Why? Perhaps he and others can flesh out this statement. I was in the Signals in the 50s and only partially understand these words.The Army lot were let down by the Signals lot.
In those days the Signals’ sole officer was Major Cecil Francis Kirby (nicknamed ‘Uncle’). He was a distinctive and most unusual man with his own thread in this Forum, “Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster.” He had been a Major in WW2, in the Royal Signals not involved in active service but in a unit that tested new equipment and recommended modifications to prototypes, etc. He was very skilled technologically speaking and after the war had access to some modern receivers and transmitters not generally available to CCF units elsewhere. For example he had transistor sets (Model 49) a cube of size about 15 cm length in the mid 1950s, a year or so before the immense commercial success of transistor radios.
His background was biological studies (he was an OB) then Cambridge as a medical student, but he chose not to continue with clinical studies and instead returned with a degree to teach biology and chemistry at Horsham, where he continued till he died. A bachelor, he was very fond of small boys and his appreciation of their bodies (anatomy classes) and holding them inappropriately would result in instant dismissal today. But I am pretty sure he did nothing more untoward than that.
His appearance was strange. He wore only ex-army fatigues (as they would be called nowadays). But I did see him in an unfashionable, out of date suit perhaps three or four times in all my years at CH, for very special Chapel Services (eg the Quatercentenary Service in St Pauls). For formal CCF occasions, he was always properly dressed, but never in the dress-uniform that Pongo and a very few others wore for every parade.
Now for the Signals Section. Only keen people joined it; they were all volunteers, who were interested in electronics (in those days 99% of electronics meant clumsy, glass valves/vacuum tubes). All such equipment was very fiddly to use and also fragile. Signals instruction was mainly learning how to carry, operate and repair the various sets, mostly heavy Model 38 sets (50x30x30 cm) carried by the signalman in an infantry platoon. Also one laid and operated a field telephone service and learned and practiced morse. Another single example of a special big, very heavy set, normally used in a tank, was also available. So the Signals appealed to those technically minded and one could learn a great deal in that section. For signalers this was much more desirable than the repetitive drill and field exercises of the rest of the Army CCF. In addition to the standard Friday afternoon CCF work, there were other voluntary signals activities. On Sunday mornings one could send and receive both morse and voice communications with a school in St Helier, Jersey, whose Signals officer, a teacher, had served with CFK during WW2. Once a year there were Signals camps, free because the Royal Signals allegedly paid (I suspect that in fact CFK paid) always somewhere in the South Downs, with plenty of fun and tramping around the countryside maintaining communication using 38 sets. CFK was a competent cook and he lived alone. He spent the absolute minimum on himself and I remember his presentation of a cooked sheep’s for dinner one evening at a camp. Then such a head was very inexpensive. The standard morse level (8 words per min) for which one obtained an official sleeve badge (a circle with two lightning flashes emerging from opposite sides of the circle, all white lines on a black background), was not enough for CFK, so he initiated his own higher, totally unofficial qualification for 15 wpm. For this he invented his own badge, a modified standard badge with the central circle covered with orange wool (readily available for darning socks) and in his very earthy manner referred to his badge as the ‘flaming ar...ehole.‘
He had no interest in drill. The Signals never drilled, nor did he bother with shiny boots and buttons, blancoed webbing, etc for normal CCF activities. But he did insist that all were smart for General Inspections.
Why the poor opinion of the Signals Section quoted above? Was CFK the sole signals officer in Mr Ed’s time? Was CFK too old to run his section properly? Were all the above mentioned additional, most absorbing, often highly skilled activities still pursued in Mr Ed’s days? Was it because of the signallers’ sloppy appearance for normal CCF activity?
A quick summary of his other unusual activities and eccentricities includes his own appearance, the general mess in his large laboratory where in he spent most of every day (encouraging boys to come and perform extracurricular chemistry experiments, biological investigations, receive extra tuition in various subjects including German), his extensive garden, with provision for interested boys to have their own section to grow whatever they wished, to learn about and assist with beekeeping, etc etc. All this and more is fully described in CFK’s thread. He was always devoted son of CH and built a house on Two Mile Ash, which he bequeathed to the school.