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EMERS - a valuable resource


Alister J Mitchell GM3UDL

September 2005

If you're restoring a British WS19 Mk2 and are stuck for a coil, you need to
 look at EMER Tels F254/2.  But what do you know about the EMERs and their
 numbering system?  Read on!
The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

The Great War was a turning point in many ways, of course, but in technology it
 represented the first mass use of warlike technologies other than ordnance.  As
 we all know, whatever man makes is sure to break down and in the hostile
 environment of the battlefield, this is particularly true.  So it has always
 been necessary to have experts to fix things when they go wrong, and by the end
 of the Great War, there were four sets of experts; Tank Corps to fix tanks,
 Army Service Corps to fix other vehicles, Royal Engineers for anything in the
 areas of construction, surveying, demolition and telecommunications, and the
 Army Ordnance Corps for nearly everything else, including ordnance, obviously.
 In addition, most fighting units had their own experts to carry out minor
 repairs in the field.

It rapidly became clear that this was not an efficient arrangement, both in
 duplication of resources and in the administrative difficulty of getting
 repairs done in a hurry by several different sets of experts.  Between the
 wars, many attempts to rationalise the situation were made, but were
 unsuccessful for a number of reasons including:

    * The initial expense of making the change.
    * Esprit de corps.
    * The aversion of existing formations to losing a degree of self-reliance.
    * The relatively small size of the inter-war army, which would have tended
 to dilute any increase in efficiency.

In 1926 however, a start was made. The (by then) Royal Army Ordnance Corps took
 over repair of AFVs[i] and some other transport but the Royal Engineers, Royal
 Signals and Royal Army Service Corps continued to look after their own
 equipment and other formations still provided personnel for immediate repair

The outbreak of World War 2 brought tremendous increases in the numbers and
 complexity of technological systems in use and again highlighted the
 inefficiencies in repair processes.  Following a Cabinet committee
 investigation into the use of manpower in the three services, in October 1942,
 the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers corps was formed.  Clearly to
 attempt this sort of reorganisation in time of war was a major undertaking but
 it may have been prompted by the fact that the core of the professional British
 Army had lost the majority of its heavy equipment during the withdrawal from
 Dunkirk and some units were possibly ripe for reorganisation.  The author was
 recently struck by the words of a survivor that he saw "huge mobile workshops,
 beautiful things" being destroyed that they might not be of use to the Germans.

It was decided that REME's formation would be carried out in two phases, the
 first of which would leave regimental fitters and driver/mechanics within their
 regiments, leave RE responsible for its specialist equipment and leave RASC
 Transport Company workshops in place.  Phase two, to complete the
 reorganisation, would be delayed until more favourable conditions existed.  In
 the event, this was not completed for another 26 years, in 1968!
The Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Regulations

Until the formation of REME, information on equipment appears to have been
 issued to interested parties in the form of "pamphlets".  These had long been a
 feature of Army life and covered every conceivable facet of that life,
 primarily as training and reference aids.  In the case of communications
 equipment, the practice was to produce a selection of different pamphlets,
 which tended to vary between equipment.  For example, a total of sixteen
 different publications are known for Wireless Set No 1 in the period from its
 issue in 1933 to the beginning of the Second World War, not including re-issues
 and Signals Experimental Establishment reports.

The SEE and its successor the Signals Research and Development Establishment
 (SRDE) played an important role in the development of Army wireless equipment,
 overseeing projects from the design stage right through to issue.  Because of
 this, they were the obvious source for much of the technical (ie
 non-operational) information on the equipment.

From the formation of the REME however, a new form of document appeared,
 presumably borne out of a desire to rationalise the documentation into a
 standard form which would be used throughout the new organisation.  This was
 the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Regulation, the EMER, which covered,
 in a standardised way, all aspects of the equipment's maintenance. Each EMER,
 is divided into up to ten parts:

        0.      Data Summary
        1.      Operating Instructions
        2.      Description
        3.      1st Echelon Work [ii]
        4.      2nd to 4th Echelon Work [iii]
        5.      Inspection Procedure
        6.      Identification List
        7.      Modification Instructions
        8.      Waterproofing Instructions [iv]
        9.      Miscellaneous Instructions

It should be noted that (obviously) there are no EMERs dated before 1942 and the
 formation of REME.  However, nearly all equipment in use at that time was later
 covered by EMERs.  The complications of EMER dating are considered below.
EMER Numbering

The EMER number consists of four parts, as illustrated by the EMER for 1st
 Echelon Work on the Wireless Set No19 Mk 2 (British), F 253/2, made up of these

F       Equipment Type - Telecommunications
25      Equipment Designation - WS19[v]
3       Part Number (see above) - 1st Echelon Work
/2      Indicates Mark 2 (this code is only applies when marks higher than 1
 exist and was dropped later in favour of using different designation codes for
 different marks)

"Equipment type" is the most complicated element. Research into lists of known
 EMERs reveals that there was a complete alphabet of equipment type
 designations, from A to Z during, and immediately after World War 2.  These
 were allocated in a relatively straightforward way, as may be seen in Table 1

