Saturday, August 27, 2011

Captain William Samuel Stephenson

The man called "Intrepid". World War II spymaster, he has been said by some to have been the single most important man in the war to defeat Hitler's Third Reich. Stephenson enlisted in the Canadian Engineers in 1916 where he served as a Sergeant. He was wounded in a gas attack. In 1917 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and shot down 12 German planes before being shot down himself and captured by the Germans. During WWII he was made head of British Security Coordination, headquartered in New York. He was knighted and received the Presidential Medal for Merit from the United States for his counter-intelligence work during the war.

NOTE: LAC CEF personnel file has no record that WS Stephenson served in France or Belgium; no record of any wounds or injuries while on active service with CEF. He stated before CEF Pensions and Claims Board: "No" to service in France or Belgium and "No" to service in the trenches. He was discharged from the CEF to the RFC, commisioned and served in France with 73 Squadron. See also William Thomas Stephenson 701143.

Sergeant William Samuel Stephenson
Regimental Number: 700758
Force: Army
Regiment: Canadian Engineers
Unit: Canadian Engineer Training Depot
Company: Signals Company
Date From: July 16, 1916
Date To: August 15, 1917
Default Rank: N
Notes: On arrival at Shorncliffe with the 101st Bn, he was assigned to CETD for training, and to 17th Reserve Battalion for "rations, quarters and discipline". He remained a corporal, and was not voluntarily reduced in rank, as usually happened on transfer between battalions. He was assigned on temporary duty to GHQ, London on occasion. After the first assignment ended, on September 01, 1916, he was promoted to Sergeant, "with pay as clerk". He did not receive sergeant's pay until March 10, 1917. His "Statement of Pay Account" on discharge shows his rank as 'private'; while his "Proceedings on Discharge" show it as 'sergeant'. He was discharged from the CEF on August 15, 1917 at 2CDD, London, "having been appointed to a Commission in the Imperial Army". Stephenson stated before the Pensions and Claims Board that he had no service in France or Belgium or "in the trenches", and no injuries due to active service.

Col William Donald Wishart, O.B.E

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

(Reel 1, Side 1) Born on Jan. 19, 1907 at Portage la Prairie, Man. Graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1931, the same year he joined the army. Comments on recruitment, officers, training, facilities at Camp Borden, Ont. Regimental sergeant-major had great influence on young officers. Went into debt purchasing uniforms, almost a standard occurrence. Details of mess life and customs. (45:00) Marriage for junior officers was not approved until promotion to captain was attained. Training equipment was old and often worn-out. Issued with No. 1 Wireless set in the mid-thirties. Served in Ottawa and in London, Ont., 1935-1939. Joined a 2nd Division signals unit upon the outbreak of war. (40:00)

(Reel 1, Side 2) Intensive training at Barryfield, Ont. Divisional signals organization. Promoted to major, appointed Lines Officer (telephone communications). Some very primitive equipment was in use, but later were issued commercial style "telephone trucks" which were a great improvement. Comments on his senior signals officer, Brig. J.E. Genet. (25:00) Thoughts on Maj.-Gen. A.G.L. McNaughton.

(Reel 2, Side 1) Employed on line communications at 1st Canadian Army headquarters. Difficulties in finding efficient signalmen; required much time to train them. Felt that the headquarters officers were very efficient. On D+20 went to Normandy where establishing communications was a high priority. Experiences in Europe -- a wide-ranging anecdotal account. (38:00)

(Reel 2, Side 2) Decided to remain in the Army; chief instructor at Vimy Barracks, Kingston. Remarks on the production of the Canadian No. 26 Wireless set. Preferred wartime soldiering to that of peacetime with the many constraints -- political and financial -- of the latter.

(Reel 3, Side 1) Family matters, technical staff college in England. Appointed Director of the Canadian Signal Research and Development Establishment in Ottawa, a post which he held for six years. Director of electronic and communications development. Commandant of the School of Signals, Vimy Barracks, 1958. Retired in 1960. Joined a firm of consulting electrical engineers. Retired again in 1972. (90:00)

Lt Col William Hamilton McMurray, O.B.E., M.C., E.D.

