Corps of Signals 100th Anniversary
1911 - 2011

Photographs and Report on 14th Reunion at Jablapur: 13- 15 Feb 2011

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tactical Communications System: Network for the Battlefield

L&T-Tata-HCL shortlisted in Rs 10k-cr defence deal race
by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 21st Jun 2012

In a long-anticipated move towards unleashing the abilities of India's private sector in equipping the military, the ministry of defence (MoD) has chosen a private sector consortium to compete with Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), the public sector giant, to develop a backbone communications network for the 21st century battlefield. The project is worth an estimated Rs 10,000 crore.

Called the Tactical Communications System (TCS), this network will be created simultaneously by two Indian ‘development agencies', or DAs. Besides BEL, the MoD's traditional go-to shop for electronics and communications, South Block has selected a private sector consortium of Larsen & Toubro, Tata Power (Special Electronics Division) and HCL. The MoD today informed the two DAs in writing about their selection. Business Standard has reviewed a copy of the MoD letter.

The TCS is a mobile communications grid that is rolled out across the battlefield, even deep inside enemy territory, for advancing tank formations. Each TCS provides an army corps (some 60,000 soldiers) with the frequencies and bandwidth needed for its communications, including voice, data and video.

It operates like a cellular phone network, but with three major differences. First, the TCS is mobile, its exchanges and switches installed in high-mobility vehicles that can transport and install these anywhere, including mountains and deserts. Second, the TCS transmits enormous volumes of data, such as map overlays, video conferencing or streaming video from unmanned aerial vehicles. Finally, the TCS maintains secrecy, forestalling enemy eavesdropping by rapidly hopping frequencies, hundreds of times a second, in a coded sequence.

Given the importance of secrecy, the MoD ruled that the TCS must be built in India. It is the first project being taken up under the ‘Make' category of the Defence Procurement Policy of 2008 (DPP-2008). This mandates that an Indian company, or consortium, must develop the TCS, with a minimum 30 per cent indigenisation at the prototype stage.

The two DAs will now take about six months to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR). This will define every system, sub-system, and capability of the TCS network. After studying the DPR, the MoD will estimate the cost of developing a TCS prototype. Industry sources say a working TCS prototype for an army division (15,000 troops) could cost about Rs 300 crore. MoD will fund 80 per cent of this cost; the vendors will pay 20 per cent.

The next crucial stage, explains Rahul Chaudhary, CEO of Tata Power (SED), is the building of the TCS prototype, which the two contending DAs would do separately, taking some 18 months. Then, in six to eight months of user evaluation trials, MoD will choose the better design. The DA that indigenises technology better will have an advantage over the one that relies more on foreign technologies and components.

The trials would also give the user a last chance to recommend design changes. The finalised design, to be documented into a General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR), will be the TCS that enters operational service. The government could nominate a single winning vendor —between BEL and the L & T-led Special Purpose Company (SPC) — to build all seven TCS systems the army needs, each worth some Rs 1,500 crore. However, most insiders expect MoD would speed up production and hedge risks by distributing the order 65:35, with the superior design getting the lion's share.

In choosing the two DAs that were intimated today, MoD evaluated eight carefully vetted companies: L & T, Tata Power (SED), HCL, Rolta, Wipro; and also from PSUs: BEL, Electronics Corporation of India Ltd and ITI. Given the complexity of the projects and the stakes involved, L & T, Tata Power (SED) and HCL decided to combine forces, bidding jointly as an SPC.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Utilization of manpower in the Army: 1985

Source : The Indian Defence Review, © 1995 by Lancer Publishers & Distributors.
Article Author : Lieutenant General K. Balaram, PVSM (Retd)

