Blandford Camp lies approximately 2 miles to the North-East of Blandford Forum. The area is no stranger to military activity with records of skirmishes during the Civil War, and reviews of troops during the many times we were at war with France. (A review is what we would call an exercise today) and Dorset Yeomanry training. The first permanent camp was built during the First World War for the Royal Naval Division, the Royal Navy’s own infantry. It was here that the poet Rupert Brooke wrote his famous sonnet; The Soldier. The most often quoted words from this sonnet are; “If I
die, then think this of me, there is a corner of a foreign field that is forever England”.
The camp was taken over by the Royal Flying Corps in the latter days of the Great War and subsequently the RAF. At the end of WW1 the hutted camp was dismantled and the land returned to the owner.
Between the wars the area was again used for military training by the Imperial Yeomanry and the Dorset Yeomanry then in 1939 another permanent camp was built as a mechanised infantry training area. Many units trained here, or reformed after Dunkirk but the major impact was when 5 US general hospitals were based here in preparation for D Day. These hospitals cared for over 19,500 casualties from D Day and the Ardennes Offensive. Prior to leaving the Americans consecrated a garden and memorial in memory of President Roosevelt that remains to this day.
Several National Service units were based in Blandford Camp after the war and then in the 1960s 30 Signal Regiment arrived followed by The School of Signals (later to become the Royal School of Signals) to make Blandford Camp one of the many Royal Signals training locations. In 1995 following the Rationalisation of the Training Base all training from Catterick moved here and Blandford Camp became the home of Royal Corps of Signals.
Blandford Camp accommodates many units and organisations that include the headquarters of the Defence School of Communications and Information Systems (DSCIS), Headquarters Royal Signals, 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment,
15th Signal Regiment (Information Support), Elements of Capability Directorate Information, The Royal Signals White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team, The Royal Signals Communications Museum and many other Communications units and agencies.
The Defence College of Communications and Information Systems
The Defence School of Communications consists of a Headquarters organisation based at Blandford Camp; the Royal Navy CIS Training Unit, HMS COLLINGWOOD;
The Royal School of Signals, Blandford Camp; No1 Radio School, RAF Cosford and the Aerial Erector School, RAF Digby. The college is commander by a Colonel, who is also Blandford Garrison Commander. The School HQ is based in Harrogate Building, with an element in Catterick Building.
It is manned by staff from the RN, Army and RAF as well as by Civil Servants. This HQ provides policy budgetary control as well as direction on the current training regimes in the single service schools, whilst preparing for future changes to the way CIS training is delivered across the MOD.
Blandford Garrison Support Unit
Headquarters Blandford Garrison Support Unit (HQ BGSU) is under command of the Garrison Commander Blandford Garrison. The role of HQ BGSU is to provide general support to units located within Blandford Camp and defined support to units within the Garrison Boundaries.
HQ BGSU is a small mixed unit of civilian and military staff and is commanded by a Royal Signals Lt Col. HQ BGSU is located in Harrogate Building in Blandford Camp. HQ BGSU is situated on the top floor of Harrogate Building. The Garrison Administrative Office (GAO) is located on the ground floor of Harrogate Building. The Garrison Welfare Officer and staff are located in the Williams Building. The Garrison Quartermasters department is situated in the Old School Building.
Directorate Information – Training Development Team
CDirectorate Information (CD Info) stood up on 1 Apr 12 and replaces elements of Headquarters Signal Officer in Chief (Army). Over the years the vast majority of the staff relocated to Andover (Army HQ) leaving just the Training Development Team (TDT) in Blandford. The D Info TDT now encompasses two distinct elements, one being R SIGNALS TDT and the other being Int CorpsTDT which is located in Chicksands. R SIGNALS TDT are a small team responsible for formulating and refining R SIGNALS individual & special to arm collective training and professional development in order to underpin operational and contingent capability for both Regulars and Reserves. Furthermore, the team are responsible for the audit and quality assurance of R SIGNALS and designated E2 training development documentation on behalf of Director Information.
R SIGNALS TDT is a small mixed civilian and military team located in Armstrong Building near Engineer’s Corner atthe North end of camp
Headquarters Royal Signals
Headquarters Royal Signals is led by The Corps Colonel, Royal Signals. The HQ is situated in Griffin House, next to the Museum, in the centre of Blandford Camp. The HQ leads on the following Royal Signals Corps matters: Domestic Affairs, People issues, Royal Signals Institution, Internal Communication within the Corps, Heritage and the Museum.
Domestic Affairs includes the Corps charity and finances, Royal Signals Association (veterans), various Corps Committees, Corps Dinners and events, providing welfare grants, coordinating the Master of Signals programme and liaising with Buckingham Palace regarding Royal visits to units.
People issues include recruiting Royal Signals soldiers and officers, Royal Signals Policy Directives, Whole Life Development, Royal Signals TA matters and Royal Signals promotion boards. The Royal Signals Institution deals with events with civilian organisations such as the Institute of Engineering Technology, British Computer Society and industry. Internal Communication includes the WIRE magazine, the Journal and the Royal Signals presence on the Internet. Heritage matters are mainly Royal Signals military dress, property and bands.
The Museum tells the story of the Royal Signals and of Army Communications and contains several interactive stands geared for children. It also contains an excellent café and has an interesting shop selling a wide range of Royal Signals marked products. The Museum is open to the public and entry is free of charge to all people who live or work on Camp.
