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From Our Home Page Archive:

     Home Page as originally published in July 2015

— This Month —

A Signal Corps Sweetheart

Beauty AND Brains...


Signal Corps Successes

How Seven Signal OCS Graduates Built The 103rd Infantry Division’s Signal Company
Part IV of IV


Happy Fourth Of July! Now, Where Are The Firecrackers?!

- - - - -


Our Association is a not-for-profit fraternal organization. It's purpose is a) to foster camaraderie among the graduates of Signal Corps Officer Candidate School classes of the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War eras, b) to organize and offer scholarships and other assistance for the families of Officer and Enlisted OCS cadre who are in need, and c) to archive for posterity the stories and history of all of the Signal Corps OCS Officers who served this great country. We are open to ALL former Army Signal Corps OCS graduates, their families and friends, as well as other officers, enlisted men, those interested in military history, and the general public. Please, come join us. For more information about our Association, to see a list of our Officers and Directors, or for contact details, click on the OCS Association link at left.

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A Signal Corps Sweetheart

Hedy Lamarr - A Signal Corps Sweetheart 

Beauty AND Brains...

Last month we posted a story that looked at the kind of women who follow men to war, ostensibly to bring comfort to fighting men. The kind of women we spoke of ran the gamut from those who used physical intimacy to bring comfort to the warriors they sought, to those who, having once promised to take care of the heart of a soldier they loved, then dumped him for some Jody down the street. This month we carry the story forward one more notch… and look at one particular “Comfort Giver” who not only brought solace to America’s soldiers during a time of war, but also gave them the technological breakthrough they needed to help them win that war. The lady’s name was Hedy Lamarr, and when God gave Hedy to the world he put both brains and beauty in one package.

Hedy Lamarr on beautyFor those of you too young to remember Bob Hope constantly lusting over her in his Road Show films, Hedy Lamarr was one of the great movie actresses of all time. So great was she, and so renown her beauty, that she was once voted the most beautiful woman in the world.

She was also an inventor.

Born Hedwig Eva Kiesler in Vienna, Austria, she began her career in 1930, acting in both Czechoslovakian and German films. Not a shrinking violet, Hedy knew she had beauty as well as brains. The first she used to advance her acting career; the second she used to finagle her way into business deals usually closed to women of such rarified beauty.

Beauty wise, her fine, milk white complexion, dark hair, blue eyes the size of dark still pools of water on a starless night, lips that pouted like a freshly picked plum, deep sultry voice, and eyelashes that went on forever, drove men mad. That, plus the fact that she played a very hot, very nude, sex scene in a 1933 film called Ecstasy… gave her the sexual vixen notoriety she carried so well.[1]

Brains wise, people presumed she had none… a view that would be proven wrong when years later, in 1997, she would receive the prized Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award (the "Oscar" of inventing), an award given to individuals whose creative lifetime achievements in the arts, sciences, business, or invention fields have significantly contributed to society, or the world at large.

It was her sex scene in the movie Ecstasy however that first brought her to the world’s attention.

Consider the times… 1933… and consider the woman… a tender girl of 18… one of the very first actresses to play a nude scene in a professional, big studio, full scale movie production … one in which she appeared completely nude and then proceeded to simulate an orgasm. The resulting notoriety was off the chart. Made in Europe, when the movie was released producers from all over the world scrambled to the Continent to try to sign her.

Not surprisingly, Hollywood won the race, and it wasn’t long before MGM brought her back to America like a prized possession.[2]  

Once ensconced in Beverly Hills, the studio changed her name to the more elegant "Hedy Lamarr" and put her in a series of exotic adventure epics. In 1938 she appeared in Algiers, then came White Cargo in 1942, and more after that. By far her biggest success was in Cecil B. DeMille's spectacular Samson and Delilah, which debuted in 1949.

Hedy Lamarr - Samson & Delilah, 1949Samson and Delilah... is there a Baby Boomer alive today that doesn’t remember seeing her in that movie—likely as not sometime in the late 1950s? Do you not remember feeling that strange stirring in the pit of your stomach, as she floated across the screen? That feeling that made you realize, perhaps for the first time in your pubescent life, that some women in the world seemed very, very different from your mother?

Hedy Lamar, beautiful beyond measure… but, as we alluded to earlier… beauty was not her strong suit.   