This article is based on a paper presented by the author to the Ministry of Defence in September 1985, prior to his retirement as Vice Chief of Army Staff and Adjutant General, Indian Army.
The trade or employment structure of the Army, broadly, has three groups namely, the General Duties, Skilled and Highly Skilled or Technician groups. The General Duties group comprises the combat categories of armoured corps, mechanised infantry, artillery, corps of engineers, infantry and some categories of the corps of signals. The Skilled group generally comprises operator categories of various types of equipment mostly in the combat support and logistic units. The Highly Skilled group or Technical group includes mechanic and technical categories. The educational standard at recruitment, training period and the period of engagement is graduated upwards from the General Duties group to the Highly Skilled group. The training period varies from about a year or so at the lowest level to about two and a half to three years at the highest level of knowledge and skill. The aim of this article is to examine whether optimum use is made of this manpower and, if not, suggest an alternative method by which improved optimization and cost-effectiveness can be achieved.
The jargon prevalent in the Adjutant General's Branch, the Personnel Management Organization of the Army, is used in this article since it is expressive and brief. The meaning of the jargon is explained for ease of understanding of the uninitiated and lay readers. Quantitative analysis is essential to present the magnitude of the problem. Complicated calculations are given in the tables but derivations thereof are given in the text.
Prior to 1965, sepoys in the General Duties categories were engaged for seven years of 'colour service' with eight years of 'reserve' liability, Skilled categories for 10 and 10 years and Highly Skilled categories for 12 and 8 years, respectively. Except for Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), the age profile of combat units was between 18 and 25 years and those of Combat Support and Technical Services and Logistic Services units wore comparatively more, but not unduly so. Therefore, the high spirits, generally associated with youth, pervaded the entire Army. Re-employment after release from the Army was comparatively less difficult since trained manpower between the ages of 25 and 30 was more acceptable in the employment market. About 65 per cent wore released without the Army incurring any expenditure on pensions on their account since the minimum service for a pension was 15 years. Only JCOs and senior NCOs retired with pensions.
The colour service of the three groups, as defined, was changed to 10, 12, and 18 years, respectively with effect from 25 January 1965 to 15, 15 and 18, respectively with effect from 1 February 1976 and to 17, 17 and 20 years, respectively with effect from 30 June 1979. These increased colour service periods are operative till date. The effects of this upward revision of colour service will next be discussed in detail.
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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Of Sparrows and Straws: Innovative ideas or agreeing with the boss?