Canadian Signal Corps

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

Side 1 Born in Toronto ca. 1894/95. Moved to Winnipeg in 1910 where he joined the Canadian Signal Corps (militia). Learned Morse code, semaphore with flags, use of heliograph. Summer Camp with No. 10 Section, Canadian Signal Corps. Obtained a job with the C.P.R. Comments on lack of telephone equipment, messing arrangements at camp. Summoned from Alberta to Winnipeg when war broke out in Sept. 1914. (25:00) Second interview, May 29, 1979. Issued British equipment including field telephones. Terrible living conditions on Salisbury Plain. Sent to France in Feb. 1915 and posted to No. 4 Section, 1st. Canadian Divisional Signals Company which was attached to the 3rd Cdn. Infantry Brigade. (45:00) Moved by train to the Armentieres area. Describes the sections of a divisional signals company, mounted for cable-laying, and unmounted. Trained signallers wore crossed flags on their left sleeve and a blue and white arm-band on the right. Trench warfare: communications. Responsible for communications within the Brigade and to the front line. Experienced first poison gas attack at Ypres, protection against it was very primitive. Explains the use of the I-Toc listening device. Promoted to sergeant after the section suffered many casualties. (April 15, 1915) On Feb. 5 1916 promoted to Lieutenant and Signal Officer, 1st Infantry Bde. Awarded the Military Cross for action on the Somme. Given six days leave to obtain his officers' kit in England. (35:00) Third interview, June 8, 1979.

Side 2 Shortly after his return to France, posted to the 2nd Infantry Bgd. Conditions on the Somme battlefield were the worst ever experienced by him; very heavy fighting, lack of sanitation, artillery barrages. (45:00) Use of carrier pigeons field telephones, inadequate wire especially in the beginning. Here Col. McMurray reads from his citation for the Military Cross, gallantry in action, etc. Awarded the O.B.E. for work with the Corps Headquarters in the Army of Occupation. Signallers: use of. In the front line signallers worked in pairs, the section had the use of two motorcycle dispatch riders, battalion runners, etc. Comments on the Battle of Vimy Ridge; had to move off with the first wave of attackers so that with bayonets stuck in the ground he could mark the path for the cable layers. (15:00) Awarded his M.C. by the King at Buckingham Palace. Promoted to Captain in 1917 (5th Cdn. Div. Signals Company). Acting commander of the Canadian Corps Signals Company. (30:00) Much admiration for General Currie. Duties at Corps Headquarters. Army of Occupation at Bonn, Germany. Returned to Canada in mid-1919. Invited to join the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals as a major. Instead returned to the C.P.R. Rejoined the army in 1940 and served in a training role until 1945. Points out the vast difference and improvement in equipment in the Second World

Col William L Laurie, O.B.E.

Canadian Engineers

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

(Side 1) Born on Dec. 4, 1896 in Scarborough Township (Toronto). He recounts his youth and those he knew, some becoming prominent Canadians. A "ham" wireless operator in 1912, a member of the Wireless Association of Ontario in 1914. First employed as a Third Operator in the Great Lakes Wireless navigation system which in 1914 Intercepted messages from a German wireless station on Long Island, N.Y. until the U.S. government forced the station to close. In the summer of 1915 he was a ship's wireless operator on the Great Lakes. Enlisted on his nineteenth birthday in the Canadian Engineers, Signals Branch. Overseas in Apr. 1916 and there became a telegraph operator. (20:00) By mid-June he was in France with the 3rd Divisional Signals, then was posted to Canadian Corps headquarters where he joined the wireless section. Describes a poison gas attack, the early gas mask, and the slight damage to himself by phosgene gas. During his experiences of trench warfare, when attached to infantry battalions, they carried very simple portable crystal wireless sets on their backs. Comments on the front at Vimy Ridge where they experienced heavy shelling and were buried in a collapsed dugout, but were fortunately rescued after some time. He was sent back as "walking wounded" in Jan. 1917. He returned to Vimy in time for the battle, but spent his time in a wireless dugout. The interview returns to reminiscences of the Marconi station in Kingston in 1914 and the burning of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa (1916) where he helped to save some library books. (45:00) In France, by the time of the Battle of Amiens, they were issued the "Woolich" set which used valves (vacuum tubes) which were a great improvement. A bulky interception equipment called a "French Piano" was introduced to pick up any enemy messages. They used a ground loop several hundred yards long with earth pins, a type of I-Toc system. A new amplifier was issued. By the end of the war they had 120-watt wireless sets. (15:00) As German equipment was good Laurie brought some home after the war ended. While his unit was in Cologne as occupation troops he was in Bonn. He refers to postwar articles by Maj. W.A. Steel in the Canadian Defence Quarterly. In Canada he returned to college to become an engineer and gained summer employment as a radio operator aboard steamships on the Great Lakes. (34:00)