Japanese Signal Corps WWII


Signal Corps Successes

103rd Signal Company 

How Seven Signal OCS Graduates From Class 42-06 Built The 103rd Infantry Division’s Signal Company
Part IV of IV

The 103rd Signal Company, the unit that supported the 103rd Infantry Division in its fight across Europe during WWII, was not a rarity for the times. Many, many Signal Companies saw duty in Europe. What makes the 103rd so unique is the fact that it supported an entire Division, and that it was formed from scratch to do so. Of interest to us is that when it was formed the Officers assigned to lead this unit came straight from Army Signal OCS Class 42-06. They were fresh out of school, wet behind the ears, and only Second Lieutenants. Yet they were still tasked with the awesome job of standing up a Signal Company able to support a Division with well over 10,000 men in it.

It's Over Over HereSeven OCS Signal Officers built the 103rd Signal Company, and in the process built a Company that went on—with their leadership—to support their infantrymen cousins through 34 battles. From the very first day of their landing in France, until the surrender of German forces on Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, on 8 May 1945, the Officers and men of the 103rd Signal Company stood the test. This story follows their test, and this article, Part IV in the series, brings their crusade to defeat Germany to a close.

When, in our article last month, we left the men of the 103rd Signal Company it was early April, 1945, they had crossed into Germany, and were beginning to sense that the war was coming to a close. Not combat engagements mind you, but the war. As far as combat was concerned, with the Allies pressing deeper and deeper into Germany, heading towards Berlin, combat was intensifying… as the Germans fought furiously to defend every inch of their Reich.

Seeing combat operations becoming more intense as Hitler's army moved from northern Germany south towards Austria, to escape the enormous pressure being put on it by the Allies' advances on Berlin, the men of the 103rd became keenly aware that their job was to hold the line against any German effort to consolidate forces for a counterattack, while at the same time they slowly began to shift their efforts from combat operations to occupation support.

In early April, however, the distinction between combat operations and the work of an occupying Army were not that great. Both involved dealing with an enemy that felt that it was not yet defeated, and a local populace both tired of war, and tired of the new threat the advancing American Army presented to their nicely ordered life. Even so, for the men of the 103rd Signal Company it was obvious that a transition was taking place... they were winning the war, and that meant doing double duty... combat support on one hand, while learning how to be an occupying army on the other.

It's at this point that we pick up the movements of the 103rd Signal Company, along the German/French border, where mixed in amidst the panic of war were moments of hilarity and relaxation too.

Champaigne anyone?Among these was an event that took place while the unit was occupying the Saar, Moselle and Rhine Triangle. Working to lay wire in support of the Infantry, one of the squads in the Company came across a cave near Schifferstadt. As they poked through it looking for hiding German soldiers, they were astonished to find it contained tens of thousands of bottles of French Champagne that the Germans had taken from the French and removed to their side of the border. Needless to say, the men of the squad set about drinking a few bottles, until the Lieutenant in charge of the squad caught up with them. He promptly took control of the situation, cordoned off the bottles… but kindly allowed each of the several squads working the area to police up three to four bottles for themselves, before turning the rest over to Headquarters.

One can only assume that the men learned a lesson from this, the lesson being that if you have to go to war you should try to get into one where your enemy makes liquor… beer, wine, vodka, scotch… anything will do, really. 

Despite the respite, the 103rd Signal Company pressed on into Germany. Most of the unit crossed the Rhine at a bridgehead near Worms, after which they fanned out east and southward along the eastern side of the Rhine. From there progress was swift… radio crews report advancing with the Infantry  through Neustadt, Ludwigshafen, Darmstadt, Aschaffenburg, Heidelberg, and Heilbron. In Heilbron skirmishes held them up for a bit, until a message was sent into town to the mayor. He was told to either surrender his city or see it destroyed by artillery. The mayor quickly surrendered, and Heilbron too was taken under Allied control. 

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT



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Continued from left column... 

Gonnersheim came next, then Geinsheim, sitting high on a hazy mountain. Hofsloch followed, a town painted to look like a fairy tale city from Germany’s ancient history. Down, out of the mountains again and onto a flat plain, the men next moved through Iggleheim and finally Shifferstadt. There they settled into occupation duties for a while, in what was termed "J" Area. Nearly untouched by the war that waged around it, Shifferstadt was composed of neat cobblestone streets with brightly painted homes along its length. Along with the 103rd Signal Company and their Infantry companions, the town also headquartered men from the 100th and 71st Divisions.

