Part 4 of the Illustrated Guide. Today we'll be having a look at the signaller, a soldier who enables that most vital of battlefield functions: communication, and additionally serves as their unit's standard bearer. I had lots of fun with this one designing and finding symbols to use on the banner as well as trying to figure out an alphabet for use on the war horn (which is readable by the way though you might have to zoom in a bit, internet points for anyone who can tell me what it says). Up next will be one of my favourites: the lancer, the first of the basitin cavalry we will be looking at. Enjoy!
Any problems viewing these images, you can find them mirrored on my FA: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/thallium/
There are many aspects of the basitin military that make it the envy of the known world and one of the foremost amongst them is its highly trained signaller corps. Communications, as any student of military history will tell you, is by far one of the most important and yet often overlooked facets of a military campaign, with those commanders recognising its importance being rewarded with success which those who neglect it being punished with defeat. Knowing where your own men are and what they are doing is equally as important as knowing where and what the enemy is doing and it is this problem which the high generals of almost a century ago sought to overcome when they created the Royal Corps of Signals. Recruiting from those soldiers who even by basitin standards have exceptional hearing, the RCS's mission is to enable a commander to keep in touch with their troops over large distances on a battle field and vice versa. This is achieved by the use of war horns upon which can be blown a series of notes that correspond to words or phrases. There are almost a hundred "pre-defined" or "quick" phrases that a signaller needs to know by heart, including the call to charge, retreat, turn about and double time and should none of these suffice, the signaller can also spell words out phonetically to enable the communication of even complex tactical information across great distances. Messages are typically passed signaller to signaller who then translate and relay them orally to their intended recipients. As such, ordinary soldiers are not required to recognise the entire lexicon, however they are expected to be able to distinguish those calls which have a direct impact on them in the battle ("halt", "enemy behind" etc.).
Signallers are attached to various units in the army with the company being the smallest detachment to receive its own signaller, typically the most junior members of the Corps. Above them are battalion, brigade and division signallers, each more senior then the last and with a bigger war horn to allow them to communicate across the increasingly larger distances. These soldiers serve as intermediaries, collecting messages from those below them and passing on those that need to go up the chain. Last of all is the Magno Audientium who serves the general and his bodyguard and through which all of the general's battlefield commands are issued. In the case of company signallers (as shown here), they stand behind the company with the optio, the second in command, from where they can observe any developments they need to make their superior aware of and listen for any specific or general orders coming from above that they need to tell the optio or the marshal, commanding, about.
Signallers also serve another important function within their assigned units, that of the standard bearer. In days gone by, this function was served by a specially selected member of the detachment and was rotated through different soldiers as a great honour and reward for impressive feats in battle. With the creation of the RCS however, this practise was retired and the signallers became the permanent standard bearers, a function which still carries great prestige. Attached via a mounting point forged directly into the back of their cuirass to enable the soldier to carry both their weapon and their war horn at the same time, the standard is approximately the same height as the carrier and serves as both an identifier of the company/battalion/brigade/division as well as displaying the honours that unit has accrued over sometimes centuries of service. The banner of the company signaller shown here shows at the top the Illyrion Rosette, the crook and sword symbol that serves as the sigil of the Eastern Basitin state. Below that is the company's identifying number, in this case "14", a point of great pride and much good natured inter-unit rivalry for the soldiers who fight under it. The crimson lower half of the banner identifies the company in question as being a Shieldbearer company, with bright blue designating halberdiers, royal purple for greatswords, burnished silver for longbows, forest green for lancers and amber gold for cataphracts.
The black crosses show the number of battles the company has been involved in and the red "T's" mark out over how many different campaigns those battle took place. The symbols in the lower left and right are distinguished service marks, recognising particularly bold feats of heroism of which most noteworthy is the green laurel Wreath of Exceptional Valour which shows that, at some point in its history, the company stood firm and unbroken and was annihilated to the last man with the standard being subsequently recovered. To be a new recruit or a transfer reforming such a company is both a great honour and a great weight upon one's shoulders: are you capable of such a triumph should the time come?