News Article

End of an era for historic Gloucestershire unit

A History and Honour news article

14 Dec 07

A fascinating chapter of military history has come to an end today, Friday 14 December 2007, with the closure of 9 Signals Unit (9 SU) at the MOD site in Boddington, Gloucestershire.

Air Vice Marshall R I Allan, Director General Information Systems and Services takes the salute at the closure of 9 Signal Unit at Boddington[Picture: Andy Glover]

Air Vice Marshall R I Allan, Director General Information Systems and Services takes the salute at the closure of 9 Signal Unit at Boddington
[Picture: Andy Glover]

9 SU has provided formal messaging support and the primary messaging management centre to UK MOD static sites, bases in Germany, Cyprus, Belize, Hong Kong, Falklands, Gibraltar and many others for a number of years.

It has also provided support for operations at home and abroad, facilitating formal messaging in support of numerous operations including the national fire strike, the foot and mouth crisis, the floods which struck Gloucestershire in June 2007 as well as recent military operations including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Serving military personnel formed a parade and a host of guests, including the Mayors of Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, witnessed the lowering of the ensign for the very last time. The last post was sounded and a vintage aircraft from nearby Staverton Airport provided the flypast.

Many local people have served at 9 SU Boddington and the unit is held in great affection. Lorraine Cole has served at Boddington both in the Royal Air Force and as a civil servant:

"I've been in denial about the closure for so long now but today it's finally sunk in," she said. "It was extremely sad to see the Unit close but I was very kindly given the opportunity to switch off the Unit lights for the very last time, it was an emotional yet cherished experience."

9 Signals Unit has had a long and illustrious history [Picture: MOD]

9 Signals Unit has had a long and illustrious history
[Picture: MOD]

Air Vice Marshal Bob Allan, Director General Information Systems & Services, added:

"Today is an historic day. It's always sad to see the closure of a historic unit like this with such an illustrious past. But as we all know technology waits for no man and the world moves on."

Boddington was first established in 1940, during the Second World War, as a telephone exchange and was operated by the Auxiliary Territorial Service. During that time the guarding of the Unit was the responsibility of The Royal Gloucester Regiment. Over the years the unit passed to first the Royal Corps of Signals and then the Royal Air Force.

On 1 October 1978 RAF Boddington became No 9 Signals Unit, an independent Unit under the direct command of Support Command Signals Headquarters (SCSHQ), with functional control of their respective networks by Communication Defence Control Network (CDCN) and Headquarters Strike Command (HQSTC).

Over the years numerous military messaging systems were introduced at Boddington, each proving to be bigger and better than before. 1998 was dominated by the formation of the Defence Communication Services Agency (DCSA); operational command of the Unit was passed to the Agency and the Unit became known as DCSA 9 SU Boddington. 9 SU was subsequently chosen as the Primary Message Agent site for the UK.

After a decade of successful operation Boddingtons' future began to look doubtful and when the DCSA formally endorsed the cessation of the AMSCERP messaging system, which has been replaced by the Naval Shore Telegraph Network (NSTN), Boddington became redundant.

Today was a poignant day, with this remarkable unit having witnessed a total of 38 years in signals history. 9 Signals Unit was the last Royal Air Force controlled Messaging Relay Centre and its closure marks the end of an era. Other MOD services will remain based at Boddington but for 9 Signals Unit it is the final post.

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