Royal Australian Corps of Signals
From the earliest
times, communication has been necessary in war and many of the present
forms of signalling have some counterpart in the past. Twenty-two centuries
ago the Carthaginians used torches arranged in groups of five, an early
form of signalling code.
During the battles
between the Greeks and Persians, a polished shield answered the purpose
of a crude heliograph, and signals by flags or even smoke date from a
remote period. Carrier pigeons were used to convey messages in the time
of Solomon and by the Greeks at the ancient Olympic Games.
Up to the middle of
the nineteenth century, the principal method of communication was undoubtedly
the dispatch rider since even great battles like Waterloo were fought
on fronts of three kilometres or less. Consequently the dashing and gallant
ADC is an important and picturesque figure of those days. The Duke of
Wellington gained great advantage from his mounted orderly officers, whose
experience on the hunting field made them very quick across country.
The prototype of dispatch
riders was Pheidippides the Athenian, the swiftest runner in all Greece.
Greece was engaged,
in the sixth century BC, in a decisive struggle with the great oriental
power of Persia. The victory of the latter would have been an overwhelming
calamity to Western civilisation, but the small army of Greeks defeated
the hordes of Persia at Marathon. It was desirable that the glad news
be sent post-haste to Athens, 26 miles from the battlefield. Pheidippides
was chosen and he made the journey with unheard of speed (and in full
armour). So great had been his exertion that on delivering the message
Rejoice, we have conquered', he fell dead.
Pheidippides was the
greatest dispatch rider - the modern marathon race has its title from
his journey - yet the type and pattern of the true signalman is undoubtedly
'Mercury' or 'Hermes'
Mercury was originally
the Roman god of commerce and good fortune. When the Romans conquered
Greece they adopted the god Hermes, and they, realising he had much in
common with their own god of fortune, they brought him into their pantheon
under the name of Mercurius.
Mercury, or rather
Hermes, is a versatile and lovable god. He is lord of the wise - of the
power that brings good luck to man. Above all, he is the messenger of
the gods, as his dress proclaims; on his head is the petasus, or felt
hat worn by travellers; in his hand is the caduceus or herald's staff.
This staff was
the symbol of a message and was wound about with white ribbons, signifying
peace; the intertwined serpents are a later interpretation of the same
idea. The staff conferred immunity, that is, the bearer of the message
was sacred. He is completed by his golden sandals, which are winged, denoting
certain characteristics, such as a love of stealing, which are not commendable.
Similarly he had duties, like the bringing of dreams and the conducting
of the dead to Hades, which happily, signalmen are not expected to perform;
but nevertheless in his swiftness, his sureness, his prudence and readiness
in all situations, and, above all, his good humour when in difficulties,
Mercury is no bad model.
Mercury came into
the Corps because his statuette was carried on the staff of the drum major
of the telegraph battalion of the Royal Engineers. He is often referred
to as 'Jimmy' and his badge is worn with pride as the reward of athletic
There are a number
of theories as to why 'Jimmy' was adopted as a term of endearment for
the emblem. The most widely accepted in that it came from a very popular
Royal Signals boxer, called Jimmy Emblem, who was the British Army Champion
in 1924 and represented the Royal Signals from 1921 to 1924. Due to the
close working relationship between the Royal Signals and the Royal Australia
Corps of Signals, it seems logical the the Australians would continue
the tradition of nicknaming there corps emblem the same as their British
While Mercury well
represents some of the signalman's characteristics, the ideal of the signalman
is contained in the word 'THROUGH'. To realise this, it is necessary to
consider the work signals perform on active service. Communications are
vital to the conduct of modem warfare; without them the finest army is
helpless, the finest battle plan unworkable. On the receipt or non - receipt
of a single message may depend victory or defeat. The responsibility resting
on the signalman in war may thus be enormous. The duty of members of the
Corps is to get the message 'through' at whatever cost or difficulty,
realising that the lives of their comrades and the success of the operations
may depend on their determination.
has the unique distinction of having had the first regular formed signal
unit in the whole of the British Commonwealth.
there existed in New South Wales and Victoria two small 'Torpedo and Signal
Corps'. These continued until 1882, when they were disbanded.
In 1885 a 'Signalling Corps' composed of one officer and 12 other ranks
existed in South Australia and remained active until 1901.
the advent of self-contained signal units the complement of signallers
was on a regimental basis, each unit having on its establishment a proportion
of regimental signallers. Great attention was paid to the training
of these personnel; prizes and badges were awarded to those qualifying
at what was known as a singnalling school. Instruction was imparted
by a staff officer designated 'Inspector of Signalling'. After the
inception of the Commonwealth Forces an 'Australian Corps of Signallers'
was formed on 12th January 1906.
then consisted of 11 Companies, which were located as follows:
remained as a self-contained unit until the introduction of universal
training in 1911, when it merged with the Australian Engineers.
signal troops and companies formed a portion of the Corps of Australian
Engineers and were known by such names as '15th Engr (Sig Tp) or '23rd
Sig Coy (Engr)'. These designations were retained unitl 1916, when
the term (AE) was substituted for (Engrs) in the title.
continued until the divisional organisation was introduced in 1921, when
the term 'Cac Div Sigs' and 'Div Sigs' were introduced for the first time.
