39 Signal Regiment - History

A brief history of 39 (Skinners) Signal Regiment

  • 1 Special Communications Unit, formed 1947
  • 1951- 51 Special Communications Regiment
  • 1959 - 65 Signal Regiment
  • 1961 - 65 Signal Regiment (Special Communications)
  • 1965 - 65 (City of London) Signal Regiment (Special Communications)
  • 1967- 39 (City of London) Signal Regiment
  • 1987 - 39 (City of London) Special Communications) Signal Regiment
  • 1995 - 39 (Skinners) Signal Regiment

1 SCU was formed at Clapham in 1947, and moved to Worship Street, London EC2 in 1954. Although based in the City of London, the widespread locations of the Regiment's component Squadrons can be 2 Sqn Forfar

  • 3 Sqn formed at Tunbridge Wells in 1960. Disbanded circa 1992
  • 4 Sqn London-Parachute trained. Disbanded 1974. Para Troop formed on 1 Sqn
  • 5 Sqn formed from 328 Sqn WRAC in 1961
  • 6 Sqn formed at Barnet in 1962 but disbanded in 1964

39 Signal Regiment was formed in 1967 from 65 Signal Regiment and its AER equivalent, 92 Signal Regiment. Personnel from 3 Sqn, 54 Signal Regiment and 332 Signal Squadron were also included in the new Regiment.

The Regiment remained in the special communications role until 1995, when it was re-organised for National Communications duties in 2 Signal Brigade. The Regiments HQ moved from London to Bristol and the subtitle 'Skinners' was then adopted in place of the 'City of London'. The now independent 1 and 2 Signal Squadrons continue with the Regiment's original role.

Component Squadrons:

HQ Squadron

1 Signal Squadron, until 1995

2 Signal Squadron, until 1995

3 Signal Squadron, until 1992

5 Signal Squadron, from 1971

47 Signal Squadron, from 1995

57 Signal Squadron, from 1995

Heraldry and ceremonial

The Lynx symbol of the Skinner's Company was adopted by the Regiment. Until 1966 all ranks wore the flash on both arms of their uniforms. It was then replaced by the City Sword flash. In 1955 a new red-backed Lynx cloth flash was re-introduced for wear on mess dress on the left arm. The same flash, but on a black background was worn on Service Dress and Jumper Order. This too was worn on the left arm.

The Skinners' Company

A brief history of North Somerset Yeomanry

 The History of the North Somerset Yeomanry started in 1798, when a Cavalry Troop was raised by James A Wickham at Frome and was known as the Frome and Selwood Volunteers. It numbered about 60 strong and as one of a great many units raised that year all over England it had the job of protecting local towns and villages in the event of invasion by the Napoleonic forces. Over the next few years it was sometimes stood down for a few months at a time, but remained in being as a Unit. This Troop of Volunteers was amalgamated with the East Mendip Cavalry in 1804 in order to make up a Unit of Squadron strength and was renamed the Frome and East Mendip Regiment of Volunteer Cavalry.

Further Troops were added, all based in the North and East of the County, and kept constantly due to unrest in the woollen mills and in 1822 the Frome Squadron was called out in aid of the Civil Power.

In 1831 the Bedminster Troop was called out to help quell the Bristol Riots and succeeded in dispersing the crowds. It continued training regularly and took part in large scale exercises with both Regular Troops and other local Regiments of Yeomanry. In 1900 this culminated in the first call to the Yeomanry for service overseas to go to South Africa. The Regiment provided a Company (48th North Somerset) of Mounted Infantry as part of a Battalion of Mounted Infantry known as the 7th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. This Company was involved in several skirmishes before acting as bodyguard to the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Roberts.
In 1901 the name of the Regiment was changed to The North Somerset Imperial Yeomanry in recognition of its services. In 1908 it was changed to the North Somerset Yeomanry on the formation of the Territorial Force.

On 4th August 1914 it received orders to mobilise under its commanding officer, Col G Glyn, and on 2nd November it joined the 6th Cavalry Brigade in France. By 15th November the Reigment was in the trenches near Ypres.

In the same area, near Bellewaarde Lake, on 13th May 1915, the Yeomanry faced a German attack launched after an intense bombardment in appalling weather. Though 50% of the defenders became casualties, the attack was repulsed.

After many more actions the Regiment was temporarily broken up in April 1918 and its members drafted as reinforcements to other units in 6th Brigade.

Revived after the Armistice, the North Somerset Yeomanry survived a threat of conversion to Artillery and started life as a Mounted Regiment in 1922, under Lt Col K G Spencer, and was trained as such until war broke out in 1939.
The development of armour, however, soon foretold a change for the "horsed" Yeomanry Regiment. It took part in one campaign before the axe fell. In February 1940 the Regiment sailed for the Middle East as part of 1st Cavalry Division. It served in the Syrian campaign of 1941 and played a special part in the second assault on the position at Chaia in the battle of Maza Ridge. One officer and nine other ranks were killed and 19 wounded.