Army led by deer or lion?
by Ajai Shukla Business Standard, 17th Apr 12
On Sunday the army chief, General V K Singh, raised an intriguing question while talking to schoolchildren in Jaipur. “An army of deer led by a lion is to be feared more than [an] army of lions led by a deer,” said the general.
My first thought as I mulled over this profundity was: can a deer that has served all his life in an army full of deer suddenly transform into a lion at the top? Alternatively, could a lion serving in an army full of deer be promoted somehow to the top slot?
Common sense would rule out both eventualities. An army full of deer would only promote a deer to the top, just as an army of lions would always have a lion in command. But the Indian Army presents a paradoxical third alternative. The numerous lions in this excellent army serve up to a certain rank. Then, around the time they become colonels or brigadiers, something strange happens: the lions start turning into deer!
The General V K Singh affair illuminates the generals in a harsh and unforgiving light. The generals emerge as riven with infighting; they undermine meritocracy by promoting loyalists; and, perhaps most worryingly, they compromise the army’s readiness for war by meekly acquiescing in crippling shortfalls of equipment and ammunition.
Over a drink, ask any junior or mid-ranking officer, and you will find disillusionment with senior commanders and with a working environment that rewards the safe and predictable rather than the bold and unexpected. Recent controversies have exacerbated murmurs that generals only think about themselves. Talk to the generals, on the other hand, and they express disappointment over the “poor quality” of young officers. There is a clear disconnect between the two ends of the rank pyramid, between the lions and the deer.
This observation is fraught with personal danger, since my army batch-mates have just been evaluated, and many of them cleared, for promotion to major general! Knowing these gentlemen as intimately as a course-mate, comrade and friend of many years does, I acknowledge with some satisfaction that the army has homed in on the high achievers. But identifying good lions is of little use if they begin turning into deer.
At a time when many soldiers – serving and retired – bitterly regard themselves as under attack from the defence ministry, the media, and even the judiciary, it is time for India’s finest and most resilient institution to look within rather than without. What are the systemic flaws in the army structure that disempowers its leaders and binds them in mental shackles?
The first is a growing culture of conformity: an intolerance of alternative viewpoints that is the natural attribute of under-confident commanders. This causes the boss’ viewpoint (itself springing from what he thinks his boss’ viewpoint might be) to become the viewpoint of everyone down the chain — effectively killing any prospect of internal reform. The system cannot be challenged from within, since any discussion about alternative leadership models presupposes that the existing model might be less than perfect.
It is nobody’s case that the army should encourage dissent; no military does. But great armies tolerate, and actively encourage, non-conformism. This is essential, not just for operational innovativeness that would keep the enemy guessing in war, but also for throwing up essential bottom-up challenges to the status quo. Totalitarian Conformism, as today’s army leadership style might be termed, reduces the landscape of professional and personal creativity to a dull wasteland where the fabled “dashing young officer” is marked not by flashes of innovative genius but by his quickness in agreeing with the boss.
Young officers allow themselves to be bound by these shackles because of the army’s insularity. Segregated from the world outside, and with little realisation of their actual worth, junior officers are reluctant to buck the system. Given the conviction that promotion is the only measure of success, they toe the line rather than risk professional hara-kiri by setting out to change the system. Their outlook can only change with exposure. Sending out junior officers on secondments and deputations – with academic institutions; successful government enterprises; media organisations; the police forces – will enrich the military’s bloodline with external leadership and decision-making cultures. It will also provide officers with the confidence that is required to challenge the status quo and to create a bottom-up dynamic that forces the generals to respond like lions rather than continue like deer.
Will the generals permit such a change? Most probably not since empowering junior officers and encouraging non-conformism are threatening prospects. Good reasons are ready at hand to shoot down such “unworkable” and “impractical” ideas: a shortage of officers; inter-se seniority issues during secondment; and so on. It would, therefore, be necessary for the government to intervene. We’re waiting for Godot.
The phrase “lions led by donkeys” was used by the Germans to describe the British army during World War I. It encapsulated their impression of incompetent generals letting down the brave and dedicated British soldier.
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Remembering Lt Gen Balaram: Scarcely one sees a Signal of officer of his calibre

A true Role Model for the youth of the Nation
Maj Gen Balaram succeeded Maj Gen Mohinder Singh as Commandant Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) Wellington in 1982 soon after we reported for the staff course. Maj Gen Mohinder Singh used to run DSSC with a firm hand. For mid career young officers it was a great achievement to be selected for the course and a feather in one's cap to be graded DS (Directing Staff) material. Gen Mohinder Singh's legacy was that officers must be taught to obey rules and regulations scrupulously and any deviation or slackness would invite adverse comment / negative marking. The introductory talk by the BGS to us was overawing. It was the jewel which crowned the very surgically precise joining instructions which we had received earlier. Constantly improved over years of feedback and experience, the DSSC joining instructions are a role-model of outstanding staff work and minor SDs. Everything in them is well thought out. Detailed instructions & guidelines are articulated in well formed centre headings, group and para headings, using words & language which leaves no room for doubt.
The list of Donts spelt out by the BGS in his welcoming speech was exhaustive. It made us white uniform walllahs sit up and re-think whether we were really going to enjoy a year's sabbatical from the navy. We had all dreamt of a welcome break from the tough navy life and a year of regular family life in the exotic surroundings of a beautiful, quaint old hill station in the Nilgiris where time is reported to stand still.
Soon we began to reminisce about our initial days at NDA and about taut army discipline once again You see, the naval service is quite informal in many respects. One does not have to stand to attention all the time while speaking to senior officers; passing salutes are generally exchanged only upto noon and when they are, it is not necessary that you have a cap on your head, and so on. The coastal climate does not encourage one to invest in three-piece suits or many silk Saree's for the spouse....We felt a wee bit stifled at regimented routine and the lack of creative freedom.
But our fears were short-lived. Maj Gen Balaram came on to the scene without a swagger and swatch. A quiet unassuming, studious looking senior officer, he quietly observed the daily life for a couple of days and then made an unforgettable speech which showed how humane and perceptive he was. We took our seats in the main auditorium well before the appointed time, decked in our Sunday best, dreading what was to come. Though young in service, we were well-aware that traditionally a new hand at the helm always meant an across-the board tightening-up in any service. There was an unusual silence as we awaited the customary pep talk and a pronouncement of a fresh list of dos & don ts by the new commandant.

