Signaller Biography

Home> Signaller Biographies> Bill Biggs

Updated 8 August 2013


Click on photos to see full size in a new window!
At age 17 I joined the RCCS in Toronto in January 1942. After medical and being outfitted and spending a few weeks at the Horse Palace at the CNE I was sent to North Bay, Ont for Basic Training. A few months there and then to Vimy Barracks at Kingston, Ont for advanced and Wireless Operator Training. The advanced part was the early morning rises and doing the obstacle course before breakfast. Then drill, drill, drill, both on the square and in the class room. Finally passed and moved across the road to Barriefield into tented camp posted to 6th Light Anti-aircraft Unit. Then weeks of waiting until around 2 AM one day all Hell broke loose and we were uprooted, marched down to the station onto trains and we were on our way to - as we found out - Halifax.

I was lucky - the ship I boarded was the first Queen Elizabeth and arrived in Scotland 4 days and 18 hours later. I know it well - me and ten thousand other guys - many of whom were seasick. Again onto trains and down South to England and Aldershot. There we learned that 6th LAA had been disbanded and we were taken on strength of 2nd Cdn Corps. 

Again after many moves around Southern England and many exercises we were buried deep in the bowels of Dover Castle where we spent many hours just pounding a key and sending reams of stuff we knew nothing about as it was already coded before we got it. We did get to meet lots of Wrens, ATS girls and Airwomen down there which made for some pleasant hours when we had free time.

Next we were moved above ground again and dispersed around the countryside of the South East coast. It was here we "learned" we were being used as a part of Patton's Phantom Army to try to make the Germans believe we were going to attack across the channel towards Calais. D Day came and the ruse worked. The D Days guys got a foothold in Normandy on 6 June 44 and we joined them on 27 June.

While working with an Artillery unit, providing sigs support between an RAF ground link and a spotter plane while they were trying to knock out a cross channel gun I picked up a few pieces of shrapnel in my head when the Germans decided to return fire. Not too serious and I do get a pension for the experience. I was only LOB for a few hours. But the last piece, I hope, came out in 1975.

While serving across Europe I ended up in NW Germany with 2 Corps HQ. On the evening of 4 May 45, North of Oldenburg in Germany, I was on Control Station. It was a quiet evening and I had one receiver set on the BBC. The announcer interrupted the program and said, "We have just been informed that the German forces in Holland and North Northern Germany have agreed to surrender to the Canadian forces. Further details later." Major Carsley was G Ops officer and was in the tent attached to the end of the sigs van - he stuck his head in and said, "What was that?" I replied, "they just said the war was over for us." He replied, " I'll bloody well find out about that - no one's told us." He confirmed the news and started to draft a message to all units. He asked, "should we code it." I replied, "NO SIR, WE DON'T WANT THEM TO WASTE ANY TIME READING THIS ONE." That original message hangs on the wall just to the right of me as I type this short biography. 

I left the service for a short while after the war and went back to school. Rejoined and was commissioned in the RCASC and served in Japan and Korea in 1951 and 52 leaving the service in 1969, while stationed at HQ in Ottawa, to take up a civilian position that appealed to me.

My wife and I lived and moved about Europe for several years and for just more than eight of those we bought and ran a small tourist shop near Lands End in England. In 1989 we returned to Canada and after a holiday in BC decided that this is where we wanted to spend our "Golden Years." We eventually settled in Comox, BC. But the Golden Years have turned out to be anything but. My dear Dutch War Bride has been in Extended Care for almost eight years suffering from Alzheimer's disease and remembers nothing of the past nor me or our children. 

I am 84 years old now and go in to feed my wife both lunch and supper every day as she can do nothing for herself. There are just not enough staff to meet the needs of people in Extended Care - and I guess no matter how much we complain there never will be.

Take care of each other.