(Interview 2) In the fall of 1922 he joined the Signal Corps militia as a Lieutenant. After working with the R.C.A.F. on the Manitoba forestry patrol he joined the permanent force Signal Corps in 1923. Radio stations were established in Edmonton, the Yukon, and the North West Territories (45:00) and run by the army for the use of all government departments and, for a fee, civilian traffic was instituted. All messages were sent by key. In 1925 as district signals officer in Calgary he lived in the officers' mess of the Lord Strathcona's Horse. He mentions a number of permanent force officers of that era and reminisces. (23:00) In 1927 he joined the expedition to check the ice and weather conditions in the Hudson Strait. The R.C.A.F. managed the expedition on behalf of the Dept. of Marine and Fisheries. Two Fokker Universal aircraft (seaplanes) stationed at each of three bases had modified wartime wireless sets in the aircraft. (30:00) They were also in short-wave contact with the R.C.C.S. signal station in Ottawa. Living conditions were hard. (34:00)

(Side 2) Mentions Flt. Lieut. Leitch of the expedition and other air crew who made forced landings. There were many difficulties with planes, weather, etc. (10:00) He became involved in establishing radio beacons for air mail service and beacons/radio stations for the British airship R-100 on its visit to Canada. Later flew to Ottawa in this airship. Became senior technical officer in Ottawa in 1932. Attended the International Radio Conference in Madrid. In 1933 inspected all radio stations in the North West Territories. (20:00) He developed a prototype short-wave radio set for special use in the summertime. The R.C.A.F. began to train their own wireless officers and all equipment in use by them was turned over. Some new equipment was received from England. Sent to England for up-to-date signals training (which was not always forthcoming!) Comments on Col. E. Forde and Maj. Steel. Appointed second-in-command at Vimy Barracks in Kingston in 1939/40. (45:00) Overseas in England in 1940 he later commanded the 7th Corps (British) Signals unit. Remarks on overseas headquarters senior personnel. (9:00)

Link Military Oral History Collection

Link Service Record

Maj Henry Earl Koehler

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

No. 1 Special Wireless Group of about three hundred (all ranks) was formed in Ottawa, slated for India, but sent to Australia. Trained in Victoria, B.C. for six months. In Jan. 1945 embarked at San Francisco on the U.S. troopship Monterey. Twenty-six days later they were off-loaded at Hollandia, due to a change in the ship's schedule, and left without means to proceed to Australia. Eventually they and a group of Australian Air Force personnel boarded a smaller U.S. vessel, the Shawnee, and refused to get off. The Americans authorized the Shawnee to proceed to Australia where they finally arrived twelve days later after an uncomfortable journey; the ship had been used to transport native labourers, was filthy, bug-infested and low on food. After a short period of wireless training with the Australians and Americans they proceeded by train and motor convoy to Darwin in northern Australia. Opened the radio station on Apr. 13, 1945. (20:00) Canadian military intelligence unit attached with Japanese-speaking personnel. Some shortage of trained operators became evident, heavy traffic, predominantly Morse code. The Japanese used a grouped variation of this code applied to "kana", their written symbols. Rations were Australian: mutton, canned goods, dehydrated food. Eggs rare, but two quarts of Australian beer per man per week. A boring station. Good movies, excellent, but dangerous beach: sharks, crocodiles, quick sand. Primitive sanitary conditions. Operations shut down quickly at the end of the war. After waiting two or three months decided to initiate their own return to Canada. Loaded all their equipment and drove to Alice Springs where they organized a train to Adelaide, drove to Melbourne and Sydney. Warm welcome by the Australians. After some difficulty, in Jan. 1946, they found a British freighter sailing for Vancouver, B.C. Assured the Captain that he would not have to provide for them. Persuaded the Australians to convert part of the upper holds to accommodation, built a cookhouse, showers and latrines on deck, installed their own diesel generators. Arrived in Vancouver, B.C., delivered their special vehicles to the Ordnance Depot, and the unit was disbanded. Thinks they deserve a theatre medal, although not on active operations. Anecdote regarding good relations with allies and emphasizes excellent treatment by the Australians. (37:00)

