THE SIGNAL CORPS: THE EMERGENCY (TO DECEMBER 1941)

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Military: approximately 11,, in the Army, 4,, in the Navy, and , in the Marine Corps. On 1 July , the strength of the active Army was approximately ,, three quarters of whom were scattered throughout the continental United States; the rest stationed overseas. The Guard organization had only come into being in On 8 September , President Roosevelt declared a limited national emergency , raising the strength of the Regular Army to , In , the Army Air Corps had just , personnel. The AAF grew to a peak of over 2. The US Army would eventually mobilize 91 divisions as compared to for the Japanese, German, 50 Commonwealth, and Russian divisions.

However, unlike some countries, the American divisions would be maintained near full strength throughout the war. In the summer of the decision was made to build the Army to an effective strength of 7.

The Signal Corps [3 volumes] | Imperial War Museums

By , operating strength reached 8. But only 2.

About 1,, personnel were assigned to divisions and 1,, to non-divisional units. Non-divisional forces included service units and some additional combat troops not initially assigned to a division. Of the three major theaters of operation during the war, 22 divisions were deployed to the Pacific, 15 divisions to the Mediterranean, and 61 divisions to Europe. Seven divisions served in both the Mediterranean and European Theaters. As the Germans overran France and appeared on the Atlantic seaboard, the possibility of an IRA-assisted German invasion, however unlikely, loomed large.

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Thus the first Emergency employment of the army was in an anti-subversion role in the form of mobile columns. In all, eleven columns were raised with some reserves. This organisation lasted throughout and into by which time the IRA had been largely interned and other concerns had taken over. On 7 June , with the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk completed and the Germans closing in on Paris, a state of emergency was declared in Ireland. All reservists and members of the Volunteer Force not already on permanent service were called up, the five regular and eight Volunteer Force battalions were brought up to strength, and the number of brigades was increased from two to four.

Five days before the declaration of the emergency, a national call to arms made on 2 June saw thousands enlisting and resulted in the raising of a further thirteen battalions, bringing the total to twenty six. Initially, the new additions were termed rifle battalions but by the spring of the following year they were being converted into standard infantry battalions and would be available for service in brigades if more of these formations were organised.

By the end of there were some 40, men under arms. The four brigades were allocated one to each of the four commands, eastern, southern, Western and Curragh — and let me just say now briefly that the commands are the territorial divisions of the country, therefore they are static things. They came under the control of the command OC.

Other initiatives at this time included the raising of some extra cavalry squadrons, the expansion of the Marine Service, and the raising of the Construction Corps and the Local Security Force. Early in , three more brigades were organised bringing the total to seven. Shortly afterwards the more difficult question of creating divisions was raised. Precisely why such an apparently obvious move should have caused difficulty is not clear. What is clear are the very tentative steps taken and the careful language employed in approaching the government on this matter; it took a long time.

In the event, on 9 May the minister for defence gave authorisation for the formation of two divisions, which in a short time were organised and had staffs working. The seven brigades were allocated as follows: The 1st Division, 1st, 3rd and 7th Brigades; the 2nd Division, the 2nd, 4th and 6th Brigades; the Curragh Command got the 5th Brigade, which thus became an independent Brigade. By the summer of the structure of the Emergency army was almost completed though it was to be until that the artillery requirements for all the brigades could be met.

It must be noted that, despite the existence of the divisions, the brigade was and still is the formation of all arms.

Thus, each brigade consisted of three infantry battalions; an artillery regiment; a cavalry motor squadron; field companies of engineers, signals, supply and transport; a field ambulance as the field medical company was then called ; and military police. With the exception of the infantry battalions, who of course had their own numeral, each of these bore the numeral of the brigade to which it belonged making identification easier. While the bulk of the available forces were in the brigades there were many units that were under the control of the four commands.

These were four infantry battalions, four armoured more properly, armoured car squadrons, thirteen cyclist squadrons, coast defence artillery batteries, and static establishments mostly termed garrison companies of the various corps and services. Now the Armoured Car Squadrons in fact then passed to the control of the divisions. To complete this survey of the structure of the defence forces it may be appropriate to glance briefly at each of the branches, that is the corps, of the organisation. The infantry has always been the senior corps and in the Emergency army was by far the largest.

The battalions were as follows:. The infantry battalion of all ranks consisted of a headquarters company, a machine-gun company and three rifle companies. Its most formidable armament was undoubtedly the sixteen Vickers medium machine-guns in the four platoons of the machine-gun company, a higher proportion it would seem than one finds in other armies.

On the other hand it was weak in mortars and even weaker in anti-tank guns, a serious deficiency. The rifle companies had four platoons each, the platoons being further divided into three ten-man sections. With a light machine-gun usually a Lewis gun but in some cases Bren guns in each section, the rifle company was moderately well armed.

The field artillery regiment had three field batteries of four guns each. This was only half the number of guns in a comparable British battery. Even this small figure was further diminished by the fact that at the outbreak of war there were only forty seven guns available, that is enough for only eleven batteries at four guns per battery with three guns left over, not quite enough for a mere four regiments let alone the seven required for the seven brigades.

To make matters worse, the guns were of three different types making difficulties for both fire control and ammunition supply. Of the thirty-six guns received from Great Britain during the war, twelve were again of a different type. An anti-tank battery included in the regimental establishment was never able to be organised, and not until were the regiments brought up to the rather skeletal organisation described above.

The position of anti-aircraft artillery was very bad at the outbreak of war with only six guns, four of which were obsolescent, and six light guns. Seventeen more 3. The Cavalry Corps is interesting in that it was, after some time, largely equipped with home-produced equipment. The name is somewhat misleading: there were no horses, nor had there ever been any, in the corps, which had formerly been known, rather more accurately as the Armoured Car Corps. The corps had no regiments but consisted entirely of squadrons, that is, company sized organisations, though these were of different types.

There were two later four armoured squadrons, that is to say armoured car squadrons, seven motor squadrons one for each brigade , a Bren-carrier squadron later disbanded and the vehicles given to the infantry , and cyclist squadrons. The armoured squadrons were equipped with armoured cars, seventeen to each if available. The seven motor squadrons were to have four armoured cars each plus many lighter vehicles for their role as the patrol and reconnaissance elements of the brigades.

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The provision of armoured cars was a complex problem solved, as will be described later, by home production. They were allocated not to the brigades but to the two divisions and to the Curragh Command and posted to various locations throughout the country. They were organised like rifle companies but were capable of getting rapidly into action and of covering ten miles in an hour, a very useful resource in an anti-paratroop role.

The other corps and services need not detain us save to say again that they were organised in company-level units though, in most cases with more personnel than their infantry counterparts.

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Signal Corps

The engineers, signals, supply and transport, medical and military police units were all fairly well equipped. All of these had both field companies, for service with brigades, and garrison companies that included the personnel managing such institutions as hospitals, signal installations, etc. In the Engineers, the garrison unit were called Maintenance Companies, looking after the sewers and things like that. While for weapons, ammunition and other warlike stores Ireland had to rely mainly on outside sources of supply, many items were home-produced.

Undoubtedly, the most important of these were armoured cars. The total armoured car requirement was seventy-nine, made up of seventeen each for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Armoured Squadrons the 4th had things called Beaverettes and four each for the armoured troops of the seven motor squadrons. Each motor squadron had one armoured troop and three reconnaissance troops. There were twenty-five on hands at the beginning of the Emergency, thirteen old Rolls Royces, eight Landsverks newly-purchased, modern Swedish vehicles and four Leyland vehicles fitted with Landsverk turrets, which is the really the business part of an armoured car.

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