But what he said that evening remains forever etched in my memory. He spoke in fatherly terms and advised us to make use of the opportunity to spend a year with our family in that wonderful place to renew bonds with family and make new friends. He advised us to study hard, think creatively, question the 'greens' (the staff solutions) and come up with better ones. In our spare times we should play hard and utilise the recreational facilities of the institution to the fullest. He told us that our Directing Staff were mature senior officers who knew how to recognise the potential in us and that we should not be too-conscious of our gradings by them. We should consider them our gurud who were there to guide us to develop skills and abilities to become assets as future staff officers in higher formations.

He informed us that recognising that we were all fairly senior and mature officers, he had issued a specific directive to his staff earlier in the day. The staff were there to assist and guide us to develop our full potential. Henceforth, they were required to minimise the burden and routine chores of 'personal adm' from our shoulders so that we could devote our energies to the primary task of studying. He streamlined the requisitioning of transport to ferry the sick and the womenfolk from far off residential areas like Gorkha Hills and ensured easy access to medical facilities for the families so that we did not have to absent from class for these purposes. The doorstep supply of service rations and daily necessities from the market (Needs, near MRC) etc etc also became well organised and left the men-folk with more time and energy to think and turn in better solutions.
Above all (and this was a stunner) he said he had issued instructions that no one in the college had the power to say 'No' to the mature and responsible officers undergoing staff course. The buck for turning down a request for a sudden trip to Coimbatore to receive a family member, to take a couple of days leave to see an ailing parent, to requisition transport etc etc stopped at the Commandant's desk. If you got a No, it meant that it was his considered decison as head of our family and must be obeyed. All other officers of the DSSC had the power only to say YES and with that was implied their responsibility to ensure that students never faced problems - personal or professional.
It was a great thought. We worked hard and we played hard. Personally, I felt that the overall quality of our professional output notched up many times.
I practiced his philosophy about the power to say no in subsequent life and always had good results. It was a facet of leadership that he had passed on to us.
In the evening of his life sometimes I met Gen Balaram in a seminar or in the lawns of the Delhi Gymkhana Club. It was always an honour to re-introduce myself every time and to thank him for that unforgettable year in DSSC. Ever the courteous and caring senior officer, he never forgot to enquire about my well-being and about my family as if he knew them. Though in failing health himself, he always said that although he was not sure what he could do for me, I should feel free to call on my former commandant for a helping hand.
If memory serves me right, once after his retirement he was hand-picked by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to personally assess the ground truth and give her a factual account of what had happened in Orissa - I seem to recall that it was a case of starvation deaths or atrocities on dalits and that the administration was trying to cover it up. She probably trusted the General's sense of fairplay and his integrity to put in a true report of the reality as he saw it.
As a naval officer I salute my old commandant. I am fortunate that I got a chance to meet him. May his soul rest in peace and may his spirit guide us to develop our faculties for original and creative thinking. Perhaps I may yet invent a follow-on to the famous Balaram aerial!
Best regards,
(Cdr Arun Saigal)

