First Radio Relay History
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Chronological History of Company “D” 926 Signal
And The 1St Radio Relay Squadron
General Roger Colton, director of the Signal
Corps Laboratory was charged by the Department of the Army with developing
improved Communications for the Army. To this end he contacted Professor Edwin H
Armstrong of Columbia University. Armstrong was a reserve Major and had served
in 1918 with Colton in Paris. Armstrong was experimenting with Frequency
Modulation a form of radio broadcasting free of static interference the major
problem with Amplitude modulation. Gen. Colton outlined the Army’s goal to
provide reliable communications for every level of command down to squad.
Gen. Colton informed Armstrong of the upcoming 1st Army 1940 summer maneuvers and related that the 1939 maneuvers and communications test were a disaster they both saw this as an opportunity to test the new FM system. Armstrong agreed to provide 28 FM radio sets.
The maneuvers of 1940 with respect to the
performance of the FM Radios were an overwhelming success. The Field Artillery,
Infantry and Armored Forces were convinced that FM was far superior to AM radios
then in use. AM required an experienced operator to perform the delicate tuning
required. FM Was crystal controlled and could be used by inexperienced troops.
Gen. Colton made the decision to committ the Army to short range FM radio.
Armstrong told Colton that one of the major problems to overcome was the need for large quantities of radio frequency crystals. Far more than the manufactures, he thought were capable of delivering. Each receiver and transmitter would require a crystal and if frequencies were to be changed a crystal for each frequency. Colton requested a list of specifications for the crystals and said he would turn them over to the Department of the Army procurement office and have them try to solve the problem.
All phases of the Army’s FM radio procurement
were moving rapidly forward. The procurement people were issuing contracts for
all types of communication equipment the majority were FM
Crystal’s would be required for every
frequency that a transmitter or receiver would be tuned to. In November the
“Quartz Crystal Section” was organized in the Office of the Signal Corps. The
QCS was headed by Lt. Col.James D O’Connel their duty was to expedite the
manufacture of crystals to meat the requirements of our service’s and our
Prior to 1940 less then 100 people were
involved in the manufacture of radio frequency quartz crystals. The market was
mainly Radio Amateurs, Broadcasters and experimenters. Bliley one of the largest
manufactures in 1939 employed 15 people.
The QCS Gathered all research material related to crystals known to exist. At there request the University of Kansas started a training program. Course material was copies of patents pertaining to crystals. QCS expedited the development of XRay diffraction which shortens the time to orient a crystal blank for lapping. The only government effort with a higher priority than the QCS was the Manhattan Project.
By 1943 130
manufactures were engaged in the production of crystals employing thousands of
people. By 1945, it was estimated that 30 million crystals units were
produced. It should be noted that this effort should rank alongside the
Manufacture of Higgins Boats, C47 Aircraft and the Ml Riffle for it’s
contribution to winning the war.
September 1; Company “D’s of the 926 Signal
Battalion was activated at USAAF Sta. No
476 Aldermaston Court, Aldermaston England. By the authority of, War Department letter, file
AF322(3OJul. 43)ORQ-l-AFROG-M, datedl4Aug. 1943. It would be an FM Radio Relay
Company using FM Radios developed for the Conetticute State Police.
1944 January 12; Company “D” was moved to the USAAF Sta. 420 Popham Scrubbs, England.
April 4; With training completed Company “D”
was moved to it’s pre embarkation station, USAAF Sta. 421 Chapel Row, Berkshire,
June 6; Elements of the 926 Signal Battalion
participated in the events of June 6 1944 by communicating from the beach head
to ships in the channel.
1944 July 2;
The 926 Signal Company “D" came
ashore at Normandy and was head quartered south of Isigny were they became part
of the build up and congestion being held up due to the hedge row fighting. The
break out came as a result of operation Cobra on July 26 and 27. August 2 nd
headquarters of the 926 Signal Company “D” moved to Conisy and they started the
work they had been training for. Land lines from various front line commands
through switch boards were connected to the FM equipment and phone communication
was established to the Air Corps ground support center.
1944 July Elements of Company D were sent to the Isle of Wight to establish an FM relay link to England. Apon ariving at the area they were to set up in , they noted a 1St Army
Communication Company set up with strange three element horizontal antenna. They inquired and were informed that they used AN/TRC 1 , 4 Channel Multiplexed FM. There investigation indicated that the AN/TRC equipment was far seperior to what they had been using. Word was rapidly passed up the Command and within a few weeks Company D was supplied with
1944 As the front moved east so did the did the headquarters of the 926th Signal Company “D”. August 13 Goulouvoty, France, August 23 Haleins Ornc, France, September 2 Versilles, France Paris west, September 12 Jamicuix, Belgium and December 19 Bruhi Germany. We have no record of the placement of relay sites but can assume that there was a terminal with headquarters near the front and relays as needed to connect with the terminal at the Air Corps ground support center.
1944 December 16 ; The Germans opened the Ardens offensive (Battle of the Bulge) and split the US forces in two. The 926th Signal Company “D” was still moving forward with the northern fork of the split and head quartered at Bruhl Germany near Aachen. There they stayed as the Battle of the Bulge played out.
1945 January; After the Bulge was straightened out the offensive continued. The Rhine River was crossed. The front moved further east into Germany. April 9 1945 the 926th Signal Company “D” was headquarters at Marburg Germany and April 26 at Weimar were they were on May 8 1945 when hostilities ended.
1945 September 16 ; the 926th Signal Company “D" was head quartered at Camp Pieri near Wiesbaden Germany. They settled in to a post war occupation setting. All stations relay and terminal were more or less permanent. Then on June 24 1948 the Russians closed the border to East Germany cutting of our access to Berlin. The Berlin Air Lift was initiated and the 926th Company “D” was on the move again. AC&W (Aircraft Control and Warning) was essential as was scheduling of flights and material requirements. All required voice communications.