The Royal School of Signals – Historical Note
The development of military signalling in the field stimulated the establishment of schools and training facilities. The first of these was the Signal Wing at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, which was founded in 1869 to teach both visual and electrical signalling. In 1875, the Signal Wing at Chatham was split and a School of Visual Signalling was formed at Aldershot, which in 1886 became the responsibility of the Infantry. The Electrical Signalling Branch remained at Chatham, eventually moving to Houghton Regis, Beds, in 1915, and continued throughout the First World War. After the War a new Signal Training Centre was formed, which, in 1920 at the time of the formation of the Royal Corps of Signals, transferred to temporary accommodation at Maresfield Park, Sussex and was retitled as the School of Signals and Signal Training Centre. In 1925 all training was moved to a permanent site at Catterick Camp, Yorkshire, where it was to remain for over 40 years. In 1967, to ease liaison, it was decided to move communication management training closer to the other Army training centres and the School of Signals therefore moved to its present location at Blandford Camp in Dorset. On 15 June 1992, Her Majesty The Queen approved the addition of the title “Royal” to the School in recognition of the long and distinguished corporate service at the School and its founder organisations.
In October 1992 the Executive Committee of the Army Board directed that all Royal Signals training should be carried out in the one establishment and Blandford was the site selected for the new Single Centre. The responsibility for Phase 1 training for Royal Signals soldiers passed from 11 Signal Regiment to the Army Training Regiment, Bassingbourn and 11 Signal Regiment was disbanded in Catterick on 31 March 1993. The number was reallocated to the School Regiment at Blandford on 5 April 1993 and 11 Signal Regiment is now the Single Centre Training Regiment.
Phase 2 and 3 Trade Training for Royal Signals soldiers ceased in 8 Signal Regiment in October 1994 and restarted on a limited scale in Blandford in January of the following year. The full range of soldier courses did not start until April 1996 when the building of the new Trade Training facilities was completed. The Army Apprentice College, Harrogate closed in August 1996 and Royal Signals Apprentices now conduct their initial training at the Army Apprentice College at Aborfield alongside all other Army Apprentices before coming to the School for their trade training. In common with most training establishments, the Royal School of Signals was placed under command of the Army Individual Training Organisation on 1 Apr 1996, which became the Army Training and Recruiting Agency on 1 July 1997. The RSS is now a part of the Defence School of Communications and Information Systems (DSCIS) and primarily delivers the Army communications training element but does conduct tri-service and other nations training.
11th (RSS) Signal Regiment
During 2009 and 2010 a reorganisation of training in Blandford saw the Royal School of Signals and 11th Signal Regiment become 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment responsible for all R SIGNALS special-to-arm training. 130+ different types of courses are delivered to Phase 2 trainees, Phase 3 soldiers and officers, encompassing the Regiment’s mission:
…to train and develop ICS trade and military skills, leadership and ethos in order to deliver effective soldiers and commanders for operations
All R SIGNALS soldiers, whether arriving from the Army Training Regiments at Pirbright, Winchester or Harrogate also complete Phase 2 trade, leadership, ethos and additional military training. The length of their course depends on the trade chosen, varying from 7 weeks up to 50. Soldiers will return to the Regiment for periods throughout their careers to complete Phase 3 trade upgrading courses and specialist operational pre-deployment or pre-employment training. The Regiment is also responsible for R SIGNALS special-to-arm command, leadership and management training to qualify for junior and senior non-commissioned officer and warrant officer promotion. Soldier training provides modern apprenticeship and national vocational qualifications.
Supervisor training is also undertaken in Blandford Camp after a rigorous selection process. Supervisors are known as Yeoman, Foreman, Yeoman (EW) or Foreman (IS) of Signals, depending on their specialism. On successful completion of training they receive degree level accreditation for their skills.
All R SIGNALS officers similarly arrive from RMAS Sandhurst and complete the Troop Commander’s Course. They also return to Blandford to complete additional career and specialised training up to masters degree level.
Training is also delivered to the other Arms and Services and foreign and Commonwealth forces, in addition to those of the Corps itself. Over 700 courses are run per year. There are in excess of 7,000 students completing courses throughout the year with up to 1,000 students on courses at any one time.
15th Signal Regiment (Information Support)
The Unified System Support Organisation (USSO), based in Blandford has been steadily growing in size and importance. It has a critical role providing specialist technical support to deployed Information and Communication Services across Defence, and provides a combination of deployed and ‘reachback’ support.
On the 30th September 2011 it was re-titled 15th Signal Regiment (Information Support) and fully established as a Royal Signals Unit, albeit with very joint manning and roles. The Regiment currently benefits from having personnel from all three services and an eclectic mix of up to twenty different Army cap badges.
The RHQ and the Global Information Services Squadron (including the Trials and Development Unit and LSRC from CD Info) are located at Engineers’ corner, whilst other squadrons are located at Corsham and Bicester.
The Regiment has a permanent presence on deployed operations and is heavily involved in the preparation and training of all units as they prepare for deployment.
Deployable Communications Module Delta (DCM D)
DCM D (628 Signal Troop) is the British contribution,and one of many multi-national units which make up 1st NATO Signal Battalion (1 NSB). 1 NSB currently provides Deployable CIS support to the NATO Readiness Force(NRF) and participates in NATO exercise around Europe.The Battalion has a continuous commitment to operationsin Afghanistan and Turkey in support of the NATO mission.
DCM D is a unique organisation, not just within theBritish Army, but in Defence as a whole as it is the UK’s only standing commitment to NATO. The men and women whom serve within DCM D are prepared todeploy at high readiness to install and maintain commandand control strategic CIS in support of a deployed NATO HQ. This brings new challenges whilst offering an array of new opportunities to travel and work closely with people from various NATO countries.The unit has amaximum strength of 56 personnel and relocated to Blandford from Elmpt, Germany, in the summer of 2015.