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DrFGHobo
Klagenfurt  Austria
Posts: 3
Joined: 2022
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
4/30/2022 4:27:12 AM
Hello, fine people.

I've registered here in the hopes that somebody might be able to help me out settling a discussion regarding US radio call signs and radio procedure in World War 2.

I have been playing a game called "Hell Let Loose" quite extensively in the last few months. The game uses authentic (?) radio chatter recordings for atmosphere, and for the US side it is this audio file: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqRyM8tEdN0 of a unit calling in a fire mission.

Now there has been a lively discussion in the community regarding the callsigns in use in this video. For some reason, people can't decide if the unit requesting the fire mission is called "Hot Dog 7", "Hound Dog 7" or "How Dog 7", and I'm interested in clearing this up, but I need help.

I've found information that units were assigned call signs based on the divisional call sign, all starting with the same letter of the divisional moniker (https://9thinfantrydivision.net/9th-infantry-division-history/call-signs/). However, I'm unable to find information for the call signs of other formations to continue looking into which units are involved in the radio call in question.

There has been a statement floating around that the unit in question is "How Dog", but I'm pretty sure that such a unit name would be bad radio procedure, mixing up two very distinct unit monikers. Maybe I'm wrong in that assumption?

Please, can anybody help me (and the community) out in finding out which units are involved in this?

Thank you all in advance.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1508
Joined: 2010
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
4/30/2022 7:39:00 AM
https://www.afhra.af.mil/
DrFGHobo
Klagenfurt  Austria
Posts: 3
Joined: 2022
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
4/30/2022 9:58:10 AM
Quote:
https://www.afhra.af.mil/


Thanks for the link, but - and forgive my ignorance - what good is the Air Force when this is chatter between ground troops?
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1508
Joined: 2010
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
5/1/2022 6:29:52 AM
When radios became mobile the military developed the protocol for troop-to-troop comms at all levels, then refined that for the specific situation. The Windtalkers came from this, among other things. As the USAAF was officially part of the US Army the foundations were laid for the lingua franca, if you will. When the US military became tricameral the drift began. My brother and I used to confound each other with obscure variations on the common language inherited. (He was 24 years in the USAF, I did 20 in the USN.)

There's a great shot of a Heer radio truck with the operators looking like butch versions of Ernestine the Switchboard Operator.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1508
Joined: 2010
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
5/1/2022 4:41:45 PM
Forward Air Controllers straddled the Air/Ground interface. Protocols are protocols.
Brian W
Atlanta GA USA
Posts: 1189
Joined: 2004
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
5/3/2022 10:01:44 PM
I'm hearing Hound Dog 7
----------------------------------
"Take it easy. But take it" - Tom Morello's mom.
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 660
Joined: 2004
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
5/11/2022 3:36:11 PM
Quote:
Now there has been a lively discussion in the community regarding the callsigns in use in this video. For some reason, people can't decide if the unit requesting the fire mission is called "Hot Dog 7", "Hound Dog 7" or "How Dog 7", and I'm interested in clearing this up, but I need help.

I've found information that units were assigned call signs based on the divisional call sign, all starting with the same letter of the divisional moniker (https://9thinfantrydivision.net/9th-infantry-division-history/call-signs/). However, I'm unable to find information for the call signs of other formations to continue looking into which units are involved in the radio call in question.

There has been a statement floating around that the unit in question is "How Dog", but I'm pretty sure that such a unit name would be bad radio procedure, mixing up two very distinct unit monikers. Maybe I'm wrong in that assumption?


Interesting question and like everything dealing with the U.S. Army it has a fairly complicated and sometimes even contradictory answer. The 9th Infantry Division site gives a very good example of how it would work within a division. Basically, the division code governed what all the other codes would be within the division and even with some attached units. For example, the 90th Infantry Division was UNICORN and the attached 537th AAA AW Bn was UNDO.

There were also codes for SHAEF, not so imaginatively, SHAEF, COMZ, also not imaginatively, COMZ, and EAGLE for 12th Army Group. First Army was MASTER, Third Army LUCKY, Seventh Army was CADET, and Ninth Army was CONQUER. Sometimes the terms FORWARD, MAIN, REAR, or SUPPLY were also appended to senior headquarters to identify parts of the headquarters. Now here its important to understand the organizational hierarchy in the US Army. Units were assigned to armies, corps, and divisions as permanent components, but could then be attached to lower echelon units. However, the codes followed the initial letter of their parent and sometimes used the same code word.