October 8; Company "D" 926th Sig. Bn. Was
redesigned the 926th Signal Outpost Operating Co.
1948 October26 The 926th Signal Outpost Operations CO. became the 1st Radio Relay Squadron . Captain William Hulet was the Commanding officer.
1948 1St Radio Relay Squadron was head quartered at Wiesbaden AFB Germany
1951 Twelfth Air Force reactivated on January 21, 1951 at Wiesbaden, Germany, assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Twelfth Air Force became the first USAFE unit to be committed to NATO. Along with French and Canadian air units, Twelfth Air Force was part of the 4th Allied Tactical Air Forces charged with conducting the aerial mission of NATO’s Allied Air Forces Central Europe. 1st Radio Relay as part of the 2nd Comm. Group was to provide FM relay Communications from Air Bases in France and the French zone of Occupation.
1953 Head quarters of the 1st Radio Relay Squadron, Commanding Officer Capt. Glen Turner moved to Ramstine AFB were it remained until deactivation in 1963 Capt. Henry Cade was the last Commanding Officer.
I'm not sure who wrote this next article, nor do I know in which paper it was published. Perhaps some of you can help me out with this. It was published on January 30, 1954.
First Radio Relay Squadron Born With Army Designation
" Hello....Hello.....What the sam hill
is going on... operator......Operator...get me Toul back on the line....yes,
I've been cut off.....what kind of knuckleheads are running this telephone
system.....what do you mean...call me back...I want Toul now, not
tomorrow....well you're not as sorry as you're going to be." Slam!!!
The telephone shudders as the hand piece claps into place. The exasperated
gentleman continues to mutter about bum service and qualified personnel.
To calm his shattered nerves he walks over to the window and watches the thick,
Out on a mountain top a bitter wind is roaring with unbridled rage as it charges a small settlement on the peak. With satanic madness it hurls a wall pf snow and needle-sharp ice particles against a small group of struggling figures.
"How dare these puny things attempt to put up those sticks that my terrific might had succeeded in twisting into a tangled mass." The howling wind seems to say as it charges again and again with increasing fury. The puny figures are persistent, however, and despite all, the frigid wind can do, those sticks are soon standing again.
The two scenes above are several hundred miles apart but they are directly related to one another. The man in the warm office watching the gamboling snow flakes does not realize that the men on the mountain top are fighting one of the strongest elements of nature for his sole benefit at that particular moment. He does not know that his connection was broken because the antenna of one of the First Radio Relay sites was damaged by a violent snow storm and besides him, there may be five or six other bases blacked out because of the broken relay chain. Those who understand, wait patiently because they know the service will be resumed shortly.
Ramstein's First Radio Relay Squadron, which is under the 2nd Communications Group, is accustomed to battling the elements of nature and loneliness so that man may speak to one another over long distances without the use of wires.
Since its birth, ten years ago, the First Radio Relay has been misunderstood, misplaced and mistaken for everything in the book.
The U.S. Army Air Corp got into the radio relay business on 1 September 1943 at Aldermaston, England when it designated a group of men as "Company D, 926 Signal Battalion." No one knew what else to call this new outfit. Their personal outfit history reads like a super, special Cook's tour of Europe. Beginning with Normandy on 2 July 1944 they shifted with the flow of battle Isigny, Conisy, Coulouvrey, Haleins, Orne and Versailles, in France. In Germany they left their mark in Jamiclux, Bruhl, Marburg, Weimar, Simmerhausen and Trier. They then returned to France for a month. September '45 found them in Mainz, Germany after which they were shifted to Erlangen, Bad Kissingen and finally came to rest at Camp Peiri just outside of Wiesbaden.
By this time they were in the U.S. Air Forces and had been redesignated as the 926th Signal Outpost Operations Company (VHF/FM). In 1948 it was decided to call the outfit "The First Radio Relay Squadron" and after a short stay in Camp Lindsey, they came to Ramstein Air Base on 24 August 1953.
Despite the fact that they have been in the business of maintaining telephone communications on a scale almost comparable to the Bell Telephone Company, they have remained unknown because of their peculiar and varied designations.
Although the main business of the First Radio Relay is telephone communications, teletype scramble line, combat ready lines, command teletype circuits and almost every other means of communications are served by the outfit.
Through the years of experience the radio relay men have learned many lessons in mobility and becoming entirely self sustaining.
The main part of the outfit is like a phantom which one hears about but never sees. They are actually rarely seen because of the inaccessibility of their sites. They are spread over such a tremendous area and occupy so many mountain tops in Germany and France that some one once coined the phrase, " No peak without a First Radio Relay site."
Some idea of their wide-spread operations can be obtained from the fact that a normal month's travel consists of 140,000 to 160,000 miles. This staggering mileage is mostly over back roads which are rough and unimproved. A special staff does nothing but travel from one site to another checking on the needs and difficulties of each site. It requires an entire month to make one circuit.
The basic function of the First Radio Relay Squadron is simple enough. It consists of picking up a signal from another relay station, amplifying the signal and sending it on to the next station. It is what they have to go through to accomplish this task which complicates matters a little.
Almost all equipment is mounted in compact, self-contained trucks. These trucks are specially built for heavy duty work. Despite the careful design of the truck and the provisions made to protect the equipment, the rough roads which must be traveled are very unkind to the delicate equipment. This means hundreds of hours of checking and maintaince to assure proper and instant function of every single unit. Sometimes the parts are lacking, which is no excuse in the First Radio Relay. The man responsible for the truck or site is supposed to have enough ingenuity and initiative to substitute whatever he can find at hand until the proper part is available.
