Thursday, October 20, 2011

Colonel E. Forde, OBE, DSO, VD

Colonel E. Forde, OBE, DSO, VD

Mrs Bernice Irene Forde

Following in the footsteps of Major Bruce Carruthers, in the years between the First and Second World War, Colonel Elroy Forde greatly influenced the development of the Regular and Reserve components of what eventually came to be collectively called The Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS). In so doing, he also had an impact on the socio-economic development of the Kingston area.
Born in Wentworth County, Ontario, on 10 September, 1885, Elroy Forde left school when he was about 13 years old and joined the ranks of the 77th (Wentworth) Battalion of Infantry.
In 1905, soon after he was commissioned, he became responsible for signalling in what was by then called the 77th Wentworth Regiment.
In 1909, he transferred to the Signalling Corp (Militia) where he served in a number of appointments up to and including Command Signal Officer.
In January 1915, as First World War soldiers concentrated in Valcartier, Quebec, for deployment abroad, then Captain Forde joined the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force as a member of Canada's 1st Divisional Signal Company. By the end of the War, he had been made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, been promoted Lieutenant-Colonel (Lt Col), and served as the Chief Signal Officer of the Canadian Corps overseas.
By 1 April 1919, with the assistance of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, who had deemed him worthy to be put in charge of the Signal Services in Canada, Lt Col Forde had established the Canadian Signalling Instructional Staff, the first Regular component of the Corps.
Between 1919 and 1939, under Elroy Forde's leadership, in addition to fulfilling its own training commitment, the Corps performed many services for other organizations and individuals.
Some of the services performed included the establishment, operation and maintenance of radio networks for the Canadian Air Force Forestry Service in their fight against forest fires, the North West Territories and Yukon Radio Service to open the Canadian north to communications, and a nationwide system of radio beacons for the guidance of air mail planes.
During the depression, then Colonel (Col) Forde was responsible for a relief project to establish a permanent Canadian Signal Training Centre. To the continuing benefit of the Corps and the local community, Kingston was chosen as the site for the construction of today's Vimy Barracks. The project came to fruition in 1937 and, at that time, Signals training moved from Camp Borden to Kingston. During construction, hundreds of otherwise unemployed men found work and, over the years, thousands upon thousands of military and civilian personnel underwent training, or found employment.
Elroy Forde retired in 1942 and, among other things, became involved in setting-up the Kingston Corps of Commissionaires and, along with Regimental Sergeant-Major T.J. Wallis, taught the Fort Henry Guard the drill movements of the 19th century solider.
On 3 November 1953 Colonel Forde, OBE. DSO, VD died. He was buried in Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston. His headstone reads:

"For The Crown
And The Corps
In Zeal Effortless
In Enthusiasm Unflagging
In Loyalty Invincible"

His medals are on display at the Military Communications and Electronics Museum.

Link Attestation Papers

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