Thus, all Engineer Combat Battalions assigned to First Army - MASTER - were MIRACLE, but followed by the battalion number. The 291st Engineer Combat Battalion was MIRACLE 291. Different engineer units, such as Engineer Light Equipment companies were MARGRAVE followed by the company number, and Heavy Ponton battalions were MAYPOLE followed by the battalion number, but Engineer Combat Group Headquarters were given individual M names, such as MAGNITUDE for the 1128th...but then there was the 1142d, which for no apparent reason was AMPERE.

Similarly in First Army all AAA battalions were MAYFAIR, followed by the battalion number, but other AAA units had individual M names, again with the occasional outlier like QUEENLACE, which was Battery C, 226th AAA Searchlight Battalion.

Corps and assigned Corps Troops followed the same pattern, VII Corps was JAYHAWK and VII Corps Artillery was JAMBOREE.

The thing is on D-Day it was all nice and neat, 26 letters in the alphabet worked well for First Army, but as more armies became operational it got more complex, especially when units first assigned to First Army were reassigned to other armies, because units typically retained their original code name, although there was a slight redo on 1 August 1944. Thus, I suspect that QUEENLACE was probably first assigned to the IX Air Defense Command, which was QUESTIONMARK and AMPERE may have been first assigned to ARMOR, which was XIX Corps...or not, its hard to tell now. Similarly, UNDO, the 537th AAA AW Bn, and UNICORN, the 90th Infantry Division, were actually assigned to Third Army and only attached to First Army for the invasion, so the 537th was never given a MAYFAIR designation.

Armored Divisions followed the same pattern as Infantry Divisions where all units followed the same initial letter: 5th AD VOLCANO, 5th AD Trains VALOR, 5th AD CCR VOUCH, 10th Tank Bn VOICE, However, sub-units could be slightly different if they were part of a larger unit. For example, all companies/batteries/troops that were part of a regiment or battalions used the standard phonetic alphabet code following its parent code. Thus, Company C, 10th Tank Battalion would be VOICE-CHARLIE and Battery A, 537th AAA AW Bn would be UNDO-ABLE.

BTW, that meant that no unit larger than a company/battery/troop was given a code name that was in the phonetic alphabet.

Infantry regiments, since they had their own battalions, were slightly different still. All battalions whichever the regiment were RED for the 1st, WHITE for the 2d, and BLUE for the 3d Battalion. Thus, NOSTRIL-RED was the 1st Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, but for simplicity Company A was just NOSTRIL-ABLE since everyone knew which company each battalion was. Cannon Company, Antitank Company, and Service Company in the Infantry Regiment were - I know, again not very imaginative - CANNON, AT, and SERVICE (sometimes REAR).

Finally, remember your example is fictional, but we now know it could not be "HOW DOG 7", since HOW was phonetic alphabet for Company H. Nor was there any "7", the officer staff positions were 1 through 6.

Hope that helps.

DrFGHobo
Klagenfurt  Austria
Posts: 3
Joined: 2022
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
6/28/2022 11:04:13 AM
Oh man, I almost forgot about that post, and just decided to look it up again. Thanks for your very comprehensive reply, Rich, your help is very appreciated.

One thing though, you said "Finally, remember your example is fictional," - I was under the impression that it was an actual recording? Just thinking that because the German radio (which I can understand perfectly well, being a native speaker) definitely uses authentic - or at least time period-appropriate, since it's from a German Wochenschau or similar - radio chatter.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1508
Joined: 2010
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
6/28/2022 9:51:47 PM
If you don't check the sources you must remember to take the presentation with a grain of salt, say the size of Everest.
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 660
Joined: 2004
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
7/2/2022 12:23:00 PM
Quote:
Oh man, I almost forgot about that post, and just decided to look it up again. Thanks for your very comprehensive reply, Rich, your help is very appreciated.

One thing though, you said "Finally, remember your example is fictional," - I was under the impression that it was an actual recording? Just thinking that because the German radio (which I can understand perfectly well, being a native speaker) definitely uses authentic - or at least time period-appropriate, since it's from a German Wochenschau or similar - radio chatter.


I suspect that given it is in a game and given that the recording makes no sense that it is in fact fictional. Given the American one is fictional I would also strongly suspect the German one is as well.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1508
Joined: 2010
Questions about US callsigns in WW2 video
7/7/2022 9:05:14 AM
"The world wonders."

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