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The Signal Corps during World War II (1941—1945)

The Signal Corps during World War II (1941—1945)


World War II became a great ordeal for the Signal Corps of the Soviet Union. The display gives an idea about the communication equipment the country had when the war broke out, its development and improvement, the significance of the signal corps in commanding armed forces in the USSR and their use in great military operations and battles, along with lists of heroes names.

General view of the room

Communication appeared to be partially damaged or even completely broken in some directions during the first months of the war. Troops had to stay without commanding as a result. So the restoration of communication became one of the most important tasks. Red Army men fulfilled this task, risking their lives and showing unexampled displays of courage. They laid communication links between Moscow and Leningrad via Ladozhskoe Lake, Stalingrad­Elista­Nevinnomyssk and others in a very short time­-span. The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was conferred to one of the first military signalers A. Ryzhikov, who not only repaired damages on the line of communication together with his friend, but repelled the attack of a group of fascist soldiers. Exhibits on display tell about him and his feat.

A fragment of a cart model is used in the room as a podium for pre­war communication equipment, since it was the general means of transportation at the time. A glass ­case displays the uniforms, arms and means of communication which belonged to a sergeant of the signal corps. Visitors can also see photos of signal corps commanders, tables of the losses that signalers sustained during the first months of the war, and extracts from the orders of General Headquarters.

The period of battles for Moscow was characterized by the formation of signal corps that ensured commanding armed forces both in defence and assault battles for the capital in spite of a shortage of equipment. Guard dogs often came to the aid. They were used in conditions of snow in the winter and during great losses of communication equipment. They were trained in a special way that enabled delivery of dispatches and helped in laying cable lines. A stuffed dog with a special outfit and a gas­mask is displayed in the room. Visitors can see samples of trophy equipment. Among them is a German system of a radio set and a tape­-recorder which allowed the enemy to tap into the wire of the Red Army and insert false messages.

The exhibited RAF­KV­BIS was the general radio station meant to provide communication in the link with the "front­-army."

P. Gorelov’s picture The Exploit of Sergeant Novikov near Moscow made in water-­colors occupies an honorable place in the room. It depicts a heroic episode in the war life of signalers. During the battle, the communication link with the regiment’s command post was broken. Sergeant N. Novikov, commander of the platoon’s communication section, volunteered to repair it. He found the damage, but did not have time to repair it completely because he came under the fire of attacking Hitlerites. Firing back to the very end, the mortally wounded sergeant gripped the ends of the telephone wire with his teeth and provided communication to the commanders even after his death. According to the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR, Novikov was awarded posthumously with the Order of the Red Banner.

During the battle of Stalingrad, the task was set before the signal corps to provide uninterrupted communication for the army both across the Volga and in besieged Stalingrad. As a result of continuous bombardments, the loss of signalers in the battle for the city on the Volga was more than in other units.

The restored command post of the rifle regiment with its equipment and arms is on display.

Visitors can see unique exhibits: the original 2 BD­BG telegraph set used for communication between commanders of the General Headquarters and the Stalingrad and Voronezh Fronts, the Trans-­Caucasus region and the staff of the 62nd army under General V. Chuikov; as well as the Olivetti telegraph set, from the communications center of the General Headquarters of Field-Marshal Paulus. This section dedicated to the battle of Stalingrad is crowned with the color of the 11th Individual Guards Signal Battalion connected to the 3rd Guards Mechanized Stalingrad Corps, which made its way from Stalingrad to the Baltic region and was awarded with the Order of the Red Banner.

The Kursk battle was the greatest tank battle during the Great Patriotic War. It differed from previous military operations with its considerable richness of the signal corps and means of radio communication. The display includes an anti­tank M­42 cannon and the first USW radio sets for artillery spotting, the A­7 and A­7B. Artillerists called these radio sets the ‘fifth cannon’ in the battery. Next to them is a TAI­43 telephone set (in a wooden case), which replaced all field sets in the post-­war time. Its modification was adopted in the Soviet Union’s army up to the mid 1970’s.

An individual section is dedicated to the USW radio sets which provided communication to rifle formations in different units from the company to the battalion. Two glass-­cases contain exhibits displaying the development of tank radio sets during World War II.

The battle for the Dnieper in 1943 was associated with the preparation and realization of an extended strategic offensive. It required good communication so that it would be possible to quickly re­group troops from one direction of advance to another, for the forced crossing of significant water obstacles and for breaching the enemy’s defensive lines straight off. The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was conferred to more than 130 signalers for their participation in this battle.

Equipment from this period of World War II is represented in particular by two original telephone sets that belonged to Heroes of the Soviet Union, N. Andreiko and A. Belyi, who provided attacking troops with communication. The display includes a miniature telling about the feat of signaler­-Heroes of the Soviet Union master sergeant E. Kravtsov and corporal M. Voinov. On October 15, 1943, they crossed the Dnieper with their radio unit under the cover of advanced assault groups. For four days they kept uninterrupted connections with the firing positions of the batteries. Replacing each other at the radio unit, the signalers skillfully kept up artillery spotting that allowed troops to keep their place of arms and to launch further attacks.

Communication was especially important for partisan detachments. In 1942, a communications administration was organized at the Central Staff of the Partisan Movement. As a result the equipping of partisan detachments with radios was improved and it gave a possibility for their centralized commanding. It allowed the partisan movement to solve not only local problems, but also strategic problems in the enemy’s rear. Visitors will see the original tent from a radio unit set. A glass­-case displays general samples of radios, both of Soviet production and ones re­made from trophy equipment that provided communications for partisan detachments.

An individual section in the display is dedicated to aviation and navy communication. Aviation was itself one means of communication (an aviation division was included in the Main Communications Administration of the Red Army). Aircraft radio sets for bombardment, fighters and reconnaissance aviations, as well as a model of the U­2 aircraft with an unfolded aerial of the RSR radio set are on display. This aerial, with a length of up to 70 m, was let out during a pilot’s flight from the cockpit, to provide more radio coverage. An event was even recorded during the war when a German fighter was accidentally brought down with such an aerial.

The Shchuka [Pike] radio set is on display as well. It was adopted by middle displacement ships and famed submarines of the Shchuka type. Military operations by counter-­batteries and ship artillery appeared to be effective during the siege of Leningrad due to exact firing adjustment, which the scouts achieved using Reid­-I radio sets.

2BDA-43 telegraph set which was used to transmit the Act of Unconditional Surrender by fascist Germany

Among exhibits in the room dedicated to the final stage of the war, the most interesting are two radio sets. One is the most powerful radio set of the 1940’s, the RAT. The task of providing communication to the General Headquarters from the fronts was set upon it. The other is the RBM portable USW radio set, which was the best of its time. It proved itself with high appraisal given to it by participants in the Great Patriotic War, as well as from reconnaissance of the USA.

The display ends with two exhibits: the microphone that was on the table before Marshal of the Soviet Union G. Zhukov during the signing of the Act of Unconditional Surrender by Germany in Karlschorst and the telegraph set which was used to transmit the text of this act to Moscow. A great collection of colors of different signal units, awards and personal belongings of Marshals of Signal Corps I. Peresypkin, A. Leonov, General-­Major of Signal Corps S. Kokorin, General-Lieutenants P. Kurochkin, N. Borzov, and D. Dobykin are also on display.