Photo by Phillip the Pilgrim
A member of the Signal Corps raises the flag.
By: THL Christophe of Grey
Picture the Pennsic battle field with 700 to 1000 fighters per side. A hold is called, then the battle resumes. But only those fighters near the marshal calling LAY ON are ready to engage while farther out on the field some fighters have their helms off or are taking a water break. Enter the Pennsic Signal Corps. At Pennsic 24, Professor Pieter van Doorn was appointed Field Marshal by Duke Jafar, Earl Marshal of Midrealm, and the Pennsic Signal Corps was born.
The main purpose of the Signal Corps is to provide field wide communication between all marshals overseeing the combat, to coordinate with the gunners firing off the cannon, and to keep time of the battle. This is all accomplished using flags. During field battles, they are displayed from the left tower of the fort. During fort battles, they are displayed on the hill behind the fort so that they are visible to all on the battlefield.
Marshals on the field are under the direction of the head Field Marshal, Marshal 1, with a deputy, Marshal 2. If Marshal 1 is from the Middle, then Marshal 2 is from the East. Marshal 2 becomes Marshal 1 the following year. In this manner the position rotates between Middle and East each year. When a hold is called on the field, all marshals hold their marshal sticks horizontally over their heads.
In preparation to resume battle the Signal Corps displays a yellow flag indicating Rise If Able. If there is an issue requiring more time the field marshals wave their sticks indicating not ready. If all are good to go a green flag is displayed indicating Make Ready. When the Signal Corps flag person drops the green and yellow flags the LAY ON command is issued and field marshals drop their marshal sticks.
If an injury has occurred, Marshal 1 uses a radio to call EMS onto the field as needed. If a long hold is called, display of a blue flag indicates water bearers may enter the field to water fighters. When the blue flag is held horizontal water bearers must clear the field.
While all this may seem complicated, this system coordinates battle field activities, prevents fighters engaging if not prepared, prevents water bearers or EMS personnel from being on the field during action, and provides battle field wide communication. For the woods battle, use of flags is obviously not possible due to lack of visibility. However, the Signal Corps still performs the same duties via radio communication.
The Signal Corps consists of five to six people for each battle. They wear black tabards with yellow trim and the herald’s device on the front. Members of the Signal Corps are people who are interested in the battles but are not participants. Additional requirements include being physically able to carry things, being able to work in a team environment, dressing appropriately (no open-toed footwear), being aware of their surroundings, and availability from about one hour before to half an hour after battles.
Of course, the major advantage is that you will have a front row seat for the action. The Signal Corps is now lead by Nicholas of Windreach. If you would like to volunteer for this exciting opportunity leave a message for Nicholas with your contact information at Information Point and he will contact you.