Maj Gen George Kitching

Maj.-Gen. George Kitching, C.B.E., D.S.O.

Royal Canadian Regiment

Record ID: 00000210
Kitching, George, Maj.-Gen., C.B.E., D.S.O., 1910-
My Army recollections [sound recording] / by George Kitching ; interviewed by James Murphy
3 sound cassettes (ca. 225 min.) : standard mono. Summary of tapes also in archives.
Tapes are in the Dr. Reginald H. Roy collection of interviews.
Tapes may not be used in publication without permission.
Three original sound tape reels (ca. 225 min.) : 3 3/4 ips, 2 track, mono. also in archives.
Archives also holds interview with brother, Lt. Hugh Kitching.
Recorded on original sound tape reels, Sept. 28, Oct, 2, and 12, 1977, Victoria, B.C.

(Reel 1, Side 1) Communications used by the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, provided by the skillful and well-trained Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. Canadian wireless sets superior to those of the British in almost every way, however they were always subject to the operators remaining alive! Communications did break down on Aug. 14, 1944 due to bombing by our own forces, the cause most often due to concucussion. Makes a comparison of German and Allied tanks. The Sherman tank was a good work horse, if under-gunned. Armoured division tactics with reference to Operation Totalize. Too much congestion. Criticism by the Corps Commander of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade caused a sense of grievance within all armoured units. Discusses some of the unit commanders, including that of Brigadier E.L. Booth whom he believes had a premonition of death. When he was in fact killed there was a hiatus in orders since it remained unknown for several hours. Absence of control had its effect. Feels that a lack of quick replacement of senior officers let down the troops. Anti-tank warfare. Huge dummy tanks produced in the hope of fooling the enemy. (45:00)

Lt Col Henry S Johnson

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

Queen's Own Rifles of Canada

Johnson was born in 1917 in Melville, Sask. He followed his older brothers into the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in 1941. Qualified as a driver-operator and, as such, took considerable wireless training. He was sent to the O.C.T.U. in Debert, N.S. and became attached to an Army Co operation Squadron (R.C.A.F.) to train air crew in wireless communications for operations in support of ground forces. Describes this training and service liaison requirements. Joined 7 Air Liaison Section attached to No. 168 Army Co-operation Squadron in Wainwright, Alta. (1943). It was his duty to see that the required air support was delivered. Air-to-ground communication improved. Overseas in Nov. 1943 he was posted to No. 39 Reconnaissance Wing in Gatwick and became involved in both training and operational roles and the photo interpretation of pictures of suspected V-1 flying bomb sites. Posted to Canadian Army headquarters in Leatherhead he trained army officers in ground support procedures. He returned to No. 143 Wing (Typhoon fighter-bombers) where he was in command of the air support signals unit. He briefed the Air Force on military targets. Most operations were against enemy transportation facilities, in some cases directed to the target by an air liaison officer on the ground. Carried out debriefing of pilots immediately upon their return. Describes the use of advance airport parties required to maintain rapid forward momentum of the ground support squadron. He served with an air wing in the occupation force in Germany. (30:00) Back in Canada as a major he investigated certain substantial shortages in the Ordnance Depot in Regina, which turned out to be largely of an accounting nature. Posted to the Joint Air School in Rivers, Man. in 1946 where continued interservice co-operation was fostered. attached to the Royal Canadian Navy as an army liaison officer. At sea in H.M.C.S. Warrior (light fleet carrier) he trained naval pilots to direct naval gunfire on shore targets and against moving targets at sea. He attended the army staff college in Kingston and offers some details of the work encountered. As staff officer (G.S.O. II) in the Saskatchewan area headquarters he was responsible for training and intelligence. Appointed a company commander in the Queen;s Own Rifles of Canada. (Nominally an infantry officer since 1942). Sent to Korea. His liaison experience was put to good use there in dealing with the U.S. Army. Later appointed to the military plans section of Defence Headquarters. He then became involved in civil defence planning in the Windsor, Ont. area. It was a busy period when the continuity of government was the prime concern. In 1962 posted to the Canadian Defence Liaison Establishment in London, Eng. Relates liaison anecdotes about Korea. During integration/unification he was part of the "Joint Staff" serving the Chief of the Defence Staff. Opinion on unification; loss of esprit de-corps was most serious, but much positive morale has now been recovered. (95:00)

