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About Us

REARB MEMBERSHIP

20150811_090233-1People join the Royal Engineers Association Radio Branch for various reasons.  The majority are serving or ex professional radio operators, combat signallers, wireless operators, and today CIS Operators.  Mostly they serve in the Army command and control system (C2) as Sappers – handling communications between the commanders and RE troops in the field.  For them “home” is considered to be the RE Command Support Branch (CSB) – a training centre where the Command, Control, Communications and Information Systems (C3IS) are practised and developed.

(There is a long history of signalling in the corps dating back before the start of the corps of Royal Signals during WW1.)

According to OFCOM, the UK Radio Communications Agency, Amateur Radio is often practised by professionals in the radio and electronics field as a method of self training and experimentation.  The RE have traditionally used amateur radio as a method of training in basic electronics, batteries and charging and antenna and transmission theory.  To others amateur radio is a hobby.  Forty percent of REARB members are licensed amateurs.  Of these some are field engineers or tradesmen – typical sappers who have taken up radio as a hobby and enjoy being able to develop the skills and communicate worldwide with radio (or computers) in many ways.

The branch is open to all people with an interest in radio communications and electronics who have the Royal Engineers cap badge in common.  Our branch badge is a version of the RE Badge superimposed upon the crossed flags of the British Infantry Signaller.

Being a branch of the Royal Engineers dedicated to Radio Operators, Signallers and IT People has its perks. Being a national branch of the association, face to face meetings are expensive and there is no local branch meeting space. Some members live abroad.

However we meet mostly On air i.e. by radio.
nteregsThis meeting takes place every week on Saturdays. On air is a radio term  – it means over the airwaves.  We just get on the radio and talk to each other by forming up a “net” (or network). This radio network is theoretically world-wide but this usually means we can talk to each other wherever we are and throughout the UK.  We use the frequencies here at the times listed (although this may vary). (One amateur frequency band is shared with the military and military and amateur operators can communicate with each other).

Listen In

Five or six of our members are regulars and in 2015 a net was open on Saturday morning for 52 weeks of the year.  Anyone with a shortwave receiver can listen in. (It will need to have a mode called single sideband (SSB) as opposed to AM or FM). You can find one here on the web at Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker.  If you listen, you may hear other radio amateurs joining this radio net.  It attracts listeners and invites other amateur callers to join in.

Identification
Members have “call signs” to identify us and our locations. (A call sign consist of a short series of letters and numbers to indicate the country of origin, the type of licence and the date it was issued or its purpose like this:

G or Golf = England
3 = Full Licence
R or Romeo
E or Echo

See here for more info about callsigns in the UK

Royal Engineer Amateur Radio Callsigns

The corps has its own unique call signs to identify it on amateur radio. G3RE or Golf Three Royal Engineers is used by the veterans. G3XRE is the call sign of the Command Support Branch of the Royal Engineers.  GB0REM belongs to the Corps Museum in Gillingham, Kent.

Publicity and Commemoratives
We send a post card to people who make contact with us – they need to send us a report on what they hear to earn it.  This is to confirm and to commemorate the contact and they are collectable. Here are some of the cards we have sent out.  All contacts are logged.

Occasionally we set up Royal Engineer related special event stations. These use special call signs to identify us as Royal Engineers and these usually have a special theme such as an event in the corps history. In the last few years we publicised the corps involvement with Chatham and the centenary of the REA by contacting hundreds of other radio amateurs using the call sign GB100REA and GB200REC. Here are the cards we sent out.  With a list of operators and If you follow the links you can also see the log.  Here are some cards we got back.

Virtual Meetings
Being forward thinking we are also emailing each other regularly about branch matters and use Skype and we have a reasonably new presence of Facebook and Twitter. We are developing this so we can have a digital life.

Meetings
A single annual general meeting is held in Chatham each year during the corps memorial weekend – although this usually attracts committee only.

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Bulletin: 29th August 2016

Item 1 – Subscriptions

A big Thank You to the twenty branch members who are up to date with their annual subscriptions.

If you are in the majority of members in arrears then would you please forward your £2 Annual subscription? You can use e-banking or send a cheque to Mike Gater, the treasurer.

Item 2 – Active Membership

Paying subscriptions is one way of showing the branch support but it also helps us, and the REA to gauge its active members.  Recently membership of ex-service organisations like us has taken on increasing importance, as the health and welfare of the military community and the services which support the military covenant are under the spotlight.

Veterans Organisations like the REA need to be able to respond with accurate information and must be able to gauge their size, and impact and also maintain contact with the community.