Then the problem of rotating men from
site to site complicates matters a little further. Regardless of how
excellent a site NCO is, he lives near an isolated village so lone he tends to
forget he is in the Air Force. The squadron declares they had to rotate
one man recently to keep him from being elected burgiemester of the town.
All the problems of setting up a line of communications and bringing it into operation are dumped into the lap of the squadron.
If, for example, the First Radio Relay receives an order to establish communications between Toul, France and Kaiserslautern, the operations staff lay out a set of large scale maps on the floor of the office and join them so that they have all the area between Kaiserslautern and Toul on one gigantic map.
Although a direct line across the Saar would be the shortest and best , they can not plan it because for the present they can not go into the Saar with their equipment. Consequently they draw the most direct line between Kaiserslautern and Toul. A search begins alone this pencil line to find the highest points which "look at each other". That is to say, peaks between which signals can be beamed directly. The fewer the high points the better the reception, as less equipment is involved in stepping up the signal between relay points. The use of more equipment also increases the breakdown possibilities. Many times the nature of the terrain force the relay people to use more equipment than they like.
Having decided on the locations, the operations people get into a vehicle and head for the selected points to inspect their accessability. The word "accessible", in the First Radio Relay Squadron means any place to which a man can walk or crawl. As Assistant Operations Officer, Lt. H. R. Turner put it, "Our equipment is portable. It does not necessarily have to stay in the trucks but can be removed and carried piece by piece to a site if the conditions warrant." This, he affirms has been done on a number of occasions.
If it is possible to hack out a road, it is done, but if the terrain is so rocky and wild that this is not possible, they simply pick up their equipment and start walking.
When the sites have been inspected and found satisfactory, the local German land office is visited and the exact plot numbers as large scale maps are obtained. this information along with the size of terrain required is forwarded to Maj. W. Pieper of the Twelfth Air Force Headquarters Real Estate section. It is this office that wades through the red tape of getting the French and Germans together in meetings and conferences to procure the land.
These meetings and conferences require reams of paper work and maps. Detailed copies of large scale maps showing the exact location of the site desired must be procured. These maps must also also indicate the numbers of the plots involved. The owners of each plot must be consulted and their approval obtained. These conferences are usually held in Mainz with German, French and American representatives. The red tape is worth the trouble as once the land is obtained there are no further difficulties with claims.
In most cases the sites are so isolated
that each site is sort of a city-state in itself with its own cooks and domain
law. Provisions are made so that the site operators can purchase food
either on the German market or from nearby commissaries. In very rare
cases they are close enough to an air base so that they eat in civilized style.
Once the site is in operation, the detachment is left entirely to its own resources. An estimated stock of required supplies for repairs is left and when that runs out, the men just use their ingenuity. This factor has made the First Radio Relay men some of the finest and most diplomatic scroungers in the Air Force. A man who returns from a scrounging trip empty handed is looked down upon.
The men on those lonely spots are mindful of the heavy responsibility they bear. They realize that if their site goes out of commission, and entire section of the Twelfth Air Force is blacked out as far as communications are concerned.
The combat ready lines, teletype lines, phone lines and a dozen other means of communications become inoperable. Consequently when an antenna falls from the pressure of ice or blown down by a gale, there is no rest until the damage has been repaired.
In the summer there is always something to do around the site or the men can walk down to the nearest village which may be as near as five or ten miles. In the winter, however, they become virtual hermits. Some sites are entirely closed off from the civilized world and the only way they can be reached is by an air drop. Winter is no respecter of equipment and it is in the winter when most of the breakdowns occur.
Sub Zero Weather
Many times the men are forced to work
in sub-zero weather to repair a break or set up a new antenna. On the
other hand it may be a torrential rain that washes away everything movable.
One of the greatest difficulties they have is with other radio signals and electrical interference. The equipment may be functioning in apple pie order but the signal they are trying to receive or transmit has to plug its way through a maze of kilocycles. In one fashion or another the men of the Radio Relay manage to overcome these difficulties. It is their intimate knowledge of their equipment which gives them the edge. Having had the same equipment for almost ten years, they are closely acquainted with it.
Recently a micro wave school has been set up on the base to familiarize the men with the newest type of equipment. Gradually micro wave equipment and sites are being set up. This type of transmission does away with the principal gremlin, radio interference.
The micro wave site, however is not
mobile but is a permanent type of site. In view of this fact the Radio
Relay people are not abandoning their old portable and mobile equipment.
They still keep it spic and span and pride themselves on being able to dash to a
spot where they are needed and be set up for business in a very short time.
Despite the difficulties, the misunderstanding of them by outfits, the hermit-like life they must lead at times, radio relay men would not trade their position for any other outfit in the Air Force. They have a great deal of pride in their abilities and self reliance.
"I have had ten years of this rat race, but I wouldn't get out of it for anything," said one of the men and he meant it.
Radio relay squadron played unsung role in Cold War
By Robert F. Dorr and Fred L. Borch
Special to the Times : Published in the Air Force Times June 23, 2008 Issue
The Air Force's isn't always about blazing guns or falling bombs. Sometimes the job is tough but devoid of glamour. That's how it was with the 1st Radio Relay Squadron.
In a sense, the squadron's job was to conquer the curvature of the earth. Since much military radio used "line of sight" band lengths that were limited by the horizon, successful transmission required repeater stations placed at intervals to relay signals.