Col William Stebbing Hamilton

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

(Side 1) Born on June 10, 1920. In the post-war period he was involved in radio intelligence gathering. Prior to that, during the war, powerful radio stations were established by the Royal Canadian Navy on both coasts of Canada. It was decided that this work should continue and eventually several stations were set up, beginning in 1946/47, with the purpose of monitoring Russian transmissions. All three services participated, with as many as five thousand persons involved in listening stations, research and development. Hamilton commanded the radio station at Ottawa. During the war Canada sent an army radio station to the Pacific War (Australia) which included Japanese language translators. There they engaged in interpretation and interception of enemy broadcasts, direction-finding, and analysis of intelligence. During the Korean War Signal Corps personnel served aboard R.C.N. ships, monitoring Chinese and Korean messages. Recounts the important intercept of Chinese messages regarding their entry into that war. R.C.C.S. stations operated until satellite surveillance made them obsolete. By 1970 all operations ceased. General discussion of the Canadian effort. (25:00)

(After a two-minute pause, Hamilton conducts an interview with Maj. Henry (Hank) Koehler of No. 1 Special Wireless Group (1944). Time: through 45:00 to 37:00.)

Hamilton continues his account. During the period June 1969 to May 1971 he was Canadian Military Attache in the Soviet Union. He was a "legitimate spy". Canadians are not too serious about this, not too well-trained. Picture and military uniform recognition very important. (40:00) The objective of a military attache was to see things, most often with Russian acquiescence. Russian military organization, troop strength, training standards (which were high). Took many day trips to identify units, personnel and equipment, rail movements, etc. Some information was obtained from the Finns who had Russian equipment. (45:00)

(Side 2) Observed missile installations, usually seen from civilian aircraft. Prefabricated submarines assembled at Leningrad. Methods of obtaining information: direct observation (Soviet military personnel do not wear civilian clothes at any time), military publications, visits to military camps and schools, social receptions, museums, T.V. and movies, libraries and book stores. (10:00) Explains "Moscow neck", the stiffness associated with continuously looking up to locate microphones and antennas used by the Russians for surveillance. Trips in Russia had to be planned well in advance and were always accompanied by a Russian "Director". As official harrassment was a danger attaches always attempted to travel in groups of three or four. Russians always knew where one was; cars "bugged". Maids and chauffeurs were Russian and always considered to be informers. Electronic eavesdropping devices were in the homes of all diplomatic personnel. A "sweep team" (electronic detectives) in constant need in foreign missions. Comments on investigative fields other than military. (35:00) Also accredited to Finland where he had a good relationship. Compares the difficulties encountered in serving in Iron Curtain countries. (45:00) The training of Canadians for similar posts should be more intensive: memory, observation, photography, language (one year is not sufficient). Living and shopping conditions. Trips were often directed by Intourist which amused him by their blatant efforts to keep attaches and their wives from military installations. The Congo: from May 1962 to June 1963 he commanded the Signals Corps unit within the United Nations Force in the Congo. Describes the military-geographic situation. Radio-teletype system was established. The unit, 57 Signals Squadron, R.C.C.S., was organized at Barriefield, Ont. in 1960. Technical equipment was in short supply and eventually provided by the Americans who also flew it out to Africa. The Canadians were not entirely welcomed by the Congolese; some Canadians were jailed and had to be forcibly released. Rampant tribalism nearly tore the country apart. (25:00) There was also a R.C.A.F. presence; trained air-traffic controllers. Mentions need for bilingual Canadians, Katangan independence, military operations. Conditions in Leopoldville quite good. Service time: men, six months; officers, a year. Indian medical services not up to par. Anecdote. Canadians were forced to understand the African mentality. It required a little bribery to move ahead. Bottles of Scotch proved to be a useful currency. (40:00)