So rapid was the effort to push deep into Germany that many times the men found themselves out in front of the 103rd Infantry Division itself. In one instance a message center team was sent into a town that had not yet been cleared of Germans. Sergeant Reynolds led the team into town, via jeep. As they rounded a corner they saw in front of them four German soldiers fully armed, with another dozen or so further down the road. Screeching to a halt, Sergeant Reynolds ordered Private Erick, one of the Signaleers in the squad, who just happened to be able to speak a little German, to quickly order the Germans to drop their weapons and surrender. Surprised at the arrival of the Americans, the Germans actually did.

Erick then policed up their weapons and ordered the Germans to jump onto the hood of the jeep. Working as a synchronized team, Private Reuben, the jeep driver, quickly turned the jeep around and the whole lot of them… Reuben, Reynolds and Erick, plus the four Germans on the hood, roared out of town like an overloaded clown car in a circus. 

Amazingly, all of this happened before the Germans down the street were able to react. As for the Germans on the hood, embarrassed and angry that they had not made the slightest attempt to fight back, as the jeep sped off, with rifle muzzles now squarely in the middle of their backs, there was not much they could do except hang on for dear life. 

Levity aside, the unit moved out and pushed on the very next day. The next town they came to was Offenbach, a very large town which the men of the 103rd found littered with burned and battered German tanks laying everywhere. Clearly, Patton’s men had manhandled the Panzer division that had been sent out to hold this town.

After Offenhach came another large residential town, Barnsheim, followed by Hochstadt, Weingarten and Freisbach, with its dome and pyramid steeple jutting up into the sky. There the men found large sections of Nazi fortifications scattered in the fields, with concrete and dirt trenches stretching hundreds of yards in all directions, and dragon teeth obstacles set about to stop the American tanks. 

Read More




Happy Fourth Of July! Now, Where Are The Firecrackers?!

This being July, and the 4th being upon us, how can one not think back with fondness of the first firecracker they ever saw, held in their little hands, and set fire to?

Nehi to a grasshopperThose warm summer days when uncles and aunts appeared, seemingly from nowhere, picnic tables were set up outside, barbecue fires lit, beer broken out for the adults, bottles of Nehi and Coke for us kids, and cousins allowed to sleep over... all of this and more was part of that wonderful, long summer of unscripted enjoyment that only existed when we were kids. Beyond the bounds of happiness, for many of us this first taste of the youthful paradise of summer came when we were 5 or 6… at a time when we were still young and impressionable, yet old enough to form lasting memories of the things we did.

For many of us, one of the things that wormed its way into our memory had to do with those fascinating little things called firecrackers. Today a thing of derision to be hidden from anyone below school age, in our days learning how to handle firecrackers while still in short pants represented one of the passages of youth.

Originally invented in China, it is thought that as early as 200 B.C. the Chinese had figured out that if they roasted freshly cut bamboo it would explode with a massive bang, as the hollow air trapped inside its pockets expanded at pressure.

As time passed, the Chinese discovered that they could improve on this little act of joy by mixing together saltpeter (potassium nitrate, then a common food seasoning), charcoal and sulfur… stuffing the concoction into a bamboo shoot, and tossing the whole thing into the fire. The result was an even bigger bang, one that created not just a louder blast, but a shock wave of expanding force to boot.

And with this, firecrackers were born.

Considering that the Chinese invented paper, it didn’t take long before they figured out the next step in the puzzle... one of replacing their bamboo shoots with paper tubes, and adding a small stick to the end of the thing so that they could convert their little firecrackers into rockets... which (with careful aim) could actually be shot at something or someone... which, in turn, added to the excitement of the whole experience.

What comes around goes aroundOne can only imagine little crowds of gleeful, pigtailed Chinese running around in silk gowns, laughing at Old Ming, who just got hit in the eye with one of these wonderful little inventions. 

By the 10th century the Chinese had developed crude bombs out of their fireworks, and begun attaching firecrackers to their arrows… which they then rained down on their adversaries during military engagements. Not surprisingly, the concept worked. Now, eleven-hundred years later, we have explosives that can be fired into the air and guided toward enemy targets… nothing more than a basic and rather unimpressive improvement on China’s first firectrackers.

Yet impressive or unimpressive as the case may be, improvements on China’s first fireworks continued down through the ages, even up until today. Doubt us? Then imagine how popular you would be in your neighborhood if this Fourth of July you could pull out of your pocket one of America’s new scalable, offensive hand grenades for the kids to play with. Imagine passing it around, along with a bottle of Nehi, or an RC Cola for that matter? Wow, now wouldn’t you be the BMOC at your family picnic?!

