110 Special Wireless Section first went to Northern Ireland where its function was to monitor the activities of German submarines around the Irish cost and their IRA sympathisers. It was feared that the Germans would try to incite invasion of Northern Ireland as a prelude to a two-pronged attack on England from across the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The postponement of the German invasion removed the threat and 110 SWS left Northern Ireland on 24 th February 1941 after a short time in the England they were sent to Cairo in Egypt, where they joined XXX Corps (30 Corps), and followed them through El Alamein, Tripoli, Tunisia, Malta, Sicily and Italy. The section was recalled from Italy after helping to train ‘Y' sections of the U.S Army. The section was re-equipped and was under training in the Newmarket area of “Suffolk” very few new of the events to come in a few weeks time.
‘R' van or Set vehicle crew erecting 72' (22m) aerial masts (1944 training in the Newmarket area)
D-Day Landings 6 th June 1944
The beginning of the end of the war in Europe. 110 SWS started by boarding an American liberty ship (MT47) in Tilbury Docks Essex, bound for Normandy. On D-Day plus 1, the 7 th June 1944, their landing was to take place on GOLD Beach near Ryes with the troops of 3 Div, XXX Corps. 110 SWS was loaded on to two LCTs from the liberty ship. Shortly after leaving for the beach an AA shell exploded in one of the LCTs killing three men and wounding one other.
The first section ashore from the LCTs was the rear link section; its task was to set up a station working between the front line troops on the beach and Corps HQ still on board the ships, but it was pinned down after landing. L/Cpl D Carr, still on board the liberty ship waiting to go ashore, was ordered to rig an aerial on the ship's mast to try and rise them on a WS22 set while still at sea. It was feared that they were captured. The codes compromised and their purpose disclosed to the enemy. However they called in some hours later on the 7 th June “1944” over the next few days the rest of 110 SWS landed.
Their task was basically to cover tactical and strategic traffic and report to XXX Corps Commander Lt-
Gen Horrocks on the enemy troops opposite XXX Corps front and those of the flanking Corps. Also
Traffic analysis and direction finding (D/F) to build up information on the order of battle of the German Army in Normandy.
This work would only be done from a distance of approximately one mile from the enemy front lines
So orders were issued by the highest level of Chiefs of Staff to every unit commander within the working areas of a (SWS) Special Wireless Section that they must make every effort to defend the SWS. To help with the defence of SWS, when a section came across a German M.G.34 or 42, it would ‘borrow' it. This helped to prevent the SWS being detected from the distinct sound of a Bren being fired; in addition the German MG's had a much higher rate of fire thus affording the SW Sections better protection.
On the 14 th August 1944 the ‘Y' sections produced a report compiled from D/F and low-grade wireless
Traffic showing the locations of almost every important unit in the Falaise pocket and on the 16 th August 1944, reported that the supply column of the 21 st Panzer Div had been severely damaged by allied air attack. In an effort to stop the gap at Trun-Chambois General Von Kluge ordered an attack by the 9 th SS Panzer Div, at Ecouche with 2 nd SS Panzer Div, attacking at Trun. The ‘Y' sections intercepted plans for the attack.
Capt F.D. Shirreff of 110 SWS had a very experienced operator who managed to copy through the background noise of radio static and atmospherics the crucial message giving the German order of battle and their intentions. This message helped to put about 100,000 German prisoners in the bag! The bulk of them were from the German 7 th Army in the Falaise pocket. The operator was L/Cpl Ferguson who was awarded the B.E.M.