Is there any Serving Signal Officer of his Calibre?
Lt General Balaram was only vice chancellor of the oldest university of Haryana who practised austerity and bridled the unbridled in the university whether in the teaching fraternity or in the categories of employees. He was the administrator who suspended an IAS Registrar Rajiv Arora and got his almirahs broke open in his absence where some important files were locked, just a few days before the expiry of his three year tenure. The Fauji Balaram was the VC who denied access to university auditorium to the then Prime Minister late Chander Shekhar who was to address a workers rally in the presence of the then Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala. Although the District Magistrate used his special powers and acquisited the auditorium. The hand-over and take-over was done by the junior officers of the university and the district administration. Unlike today's vice chancellors in the country, Lt. General Balaram made his way to Delhi to attend a meeting and did not bother even to receive the PM at the helipad in the university sports grounds itself.

Balaram used to walk to his office and back on Thursdays during the Iran-Iraq war to save petrol, a call given by the union ministry those days. He could venture sliding beneath his official car to repair it during the lunch break and then board it after stretching his safari suit which could be seen with torn stitches under the cockpits. He never availed any free medicines from the University Health centre , rather he was the VC who paid a cheque of five thousand rupees to the university in lieu of the reimbursement of medical bills despite the repeated requests to the contrary from the then SMO Dr Mrs S Maleyvar.

He was so popular amongst teaching fraternity and also amongst employees that on his retirement, a ceremonial departure was performed by pulling the ropes tied to his car and a send-off was given at the Oasis at Karnal after which his convoy was escorted upto Delhi by the representatives of teachers and employees. His last words of advice to the university people were : 'Save this prestigious university from unscrupulous people if you can, let it flourish to blossom fully
Lt Gen Balaram

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Corps of Signals: Sky is not the limit

Aditi Malhotra
E-Mail- aditimalhotra008(at)

As the Indian Army continues on the road to modernising its forces, the technological investment in the sector of space and military satellites is worth highlighting. Upcoming space technologies are going to impact military capabilities and operations in a great way. Undoubtedly, future wars are going to be swift, highly mobile and deeply influenced by space technology. With the growing significance of C4I2SR, the character of modern warfare is gradually transforming in keeping with the emerging changes in battlefield requirements. Also, Net Centric Warfare (NCW )will compel the commanders to become ‘Battlefield Leaders.’
Keeping current developments and future prognosis in mind, the Indian Army has been working towards establishing ‘net centricity.’ The Army is continuously working on bettering its C4I2SR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Information, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) capabilities as it is the first step towards NCW. For some time now, the Indian Army has been evolving its doctrine to integrate the different elements of C4I2. Needless to say, interoperability among the three services would be the essence of effective networking centric capabilities. Even in the absence of integrated doctrine or high degree of synergy, the army has embarked on a journey to develop a comprehensive net centric warfare doctrine.
A testament to the army’s efforts towards ‘net centricity’ is the development of the Tac C3I System (Tactical Command, Control, Communications and Information System). Taking its first step in 2009, the force inducted Project Shakti, a computerised command and control system to integrate its artillery weapon operations. Additionally, in the offing is the defence forces’ optical fibre networks that will help attain safe and secure communications, unbound network centricity and will also greatly improve interoperability among the three services. This will also be one of the world’s largest closed user group (CUG) networks for exclusive military communications.
Satellite and space programmes remain pivotal to further enhance net centricity. Since the early 1990s till date, the Indian armed forces have benefitted from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) civilian satellites by using satellite imagery. However, the operational requirements now demand an increase in military capabilities and the armed forces need dedicated satellites for military purposes. Though the technology and its application are not new to the Indian Army, future programmes and satellites will enhance the capabilities further. Apart from certain delays and retarding factors in the process, the future of the military use of space is bright. Military space satellites will aid the Indian Army, along with the Navy and Air Force, to undertake effective and real-time surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
Military uses of the technology includes imagery for identification of targets, navigation of target locations or weapon systems, signals intelligence, early warning etc. The technology would perpetually monitor the presence of missile silos, location of targets, troop deployment, and movement along the borders, which will facilitate combat operations. Specifically, the satellite capabilities will offer the force constant coverage of China and Pakistan’s military forces and their military build-up along the Indian border and in sensitive areas like Tibet and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). A much awaited satellite includes the DRDO’s Rs 100 crore Communication-Centric Intelligence Satellite (CCI-Sat) which is scheduled to be operational by 2014. The satellite would be capable of picking up conversations and electronic eavesdropping activities in the neighbourhood. It will also be able to take high resolution images of the target areas. The launch of such satellites would enhance the war fight capability at the strategic, operational as well as the tactical levels.
China has been rapidly expanding its military capabilities in space and developing disruptive technologies like the Anti-Satellite capability, which poses a threat to Indian space assets. Another source of worry is the Sino-Pak cooperation in space technologies. The latest in case is the launch of Pakistan’s communication satellite Paksat-1R by a Chinese space vehicle from Sichuan province last year. With this precedence, China is likely to assist Pakistan in establishing a military space programme through soft loans and technological assistance. With such dangerous liaisons, the Indian side has sought to accelerate the pace of Indian military satellite programmes. In view of Chinese capability, in January 2010, Dr. V K Saraswat, the scientific advisor to the Indian Defence Minister, spoke about the Indian capability to undertake anti-satellite missions. He stated that India had “all the technologies and building blocks which can be used for anti-satellite missions” in the low-earth and polar orbits. This needs to be put on ground as an operational asset.
The threat from space is real and India needs to be sensitive to the issue. With the changing security environment and emergence of new threats, the Indian Army must move rapidly to optimally enhance its space based capabilities. Clearly, sky is not the limit, but time is at a premium. We can no longer afford to tarry on this score, considering the progress made by our adversaries in this field.
Aditi Malhotra is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Corps History: Curved Shoulder Title