What’s a scalable offensive hand grenade, you ask?

On one hand, you could say it's nothing more than a fancy cherry bomb. On the other, well... let's just say that it's a little more powerful.

The truth be told, it’s the product of a program by U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) to develop a grenade that allows the user to determine how much explosive power each grenade will generate when it goes off. In this case, the word scalable refers to grenades that can have different amounts of their explosives removed prior to their being used, in order to produce a different level of blast.[3]

If explosives are removed to the point that the device contains only a minimal charge, then the device essentially becomes a “flash-bang” grenade… something meant to disorient the target rather than kill or injure them. If you think of our Chinese friend, pigtailed Old Ming, if it weren’t for him getting hit in the eye with the firecracker rocket aimed at him, his experience when it went off next to his ear would have been similar to that which a flash-bang device is intended to create. Or better still, think of your son or daughter and what they might experience if the frat party they get drunk at over this Fourth of July holiday becomes the target of a police raid. In such a case, with flash-bangs going off left and right, drunken college students puking on the floor, balconies falling off the side of the building, and police in military style uniforms with protective armor breaking down the door, the fun would be almost too much to handle.

Oh the wonder of firecrackers! What a marvelous thing the Chinese created for our entertainment. And how clever we are to improve on their design by making it scalable!

Scaleable Offensive Hand GrenadeSeriously though... the beauty of America's new scalable offensive hand grenades comes about because of the simple and safe way by which a user can control the increments of explosive power the device offers. By simply determining what explosive power is needed to do the job, and adjusting the number of explosive segments/sections accordingly, the user can increase the potential lethality of the thing.

Generally used in configurations that allow up to three incremental levels above the base level of explosive power, the device can be fine tuned for use to cover a wide range of applications. Want to get your neighbor’s attention by knocking all of the apples off of that damned apple tree that hangs over your side of the fence? Use only one level of explosive power. Want to send him a message to stay away from your high school daughter? Use two levels. Want to send him a bigger message that says stay away from your wife? Then use all three levels and blow up his damned front porch.

Neat, huh?

Japanese Signal Corps WWII



OCS Wisdom

Jan 15     Feb 15     Mar 15     Apr 15     May 15     Jun 15    

Jul 15      Aug 15     Sep 15     Oct 15     Nov 15     Dec 15

July Crossword Puzzle

Army Signal CorpsTheme: German War TermsArmy Signal Corps
Game 1 of 2

Hint: Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.

 For answer key to this month's puzzle,
see icon at bottom of page


[1]  In her first scene… the very first time audiences saw her in the movie Ecstasy… Hedy was running naked through a field. By her second scene she was deep in the throes of a very animated orgasm. The next time Hedy appeared on screen more than five years had passed… she had a new name, spoke a new language and had cultivated a new image. Yet the effect was the same; just the sight of her was enough to stop America in its tracks. As for her original film, Ecstasy, one exhibitor tried to import it to the United States only to have it declared “dangerously indecent”, after which it was “uniformly banned”. The real reason for its being banned however wasn’t because of the nudity in the film, but the pleasure it suggested. Specifically, Hedy’s scenes revolved around a young girl who, having abandoned her much older husband, ran naked with happiness. While doing so she would meet a new, much younger man who would bring her a new, intense level of happiness… as evidenced by the orgasm scene… for all to see. As far as the sensors were concerned, these were not the kind of thoughts that movies should be putting into the heads of America’s young women, and so the film was banned.  - To return to your place above, click here. Return to your place in the text.

[2]  Her contract with MGM was negotiated with her by Louis B. Mayer, while she was enroute via first class ocean liner to the U.S.  By the end of the voyage they had agreed that she would be paid a salary of $600 a week (about $3,000 today), provided that she learned English.  - To return to your place above, click here. Return to your place in the text.

[3] The very earliest grenades were designed around the concept of removing explosive material from the device if there was a need to change its characteristics. By taking this approach, the device could be sent into the field fully charged, allowing the user to reduce its capacity where required but negating the need to carry around a separate package of explosive material if a higher charge was needed. Today's versions are based on a method that involves "stacking" individual explosive segments onto the base body, by simply screwing on the number of additional units needed.  - To return to your place above, click here. Return to your place in the text.



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