805TH SIGNAL SERVICE COMPANY
DETACHMENT NO. 4
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII
Detachment No. 4, 805th Signal Service Company was activated at 250 Hudson St, New York City on 26 July 1943.
Captain Roderick D. Andrews joined the 805th at 250 Hudson St, New York where he undertook a course in the operation of Signal Equipment, known as RC-220-T1 or Sigsaly. He had previously worked for the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company at Lincoln, Nebraska.
1st Lt. Samuel R. Van Blarcom joined the 805th on 1 March 1943 and also undertook a course in the operation of Signal Equipment, known as RC-220-T1 or Sigsaly. He formerly worked for the New Telephone Company in New York City.
1st Lt. Joel Daniel joined the 805th on 17 February 1943.
2nd Lt. Robert J. Buist joined the 805th on 1 April 1943. He had formerly worked for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in New York City.
The following Enlisted Men worked for companies as shown:-
M/Sgt. John O. Epple worked for New Jersey Bell
T/Sgt. Alexander E. Warkentin worked for New York Telephone Company
T/4 Eugene C. Major worked for Long Lines, A.T. & T.
Sgt. Merle F. Crowl worked for Long Lines, A.T. & T.
T/Sgt. Earnest S. Hanak worked for New Jersey Bell
M/Sgt. Samuel L. Jackson worked for Southwestern Bell
On 24 May 1943, Captain Andrews, Lt. Van Blarcom, Sgt. Warkentin and Sgt. Hanak left Company Headquarters in New York to report to Colonel Bagnall in Washington D.C.. They became familiar with and prepared to take over the Sigsaly Terminal in Washington D.C., which was then being operated by Detachment No.3 of the parent Company.
Between 24 May 1943 and 15 June 1943 they were joined by L. Daniel, Lt. Buist, Sgt Jackson, Sgt Epple, Sgt. Crowl and Sgt. Major. This was the first assembly point for all the original members of Detachment 4 as a group. The Detachment began with four Officers and 6 Enlisted Men. They had all arrived in New York City by 28 July 1943. Although the Orders forming the Detachment had not yet been cut, it had probably been decided by the Company Commander to later form these members into an overseas Detachment.
Whilst operating in Washington D.C. the first successful overseas contact was made with Detachment No. 1 who were operating in London. This momentous contact, one of thousands to follow from all parts of the world, took place on 2 June 1943.
The Detachment less Captain Andrews and Lt. Buist, left New York City on 29 July 1943 for their Port of Embarkation in San Francisco. Captain Andrews left New York City on 2 August 1943 and Lt. Buist left New York City on 4 August 1943, both headed for San Francisco.
Captain Andrews, Lt. Van Blarcom, Sgt Epple and Sgt. Warkentin left San Francisco for Hamilton Field on 15 August 1943. The boarded an aircraft headed for Australia on 16 August 1943. The remainder of the Detachment, 1st Lt. Joel Daniel in command, embarked on the U.S. Army Transport "Boschfontein" at Oakland, California and sailed for Australia on 17 August 1943. Mr Charles Vaderson travelled with the waterborne echelon. He was probably a technician from Bell Laboratories.
Captain Andrews, Lt. Van Blarcom, Sgt Epple and Sgt. Warkentin arrived at Amberley Airfield, west of Brisbane on 20 August 1943.
The advance party of Captain Andrews, Lt. Van Blarcom, Sgt Epple and Sgt. Warkentin proceeded to make arrangements for space for the Sigsaly Terminal and take care of other requirements necessary before the installation of the equipment. They also made preparations for warehousing of the equipment and the quartering of the troops of the main body. The space for the Sigsaly Terminal was laid out in the basement of the AMP building, which was General Douglas MacArthur's General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area (GHQ SWPA). The GHQ SWPA Signal Center was also in the AMP building.
The remainder of the Detachment, after making ports of call at Gladstone on 4 September 1943, Townsville on 5 September 1943, Milne Bay on 12 September 1943, and Cairns and eventually arrived at Dalgetys Wharf, in Brisbane on 28 September 1943 and disembarked the following day. Mr. Vaderson left the ship in Townsville and travelled to Brisbane. When the ship arrived in Brisbane, the Sigsaly equipment was unloaded and stored in a warehouse at Meeandah. The troops were quartered with the 832nd Signal Service Company.
The installation of the Sigsaly equipment started on 1 October 1943 and was completed by 1 November 1943. Mr. Vaderson left Brisbane for the United States on about 1 December 1943.
On 6 January 1945 the Terminal received orders to close the Sigsaly Station in Brisbane and dismantle the equipment. The move had been expected and materials for crating had already been obtained and sitting in readiness. Orders were issued to each Officer who proceeded to dismantle his assigned equipment in accordance with a prearranged plan. The dismantling and packing of the equipment was completed on 23 January 1945. A commercial trucking company hauled the equipment to warehouses in Bulimba. The Detachment Headquarters were moved from the AMP Building to Warehouse No. 4 at Bulimba where the equipment was stored.
