No 3 Telecommunication Unit (3TU)

No 3 Telecommunication Unit (3TU) was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) unit which, in its 45 years of operation, received little publicity or acknowledgement. The unit performed specialist communications tasks in strategic and tactical support to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) both in Australia and overseas.

3TU was formed on 15 October 1946 as a separate unit within the command of Headquarters Western Area and was located at RAAF Station Pearce, just outside Perth, Western Australia. The unit became operational on 6 September 1947 with a complement of less than 20 officers and other ranks.

3TU is regarded as the home of the RAAF Sigsops (Signals Operators) trade, and the staff were revered for their high standard of Morse code skills, along with the unit being a significant training base for junior Sigsops.

The Operations Flight was divided into set room, traffic analysis, reporting, non-Morse search and development and training sections. 3TU was functionally controlled by the Department of Defence (Air Force Office), but operational control was effected by Australian Signals Directorate in Melbourne (variously known throughout the period as Defence Signals Bureau, Defence Signals Branch, Defence Signals Division and then Defence Signals Directorate). The achievements of the unit and the high standards of operational capability were a reflection of the cooperation and goodwill which existed between Air Force Office, DSB/DSD and the station.

3TU has made a significant contribution to the Australian signals intelligence effort, both directly and as a specialist training provider. The unit provided the ADF with communications support 24 hours a day from 1948 to the closure of the unit on 1 December 1991. When operations came to a close, a significant era of Australian defence communications ended.

Photographs and historic signals and correspondence


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Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra