Blandford Warrant Officer Class One (Foreman of Signals) James MaCrae’s vision, intellect, drive and personal sacrifice are being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2022 with an MBE, after he designed and planned a new IT system to enable more efficient delivery of training packages for soldiers.
The network known as Defence School of Communications and Information Systems (DSCIS) Enhanced Training System (DETS) enables DSCIS and wider Defence to facilitate considerable and much needed investment in personnel.
WO1 MaCrae, 37, was shocked to learn that he was to become a Member of the Order of the British Empire during The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year and said: “It was a lovely surprise. I was not expecting it at all. It’s still quite hard to take in because you’re just doing your job. It’s lovely to be recognised and it’s something you take with you for the rest of your life, which is nice.”
Refreshing a 20-year-old network so it’s fit for purpose for the next decade and beyond was the challenge for WO1 MaCrae, one of the lead engineers responsible for telecommunications.
The Royal Corps of Signals is changing how it trains its soldiers. WO1 MaCrae said: “When you’re teaching a new topic, you’ve got to have the resources to deliver that training, and one thing we identified very early on was that our current IT is too old and not scaled enough to deliver to the 600-700 students per year coming through.
“This new system will allow us to deliver training to multiple sites across the Army. So students can log in from their own location to do the training instead of coming down to Blandford to do the training, so there’s much more flexibility.”
His citation said: “This project has been his brainchild from the beginning, made possible by his vision, intellect, drive and personal sacrifice to deliver a training platform fit for the modern technical Service personnel that the UK will need for competitive advantage in the information age.”
WO1 MaCrae is married with two teenage daughters and lives in Blandford. He’s been in the Army for 20 years and served on Op Telic in Iraq in 2005 as well as two tours of Afghanistan (Op Herrick), including the last tour in 2014.
“My dad was in the Royal Signals and I travelled with him, with the family growing up,” he said: “We settled in Manchester, and I went to college there, but there wasn’t much there for me, so as I was used to the travelling, I decided to join the Army and take the opportunities that provided.
Read the full Queen's Birthday Honours List here