Maj Ronald Fraser Ferrie

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

Born on Feb. 10, 1920 in Calgary, Alta. In 1935 he joined the local militia signals unit as a boy soldier. During the following year or so they became equipped with No. 1 wireless set, with a range of about three miles. Drill, courses and Sunday exercises kept the unit busy for two or three occasions per week. Summer camps at Sarcee and Dundurn. At the latter, in 1938, he was first introduced to vehicle-mounted wireless sets. (10:00) Describes uniforms. In 1938 was sent to Vimy Barracks, Kingston to qualify as a militia sergeant. During the 1939 Royal Visit to Calgary militia units were required to line the route in two locations. Fast movement was required after the Royal party had passed the first location. When war broke out they moved to Barriefield, just outside Kingston. A confusing time, during which morale suffered. Transferred to Vimy Barracks where accommodation and training equipment were good. Qualified as a radio operator. Officer training at Brockville, then additional signals training. Overseas in March 1942 to Aldershot. Posted to the Regiment de Maisonneuve. (30:00) A difficult time and a mistake since he had a poor grasp of French. By July 1942 he was transferred to 3rd Infantry Division Signals. Comments on exercises and the necessity, for signals staff, of immediately establishing communications after the exercise was over for the day. Appointed to the artillery signals section of 3rd Division Headquarters. Impressions of England. (40:00) Main Signals problem was usually the breakdown of line communications: passing vehicles often broke wires. Substitute signals officer for the 13th Field Regiment, R.C.A. Then posted to 14th Field Regiment as signals officer. By now had good switchboard equipment, telephones, and the No. 19 wireless set (1943). In July of 1943 was the second-in-command of the operating section of 3rd Division Signals. Invasion training began in earnest in Scotland. For a short time was adjutant for 3rd Division signal reinforcement unit. Excellent experience, but was glad to return to the field as signals officer for the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.). (15:00) Communications network not as complicated for a machine-gun unit since companies came under tactical control of others. Landed in Normandy on D+12. Beaches very well organized, landed dry-shod. Divisional signals a very interesting position since most information passed through the hands of his unit. Bombed by the U.S. Army Air Force on the way to Falaise. Posted to command the operating section of Division Headquarters as a captain. Comments on the Scheldt Estuary, Ghent, Nijmegen where they spent the winter of 1944-45. During Operation Veritable flooding caused special signals problems. "Friendly" attack on Headquarters by R.A.F. Typhoons: luckily no casualties. Rhine crossed. Near Oldenburg when war ended. (40:00) Returned to Canada in Dec. 1945. Comments on occupation experiences in Holland. Stayed on with Signal Corps after the war. Retired in 1969. (47:00)

Lieutenant-Colonel P.C. Klaehn (centre), Commanding Officer of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.), holding a map session with officers of the regiment near Caen, France, 15 July 1944. (Names in group): Major Roger Rowley, Second-in-Command; H/Major John W. Forth, Chaplain; Captain G.A. Harris, Adjutant; Captain J.M. Lambert, Technical Adjutant; Captain R.F. Ferrie, Signals Officer; Lieutenant J.A. Morris, Intelligence Officer
Caen, France (vicinity):
July 15, 1944.
Aikman, H. Gordon., Photographer
Mikan Number:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Norm Lawton

In May of 1943 Norm was transferred once again to St. John for a month, before heading to Kingston Ontario for further training and also a line wireless communications course. From there he was sent to Windsor Nova Scotia for special instruction and handling of all types of different weapons, and grenade practice. At the end of July in 1944, he went to Halifax and boarded the Empress of Britain He was on his way overseas to Liverpool England.
Read more: Link