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Thread: RAF Station Radio Call Signs

  1. #11
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    Default Re: RAF Station Radio Call Signs

    Jim

    My understanding was that on VHF voice communications the crews used the Callsign allocated to the Squadron plus the identification letter of the aircraft, e.g. “Nosmo this is Rothman D Dog over” would be 78 Squadron aircraft EY-D calling the tower at Breighton. For longer range communications over CW each aircraft would have a dedicated callsign which changed on each operation and would be detailed in the Signals plan. I have seen these CW call signs recorded for some early operations and they were a combination of three letters followed by three numbers.
    I don’t know the VHF call signs of other Squadrons and only became aware of 78 being Rothman from interviewing veterans.

    Regards
    Daz
    Last edited by 78SqnHistory; 25th November 2023 at 10:06.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: RAF Station Radio Call Signs

    Daz. Yes, I talked to a colleague yesterday and he basically confirmed what you said, but he did add that the squadron call-sign revolved through a number of words and changed frequently but recycled. He hasn’t been able to find records of which call signs would have been in used for any given operation. I’ve checked the Form “B” and these call signs are not given there, as the operational orders were from “Group”. So there is good knowledge of station call signs, less so for squadron codes used by crews to identify their aircraft.

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 25th November 2023 at 16:20.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: RAF Station Radio Call Signs

    Hi Jim and Daz,

    Regarding Aircraft R/T callsigns, they were distributed since the end of 1940 among a number of Aircraft R/T Call Sign Blocks specified in the R/T code books. The 1945 system relied on:
    - 250 Station Aircraft Call Sign (SACS) Blocks, numbered 1-250, each with 5 callsigns;
    - 125 additional SACS Blocks with 2 callsigns, numbered 251-375;
    - 205 Airfield Aircraft Call Sign (AACS) Blocks with 3 callsigns, numbered 1A-205A;
    - 125 AACS Blocks with only one callsign, numbered 1B-125B.

    Basically, the SACS Blocks were for Bomber and Coastal Commands and the AACS for Fighter Command. I have no specific information about 2nd TAF that was ruled by different code books.
    These Aircraft R/T Call Sign Blocks were allocated to Stations through 2 sets of tables printed in a code book called the R/T Key Memorandum. Each station then provided callsigns for the squadrons they controlled. The policy for doing this fluctuated according to the groups and periods concerned. In some groups, the callsigns were permanently allotted to squadrons (at least, during the time they were based on the station and while the current code books were valid). In other stations, the callsigns were periodically rotated.

    From this respect, two entries in the Tholthorpe Control Officer's Log (accessible via the IBCC website) are particularly interesting:
    1/10/43: "New R/T and W/T call signs are in effect today – They vary every 9 days. Control officers will take careful watch that the correct callsigns are listed during the appropriate periods."
    [on 1/10/43, the current R/T code books (CD 014/1 (6) RAF W/T and R/T War Call Signs, No. 6, CD 014/1 (5) Addendum "B" and CD 0212 A (1) RAF Key Memorandum 1A, Sector Station Aircraft R/T Call Signs) were superseded by new ones (CD 0270 (1) R/T Call Signs – Ground Stations and Aircraft (Home) and CD 0272 (1) R/T Key Memorandum.]
    17/10/43, 16.10: "R/T call signs for 431 & 434 Sqdns. are now ISLAND and CLIMAX respectively. These call signs will be permanent."

    In the case of Breighton and 78 Squadron in 1944-45, Breighton was a sub-station of Holme-on-Spalding Moor, which was associated with SACS Blocks 96 (Ordnance, Nifty, Windlass, Alask and Inquest), 314 (Archfoot and Rothman) and 347 (Parchlip and Seedsmen).

    The main goal behind this was to conceal the unit movements: a squadron may supposedly move from one station to another without any change in the R/T traffic. Additionally, since the R/T Key Memorandum provided tables with lines labelled by stations and several columns listing callsign blocks, it was possible for the Air Ministry to say "from now on, skip from column n to column n+1 of the SACS tables" and change at once all the aircraft R/T callsigns of Bomber Command. This was the idea but, as far as I know, it was never implemented and the first column of the R/T Key Memorandum tables was always used.

    This as least was the system used in 1945. Actually, the code books CD 270 (2) (implemented from 17 April 1944) and CD 270 (3) (for 1945) were very similar, as the associated R/T Key Memorandum. Moreover, the same principle of allocating aircraft callsigns to stations remained from November 1940 to the end of the war.

    But as always, there were exceptions, as when ADGB "froze" its aircraft call signs before D-Day.

    Best wishes,

    Jérémie
    Last edited by Jérémie Tarpon; 27th November 2023 at 13:05.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: RAF Station Radio Call Signs

    I may add that the code books included a number of "spare call signs" attached to commands. Those of Bomber Command were used for Master Bomber, Main Force, etc. They are generally specified in the Forms 'B' (operation orders).

    Jérémie

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    Default Re: RAF Station Radio Call Signs

    Thanks Jérémie. Yes, the Form B’s have all of the code names for the master bombers, etc. I have all of these for dad’s ops. For Chemnitz, 5/6-March-1945, there were as follows:

    Master Bomber was “Hooky”. The call sign of the Deputy Master Bomber was “Hooky Two”; the RT call sign was “Hooky Three” and the Main Force, was “King Cole”.

    Jim

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