Like many Air Force units that no one ever made a movie about, the 1st did its work with no fanfare, no headlines. Evolved from an Army signals company that was established in 1943 and came ashore in German-occupied Europe following the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion, the squadron acquired its 1st Radio Relay designation when the Air Force became an independent service branch in 1947. The squadron spent 20 years providing secure radiotelephone and teletype communications relay to bases in West Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
The 1st Radio Relay Squadron was headquartered at familiar bases where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies stayed on guard for a Soviet invasion. For much of its existence, the squadron flew its flag at Ramstein Air Base in West Germany. However, the squadron's airmen were usually at semi-permanent sites in the field with minimal comfort, cleanliness or privacy.
That often meant cruel weather, and unpredictable food. Even digging a latrine could be a challenge.
" In the event of hostilities we expected to take some of the first casualties," said former Staff Sgt. Henry Sachs. "We tried to be ready for every contingency. We could not afford to be influenced by weather. We established relay sites under the most severe winter conditions.
"A relay site, isolated at the top of a mountain, accessible by dirt, half-washed- out roads was typical," Sachs said. "A site consisted of a radio van, 2 and 1/2 ton trucks and 8-man squad tents. Staffing consisted of seven or eight airmen and a sergeant site chief."
Sachs said harsh conditions and 24/7 manning made camaraderie the key to survival: "If an antenna blew down in a storm we put it back up in short order. If a parabolic Microwave dish lost orientation in a wind or ice storm, someone had to climb a 100-foot tower and put it back in orientation.
According to retired Master Sgt. Edward R. Kennedy, author of an unpublished history of radio units, the Air Force had two dozen radio relay squadrons in the early Cold War years of the 1950s. "They were overtaken by technology as the service shifted to radio communication that had greater reach," said Kennedy. But although the squadrons have disappeared, automated relay continues in the Air Force today.
Each of the 1st squadron's field locations was identified by the word Falcon, followed by a number. Sachs remembers one airman grousing, "Falcon 14 is the coldest damn place I have been to, including Alaska."
In the 1960s, radio relay as an Air Force was largely replaced by a technology known as "tropospheric forward scattering" (or "troposcatter") to communicate over great distances without being limited by the horizon. What lingers of radio relay today is unmanned and automated. According to Sachs, an automated radio relay operates today at Muhl-Zeusch, Germany with a headquarters at the 86th Communication's Group, Ramstein. Muhl-Zeusch is his squadron's one-time relay site called Falcon 14.
A more detailed look at the 1st Radio Relay Squadron is on the Web at www.1stradiorelay.com.
Photo caption: Airman 1st Class Harlan "Hollywood" Payne looks at the radio repeater site known as Falcon 14 near Muhl-Zeusch, West Germany after a winter ice storm knocked down most of his station's antennas during the winter of 1953-53. See ALBUMS, Gallery 1, Winter Falcon 14
"The Biggest Little Newspaper in Europe"
Volume VI, Number 33 Ramstein Air Base, Germany Friday, August 29, 1958
AF's 1st RR Sq Marks 15th Year
Personnel of the 1st Radio Relay Sq of Ramstein Air
Base will mark the beginning of the squadron's 16th year of active continuous
service in Europe Monday, and lay claim to the Air Force record for
uninterrupted service in one overseas theater.
One of the few US military units never to
have touched American soil,was activated on Sept 1, 1943, as Company D,
926th Signal Bn, Army Signal Corps at Aldermaston, England. The brand new unit was activated to provide signal
support for the US Army Air Force.
From that origin 15 years ago the squadron
history shows a long series of station changes as Allied forces under
Gen Eisenhower invaded Normandy and began their steady march against the crumbling Nazi defenses.
Nine years after the unit first landed or
the Normandy beachhead to set up shop on July 2, 1944, the squadron
arrived for duty at Ramstein Air Base. The date was Aug 24, 1953, and the intervening years saw no less than 19
location changes for the squadron in France and Germany before it began operations here.
One of the first Army units to be
redesignated as an Air Force squadron when the nation's air arm came into its
the squadron can also lay claim to being the OIdest USAF squadron serving in Europe as well as the one with the
longest uninterrupted overseas time. It was redesignated from Co D, 926th Sig Bn to become the 926th Signal
Outpost Operations Co by a Hq USAF in Europe general order dated Oct 8, 1947, and received its present unit
designation as 1st Radio Relay Sq. by general order form the same headquarters dated Oct 26, 1948.
While the unit designation and area of
operations have changed frequently during the decade and a half of the unit's
existence the basic function of the 1st Radio Relay Sq. is little changed from its original mission to forge a radio.
communications chain. between the Allies of WWII. Some of the relay equipment still in use by the squadron today
was originally hauled across the sands of Normandy over 14 years ago.
The nature of the Radio Relay mission even now requires the establishment and maintenance of tiny unit
detachments scattered throughout Northeast France and Western Germany. Equipped with tents, food, and cooking
equipment, crews of from six to eight airmen operate complex equipment crowded into large mobile truck vans that
are the heart of the station.
Living in near total isolation far from the
attractions of base life, the crews frequently show extraordinary
in creating comfortable living quarters and recreational facilities on their lonely hilltops.
Against all predictions, however, these hardsihips bave created within the squadron an esprit de corps' that is the
source of outspoken pride in the current commander, Maj. Henry C. Cade, and his headquarters personnel. This unit
spirit was evident only last Sunday when the squadron celebrated its anniversary party several days' early in order
to honor MSgt Sidney H. Luther, unit first sergeant who is returning to the US the day before the actual anniversary
after two years as squadron topkick.
Another member of the 1st Radio Relay Sq. team has
good reason to apprec:iate the mission and background of his
unit. He is TSgt Steve F. Hanzlik, currently NCOIC of the squadron maintenance shop, who first arrived for duty with
the unit as an A/3C out of basic training in Sept 1951. Hanzlik has made every stripe he wears since then as a member
of his present unit. He rose to the rank SSgt before returning to the US in Nov 1954 with his wife the former Erika
Walter whom he met and married in Germany, and returned to win his TSgt stripe in March of last year. An even more
unusual note on Hanzlik's career is found in the fact that he returned with his wife and two additions to his family,
Marcelle, 3 and Patrick' 2 on the same MATS ship on which they origmolly left Germany - the "Gen Buckner".
