentially how to have an integrated communication network across visual (ie flags) , wire and radio between infantry, tanks, field artillery, naval gunships, and aircraft.

Report no. 63 observations of Signal Corps activities, Cherbourg Peninsula, France from June 6th 1944 to July 6th 1944 – A fascinating document that outlines issues faced by the units during the campaign. Includes an example division radio net. Essentially, an after-action report for signal units. The following Signal Units were assessed –

Infantry Division Signal Company
1st Signal Company
2nd Signal Company
4th Signal Company
9th Signal Company
29th Signal Company
90th Signal Company
Armored Division Signal Company
142nd Armored Signal Company
Airborne Division Signal Company
82nd Airborne Signal Company
101st Airborne Signal Company

Joint Assault Signal Companies
Engineer Brigade Group Signal Company
286th Joint Assault Signal Company
293rd Joint Assault Signal Company
294th Joint Assault Signal Company

Signal Service Company
3251 Signal Service Company
3252 Signal Service Company

Corps Signal Battalion Signal Battalion
50th Signal Battalion
56th Signal Battalion

Signal Construction Battalion
29th Signal Construction

Signal Sections
1st Army
V Corps
VII Corps
VIII Corps
XIX Corps

7th Army Signal Corps Report of the Lessons Learned in the 1943 Operation Husky – Husky is the invasion of Sicily and the document outlines issues and suggestions for improvement in Signal Corps units of the 7th Army.

It’s noted that the SCR-536 was to be used at the company level either communicating across companies or communicating down to lower echelon units like platoon or section or squad.

Communication Activities Okinawa June 28th to June 30th, 1945 – A discussion of different issues faced by Signal Corps units during the Okinawa operations.

One big issue was supply. The units responsible for loading up the ships with supplies simply were not able to assemble all the tonnage required by the Signal Corps units in the time frame needed. So items that were supposed to be on a ship scheduled to land during the 7th echelon instead landed in the 12th. Indeed, telephone poles didn’t appear until 60 days later. Fortunately, units were able to improvise and press into service different pieces of equipment (such as substituting different gauge wire) along with reusing captured enemy and civilian wire/equipment.

History of Signal Corps photography in the Luzon operations April 1945 – A great narrative of taking motion and still pictures during the campaign.

505th Parachute Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division Memorandum and Top Secret – Two documents, one from April 1944 about zeroing in M1 Garands. Another from Sept 11th, 1944 regarding infantry equipment and uniform to wear and what to put in barracks bags in preparation for Operation Market Garden.

307th Airborne Engineer Battalion US Army – The 307th was part of the 82nd Airborne. The pdf covers the time frame from roughly 6 June 1944 to 17th Sept 1944.

What I find neat about it is the hand-drawn diagrams that show the landing areas for the battalion as well as an outline of how the Germans blocked roads with Teller Mines and booby traps. The S-1 Journal of events that happen throughout various days is a neat read too.

The document also reports on the 307th Medical Company, however, more information about this unit can be found at the link.

33rd Field Hospital Nursing Report 1944 – Describes the events of the 33rd Field Hospital which landed at Anzio and was part of the bombing raid on the 95th Evacuation Hospital (the 33rd was across the street from it) on Feb 9th that killed 20 and wounded over 50.

Describes a few humorous incidents such as Unit C thinking of a Collecting Company (which would be tasked with moving wounded from the front lines to the battalion aid station) for a Clearing Company (who would be tasked with triage of wounded, deciding which kinds of hospitals they go to, and moving them there). They ended up quite near the front line before doing a turn-around!

Signal Supply Repair and Maintenance in the ETO Study Number 112 – A report on signal supply repair and maintenance along with recommendations.

Signal Corp personnel, training, and command and admin structure study number 112 – A report on the training and administrative structure along with recommendations.

Signal Corps Operations in the ETO Study Number 111 – Discusses issues with wire, radio, facilities, railway, pipeline, the Press. The Signal Center (ie a larger “message center”), Photography, and Frequency allocation, and provides recommendations.

One interesting note is that regarding men using switchboards”…a truth long recognized by commercial telephone companies again became evident; that men do not have the finger dexterity nor are they temperamentally adopted for efficient operation of large switchboards. As female operators from the Woman’s Army Corps became available, they took over the switchboard operation…”

Major Teletype Networks in Europe Jan 1945 – Includes a directory, station names, and call signs. Teletype is the name of the corporation that produced machines that produced specialized communication devices like Teleprinters. These are printers that can send and receive signals and then print out a message.

These “Teleprinters” are the classic news printer sound of “fast clacking metal keys” you may hear in the background of some news reports.