Coincident with this change in nomenclature, all signal units seperated
from the Australian Corps of Engineers and in 1925 the Australian Corps
of Signals came into being.
began the evolution of the 'Australian Corps of Signals', which reached
a total strength of 24,000 all ranks in the Second World War, 1939-1945
of the Corps
regard 12th January 1906, the date on which raising instructions and the
establishment for the 'Australian Corps of Signallers' were promulgated,
as the birthday of the Corps
Nov 1948 His Majesty, King George VI conferred the title 'Royal' on the
Australian Corps of Signals. This day is recognised as 'Corps Day'
and commemorative functions are held as near as possible to 10 Nov each
The Corps Badge,
approved in 1946, is described as:
'The figure of Mercury
on a globe, the latter supported above
by a scroll bearing the motto "Certa
Cito", and a boomerang below bearing the
inscription "Australia". The whole is
surmounted by a crown, detached. Mercury
faces his right.'
The badge, as described,
is approved for wear on all types of
The badge, as described,
is also produced with Mercury facing his
left. Two badges, one left, one right,
less crowns are approved for wear as
collar badges on various forms of dress.
Mercury faces inwards when so worn.
Motto is 'Certa Cito" and is translated as 'Swift and Sure', signifying
the aim of the signal service - that communication be carried out with
maximum speed and certainty.
has two sets of colours, one utilised in battle (tactical colours) and
one for domestic purposes.
over Royal Blue. These colours are used for unit identication signs
on vehicles, and the marking of communication centres and tactical installations.
The white symbolises the white of the ribbons wound on the Caduceus
of the god Hermes (the symbol of the messager) and the blue represents
the Royal Colours. These colours combined make a striking contrast,
suitable for easy indentification for tactical purposes.
other purposes the colours of the Corps are:
colours represent the three media of communications, through air, over
sea and over land.
Flag and Pennant
Flag consists of the Corps Colours, in the ratios shown above with the
domestic colours, flown horizontally. In the centre is the Corps
Badge in gold (deep chrome yellow). The overall height of the badge
should be half the breadth of the flag. Mecury faces the hoist.
The Corps Flag may be flown by units as approved by the Ceremonial Manual.
Quick-March of the RA Sigs is a combination of the old English traditional
air 'Begone Dull Care' and the Australian folk song 'Click go the Shears'.
Thus the affiliation between Royal Signals, whose march is 'Begone Dull
Care', and RA Sigs is perpetuated.
March is 'Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal'. This is a special
march composed by the Royal Signals Director of Music in honour of the
then Colonel-in-Chief the late Princess Mary.
- In - Chief
Royal Highness, Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, LG, GCVO
is a traditional appointment that stems from the days of old when a Lord
of the land would raise and maintain a force of troops in the service
of the sovereign.
In June 1937, Her
Royal Highness the Princess Mary, The Princess Royal, CI, GCVO, GBE, RRC,
TD, DLC, LLD, became the first Colonel-in-Chief of the Australian Signals
Corps when, with the approval of His Majesty King George V, she accepted
the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief.
In 1965 Her Royal
Highness the Princess Royal passed away. To commemorate the memory of
our Colonel-in-Chief a special slow march was composed by the Royal Signals
Director of Music. The slow march is called 'Her Royal Highness The Princess
Royal' and is the Corps Slow March.
Her Royal Highness,
The Princess Royal, LG, GCVO, was appointed the second
Colonel-in-Chief, Royal Australian Corps of Signals on the 11th June 1977,
after the position had been vacant for some twelve years.
The Commanding Officer,
School of Signals, is responsible for the safekeeping of the following
RASigs is affiliated
with the British Army Royal Corps of Signals under Royal Warrant of 5th
August 1920. At the conclusion of the Second World War, 1939-45, Her Royal
Highness, The Princess Mary, The Princess Royal, on behalf of the Royal
Corps of Signals presented to a representative of the Australian Corps
of Signals (then Major K.R. Colwill), a silver salver, as a memento of
the splendid co-operation that has existed between the Royal Corps of
Signals and the Australian Corps of Signals throughout the Second World
Princess Royal Trophy
On 6 April 1940,
His Excellency the Governor-general of Australia, Lord Gowrie, presented
to the Australian Corps of Signals a trophy on behalf of Her Royal Highness,
the Princess Royal, Princess Mary who was our Colonel-in-Chief at the
2nd Cavalry Division,
as winners of the annual competition for the year 1930-39, received the
trophy on behalf of the Corps from Lord Gowrie.
The trophy is a silver
statuette of Mercury (or Hermes) mounted on a wooden base.
The trophy was initially
awarded for an annual competition between units of the Australian Corps
of Signals. The competition was a practical signalling test of varying
skills according to unit role between Signals units of the Citizen Military
Forces (CMF) (now Army Reserve) although regular units with a CMF component
could also compete.