Dear Veterans,
I have been approached by Sqn Ldr Rana T.S. Chhina, who is the Secretary, Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research at the USI. He is trying to put together a catalogue of metal shoulder titles worn by the Indian Army from 1885 till date. He has sent me a photo of a curved shoulder title of Signals which is attached. He wants to know if this title was ever worn by Indian Signals and if so, when was it replaced by the straight shoulder title that is still worn. His specific query is given below:

I would also be most grateful if you could kindly let me have the shoulder title reference. What were the patterns of metal shoulder titles worn? When was the current straight Signals title introduced? I recently acquired a curved Signals title. Which period would be this be from? I have also seen titles reading “Wireless” and a cloth slip on shoulder title reading “Wireless SEAC” (obviously from WW-2 – South East Asia Command .

I have sent him a gist of the changes that have occurred in our dress from 1911 to 1947, which have been covered in the History of the Corps of Signals Volume II. I am reproducing the information below:
From 1911 to 1916, signallers wore the same uniform as the Sappers and Miners. In 1916, the distinctive Signal Service colours, blue and white, were permitted in the ‘pullah’ in 1916 and in the ‘jhalar’ of the headdress in 1920. Indian ranks started wearing brass shoulder titles ‘SIGNALS’ in 1922. In 1923, all ranks of the Corps began to dress as mounted men, wearing breeches and short-putties, in addition to trousers and shorts. In 1927 the colours of Royal Signals – light blue green and dark blue - were adopted for ‘jhalars’, replacing the blue and white. In 1928 it was ruled that the blue and white Signals arm bands would be worn only on active service. In 1935 the Madrassis were permitted to wear felt hats, instead of the heavy pagri which often came off while riding a horse. The length of the Punjabi Mussulman’s ‘safa’ was reduced, with a small kullah being worn. Sikhs and Dogra wore a small pug under their turbans. With mechanisation, breeches and spurs gradually disappeared. During World War II, all personnel, except for Sikhs, started wearing the blue beret and the jungle hat.