The US Army created a network of these machines in Europe to help with communication.

One common model was the Teletypewriter Set TC-16 or 17 as identified in TM 11-2201.

Fort Cronkhite Barracks and Mess Hall Historic Furnishings Report National Parks Service Golden Gate Recreation Area 2005 – A fascinating report created by the Parks Service that analyzes all the items a soldier would have used in a WW2 era Barracks and Mess Hall. From furniture to cooking tools to uniforms. Even includes schematics to build a barracks

Ladder Pivot Modification to Dodge WC – Detachment D of the 3110th Signal Service Battalion came up with a ladder pivot mechanism that allowed them to work on issues in the middle of cables strung across telephone poles. The ladder gets inserted into the pivot and is affixed to the floor of the Dodge WC bed. Allowing safe and efficient operation for this type of repair.

Unit History

Brief History of the 46th Heavy Construction Battalion – Includes a brief narrative of the unit training then going to Germany and then headed to Japan for Occupation Duty.

Includes day-to-day events stateside during its training. Mostly involves transfers of personnel to other units or schools.

Hospital At War The 95h Evacuation Hospital in World War II by Zachary Friedenberg 2004 – Zachary Friedenberg was a Captain in the unit and wrote the unit’s memoirs in 2004. The unit was in North Africa, in Anzio, and part of the Invasion of Southern France.

At Anzio, it was subjected to an enemy bombing raid that wounded over 50 and killed 20 including patients, doctors, and nurses.

Also included is an article called “‘Don’t Worry About Me’: The World War II Experience of Adeline Simonson, Nurse Anesthetist with the 95th Evacuation Hospital” which is about one nurse’s experience with the unit. This was published in the AANA Journal, Oct 2016, Vol. 84, No.5, ppg. 309-315. The authors are Carolyn Nicholson BSEd, CRNA, Susanne Hillman Ph.D, and Sukumar P. Desai, Ph.D.

You can learn more about the unit at the med-depot’s 95th Evacuation Hospital page.

Nursing Report 16th Evacuation Hospital April to Dec 1943 – Describes crossing the Atlantic to North Africa and then heading to Italy on the HMHS Newfoundland which was hit by a bomb and sunk. Eventually, they arrived and set up hospital services.

Overseas and then Over The Top Able Company and the 2nd Rangers Battalion by PFC M Prince – A narrative of events from when the 2nd Rangers landed in England for training to D-day, to the day Hitler surrendered.

The D-day landing narrative is a pretty good read of what it must have been like.

33 Months with the 100th Signal Company of the 100th Infantry Division 1945 – A Narrative of the Signal Company’s involvement. Discusses Construction and how each crew was assigned specific regiments to connect the wire to along with having to repair and replace wire as it was cut or damaged. As well as the Radio section, the “T&T” or telegraph and teletype section, the message center section, the administration section (where presumably the mail clerk worked), the Signal Operations Instructions (SOI) section (which does training and checking of signal installations), Signal Supply section, Repair and Maintenance section, the Motor Pool (responsible for vehicle management and maintenance), the Mess section (responsible for feeding) and the Medical section.

Includes descriptions of training at Fort Jackson and sports and physical fitness testing.

Also makes mention of Tech 5th Chauncey N. Maggiacomo being asked to improve the Reel Unit RL-26, which he did. The old way required lots of manual labor to reel in the wire ensuring it didn’t snag. The new method instead of reeling it in from the back (like a winch) picked the wire up and fed it over a boom on the front of the truck.

Unit Citation and Campaign Participation Credit Register – Pamphlet 672-1. A complete list of what units participated in what actions and what unit citations they got.

Signal Corps Lineage and HERALDIC data and history – Information about heraldic and lineage of different signal corp units. Shows the unit pin. By Rebecca Robbins Raines from the Center of Military History.

Signal Corps: The Emergency – History of the Signal Corps up till Pearl Harbor. By Dulaney Terrett from The Center of Military History

The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services Vol I – On the 50th anniversary of the end WW2, the Center of Military History republished various publications that were originally published in 1953.

These are a historical narrative and go into detail on the account of the Corps’ actions. Mostly from a high-level overview. I’ll add more as I find them. If you’re interested in the Quartermaster supply catalogs you can find them here.

Transportation Corps WW2 Overseas – History of the Transporation Corps.

Home Away From Home: The Story of the USO – The history of the USO organization. Published in 1946

United States Army Medical Department: Medical Supply in WW2, 1968 – You can download the full report from my Google Drive. It’s a great review of all aspects of supplying the medical department in different areas of operations.