But Hanzlik, Luther and the hundreds of other airmen who make up today's 1st Radio Relay Sq. all share in the spirit
and mission of the unit: To insure that vital radio communication net that link Western Europe operations of the USA
shall remain in a state of perpetual readiness against any contingency...
More History of 1st Radio Relay Squadron
A. Past Data
1. Original designation of unit with subsequent changes in name.
(a) Company "D" 926th Signal Battalion, per War Department Letter. file AF 322 (30 Jul. '45) OE-I-AFRPC-M. dated 14 August 1943
(b) Company "D" was reorganized per Letter, War Department Letter, file AF 322 (14 July "43) AC-I-AFCOR-)107)(e)-M subject: Reorganization the 926th Signal Battalion, Separate, Tactical Air Command, dated 24 June '46. Overhead personnel such as drivers, cooks and extra clerks were deleted from the tble of Organization.
(c) 926th Signal Outpost Operations Company redesigned as 1st Radio Relay Squadron, and reorganized under T/O&E 1-2214, 4 August 1948, (1x col 5)per section 1, General Order no87. Hq uSAF, dated 26 October 1948.
2. Date and place of activation of organization, together with the authority.
Company "D".926th Signal Battalion . ASC was activated 1 September 1943 at USAAF Sta. No. 476 (United States Army Air Forces Station Number 476). Aldermastion Court , Aldermastion, England (Permanent Station) per Letter, War Department, file AF 322 )30 Jul. '43) ORQ-I-AFROG-M, dated 14 August 1943
3. Source of Original personnel for Company "D" 926th Signal Battalion upon its activation were obtained from the Battalion itself.
4. Resume of movements from date of activation to present station with dates are as follows:
01 September 1943,
USAF Sta. 476 Aldermastion Court, Aldermastion, England, Permanent Station.
15 November 1943, USAF Sta. 476 Aldermastion Court, Aldermastion, England, Permanent Station.
12 January 1944, USAF Sta. 420 Popham Scrubbs, Hants, England, Permanent Station.
04 April 1944, USAF Sta. 421 Chapel Row, Berkshire, England, Permanent Station.
02 July 1944, Normandy, France, Grid Coordinates T532818, South of Isigny.
02 August 1944, Near Conisy, France T4461
13 August 1944, Goulouvoty, France, T4727
23 August 1944, Haleins, Ornc, France, TY9494
02 September 1944, Versailles, France, R8840, Paris West
12 September 1944, Jamicuix, Belgium, K6416
19 December 1944, Bruhl, Germany, WF4147
09 April 1945, Marburg, Germany, WG7445
26 April 1945, Weimar, Germany, WJ5371
26 June 1945, Simmarhausen, Germany.
14 August 1945, Trier, Germany.
15 August 1945, Monmody, France.
16 August 1945, Crepy, France.
25 August 1945, Montmody, France.
26 September 1945, Mainz, Germany.
27 September 1945, Erlangen, Germany.
01 November 1945, Bad Kissingen, Germany.
16 September 1945, Camp Pieri, Dotzheim, Germany. (Formerly Camp Taylor)
18 August 1953, Ramstine, Germany.
As of January 1949
Commanding Officer: William E. Hulett, Captain
Adjutant: Ross E. Dobbs, Capain
Supply Officer: Elsworth R. Scheoring, CWO
Radio Officer: James H. Scroggins, Jr. Captain
Radio Officer: Clarence J. Westhoff, 1st Lt.
Radio Officer: Benjamin Friedman, 1st Lt.
Radio Officer: Gilbert E. Young, 1st Lt.
First Sergeant: Dom V. Forte, M/Sgt
1. Mudlark #9-Radio Relay Station- "A" Terminal site and emergency relay station, located at Detzheim, Germany three miles west of Weisbaden. This station is the terminal point fro (4) four circuits as follows: "Able", "Baker", and "Charlie" Circuits to Mudlark #4; and USAFE Hq. to Rhine/Main Air Base.
From a picture of MUDLARK # 9 Radio
Relay Station located at Freudenberg, Germany:
1st Lt. George Lipchac, Platoon Officer
T/Sgt Eugene O'Neill, Platoon Sgt.
S/Sgt Sidney Rigby, Site Chief
S/Sgt Norbet Greene, Faults Control
Sgt Frank C. Hart, Radio Repairman
Your Telephone Talks Back -
John Keys O'Doherty
On a series of mountaintops scattered over France and Germany, high above the timberline and beyond the limits of civilization, there are stationed small groups of airmen who live in lonely isolation. There are days when they go without food; there are nights when they sleep in their clothes. As flood or storm threatens to destroy them. They are frequently marooned for days by snowdrifts, their flimsy shelters are constantly buffeted by high winds; their battle against snow, ice, wind and mud is continuous, relentless, and inexorable.
These men are teams of the First Radio Relay Squadron. They are the men who make it possible for you to pick up the telephone and say casually, "I would like to speak with "Toul", or "Etain", or "Chaumont", or "Bitberg". The Teletype machine in the comer of your room keeps chattering busily, because up in the hills these men are patiently checking, tuning and trouble-shooting to insure that the signals get through.
Normally, your connection with these places is made in less time than it takes to call from New York to Philadelphia. If there is a delay, you can let your imagination toy with the picture of half a dozen men struggling to reconstruct a storm-wrecked, ice-coated antenna in a swirling snowstorm and a 60-mile gale.
