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Area Systems Operator

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As a Royal Signals Area Systems Operator you will ensure the formation level Commander, officers and troops are provided with a reliable and secure voice, data and IT connected network. It is this theatre-wide communications system that allows the correct information and orders to be passed between deployed units and headquarters. An Area Systems Operator can expect to be based in specialised communications centres or with mobile units wherever the action is.

AKA as Switch Bitches

Now includes the historic trade of Relay op, who still have no idea about being a Handbag, but seem to be able to "swag it" without any problems!



Trade Structure of the Royal Signals
RS Op AS Op Spec Op Sys Eng Tech Driver Lineman Electrician (ED) Technical Supply Specialist



Supervisory Trades
YofS FofS Supvr (R) Supvr (IS)



For further information, have a look at the R Signals website: Royal Corps of Signals.


Before the Area Systems Operator there was the Data Telegraphist

Data Telegraphist (Not to be confused with Radio Telegraphist (RTG)) The Data Telegraphist (DTG) used sophisticated terminal equipment to provide secure communications for the transmission of data over wide area and world wide networks. Their weapon of choice was the teleprinter which produced masses of paper and punched (Murray code) tape. It involved a lot of log completing, stamping, typing and shredding. Due to the fact that they predominantly worked in either static or mobile communication centres (Commcens), they were regularly called Commcen Ops.

Due to a trade restructuring within the Corps, the DTG’s were given the option of re-trading to either Telegraphy Operator (TG) or Telegraphy Operator (Sys) which later became Area Systems Operator.

DTG’s that were cipher trained (Crypto Ops) were considered the crème of their trade and worked behind steel doors in seclusion. Often exempt from all manner of other duties, such as barrier technician (gate guard). The Crypto Ops were nick named ‘handbags’ because they often walked around with secure briefcases which never left their side, which usually contained no more than a NAAFI growler and The Sun. The phrase ‘handbag’ was often incorrectly used to refer to the DTG race as a whole.

In a static environment stationed at a Head Quarters Communications Centre (Commcen), these were predominantly female environments, the male DTG's were often nick named ‘queenies’. DTG’s could also be found at Tape Relay Stations (TARE), which weren’t nice places.

In a mobile field environment the DTG's worked in a vehicle mounted Communication Centre or Tape Relay Centre. The wheeled version was usually on a Bedford RL or MK or a Land Rover with (fish fry) trailer. The tracked version was in a converted 432 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC). In the days before Ptarmigan there was Bruin.

With Ptarmigan came the Wavell Processor Instalation (WPI), these were extremely cushy numbers and protected by god. While the world outside was either freezing or sweating their gonads off. The DTG’s and a TE Tech who manned them worked in an air conditioned environment with 3 phase electricity. Believe me this was heaven. Their working conditions often mirrored those who worked in the switches. (Not to be confused with switch bitches who worked on switchboards).


Bruin This was the main stay trunk communication network system used by the British Army, before being replaced by the Ptarmigan system.

Crypto Ops A group of people who turned the written word into 5 letter groups and then back again.

Radio Telegraphist (RTG) A trade that utilised some of the functionality of a Data Telegraphist and a Combat Radio Operator, one of the weapons in their arsenal was the Morse key. They were a sort of halfway house between the Data Telegraphist (DTG) and the Special Telegraphist (STG or Spec Op). They were much resented by DTG’s because they were on a higher band of pay. DTG was a B trade and RTG was an A trade, DTG’s didn’t get A trade pay until they were promoted to full corporal.

Tape Relay The process involved converting the written word into ticker (Murray Code) tape, which was then transmitted via teleprinter to the receiving station or to a Tape Relay Station (a manual switch centre or interchange between networks).

Wavell Processor Instalation (WPI) Coming in two variants the WPI(T) mounted in the back of a 432 APC and the WPI(W) on the back of a Bedford MK. They were a mobile mainframe for the battle field headquarters computer system.

Jimmy The cap badge of the Royal Corps of Signals is the Roman winged messenger Mercury (Greek god Hermes) stood on the globe, with its motto Certa Cito. Referred to as ‘Jimmy’ within the corps on the theory that the image for the cap badge is based on Giambologna’s sculpture of Mercury. Giambolgna being abbreviated to Jimmy.

Certa Cito Loosely translated as Swift and Sure