For example, regarding camouflage bandages in the Pacific. We started manufacturing them in Sept 1943 as white bandages attracted snipers. By Nov 1943 13 million dyed bandages were
delivered. They came in an adhesive compress, 2-inch, 4-inch gauze bandages, compressed
bandages, small and large first aid dressings, first aid packets and triangular bandages. They were supplied either in field brown or in OD No. 7. (page 65)

See Spectacles and Glasses in WW2 for an analysis.

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WW2 Reenacting Supply and Equipment Catalogs

This lists supply catalogs. Supply catalogs are books filled with descriptions and nomenclature of various items used by different branches.

Signal Corps and Radio and Telephone

The instrument sketch book Weston Electrical Instruments 1941 – A sales book showing various products. Some of these civilian models may have ended up in Signal Corps hands. Also nice to have a reference guide in case you come across an obscure electrical item that you’re not sure about.

Signal Supply Catalog 1945- SubClass 6r M-Z Tools, Pigeons Class 9, Meteorological Class 7 – A partial listing of the whole Signal Corps Supply Catalog. Consisting of the total stock numbers and nomenclature of all items available to the Signal Corps.

Automatic Electric Telephone Supplies 1950 –Part One and Part Two. A product sales book showing telephone supplies available in 1950. Good for cross-referencing items. Includes hardware, wood, insulators, tools, wire, cable, cords, terminals, power, and misc items.

Medical Department

Medical Supply Catalog Med1 to Med3 March 1944 – This is the medical department’s complete catalog of available products. It lists items available, the associated stock number, as well as the price. It also includes pictures of some of the times. It’s a beefy pdf file that you download from my Google Drive. The Med-dept.com contains a wealth of information that goes into more detail on some of the items in the catalog such as individual first aid packs.

Medical Department Supply Catalog 1942 – This is the medical department’s complete catalog of available products. It lists items available, the associated stock number, as well as the price. It’s a beefy PDF file that you download from my Google Drive. The Med-dept.com contains a wealth of information that goes into more detail on some of the items in the catalog such as individual first aid packs.

Quartermaster Corps

Quartermaster Corps Manuel QMC 14-2: Use and Care of Office Equipment and Supplies – Dated Feb 1945. Written in response to the drastic reduction of office supplies and describes how to use and care for office supplies to make them last longer. Contains nuggets of information like “use both sides of the paper” and “to re-use file folders flip them inside out”. Also mentions to reuse rubber bands as rubber was a wartime ration good. It also has a good section on how to care for typewriters, which if you don’t know where to begin is a good place to start! Print on ivory regular paper, 8.5″ x 11″

Quartermaster Supply Catalog QM 3-1: List of Items for Troop Issue Enlisted Men’s Clothing and Equipment. This catalog was made in May 1946. Lists out all the things available to troops at the end of WW2. Supercedes QM1.

QM 3-2 WACs and Nurses Clothing and Equipment: Circular No 4 Revised Oct 1943 and including Change 1 of April 1944 – First published in Oct 1943 and then updated in April 1944. A list of clothing and equipment items for Nurses and WACs.

Quartermaster Supply for Posts Camps and Stations QM3-3. Lists items that would be available for issue to static places like camps and posts etc. Published on June 15th, 1944.

Quartermaster Supply Catalog for Enlisted Men QM 1. Lists items for issue to enlisted men at the start of WW2. Published in 1943.

Army Air Forces Equipment Catalogs

Airborne Radio Equipment Handbook 1943 – A listing of which planes had what radios and where they were on the plane.

Women’s Uniform Guide

American Women in Uniform 1943 by Mary Steele Ross – A quick overview of different uniformed Women’s organizations, their uniforms, pay, and rank.

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WW2 Reenacting Handouts and Pamplets

Easy 39th has a larger list of Pamphlets so if you don’t see what you want here you can head to that page.

Signal Corps Technical Information Letters

Signal Corps Technical Information Letter No 18 – May 1943. Outlines new training methods, procedures and equipment. One interesting story is how local police captured an illegal pinball den and donated the machines to Ft. Monmouth to be used as needed.

Signal Corps Technical Information Letter No 36 – Nov 1944. Outlines new training methods, procedures, and equipment. Discusses the fungi and moistureproofing techniques (which is some kind of lacquer spray), as well as the Silica Gel, used to pack equipment and an anti-radio jamming exercise among other interesting and nuanced signal corps minutia.

27th Signal Company Switchboard Trailers – During the Phase 1 Nansei Shoto Operation on Okinawa, the 27th Signal Company of the 27th Infantry Division created a special trailer to house a BD-96 switchboard and it’s BD-97 panel, test sets, EE8 field phones and other incidentals required to operate a BD-97 switchboard in a combat operation. The BD-96 is used to run up to 40 lines into it.