While the technical operation of the First Radio Relay Squadron is a complex maze of electronics, the basic function of the organization is simple enough. A call from Headquarters, Twelfth Air Force to Toul, for example, travels by wire to the radio control station near Ramstein. From the control station, the message is beamed by radio in the desired direction. Somewhere on a mountaintop along the way, the signal is picked up by a relay station, amplified and rebroadcast to the next relay. The process is repeated until the message reaches the terminal station, and the switchboard of its destination. Several conversations, of course, may be conducted simultaneously without interfering with each other.
All this sounds very Simple. The joker is that each relay must be located on the highest possible point of land between terminals. Signals must be transmitted without interference from such things as other mountains, clumps of trees or sources of electrical disturbance.
Here is what happens when Twelfth Air Force decides to establish telephone communication between Headquarters and some point in France or Germany. First Radio is notified of this desire, and given a date for completion of the circuit. Then the First Radio Operations Officer takes down a map of the area and spreads it on the floor, and all concerned get down on their hands and knees.
First, they draw a penciled line from Twelfth Air Force to the proposed terminal. Next begins a discussion of any factors, which might preclude establishing the circuit in a straight line. Political restrictions and international boundaries sometimes pose knotty problems in this respect, but eventually the path of the new circuit is established on the map.
Search For A Site
Then the search begins, by checking elevation above sea level, for the highest peaks in between that "look at each other," that is to say, peaks between which signals may be beamed directly. The fewer relays needed, the better the circuit is likely to be; since there will be less chance of interference, and the odds are longer on equipment breakdown.
Having established how many relays are required, and their proposed location, a team sets off in a jeep to determine whether these hills are accessible. Now, in First Radio the word "accessible" is a very elastic term. Whatever the conventional definition may be these people carry it considerably further. Roads are convenient, if they happen to be present; but the absence of roads need not detract from the suitability of a mountain, which dominates the countryside for miles around.
The radio equipment is mounted in sturdy, specially constructed vans, but miles of travel over mountain trails and across country, constitute rough treatment for delicate machinery, This entails many hours of patient checking before a station can be put on the air. In some instances it has been necessary to strip the vans and carry the equipment up the mountain on the shoulders of the men who will operate it. Electricity for the transmitters and receivers is supplied by mobile power units, gasoline or diesel, mounted on one- ton trailers. These trailers can be difficult things, with their tendency to slip at the most unpredictable times. First Radio has had a lot of experience digging power units out of snow banks.
In addition to the technical equipment, such necessities as food, water, shelter, kitchen equipment and personal gear must somehow be brought to the top of the mountain,
The erection of an antenna in high wind is not a job to be entrusted to amateurs. There may be frequency blocks on the circuit for a multitude of different reasons. But somehow, eventually the station gets on the air.
Once a relay is established and on the air, things can be reasonably comfortable, That is, if the weather holds, if the powers-mat-be are satisfied with the circuit, and if one is rather broadminded as to his concept of comfort.
Some relays have been established for a period of years, and during that time many improvements in living conditions have been effected-legally and illegally. One site, in fact, is established in permanent-type buildings equipped with commercial power, running water central heating and all the comforts of home. Unfortunately, the luxury is not typical. The pattern runs the gamut all the way from this little palace to temporary sites set up under field conditions in a six-inch carpet of mud.
The typical semi-permanent relay site is set up in two prefabricated buildings. One is used for sleeping quarters, and the other for kitchen, dining room and recreation room. The power unit which operates the radio equipment is also used to provide light in the buildings.
A Crew of Ten
Each site is manned by a crew of about 10 men, including two cooks, under the command of a staff sergeant. As site commander he is responsible, not only for the operation of the station, but also for the health and welfare of his men. He must arrange to obtain supplies of water, gasoline, food and a dozen other essentials. He must see that problems concerning mail, pay, personal affairs are promptly shunted to squadron headquarters for action. Sources of supply may be anywhere from 10 to 40 miles distant, and as much as 200 miles must be covered to reach the First Sergeant's office.
Technically each site is attached to the nearest military installation for support. However, base supply and air installations officers have their own troubles, and it is difficult to get them interested in eight or ten men perched, like goats, on top of a mountain 40 miles away. As a result, the men of First Radio have developed independence, self reliance (and the delicate art of scrounging) to an amazing degree. Site crews are always engaged in some improvement project or other. Fences are strung, board walks built through the mud, and they are worse than the Navy about painting.
Then, of course, there is the perennial storm damage. The men are not carpenters or painters or plumbers. They are radio men, power men and cooks. But, if a high wind blows the roof off the building one night, a specialized AFSC is poor protection against the elements.
When a truck returns from picking up rations, one is always sure to find a few items in the load not normally listed in the Quartermaster Menu. Maybe a couple of porcelain wash basins, a 150 feet of one-inch pipe, a few gallons of OD paint; all these and all 100 other items find their wav by most devious routes to the sites where they are needed. It would be very poor taste to inquire as to what channel or procedure was used in procuring such items. The site crew simply unloads them gratefully and sets about hammering or painting or fitting pipe.
It is the policy of First Radio Relay Squadron that men stationed at these isolated locations be rotated back to headquarters for duty even few months, For various reasons this is not always practical, and some strange things happen when men are left too long among the natives. For example, the Commander once sent out a hurry-up order recalling a man to headquarters when he heard that the population of the nearby village was determined to elect him buergermeister. On another occasion a man was called in for rotation, and reported to headquarters carrying a brief case and wearing a black leather trench coat.
Although relay sites are situated miles away from the PX, service clubs and movies, life is never dull. Routine housekeeping duties fill the normal eight-hour day when the men are off-duty from the radio van. Naturally there is a certain informality, but nonetheless these are well-regulated military installations. Duty rosters are maintained and details assigned just as they are at squadron headquarters.