Social Media

Social Media like Facebook is a great way to keep in touch and more and more members and non members of the branch are showing up this way. On Facebook the REA recently called for sapper social media participants to keep an eye out for ex sappers who could be in difficulty and to feed back information.

Not a Member?  If you are reading this via Facebook or have just tuned into this Blog, and are eligible to become a member, the branch needs your support – Please Join Here

Active Membership Information

The difficulty of tracking which branch members are Active within the REA was highlighted this year.  The branch can only contribute sensibly to the annual REA Membership Census if it has reliable up to date information.  This year  the branch concluded it must work to improve its membership information before the next census.

With that in mind, all members are requested to please complete the update form HERE.

This will help to fill a number of gaps and improve communications going forward.

Best Wishes,

Stuart Dixon,

Branch Secretary

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Bulletin: 28th August 2016

REA South East Group RE 300 Celebrations at Brompton Barracks

Arrangements for Branch Members only.

As previously notified, the above celebratory party at RSME costs £8 per head.  If you wish this branch to add you to its list of attenders, then please follow these instructions:

Email members at (@) reasignals.net with the names of members and guests and the vehicle reg, make and colour of the car you will be travelling in.

Simultaneously forward any money to the branch account using the instructions in our admin section  (under the official matters menu) making clear reference to your name and including the reference RE300SEPty.  i.e. FBloggsRE300SEPty

No registrations will be accepted after 16th September.

The treasurer will forward a collective payment to RSME with a list of attendees by NLT 19th September.

 

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Bulletin: 14th August 2016

Medal_for_service_in_electronic_warfare_troopsElectronic Warfare – BBC says No Change despite advances in Battlefield Communications

Following training by the RE and R Signals in electronic warfare during the cold war and watching the draw down of NATO forces following the end of it, I was interested to see this recent article in respect of Russian Technological Advances by the BBC.  This basically states that Ukrainian forces were easily defeated by the deployment of search, intercept, location and jamming during the recent conflict.  The article suggests this should serve as a wake up call to the current NATO deployments in Europe, who are trained to react and respond to a different form of enemy.

SILAR JID

 

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Bulletin: 11th July 2016

Neil Bernard Scales Ben Nevis for Dementia Sufferers

Neil Bernard has now completed his sponsored climb raising over £1000 for the Alzheimer’s Society on Saturday 9th July.  His training and the event were publicised via FACEBOOK so if you missed it, and still wish to contribute here is the URL

Well done Neil.

 

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Bulletin: 20th June 2016

On Net

REA Radio Branch in Joint Military Communications Exercise

air cadetsBesides the regular Saturday net this weekend I made a late decision to take part in exercise BLUE HAM with the UK Air Cadets.  This took place on Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th June 2016, as part of their 75th anniversary commemoration.  The aim of the exercise was to test the cadets ability to communicate using HF radio on a band of frequencies, shared with radio amateurs.  The exercise was nationwide and competitive.

The aim of activating G3RE was to show support for this, have fun and see what I could learn.

Choose your weapons….

2016-06-20 17.46.49 For the day I chose to use the UK\PRC320 and on low power, (5 watts) if it would work.  I reasoned this would be a better test of operating skill both ways.  I knew the approach would have two chances.  Either it would work OK if shortwave radio conditions were good, or communications would be very difficult.  As it happens,  my own schedule was limited to a quick test on Saturday, late in the day.  Also two sessions on Sunday morning (interspersed with shopping at the station commanders request.)

Results for G3RE

  • Radio Conditions:  Not optimal.  The prediction chart was showing the maximum usable frequency for short range communications was depressed, somewhere below five megahertz at the time of day.  This prediction was checked out by listening to the band for stations at various ranges and it appeared true.  See receiving below.
  • Transmitting;  Of the three stations contacted, MRE80, MRE68 and MRE43  – 2 were worked on 5 watts and the last on 100w.
  • Receiving;  On the heard list were two stations in Scotland, MRE24 and MRE25 who seemed to be a touch louder than the nearer contacts which was consistent conditions.  The average power available to cadets ranged from 30W to 100W.
  • Station Organisation:  I had opted to use a more difficult option rather than use a lot of power or a more sensitive radio set, one with a rotary tuning knob and digital display for example.
    The easy option

    An easier option

    If you are familiar with the PRC320 you will know how difficult it is to tune across a range of frequencies and locate a signal.  (After a few minutes your fingers will probably be sore and bleeding.  (I exaggerate :).As it was, the cadet stations were spread across the entire band.  I concede – the easy option would probably have increased my chances of more contacts, however to counter the problem of sore fingers, as an aid, I used a spotting receiver, the Software Defined internet Radio located at Hack Green in Cheshire. This also helped me to overcome local noise which has a deafening effect on my radio.

