127th SIGNAL RADIO INTELLIGENCE COMPANY



By Paul Rounds, CWO U.S. Army (Ret)

History of the 127th Signal Radio Intelligence Co.

I joined the 127th on December 25,1942. I believe that the unit was activated sometime in November of the proceeding month. The company was located in tents at Dodd Field, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. It was basically a tent city for prisoners of war from Germany and Italy. There was a medical company nearby where Lew Ayres, the movie actor was stationed. We lived in four man tents and he used to visit our tent to see Hal Laseur, brother of Joan Crawford. Everyone liked Lew but Hal was a drunk and was eventually shipped out of our company as a security risk.

Our company was slowly being organized and received an odd mixture of personnel. I recall Indians right off the reservation that couldn't speak English. Therefore, it took some time to get us organized for training. Our basic mission would be to intercept and locate enemy units by means of copying coded messages and location by triangulation of line bearings with Direction Finders. High school graduates were selected for Morse Code school. We spent the winter at Dodd Field and were trucked back and forth to Fort Sam for code training until spring when we finally moved into barracks. There was a large turnover of personnel as background investigations were being conducted in our home towns. Most of us were later granted highly classified clearances.

During the summer months of 1943 were kept busy with our selective training and in addition we all took Signal Corp basic. Climbing poles being the least liked phase. In a few months we were all cross trained in wire laying, truck driving etc. Later in the fall we convoyed to Louisiana for maneuvers. Here we put our training to work by monitoring military units and reporting on their units with the 3rd Armored Division. Thinking back, I guess it was pretty good training among the chiggers and coral snakes for the leeches and snakes some of us had to live with hi Burma.

By the end of the summer, we had finished our combat readiness training and left by train for Petaluma, California. There, we were back in four man tents in the hills at Two Rock Ranch a secluded classified post. Our final training was learning Japanese Kata Kana code. This double letter code has 38 characters plus the five vowels. It was difficult and many failed the speed tests. In addition, we learned the sound of Japanese signals and the radio procedural signs used by the operators.

In early spring of 1944, we left from Riverside, Cal. on the troopship Mariposa, a large converted liner bound for India by way of Australia. It was a new experience for most of us and living aboard ship was scary to me. Especially when they cleared their guns and didn't tell us before hand. We traveled alone and changed course frequently in order to keep the Jap subs from lining up on us. Finally, after a two day stop at Australia and 31 days at sea, we landed in Bombay, India. We were then split up with Hqs. staying in India and a detachment going to Kunming, China. I was with Hqs. and traveled by train and river boat to Chabua in upper Assam where we immediately set up training in Kata Kana code with the British and the 14th Air Force. After regaining our proficiency in the code, we made our final move north of the Bramaputra river to the frontier tract of Sadiya. Sadiya was ruled by a British Political Governor and a British Army Detachment and the 2nd Assam Rifles. The Gurkha Co. was assigned as guards for our Hqs.

We established a secure compound on the northernmost edge of the mountainous jungle. A high secure bamboo fence enclosed the area and was guarded around the clock by the Ghurkas. We lived in Bashas, thatched roof bamboo buildings with cement floors. Mosquitoes were a malarial problem and we slept under netting. In addition, large toads were kept to keep down their population. We were very isolated and occasionally saw Tibetans carrying heavy loads on their backs to Tibet. It was extremely hot most of the time and Mt. Everest looked inviting but was too far away to be of any comfort.

After building an antenna field, we set up an operations building. Our intercept targets were mostly strategic in China. The Japanese transmitters had a coarse tone and were easy to identify and not difficult to copy. We worked 12 hour shifts, seven days a week with one day off a month. With nothing else to do, most of us just keep on working.

In July, after the fall of Myitkyina in Burma, we got the call for D/F Teams to go into Southern Burma. I was assigned to a team for Mogaung. We left on a C-47 plane, with our equipment, from Chabua. When we reached Myitkyina, we loaded up on a Jeep train. Jeeps were used on the narrow gauge railway as their wheels fitted over the rail. We set up operations in the bombed out railway station at Mogaung. One day we picked up a Japanese signal that showed a line bearing between Mogaung and Myitkyina. Three of us were ordered back to Myitkyina to join an OSS Team that would try to locate the Jap. We met a Mr. Ables and Major Green who led the Team. We spent a week along the China border in the deep jungle but had no success. Our guides were the Kachin Rangers. Tough little guys, always smiling, with a history of hating and killing Japs. My role was radio and D/F operator. I also carried a bag of opium that was doled out each day to the Kachins. We also carried morphine syrettes. We relied on parachute drops for food or any additional medical help.

In December, I went back to Sadiya and the old 12 hour duty until VJ Day when we all expected to leave right away for stateside. But that was not to be. We were told to pack up our operational equipment and drive it over the Burma Road to China. When we got back, we sat around until late November before we left again by train and river boat for Calcutta. We finally loaded up on a boat in early December and sailed to New York via the Suez Canal. We had traveled around the world and glad to get home.

Unfortunately, I don't have a roster of the 127th. But I do have a list of company names from our going away party at Two Rock Ranch on Feb. 23, 1944 as follows:

Captain John M. Adkins

1st Lt. Silas Hardy
1st Lt. James D. Adams
1st Lt. Charles G. Schober

2nd Lt. Robert W. Poteet
2nd Lt. William R. Coody
2nd Lt. Gordon A. Boltz

WOJG Edward J. Greenwald

1st Sgt. Hugh Davis
M/Sgt Severn Syvertson
T/Sgt Earl McFadden
S/Sgt Dominic Bianchini
S/Sgt Felix Bush
S/Sgt John Dubncki
S/Sgt John Glashan
S/Sgt Eugene Healy
S/Sgt Laverne Moran
S/Sgt John Skrobala
S/Sgt Harold Steltzer
S/Sgt William Thoma
S/Sgt Shiban Namie
S/Sgt Melvin Taylor
Sgt John Hart
Sgt John Haynes
Sgt Charles Campbell


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