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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Wire In The Blood

Radio waves can be intercepted. We do it, the Americans do it, the Russians do it, in fact even private individuals do it.

To try and cut down on radio intercepts if a unit is going to be in a location for any length of time it will lay wire between all of it's major locations.

If you are an Headquarters officer this is very convenient. You have your own little phone network and no one can hear you make an arse of yourself on the radio except the person at the other end.

If you are a signaller this is far from convenient as it is you who has to lay the wire.

I shouldn't complain. I've only had to do it a few times on exercise. During the First World War this was the only real form of communications and signallers would be laying wire behind the advancing troops.

The first time I had to lay wire I was in charge. It was my "command appointment" during the exercise. A kind of test of leadership as well as technical ability. I was instructed to lay wire between Point A and Point B. A quick look at the map and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. It was at least 2 miles.

That might not sound a lot but wire is heavy. Three of us went out to start the job. One of the guys had the first spool of wire on a reel while the other two of us had spare reels in our rucksacks.

It took us about 3 hours to lay the wire. Stumbling around in the dark. Digging the wire in deep if it crossed a track. Joining the reels together with crimpers as each ran out. We got to Point B. We cut the wire to the right length to plug into the exchange. We bared the ends with a pair of wire cutters. We plugged it into the terminals on the exhange. We held our breath. It didn't work.

It actually took us another 4 hours to prove the line. Working back a few hundred metres and checking the connection. Repairing flaws in the line. Getting a bit further and finding another piece of old crappy wire that had failed.

It was dawn when we finally got it working. 30 minutes later we had the order to strip it out - we were moving again.

"Keep smiling," I told the blokes. Fat chance.


Blogger Monica said...

The dedication to simply doing what you are told is amazing. I would have had a major hissy fit. But, again, I know I am not good soldier material.

6:11 pm  
Anonymous PMJ said...

A piece of advice from an old soldier. Test the line every 500 m at least, 250 m if possible.
That way you wont have so much line to check and you will find breaks much more quickly.
Using new D10 helps too.

3:56 pm  
Blogger Universal Soldier said...

That was a lesson I learnt that night. And with old D10 it doesn't matter if you do check it every 250m - it can work one minute and not the next ;)

5:32 pm  
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