    To report locations, both cadets and amateurs used the amateur maidenhead locator system  (or QTH Locator) to send a grid reference.  On the web I found a very interesting digital map to help me to decipher and pinpoint the stations I heard.  So I also used that, as well as the usual websites, an aid.

Summary of Activity

For a potential total of 99 cadet stations I sensed cadet participation was quite low compared to what it could have been.  I could only see a few stations active at any one time by reading the exercise website.  G3RE was just one of a fair number of amateur stations on the air, and the data from their combined results – published here will make an interesting snapshot of the Five megs amateur band at the time.

The exercise web site made imaginative use of mapping to display locations and data to provide a running score but I felt this was one aspect that had more potential.

Overall this brief period of activity was a bit of fun and I learnt some lessons, especially about log keeping, spur of the moment decisions, station organisation, raising the standard of my receiver and putting up more power.

I am sure the Air Cadets and amateurs involved enjoyed it.  My effort didn’t win any certificates, but my final comment is that contacts with military radio stations are quite rare these days, probably due to a move to UHF secure communications.

G3RE remains open for communications exercises on 5Mhz for both amateur and military training.

Thanks to the air cadets for the opportunity.  If this exercise runs again I would be happy to participate for the duration.

73 de Stu

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Bulletin: 4th June 2016

afdEvents in June

Just to remind you there are several Events Related to the Corps 300th Anniversary this month and its Armed Forces Day – celebrated in various events across the country this month.  A selection of these are listed in the branch calendar.  Did you know you can download this to your smartphone or computer?

On Net.  

For the active radio operators, the morning net this morning was exceptionally clear on two seperate HF Frequencies.  An archive of radio net activity is now available Here.

Looks like the weather is turning fine and our guests this morning are the Gravesend Branch who are here to discuss electronic publishing.

Best Wishes, (73)

Secretary,  Radio Branch

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Bulletin: 24th May 2016

MOD Publishes Annual Population Survey of UK Armed Forces Veterans Residing in Great Britain

REA HQ have advised the above mentioned document is located at their website

Acting REA controller Lt Col (retd) Neil Jordan summarised the document as follows:

Key Points

  • There were an estimated 2.6 million UK Armed Forces veterans residing in households across Great Britain (GB) in 2014.
  • UK Armed Forces veterans residing in GB were predominantly male with over 50% aged 75 or older. This was expected given that National Service ran from 1939 to 1960 and, at certain times, stated that males of specific ages were required to serve.
  • The South East and South West of England were estimated to contain the highest number of UK Armed Forces veterans equating to 28.6% of the veteran population residing in GB.
  • Across UK Armed Forces veterans and non-veterans residing in GB there were no differences in the types of long term health conditions, with the most prevalent long-term health conditions being musculoskeletal and cardiovascular and respiratory problems. There were no differences in the health conditions reported by the working age (16-64) veterans, when compared to the standardised non-veteran population; however a significantly higher percentage of retirement age (65+) veterans (44.9%) reported conditions relating to legs and feet, when compared to the non-veteran population (33.9%). This may partly be due to the physical activities veterans would have partaken in whilst in Service.
  • There were no notable differences in the employment status of working age UK Armed Forces veterans residing in GB when compared to non-veterans with 75.3% of veterans employed compared to 78.3% of the standardised non-veteran population.

 

 

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Bulletin: 12th March 2016

RE300LogoREA Calendar of Events Updated

As its the RE 300 celebration this year and in view of so many RE Regiments stationed in UK its never been a better time to plan a catch up with old comrades. In view of this and to help you plan your trip, a downloadable calendar is available here.  It includes links to maps of the main RE 300 venues.

 

 

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Register for the REA Chilwell Weekend and RE300 Open Day 10th – 12th June 2016

sapper300The RSM of 170 Engr Group is planning a fantastic weekend at Chilwell in Nottingham from 10th to 12th June. Full details and a programme for the weekend are available here.

Branch Members should register in advance for accommodation and meals which are available at a very reasonable price in camp. Local hotels are recommended for accompanying families.  A registration form is available from the branch secretary and needs to be returned by 21st April 2016 to be included.

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In Memory of Spike Bernard RIP

sketch1452116247139 (2)REspects

Spikes family have informed the branch of an Online Memorial where you can leave your personal respects.

Exploits

Also from Neil Bernard is a copy of a newspaper article relating to his exploit in 1970 where he organised medical supplies across the iron curtain for a polish lady in distress.

Follow Neil Bernard on Facebook where he is raising funds for the Altzhiemer Society.

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