The need for a focused approach to communication was apparent years before the war's outbreak, and governments were quick to respond. By the end of the Boer War, commanders recognized that "signalling" was a critical component of military effectiveness. As a result, in 1903 the Canadian government authorized the creation of the "Canadian Signalling Corps", the first independent signal corps in the British Empire. Captain Bruce Carruthers, Assistant Adjutant-General for Signalling, was the first to advocate a separate signalling branch within the Canadian army and was assigned the task of creating the unit. Eventually re-named the Royal Canadian Signal Corps, it shared communication responsibilities with the Royal Canadian Corps of Engineers until the two units were amalgamated in 1919.
|Portrait photograph of World War I signallers|
|Commercial Cable Company office, Hazel Hill, Guysborough County|
|Members of the Canadian Signal Corps training in Toronto|
|Typical signalling lamp and battery|
|Sending a message from the front by telephone|
Radio transmitters were first installed in aircraft in 1917. Pilots acted as artillery observers, sending "blind" (i.e., one-way) messages to ground stations. Cloth panels laid out on the ground confirmed receipt of their messages! After the capture of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, Canadian signallers used the elevated location known as Hill 70 as a "forward observation" post for artillery fire. Wireless radio operators sent messages to a central communication station, which in turn relayed the information by telephone to each artillery position. This system allowed for rapid adjustment of gun fire during an assault.
|Signalling post at the front|
A Signaller in World War I. The Worcestershire Regiment. Available online.