The factor determining the future of the Regiment in the war was the acute shortage of Royal Signals personnel in the Middle East. General Auchinleck needed to find some 2,000 signallers from among his existing resources and to train them in six weeks for service in the field in highly technical work normally requiring several years to learn. It was no mean compliment that the General recognised the required standard of intelligence and willingness to undertake this formidable task in the ranks of the North Somerset Yeomanry and the Cheshire Yeomanry.

So, after a short spell in the Royal Armoured Corps, the Regiment amalgamated from July 1942 with a Royal Corps of Signals unit to become 4th Air Formation Signals (North Somerset Yeomanry). In this capacity the Regiment fought through the last phase of the campaign in North Africa, through the campaign in Sicily and up through Italy until August 1944. It then returned to the United Kingdom and was reformed into 14th Air Formation Signals (NSY). From the following January it served until the end of the war in North West Europe.

The officers and men of the Regiment never let the disappointment of the loss of their hereditary role interfere with their most important work as signallers. But neither did the Regiment ever forget its real identity or the traditions and spirit of the North Somerset Yeomanry.
The Regiment was reformed in 1947 as the Armoured Regiment of 16th Airborne Division with an Independent Parachute Squadron. In 1956 it amalgamated with 44 Royal Tank Regiment, the successors of 6th Battalion Gloucester Regiment, finally being disbanded in 1967 as the North Somerset and Bristol Yeomanry. However, elements from the North Somerset Yeomanry and the West Somerset Yeomanry combined with the Somerset Light Infantry to form the Somerset Yeomanry and Light Infantry, which in 1971 became the 6th Battalion The Light Infantry (Volunteers).

In 2000 Headquarters Squadron 39th Signal Regiment (V) took on the title and became; Headquarters North Somerset Yeomanry Squadron (V). The Squadron fosters many links with the North Somerset Yeomanry Old Comrades Association, to preserve the traditions and history of the North Somerset Yeomanry.

A brief history of 57 (City and County of Bristol) Signal Squadron

5th Anti-Aircraft Divisional Signals, formed as Reading 1939 (duplicate 1940 - 8th AA Divisional Signals)

1942 - 3rd AA Group (Mixed) Signals

1947 - 12 AA (Mixed) Signal Regiment

1955 - Southern Command (Mixed) Signal Regiment

1956 - 12 Command (Mixed) Signal Regiment

1959 - 57 Signal Regiment (Mixed)

1962 - 57 Signal Regiment

1967 - 57 Signal Regiment (V)

Formed as part of the expansion of Britain's anti-aircraft defences in 1939, 5th Anti-Aircraft Divisional Signals parented the formation of 8th AA Division at Bristol in October 1940, and both divisions amalgamated into 3 AA Group in October 1942. The divisions had become mixed male and female in 1941, and remained so until the abolition of AA Command in 1955. The regiment has been based at Bristol since 1942. In 1955-1956, here was a temporary amalgamation with Southern Command Signal Regiment, which was followed by and exchange of Squadrons between 12 and 63 Signal Regiments.

The Regiment was reduced to a Squadron of 37 Signal Regiment in 1967, and included elements from the North Somerset and Bristol Yeomanry. A troop from the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars formed at Cheltenham in 1969. The Squadron transferred to 71 Signal Regiment in November 1992, and then to 39 Signal Regiment in April 1995. (q.v. 48 Signal Squadron)

Heraldry and ceremonial:

Permission was granted for former RGH personnel to continue wearing the uniform of the Royal Gloucester Hussars until 1976.

History of the Berkshire Yeomanry

The Berkshire Yeomanry is the County of Berkshire's senior volunteer unit, with over 200 years of voluntary military service. Originally formed as mounted cavalry in 1794 to counter the threat of invasion during the Napoleonic wars, the squadron has seen service as machine gunners, artillery, armour, infantry and now signallers, serving within the Royal Corps of Signals.

The Berkshire Yeomanry continues to celebrate its proud heritage to this day with its ceremonial duties and Yeomanry tradition. In tribute to this unit's proud tradition, the Berkshire Yeomanry has a number of battle honours won from Europe to the Far East. In recognition of its service, the Berkshire Yeomanry was granted the freedom of the Royal Borough of Windsor in 1994 on its 200th anniversary.

The Berkshire Yeomanry Museum

The Berkshire Yeomanry museum is a small independent museum having a very fine military collection. A charitable trust in its own right, it is home to a wealth of Berkshire Yeomanry history and tradition dating back to the end of the 18th century. Amongst its many artefacts are original cavalry uniforms, sabres, head-dress, medals and memorabilia, as well as details concerning the Victoria Cross won by Private Potts VC for a daring rescue to save a wounded colleague during the First World War.

The museum is administered by previous serving officers and soldiers of 94 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron all of whom are active members of a thriving Berkshire Yeomanry Regimental Association.

Visits to the museum can be arranged for individuals or groups by contacting the TAC for more information.

If you are a previous member of the Berkshire Yeomanry and you wish to stay in touch or re-establish old friendships, then please join the Regimental Association.  The Association runs a number of social events and reunions during the year.  Please feel free to contact the Regimental Secretary with your details. We look forward to seeing you again at one of these events.