A twenty four hour guard was kept on the Sigsaly equipment until the equipment was loaded aboard ship. Orders were received on 23 February 1945 to load the equipment on the U.S. Transport "Edward Chambers", a 5,000 ton cargo ship for shipment to Hollandia. From Hollandia the equipment was to be transhipped immediately to Manila. The loading of the equipment on the "Edward Chambers" was completed on 26 February 1945 and Lt. Cosner, Lt. Epple and all of the Enlisted Men also boarded the ship which left Brisbane on 27 February 1945 bound for Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea arriving there on 13 March 1945. The troops disembarked the same day.
The advance party of Captain Van Blarcom, Lt. Buist, Lt. Onffroy and Lt. Ward, left Brisbane by aircraft on 7 March 1945 and flew to Sentai Airfield, Hollandia via Townsville and Finschhafen. They spent the first night at teh GHQ Signal Camp and travelled 30 mile by truck the next day to Hollandia where they were quartered in the Base "G" area. Mr. Thomas W. Thatcher, a civilian technician from Bell Laboratories, accompanied the airborne party.
When the "Edward Chambers" arrived in Hollandia, the Officers and Enlisted Men were quartered in the Base "G" area also. The Sigsaly equipment was discharged and transported to the Signal Depot. Most of the vital equipment had been waterproofed and was stored under cover but some was open to the weather outside the warehouse. The drenching rains and fungus and rust slightly affected some of the equipment but not seriously. Some damage was also incurred due poor cargo handling.
The movement of the AMP terminal was in conjunction with a similar movement of Terminal No. 9. Most of Terminal 9's equipment had been installed on the Oil Lighter OL-31 but their remaining equipment and personnel were moved in a similar manner to Detachment No. 4, using the same ships, planes and even military orders. On arrival in Hollandia the same Depot was used for both sets of equipment and both groups of personnel were quartered together. Co-operation between the two Detachments was excellent.
Terminal No. 4 had 271 boxes of equipment totalling about 53 tons and Terminal No. 9 had 200 boxes totalling about 40 tons. A 24 hour guard was placed over the equipment at all times.
Upon arrival in Hollandia it became apparent that they would be there for some time due to the lack of water transport between there and Manila which had only recently been liberated. The equipment was eventually loaded on the U.S. Army Transport "Alcoa Polaris" on 25 April 1945 and sailed for Manila via Leyte on 26 April 1945. The ship dropped anchor in Manila Bay on 5 May 1945 and the Detachment disembarked by Higgins Boat on 6 May 1945. They were attached to Detachment "X", 52nd Signal Service Battalion for rations and quarters in a tent camp in the southern part of the city about one mile from the City Hall where the Terminal was to be installed.
The Motor Ship "Timber Hitch" with Lt. Ward and the Sigsaly equipment docked in Manila on 18 May 1945 and the cargo was discharged and taken to the City Hall where it was stored in courtyards in close proximity to the Terminal site. In the meantime the OL-31 had arrived and with tools borrowed from Detachment No. 9, the work of installing the Sigsaly Terminal had already started. Meanwhile Detachment No. 9 went into operation from the OL-41 and provided Sigsaly for the theatre.
On 19 June 1945 the installation in the City Hall and final testing was completed and a successful contact was held over a land line from Terminal No. 9. On 20 June 1945 at about 10 am, the first overseas contact with Washington D.C. from Manila was successfully held.
Detachment No. 4 continued operation for the use of the theatre until 14 June 1946 when the Sigsaly conference system was suspended by the War Department. The Detachment was ordered to return to the Army Security its classified equipment. The equipment was packed and on 4 July 1946 the Detachment was ready for shipment to the United States.
All equipment was loaded on the S.S. "Marine Panther" on 18 July 1946. All personnel of Detachment No. 4 boarded the same ship on 19 July 1946. The "Marine Panther" departed Manila Bay on 21 July 1946. Bound for Oakland, California, they docked at Yokohama, Japan on 25 July 1946 to removed two patients who had contracted infantile paralysis.
The ship docked at Pier No. 3 at Oakland, California on 12 August 1946. The equipment was unloaded the following day and loaded on to two Railway Express Car Nos NYC 7774 and UP 3078. Personnel and equipment left Oakland on 14 August bound for Washington D.C. on the "Pacific Limited" at 2100 hours.
They arrived in Washington D.C. on 18 August 1946 and the equipment was trucked to Arlington Hall Station on 19 August 1946.
On the 21 August 1946, Detachment No. 4, 805th Signal Service Company (805th Sig Serv Co) was relieved of all property and security responsibilities and the Detachment was discontinued, and all personnel transferred to Headquarters 805th Signal Service Company Pentagon 4D-261, Washington D.C.
I'd like to thank Don Mehl and the late Major Bill Bentson for their assistance with this web page.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 8 January 2015
This page last updated 11 September 2018