Veteran Stories:
Edward Allen

Army

  • Wireless operator Mac Keays relays the news of the end of hostilities to Universal Carrier driver Private Hugh McKerlain and infantrymen of "D" Company, The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, De Glindhorst, Netherlands, 5 May 1945.

    Credit: Michael M. Dean/Library and Archives Canada/PA-134450 Restrictions on use: Nil Copyright: Expired
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"But we could locate – what we could with this is we could identify the station that was sending it and by identifying the stations that were sending this traffic back and forth. We could, from this information – the intelligence people could identify the units of where they were. "

Transcript

I was born in Mowbray, Manitoba on the 8th of June 1924.  Sorry, correct that.  28th of June 1924.  My father was a station agent and we lived in the house attached to the railroad station.  I was born in that house, so I say I was born in a CPR railway station.  Shortly after that, we moved to Carieville, Saskatchewan where my father was still a station agent.  And when we were there, he taught me the Morse code and I enlisted in the signal corps on the 8th of November 1941 at Regina, Saskatchewan.  I was seventeen years of age at the time and I lied a little bit to be accepted.

I went to Canadian Basic Training Centre No. 32 in Peterborough, Ontario for basic training and after completion of that basic training, I was posted to Vimy Barracks in Kingston, Ontario, the Royal Canadian School of Signals, where I took training as a radio operator.  When I completed that training, I was assigned to 2 Special Wireless Section, Type “B.”  And we proceeded along with the rest of my friends who were on the same course.  And from there, we went to Halifax, Nova Scotia and proceeded overseas.

On arrival in England, we were sent to the southern part of England.  I think, Sussex, or Surrey, one of the two.  I can’t recall exactly.  And we joined No. 1 Special [Wireless] Section, which had preceded us overseas.  And we worked with them on training on intercept procedures and direction finding.  This kind of thing.  While we were there, we were then posted – the operators were posted to the British Royal Signals School at Trowbridge in Wiltshire where we took additional training on intercept work from the enemy.

From Trowbridge, we were sent back down to the south coast of England.  At that time, we did some direction finding from German stations on the French [coast], in France.  Also, we copied a lot of their harbour defence Morse code.  And this we turned over.  We had a staff of Intelligence Corps people with us and we would turn over the material that we had copied to them for further analysis.

A lot of it was Enigma,* which was a German code, and also some three-letter codes and we couldn’t ascertain what the messages meant.  But we could locate – what we could with this is we could identify the station that was sending it and by identifying the stations that were sending this traffic back and forth. We could, from this information – the intelligence people could identify the units of where they were.  Of [those] that were handling this traffic they could identify this traffic and also help to locate their positions in France.

*German cipher machines for the encryption and decryption of secret messages

 

Interview with Signalman Edward Allen FCWM Oral History Project

CWM 20020121-002

George Metcalf Archival Collection

© Canadian War Museum

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