The competition lapsed
after 1967 and the winner in that year was 4 Signal regiment. In 1984,
an unsuccessful attempt was made to resurrect the competition.
The trophy may be
re-awarded in the future when a suitable competition, agreed by ARA, ARES
and composite RASigs units, is initiated by the Corps Committee.
Currently the trophy
is no longer competed for and is displayed in the foyer of the Army School
Princess Royal Clock
The Princess Royal
Clock was presented to the Colonel-in-Chief Royal Australian Corps of
Signals, Her Royal Highness Princess Mary, The Princess Royal, in 1951,
on behalf of the Corps by COL A.D. Molloy. Her Royal Highness The Princess
Royal graciously entrusted the clock to the care of the Royal Australian
Corps of Signals. For many years the clock was on display and in use in
the office of the Chief Instructor School of Signals. it was the responsibility
of the School of Signals Duty officer to wind the clock daily.
Princess Anne Banner
The practice of carrying
symbols into battle has existed for centuries, the Eagle Standards of
the Roman legions being perhaps the best known.
During the thirteenth
century the nobility went into battle with their entire body and most
of their horse hidden by defensive armour, thus increasing the difficulty
of quick identification. This was overcome by the use of distinctive badges
or crests on their equipment, including pennants or banners.
Colours were used
in the British Army originally as a means of identifying the location
of the headquarters of regiments in battle. In time the Colours became
a focal point of regimental esprit de corps and there are many stories
of exploits of great heroism by soldiers defending the colours from loss.
In Australia, Colours
are carried by the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Infantry Battalions
and University Regiments. Banners are carried by those Corps or Units
that have had them presented by Royal or vice-regal personages.
The custom of presenting
Banners to Australian Army units started with the presentation of twenty
Kings Banners in 1904 for service in the Boer War. The Banners were
presented by King Edward VII to eighteen Light Horse regiments, the Royal
Australian Artillery, and the Australian Army Medical Corps; a further
twenty-three of these Banners were presented to infantry units in 1911.
It was stipulated that the Banners presented to the non-infantry units
were not Kings Colours but, ...Honourable Insignia
presented (by King Edward VII) as a special mark of favour in recognition
of valuable services rendered in South Africa during the 1899-1902 war,
and that Honorary Distinctions are not to be borne on the Banners.
There are currently
three types of Banners within the Australian Army. They are the Sovereigns
Banner which may be presented to any corps or unit including those with
Colours by Her Majesty The Queen; Banners presented by other members of
the Royal Family (these may be presented to any corps which does not have
an entitlement to Standards, Guidons, or Colours); and the Governor-Generals
Banner for training establishments which do not possess a Colour. Banners
are accorded the same respect and compliments as the Queens Colours.
On 10 September 1980,
approval was given by Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, The Princess
Royal, LG, GCVO, the RASigs Colonel-in-Chief, for the Corps to carry a
banner bearing her Ciphor. The banner is known as "The Princess Anne
The banner was presented
at a parade at Simpson Barracks on 29 November 1986, on behalf of Her
Royal Highness by His Excellency The Governor General, The Right Honourable
Sir Ninian Stephen, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE.
The banner and its
accoutrements consist of the following: - the banner, an English Bely,
tassel, crown, pike, two rifles, two bayonts, two scabbards, two swords,
and two white leather belts.
The Commanding Officer,
Army School of Signals, is the custodian of the banner and is responsible
for its security and maintenance. The banner is permentaly displayed in
the foyer of the Army School of Signals when not being paraded on ceremonial
At all Corps Dining nights it is customary for the following toasts to
When the port has been passed the Dinning President calls the table to
order by saying "Dining Vice-President". The Dining Vice-President
will raise and say "Gentlemen" or "Ladies and Gentlemen".
This indicates to the assembly that they should rise. Glasses
should remain on the table.
When all have risen and everybody is silent, the Dining Vice-President
then proposes the Loyal Toast "The Queen".
If the band is in attendance the first four bars and the last four
bars of the National Anthem are then played. At its conclusion,
or in response to the Dining Vice President if there is no band in attendance,
all present will repeat "The Queen" raise their glasses from
the table, drink to the toast and resume their seats.
to our Colonel-in-Chief
Directly after all personal have resumed their seats after the Loyal Toast
the Dining President will call "Dining Vice President".
The Dining Vice-President will rise and say "Gentlemen" or "Ladies
and Gentlemen". When all have risen and everybody is silent,
the Dining Vice-President then proposes the toast "Our Colonel-in-Chief,
The Princess Royal", all present will repeat "Our Colonel-in-Chief,
The Princess Royal" raise their glasses from the table, drink to
the toast and resume their seats.
On special occasions other toasts may be drunk . At annual Corps
Dinners a toast may be proposed to "The Royal Australian Corps of
Signals". This should be followed by a toast to "The Signal
Corps of the Commonwealth and the United States of America".
These toasts follow the Loyal Toast and the toast to our Colonel-in-Chief.
Traditionally at Corps Dinners the toast to the Corps is proposed by a
guest RAE officer. This marks the close bond between the two Corps.