For recreation in the evenings there are always pocket books, radio, sometimes a ping pong table, and always pinochle. When a new man is assigned to a site. He is asked: "Do you play pinochle?" and "What is your name?" in that order.
From The Days of Hannibal
The importance of adequate communications has been forcibly demonstrated throughout military history. From the days of Hannibal, when fleet-footed runners carried messages orally, generals have been screaming for better communications.
First Radio Relay Squadron was the
first organization of its kind in military history; and it is proud of the fact
that it introduced a new form of communication. First Radio was born at
Aldermaston, England, on September 1, 1943, when a small cadre was designated.
Company "D," 926th Signal Battalion. Of course, radio telephone communication
had been used before that time, but earlier circuits were primitive, one channel
affairs. The concept of multi-channel circuits for military use was brand new at
The months following activation proved to be a period of intensive training and steady development for the infant "Dog7' Company.
The Rubble of Normandv
Over the rubble of the Normandy beachhead they came, on July 2, 1944, driving their vans with the precious equipment through the surf and digging a path for their power units through the sand dunes. In the drive across Europe, circuits were established, deactivated. Re-established as the tide of battle ebbed and flowed. The itinerary reads like a Cook's tour of the continent. In France, 'Dog" Company's antennae pointed at the sky over Isigny, Conisy, Coulouvrey, Haleins, Orne and Versailles. In Germany they left their footprints in Jamichix, Bnuhl, Marburg Weimar, Simemrhausen and Trier.
The grim winter of 1944 found "Dog" Company in the vicinity of Luxembourg, supplying carrier loaded FM systems to the 9th Tactical Air Command. They continued to support 9th TAC all across Europe until the end of the war in May 1945.
Immediately following the cessation of hostilities, the great deactivation program began. As other signal operating companies were disbanded, their equipment was turned over to "Dog" Company. Eventually all equipment of this type under Air Force control in Europe was in their hands. By this time the organization was part of the U. S. Air Force, and had been re-designated the 926th Signal Outpost Operations Company (VHF/FM).
At Bad Kissingen, Germany, in ~ 945, the new mission was planned. A great new radio link was needed to tie the units of Occupation Air Force together, and the new system was begun in the fall of that year. It was not until 1948 that the organization acquired its present name of First Radio Relay Squadron.
In the years following 1945, the unit was moved about as needs developed. Mainz, Erlangen, Bad Kissingen, Camp Pieri and Camp Lindsay were stepping stones on the way until the outfit reached its new home at Ramstein Air Base on August 24, 1953. The present mission of First Radio Relay is to supply, under 2nd Communications Group, radio telephone and teletype circuits in support of Twelfth Air Force. This includes the installation of temporary circuits during field exercises, and also calls for the support of certain Army units when joint Air Force-Army maneuvers are conducted. In addition, certain special assignments crop up from time to time. For example, First Radio was called upon to do preliminary testing for the First Pilotless Bomber Squadron, and ran interference checks on their equipment.
The radio link system now operated by First Radio was begun in late 1946, with the activation of the Dannenfels radio relay. The original "Liberated" house occupied by the men of Company "D" is still occupied by First Radio.
First Radio was among those present during the Berlin airlift and likes to feel that it made something of a contribution to the operation. Special circuits were run to Frankfurt, Rhin/IMain, Rothwesten and Giebelstadt.
A Radio Link Established
In April of 1954, the first Siemens microwave link was established. The microwave links, when completed, will provide practically unlimited service. Unfortunately, microwave is suitable only for permanent-type installations, so First Radio will continue to jockey the AN/TRC vans up and down the mountains for temporary installations.
Nerve center of First Radio's far-flung networks is the Operations Office, located at squadron headquarters on Ramstein Air Base. Here the Operations Officer and his staff keep a finger on the pulse of the system. If trouble develops, or a station goes off the air, Operations is immediately alert. Sometimes the difficulty can be corrected immediately as instructions for tuning or adjustment are sent over the circuit. There are times when the trouble is more is more serious: an antenna tower blown over near Baumholder, a power unit broken down at Metz. In such cases the Installation and Maintenance team is called out. This is a small group of communications experts who are ready to dash, at the drop of a hat, to the scene of the trouble.
The Common Bond
The First Radio Relay Squadron is proud of the traditions it has established since the old days of "Dog" Company. From the men who came into Normandy and suffered through the winter of 1944, the squadron has inherited something that cannot be entered on a stock record card. Although its members are scattered hundreds of miles apart, they are bound together by a bond of "esprit de corps which is the heart of the squadron.
Next time you call Chambley or Chaumont, remember the man who is sitting on top of the mountain. He has to ride 40 miles in a GI truck to take a bath, and he hasn't seen a movie in six months. But chances are you'll get your party!
First Radio Relay
Indoctrinates Men in Radio Job
Ramstein AFB 1957
found this artical about the sqdn., It had to be in July of '57, I
went to Phalsburg AB, France (Det 27) in August of '57. Airman Czako
is in khakies, I don't remember the other troops names in the second
photo. I'm the one holding the screwdriver. "
Ramstein's newest classroom is located under the trees in a thick patch of woods near the end of the autobahn. The site isn't used for studying nature lore.
The 1st Radio Relay Sq. has set up a mobile comm van there, making transmissions to another terminal near the Neighborhood Area part of a radio relay quipment operation and familiarization course.
The course indoctrinates men arriving here from stateside radio schools and cross - trainees from USAFE. The instruction is divided into sections, a week's classroom study and the week of field operation.