The trailer was used to be as mobile as possible during the operation. Being mounted in a trailer makes it so.

This type of configuration may have been used at the Battalion or more probably at the regimental level.

BD-96 and BD-97 images come from: TM 11-487B Directory of Signal Corps Equipments: Wire Communication Equipment.

Basic Wire Communication: Lineman’s Handbook: Wire Training Section Central Signals Replacement Training Center, Camp Crowder Missouri – This is a printable booklet and gives a very quick review of wire splicing, terminology, and organization

TM-184a Terminal Board Fabrication – This is a pdf that shows the schematics of how to fabricate the TM-184a terminal board. It is used as a terminating or test point in tactical field wire systems.

TM-184 T1 and T2 replace this. You can view the instructional manual for them here.

TM-184a and T1 and T2 hold 7 pairs wires. TM-84 holds 5 pairs of wires.

The Army Nurse

The Army Nurse Vol 2 No 1-8 Jan to Aug 1945 – The Army Nurse is a magazine-type publication for Army Nurses. It contains news and information related to the organization.

Comes from AFHRA Reel B1795.

The Army Nurse Vol 1 No 1-12 Jan to Dec 1945 – The Army Nurse is a magazine-type publication for Army Nurses. It contains news and information related to the organization.

Comes from AFHRA Reel B1795.

Misc

Templetone Model BP2-A5 Log Card – The Templetone Model BP-2A5 seemed to be some kind of morale radio for the troops. The log card would be placed under the front-cover so it would show when the cover was opened. Not sure why a morale radio would need a station log card?

Print in medium-weight beige cardstock. Print on both sides of the media and cut at crop marks to produce one Station Log card.

For a good history of the radio see: Templetone Model BP2-A5 “Morale Radio”.

BC-611 Frequency Card – This is the card that would go into the small window of the BC-611/SCR-546 radio

Camp Crowder Guide and Telephone Use – Looks to be a little handout given to folks arriving at Camp Crowder, MI.

For a look at some of the soldiers training at Camp Crowder See: Camp Crowder Signal Corps Training Center 27th Battalion, Co D as well as A Camera Trip at Camp Crowder. For a humorous take see the Pvt Roberts Comic Strip.

For additional Camp Crowder information see: https://www.ibiblio.org/cizewski/signalcorps/crowder/index.html.

Medical and Surgical Technician’s Manual from Brooke General Hospital Jan 1944: Military First Aid – This is a refresher medical care manual for Enlisted Medical soldiers. You can find the complete manual at the Internet Archive. This document, however, only covers only basic Military First Aid

How to Shoot the US Army Rifle – The Infantry Journal, 1943.

Men-at-Arms German Combat Equipments 1939-45 – An Osprey publication that outlines what the German Equipment looks like.

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Rangers and Special Forces in WW2

I typically reenact 5th Rangers, D Co. This post isn’t meant to rehash the history of the 5th Rangers (or Special Forces) but to provide some interesting information about them. I’ve divided the information into a few distinct sections. The images below cover all rangers unless otherwise specified in the image.

The images come from Ross, Robert Todd. US Army Rangers & Special Forces of World War II: Their War in Photographs. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2002.

Rangers in the Field

Ranger Toggle Ropes

A close-up of the Ranger toggle ropes used on Dday. Probably taken from a training landing or a few days after.

Darbys Rangers

The images below show a Table of Organization and Equipment for Darby’s Rangers but are instructive in a general sense for what the 5th Rangers ultimately had.

Ranger Helmet

The images show some examples of a Ranger helmet. To learn more about how to paint the diamond see: Painting a Ranger Diamond.

Ranger Patch

The image below shows an example of a ranger patch on HBTs and 4 pocket tunics.

D-Day Embarkation

The images below highlight activity around the Rangers as they prepare for Dday. In one image you can see a few BC1000s radios.

Unique Uniform and Equipment Placement

The images below highlight a few unique placements of field equipment. Such as a meatcan pouch attached to a belt.

Ranger Training

The images below show a few examples of Ranger training for D-day and in general. It also shows an example of “Ranger Training” for other units. As in some soldiers in other units were selected to take a “Ranger course” and be certified.

Ranger Haircuts

1st Ranger Battalion SV Boots

The 1st Ranger Battalion had SV books. With “S” meaning sole and “V” meaning Vibram.

2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion

The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion was an OSS unit. They spray-painted their M1943 with black stripes to help camouflage it during operations. This doesn’t apply to the 5th Rangers but cool to show.