Can any veteran signaller shed some light on this? Was the curved shoulder title ever worn by Indian Signals?
With regards
Maj Gen VK Singh (Retd)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

US Signal Corps in India- Burma War 1945

US Signal Battalions
2nd Signal Service Battalion
Det F, 2nd Signal Service BN - New Delhi
23d Signal Battalion (Heavy Construction) - Myitkyina
31st Signal Battalion (Heavy Construction) - Dudhkundi; China (See CBI Unit Histories) Co. A - Rupsi
96th Signal Battalion - Shaduzup
Meritorious Unit Commendation: 23 Oct 43-31 Aug 44, GO 47, Hq USF IBT, dtd 19 Feb 45
Source: Ex-CBI Roundup, December 1980 Issue
The following citation was issued 19 February 1945 by Headquarters United States Forces, India-Burma Theater, APO 885:
During the period 23 October 1943 to 31 August 1944, the 96th SIGNAL BATTALION was called upon to construct, maintain and operate an intricate signal communications system in the jungle of Burma under the most severe and adverse conditions of monsoon and disease and in the face of enemy action. This organization worked in a most exemplary manner to provide the highly efficient signal communications needed to make possible the capture of Northern Burma. The entire battalion saw prolonged service with combat units in Northern Burma serving side by side with Merrill's Marauders. It operated telephone, teletype and radio installations along the Ledo Road from Ledo to Myitkyina, where installations were made under intense enemy shell fire. The record of achievement of the 96th SIGNAL BATTALION is worthy of the finest traditions of the military service of the United States.
Source: Ex-CBI Roundup, February 1999 Issue
We left the USA from Hampton Roads, VA, across the Atlantic to Oran, North Africa. On November 23, 1943, found us pulling out of Oran and on a trip that was to be different than the watchful, but uneventful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
On November 26th, at about 1630, we were greeted by Heinkel 177s. For 2 1/2 hours, the air was full of death, terror and destruction. Although our ship, the Banfora, has suffered no more than near misses, the deck of our ship was splattered with falling fragments of anti-aircraft shells. Our sister ship, the Rhonda, suffered major damage and was sunk with a great many lives of American GIs were lost. Three days later, the "Jerries" came back for another visit using glider bombs. This time they were driven away. The rest of the trip was quiet and we were not to hear the enemy bombs again until we were deep in the wild Burma jungles.

The 96th Signal Battalion was known as the "Ballantine Battalion" due to the fact our army insignia on our equipment was the insignia of the Ballantine Beer. We landed into Bombay, taking the long train ride to Calcutta, down to Assam. From there the Battalion took the long trek in the land of MYSTERY, INTRIGUE AND LONLINESS, known to CBIers as "Burma". We had many stopovers such as Wawalun, Shaduzup, Bhamo, Lashio and finally into Myitkyina and then into Kunming. -- Mr. Fred Robertucci
219th Signal Service Battalion *
236th Signal Service Battalion - Dikom
Source: Mr. Zadoc A. Pool, TSgt, 236th Signal Co.:
The 236th Signal Company arrived CBI c. August 1943. It was redesignated as the 236th Signal Service Battalion late 1944; Hq at Dikom (near Chabua). I joined the outfit in February 1945 and continued as a member until April 1946; I went to Calcutta on points, and I think the unit was deactivated shortly thereafter.
Photo courtesy of Capt Douglas MacLeod, U.S. Army Signal Corps)

341st Signal Service Battalion*
428th Signal Battalion (Heavy Construction, Avn) (Colored) - Calcutta; Ledo; Loglai
Arrived India 20 Mar 44. Orders to reorganize to Heavy Construction Battalion
432nd Signal Battalion (Heavy Construction, Avn) - Calcutta, Kanchrapara (Less Co. B)
Co. B - Chuadanga
China Burma India Signal Units
CBI Unit histories: click here for more Pictures taken in India