Mr. William A. Lyons, Philips Corporation tech representative, teaches the classroom course. Here the men learn about teletype, terminal and relay operation, the use of CF carrier equipment and AN/TRC radio use. AN/TRC (Army Navy / Transportable Radio Communication) is the official name for this type of radio relay equipment.
The men operate terminal in the classes, as they would do on actual relay sites. Trobles are planted in the equipment and the students must find the "bugs" and have the equipment functioning again in the shortest possible time.
With this training completed, the six to 12-man classes pile into trucks and head for the classroom under the trees. Here they have their radio relay van to ready for a call to the Neighborhood Area terminal. Power for the van is supplied by a portable power unit.
With time as their biggest enemy, the men swing into action, preparing the van and setting up the two antennas. The site antennas, one for transmitting and the other to receive, must be carefully selected. The system works on the Line Of Site (LOS) principle, there must be no topographical obstructions between this site and the one behind the Neighborhood Area.
Soon the twin metal towers have risen into the air and the cable is run from them to the van. Now comes the time to find out if the men have preformed their jobs efficiently under the rushed condition.
The van is tuned and a challenge sent out to the Neighborhood Area site. Back comes the answer from the second terminal, "we read you loud and clear,
5 by" and another class has proved itself under the most realistic training methods possible.
Instructor A/1C Albert Czako, of Norwalk, Conn., guides the men through the intricate problems of setting up the antennas, tuning the transmitter and receiver and the correct procedures for going on the air. He also teaches them how to tie telephones and teletype lines into the circuit. The low frequency AN/TRC system will transmit up to 150 miles, but relays are stationed every 40 to 50 miles in actual practice to boost the signal. The 40 hours of field instruction include daily setting up and tearing down the antennas. This gives the men experience as members of maneuver crews, learning the duties they will perform at their assigned detachments.
This training circuit is completed by another terminal set up near the squadron's headquarters in Building 530. CWO A. G. Andrist is the Maintenance Training Officer, while T Sgt James Acree directs the over-all course, which began June 24 and will continue until all the airman awaiting assignment to the detachments have completed training.
From Leland Cruickshank
TUSLOG and 1st Radio Relay Sq.
Turkish United States LOgistic Group
TUSLOGDet 6-1 was the unit operating the tropospheric scatter radio relay station on Elmadag for the same time period. Tropospheric scatter was the line-of-sight UHF radio relay system in use during that time period, sites manned by all branches of the military but primarily USAF. The system literally circled the globe. The Elmadag relay station also included microwave links to Site 23, the army station, and with the Turkish General Staff. Army and TGS traffic was relayed on the tropospheric scatter system to other sites in Turkey: Samsum, Sinop, Trabzon, Karamusel, Diyarbakir. Troops manning the Elmadag site were housed with Det 6 until the summer of 1966 when they moved to newly constructed billets on the Det 6-1 site. --- Elmadag
TUSLOG Det 16 (USAF) AFCS Communications Group (with sub-dets throughout Turkey)---Det 16 was known as2006 Comm. Grp. when at Elmadag in 83-84, they are listed atIncirlik/Adana in 1982. (http://www.merhabaturkey.com/general/tuslogen.htm)
(Note: On 9 March 1959, 2nd Comm. Grp., 1st Radio Relay Sq. sent 15 airman TDY and later made PCS to TUSLOG Det 30 to establish a new Radio Relay Comm. System for the TUSLOG Hq. To provide communications to European Hq. and beyond. I was in the original group to help bring this to fruition.) I also spent a second tour in 1969-70 (remote) and was assigned to Det 6-1 site. --- Elmadag. Using FRC-39 (tropo) and AN/TRC-24.
Lee Cruickshank (*A/2c Leland R. Cruickshank)
This is a list of the troops that were in the original move:
A/1c David L. Larson
A/2c Hilary J. Fetzko
A/2c Fredrick F. Garity
A/2c Charles F. Gillentine
A/2c Benjamin J. Jones
A/2c Gary E. Kinder
A/2c Louis L. Koochma
A/2c Donald H. Paul
A/2c Michael J. Pettit
A/2c Lawrence R. Smith
A/2c Gary F. Stiles
A/2c Ralph H. Vorhes
A/2c Wallace L. Wright
A/3c Franklin T. Lewis
I have a copy of the original orders issued from 2nd Comm. Grp. (USAFE).
The Signal Corps also developed radio relays to stretch the range of tactical radio communications. The scheme had its origins in the North Africa campaign in 1943, when Motorola police radios were pressed into service to provide a one-channel teletype link from Algiers to Tunisia, a distance of 640 kilometers (500 miles).
Formal US Army radio relay systems were introduced late in that year. They were generally designated "AN/TRC", and were simply called "antracs". "AN/TRC-1" was the result of an informal "garage job" development effort by engineers at the Signal Corps Camp Coles Signal Laboratory in New Jersey, with assistance by Link Radio. Field evaluations of AN/TRC-1 prototypes were conducted in New Jersey and on the coast of Maine in 1943.
Before the AN/TRC relay radio systems became available, telephone wires had to strung to implement long-range communications link. Setting up such long wire systems was a laborious, time-consuming, and expensive chore: laying 160 kilometers (100 miles) of telephone line took 2,000 men almost ten days. In contrast, an AN/TRC relay system could cover the same distance using two terminals and three repeaters, and could be set up by 44 men in three days. Furthermore, such an AN/TRC system required only a third of the transport capability needed to ship a wire system to a combat zone.
The AN/TRC-1 was followed by the similar "AN/TRC-2" and "AN/TRC-4". They could carry one voice channel or four teletype channels and operated in the 4.29 to 3 meter (70 to 100 MHz) range. The AN/TRCs were available in time to serve in the Normandy invasion and the invasion of the Philippines, and saw extensive use through the rest of the war.