        Code Letter     Type
        A       General Reference
        B       Instrumentation, Beacons and Detectors
        C       Audio
        D       Wireless Transmitters
        E       Wireless Receivers
        F       Wireless Stations (i.e. transmitter + receiver)
        G       Stations, Radio (Larkspur)[vi]
        H       Stations, Radio (Larkspur)
        I       Wireless Transmitters, medium and high power (Larkspur)
        J       Components, Relays and General
        K       Power Supplies and Other Sub-systems
        L       Vehicle Systems and Other Sub-systems
        M       Test Kits
        N       Medical
        O       Radar
        P       Radar
        Q       Line Equipment
        R       FDM Telephone and Telegraph
        S       Telegraphy
        T       Telephony
        U       Telephony
        V       Radiac
        W       Test Gear
        X       Test Gear
        Y       Test Gear
        Z       Test Gear

Table 1: EMER Equipment Type Codes


Observation of the titles of the "A" documents indicates that they do not follow
 the part numbering scheme outlined above, but in some cases the part numbers
 are equivalent to chapters.  Obviously, there was no need for the maintenance
 document part scheme in a reference work on such diverse subjects as
 "Attenuator Pads", "Fuse Ratings" and "Standard Frequency Transmissions from
 the United Kingdom" (EMER A34x).

One final complication in the equipment type code is that you will often see a
 second letter, for example "FZ 256/3" which is the Identification List for the
 Canadian WS19 Mk 3.  The second letter, when present, indicates the country of
 origin, other than the UK, of the equipment.  Only two country codes are known

            Y            United States
            Z            Canada

For some reason, Australia and New Zealand do not seem to have joined in!

The allocation of equipment designations is not simple.  The only general
 principle which is discernable is that EMERs carry a number which, initially,
 seems to have been allocated approximately sequentially according to the type
 of equipment, starting with those in service in 1942.  Thus the EMERs for WS1,
 WS2, etc. are at the start of the list, despite apparently having been issued
 much later.

EMER Sections

At some point, and there are indications that this may have been at least partly
 true from the beginning, the set of EMERs was split up into general areas, the
 most common being Telecommunications, normally abbreviated "Tels"[vii].  By the
 time the formation of REME was completed in the 1960s, there were nine sections

Communications Installations
Instrumentation [viii]
Medical and Dental
Radar and Fire Control Equipment (FCE)
Test and Measurement

The EMER numbers and dates known to the author, plus the existence of EMERs
 transferring existing documents to new sections, allows the following dates to
 be inferred:


Issue Date


Unknown, possibly original

Communications Installations

Unknown, possibly original


Unknown, possibly original

Radar and FCE

October 1954




March 1971

Medical and Dental

August 1971

Test and Measurement

September 1972


September 1972

Table 2: Sections and their Dates
Reissues, Renumbers, Dates and Conflicts

This article has been prepared from two sources, the EMERs listed in Wireless
 for the Warrior Volumes 1 to 4 and the EMER listings on the web site of the
 REME Museum,


All the information presented so far is, to a degree "sanitised", because in
 practice, as might be expected, the evidence is not entirely without internal
 conflict, for a number of reasons.

There seems to have been, right from the start, a tendency to re-issue EMERs,
 with and without different numbers.  A prime example of this concerns the use
 of the optional code at the end of the number to indicate different marks of
 the same equipment.  You will recall that F25x/2 covers the WS19 Mk 2 and
 similarly F25x covers the Mk 1 and F25x/3 covers the Mk 3.  Later, this
 practice seems to have gone out of favour in some cases and by 1944 F25x/2 had
 been renumbered as F26x and F25x/3 as F27x.  However, not all equipment was
 treated this way.

As equipment went out of service, the EMERs covering it were withdrawn and
 destruction of the documents by units holding them was ordered.  At some later
 time, these "released" numbers would in many cases be reused for new equipment,
 as seems to have been the case with EMER Tels E78x which, from 1944 covered the
 R1294 and from 1956 covered the UK/TRR-328.  Notice that the E code continued
 to designate receivers.

Although it is possible in many cases to infer the chronology for re-issues,
 this is by no means always possible.  It must be remembered that EMERs were
 held in loose leaf binders[ix] and that whole and part EMERS were re-issued as
 errors were spotted and changes required.  In the case of the reissue of a few
 pages, this is easy to spot as the replaced pages are marked with an issue
 number and a date.  However, when a whole section was re-issued, the document
 date changes and, in theory, the original issue date might be lost.

So, in reading the lists of EMERs which appear below, note that in some cases
 the month and year of issue is given (mostly from the REME site lists) and in
 others it was necessary to rely on the issue year of the equipment.  Clearly
 this is not entirely satisfactory and leads to conflicts.  However, since the
 whole purpose of the lists is to identify EMERs from equipment designations and
 vice versa this is not necessarily significant.

List of EMERs by Equipment

List of EMERs by Number

[i] Armoured Fighting Vehicles.

[ii] Field repairs.

[iii] Higher formation and base repairs.

[iv] No examples of a Part 8 EMER are currently known to the author, so this is

[v] There is no relationship between this code and the actual equipment name -
 in other words "25" doesn't mean a Wireless Set No 25!

[vi] In the Larkspur and Clansman era, the designation "Wireless Set" was
 changed to "Station Radio", often abbreviated to "SR".

[vii] At present, the author can only vouch for the fact that every EMER he has
 seen has a number preceded by "Telecommunications" or "Tels.".

[viii] This section may have originally been known as "Instruments and
 Searchlights" but, as far as is known by the author, there are no searchlight

[ix] Unlike the American TM series.