longer a unit organized for operations in the field, but for a complex role of construction and maintenance of installations and domestic services.
To back up this field engineer regiment a number of ancillary units were formed with personnel and equipment selected to suit the particular needs of the Force.
51 PORT DETACHMENT, ROYAL ENGINEERS was formed at Marchwood out of 51 Port Squadron, Royal Engineers, early in 1956 with a strength of two officers and 45 men. Its role was to provide stevedores for discharge and loading of vessels at the anchorage and to furnish a nucleus of skilled labour ashore to supervise discharge or loading craft alongside. The detachment worked under the
control of the Port Commandant (Q Movements). The men to form the unit were chosen from those who had at least three trades, or experience of three trades, in order to make the unit very flexible and enable it to direct all its manpower on to one task if necessary.
504 POSTAL UNIT, ROYAL ENGINEERS was split into two parts, the main detachment being stationed on Christmas Island, and a small detachment at Hickham Air Force Base at Honolulu to look after mail for the RAF. Honolulu Detachment and to organize the passing of the mail from the Christmas Island shuttle aircraft to the United States Post Office.
It is no exaggeration to say that the contribution that this very small unit has made to the morale and well-being of those taking part in the Operation has been out of all proportion to its size.
2 SPECIAL AIR FORMATION SIGNAL TROOP, ROYAL
SIGNALS-strength two officers and 48 men-was formed on 1st April, 1956, by 1st Infantry Division Signal Regiment from a nucleus of 12 volunteers from 2nd Tactical Air Force Air Formation Signals. The remaining 37 members of the troop, many of whom were also volunteers, joined from 1st Infantry Division Signal Regiment and other Royal Signals units in England.
During the first six months on Christmas Island the troop was employed in providing communications for the port, the engineer construction sites at the main airfield, the auxiliary airstrip and the island administrative area. Over the period of the following six months the operational line communication system was built, providing multi-position exchanges at the Joint Operation Centre and Main Airfield, with greatly expanded trunk facilities, and two controls were installed one acting as the Island Line Fault Control. These system controls made possible quick re-routing of trunk circuits and emergency switching of the long radio control lines.
In all, the troop laid and maintained 360 miles of cable including 95 miles of
high-quality circuits and installed four telephone exchanges comprising seven 65-line positions and approximately 350 G.P.O. telephones.
In addition it has throughout assisted the Royal Navy in the laying and maintaining of submarine cables to ships lying off the port.
A special ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS SERVICES UNIT was organized into an amphibious vehicle platoon, together with supply and
P.O.L. detachments: its total strength was two officers and 36 men.
The whole unit joined 28 Field Engineer Regiment at Erlestoke on 22nd May, 1956, all its personnel having been specially selected.
The main functions of the amphibious platoon of 10 D.U.K.W.'s was to