Communications

The Communications Platoon was composed of four sections. It underwent a minor change between 1943 and 1944. Communications personnel were armed with the portable M1 carbine, though in combat some preferred to switch the low-powered carbines for rifles or submachine guns. Radio and wiring men carried heavy loads of backpack-mounted radios, telephones, or coils of telephone wire.

A signal unit of the 24th Marines in action on Namur, February, 1944. (UNIS markings on a lieutenant not visible in this version of the picture suggest they are from Third Battalion, 24th Marines).
A signal unit of the 24th Marines in action on Namur, February, 1944. (UNIS markings on a lieutenant not visible in this version of the picture suggest they are from Third Battalion, 24th Marines).

Series D Communications Platoon (1943 – March 1944)

Platoon Headquarters – controlled all communications for the battalion.
Battalion Communications officer (Lieutenant)
Communications Chief (Technical Sergeant)
Other Duties (Private/PFC)

Message Center – physically carried messages and orders between units.
Message Center Chief (Sergeant)
Message Center Clerk (Corporal)
Code Clerk (Corporal)
Five Messengers (Private/PFC)

A runner came hurrying back along the trail…. These runners are an anachronism. They make up human lines of communication; they do the jobs that copper wire and short waves ought to do, and they are expected by some commanding officers to do them as fast. They carry messages alone, often through enemy territory. Their fellows take them for granted, but there are no men who are braver or stronger.

– John Hersey, Into The Valley

Wire Section – running and repairing landlines for sound-power phones.
Wire Chief (Sergeant)
Senior Switchboard Operator (Corporal)
Two Switchboard Operators (Private/PFC)
Two Jeep Drivers (Private/PFC)
Three Wire Team Chiefs (Corporal)
Six Field Linemen (Private/PFC)

Vehicles – Two 1/4 ton jeeps, one M3 handcart.

It is their job to carry out a heavy spool of copper telephone wire, two in a team, toting the spool on a kind of axle, so it unwinds as they walk. They go everywhere with the spool that a command unit goes, so that the unit may be in telephone communications with its rear base. We in this valley never got in telephone touch because our mission failed, but wire-stringers penetrated the valley and there were wires all along the trail. After this operation I talked with a private named Leon Stevens who had walked eight miles up and down those awful steeps with a pal and a spool and no protection from enemy bullets. I was exhausted walking less than that and carrying only a pack – but Stevens and the others, exhausted or not, had to stay up most of the night as “trouble-shooters,” feeling their way along the wires in the sniper-infested, rain-soaked jungle, looking for a short circuit. Those boys deserve (and almost never get) medals.

– John Hersey, Into The Valley

Radio Section – operators to be assigned to platoons throughout the battalion.
Radio Chief (Sergeant)
Four Senior Radio Operators (Corporal)
Ten Radio Operators (Private/PFC)

Vehicles – one MM1 handcart.

Total Personnel – One officer, forty enlisted.

Series F Communications Platoon (March 1944 – 1945)

Platoon Headquarters
Battalion Communications officer (Lieutenant)
Communications Chief (Technical Sergeant)
Maintenance (Corporal)

Message Center
Message Center Chief (Sergeant)
Message Center Clerk (Corporal)
Code Clerk (Corporal)
Five Messengers (Private/PFC)

Wire Section
Wire Chief (Sergeant)
Senior Switchboard Operator (Corporal)
Two Switchboard Operators (Private/PFC)
One Jeep Driver (Private/PFC)
Three Wire Team Chiefs (Corporal)
Six Field Linemen (Private/PFC)

Vehicles – One 1/4 ton jeep, one M3 handcart.

Radio, Visual, and Panel Section
Radio Chief (Sergeant)
Radio Mechanic / Operator (Corporal)
Two Senior Radio Operators (Corporal)
Ten Radio Operators (Private/PFC)
One Jeep Driver (Private/PFC)

Vehicles – one radio-equipped jeep.

Total Personnel – One officer, thirty-nine enlisted.

semaphore
A signalman from 1/24 practices semaphore at Camp Pendleton. Photo by Lt. Phil Wood, A/1/24.

A signalman from the 24th Marines practices semaphore at Camp Pendleton.

The information contained herein is based on the GHQ Table of Organization & Equipment #3, 1994.


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