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What's in a name?

Signal Corps units in World War II

by Danny Johnson

Many years ago, the Army titled various units by the type of mission the unit performed. It wasn't uncommon to have a designation that could have two, three, four or even more words in the title.

Over the years, the Army had shortened the designations for numbered units; today, unit designations are much simpler to understand. Here we take a look at some real Signal Corps units taken from an Army campaign register for World War II.

The Army had a unit in the Pacific called 3902d Signal Right of Way Construction Detachment. What about 3939th Signal Mess Detachment? On Leyte, the Army had 3948th Signal Switchboard Operating Detachment.

How about 3137th Signal Motor Messenger Company that served in Europe? There were also 801st Signal Training Regiment and 5th Signal Aircraft Warning Training Battalion.

There were units called 3798th Signal Multichannel Radio Teletype Detachment and 3298th Signal Film Library Detachment that both served in Europe. The Army had a number of signal pigeon units such as 277th Signal Pigeon Company that served in Germany.

Serving in the Pacific theater were 1st Signal Troop as well as 3d Signal Radar Calibration Team. There were 1st Armored Signal Battalion, 2691st Signal Air Warning Battalion and 3123d Signal Port Service Company serving in Europe.

Some of the unit titles were quite long, such as 3225th Signal Photographic Production Detachment and 3916th Signal Service Company, Radio Intelligence, who also saw action in Europe. In China, there was 3314th Signal Photographic Supply Detachment.

Some more long-winded titles were 3373d Signal Intelligence and Monitoring Company and 3732d Signal Equipment Installation Detachment, also credited with service in the Pacific. Two other units that served in the Pacific were 929th Signal Battalion (Separate), Tactical Air Command, and 1720th Signal Service Company, Aviation.

The Signal Corps had a unit called 87th Signal Inspection and Maintenance Detachment in the Pacific theater. Also serving in the Pacific were 3241st Signal Newsreel Detachment, 440th Signal Heavy Construction Battalion (Aviation) and 103d Signal Light Construction Battalion.

There were 3323d Signal Information Monitoring Company, 517th Airborne Signal Company and 165th Signal Photographic Company in Europe. In the Pacific theater were 3291st Signal Base Depot, 3292d Signal Base Maintenance Company, 3293d Signal Base Depot Company, 292d Joint Assault Signal Company and 12th Signal Company (Philippine Scouts).

What about 846th Signal Service Photographic Battalion and 113th Signal Radio Intelligence Battalion? There were also 7797th Signal Depot Group and 112th Airborne Signal Battalion.

There were also organizations called 65th Army Airways Communications Systems Group; 1041st Signal Company, Service Group; 6660th Signal School Detachment; and 3107th Signal Service Platoon.

These titles wouldn't even fit on most unit letterhead stationery today.

The unit designations today may be brief, but the same positive attitude to accomplish the mission exists as it did more than 50 years ago. Signal Corps units carry on the same traditions now as Signal Corps units did during World War II.

Mr. Johnson is the command historian for U.S. Army Information Systems Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Last modified on:
April 04, 2012

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