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Cable Diagram  Sign in to follow this Followers 0

By Peter Beckett, 30 March , 2008 in Other Equipment

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Peter Beckett Posted 30 March , 2008 


Lieut-Colonel
Thought you might be interested in this diagram from the 2nd Infantry Brigade
AIF diary of Sep 1917. There was a discussion some time ago about cable
heads near Polygon Wood and this shows part of the system in that direction
Peter

Old Sweats
1,488 posts

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Old Tom Posted 30 March , 2008 


Major-General
Hello,
Interesting, many thanks! I note the visual signalling links and suppose the
crossed flags indicate semaphore. I had not realised that semaphore was in
use in 1917. The area there is pretty flat and any signaller in a forward are
would be vulnerable to snipers. Does the diary have anything on that aspect?
Old Sweats Old Tom
3,000 posts
Gender:Male
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Location:Hampshire, UK
Interests:Tactics and
technology

Smithmaps Posted 30 March , 2008 


Lieut-Colonel
Thanks for posting Peter.
An interesting diagram. For those who don't know, P B &A on the key, means
Power Buzzer & Amplifier.
A pair of units that could communicate via an earth spike. Great in an
emergency, but very heavy to carry and could be listened to by the Germans.
Old Sweats This diagram gives a hint of how seriously they took communications, and how
692 posts much work and effort the RE put into it.
Some nights they would have 400 men who were 'out of the line', digging in a
buried cable, overseen for depth by an officer. The idea being to dig during the
hours of darkness, and be gone by daylight in an effort to keep the location of
the wire secret, as the Germans would purposely shell them.
The deeper they went, the more secure it was against shellfire. They buried
'Ladder' lines, which were an attempt to give a choice of path, so if one pathe
were cut, they could still keep comms.
I think the work of the R.E. Signal Company is underestimated historically.
Guy

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Peter Beckett Posted 30 March , 2008 


Lieut-Colonel
The communications appendix that preceded the diagram.
Old Tom,
there is nothing in the diary about snipers. That would probably be in the
individual battalion diaries.

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Old Sweats My great uncle Richard Whiteside was a signaller who was killed by a direct hit
1,488 posts
from a shell 31st July 1917 (see signature)
Guy,
there are some great maps at the end of the September diary
http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM4/23/AWM4-23-3-23.pdf
Peter

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centurion Posted 30 March , 2008 


General
Guy

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All the field telephones and buzzers communicated via a single line and an
earth spike (not just an emergency solution). The Germans were able to pick
up the signal as the AC current on the phones was creating a signal
through the ground that could be picked upon devices known as Moritz
Stations. It was worse (easier to pick up) when the phone was being
Old Sweats
used to transmit Morse buzzes (as was the case over long lines). As the
24,005 posts
Gender:Male Germans perfected the sensitivity of the Moritz Stations they could ‘bug’
Location:The Marches a phone from a kilometre away. Moreover, as the signal was transmitted
Interests:Military history, through the ground, by creating underground saps towards the British
science fiction
lines they could sit at its end and pick up even more signals. One
interesting sidelight to this is that the German monitors frequently
picked up a whistling noise that sounded like the screech of a
descending shell. Known as ‘screamers’ these were at one time thought
to be artificial noises made by British operators attempting to ‘jam’ the
interception; they are now known to have been created by the solar
wind hitting the ionosphere – true signals from outer space.
The buzzers were actually lighter than the trnch phones and were used where
the signal had a longish way to travel. Once the German tapping was
discovered (by a Canadian signals sergeant) strict rules were established as to
what could be communicated over a field line. Important messages would have
to be carried by runner or by visual signaling. Unfortunately signals discipline in
the Britsh army proved to be quite lax.
The problem was eventually solved by the introduction of the Fullerphone
invented by a Major Gen Fuller (not the historian but I think his brother). The
Fullerphone could send Morse over a 20 mile long single wire line and
voice over a shorter distance. On some versions of the device it could
send Morse and voice simultaneously along the same line (effectively
what your broadband modem does only it’s much much faster). When
used on normal phone lines distance was not a problem. It used a DC
signal that was much less powerful than the old trench telephone and
therefore much more difficult for the Moritz Stations to pick up. At the
same time the Morse system depended on a device in each phone called
a ‘buzz chopper’, the people at each end had to synchronise their buzz
choppers, these acted as a scrambling device so that no third party
could listen in. As a bonus it was found that the Morse signals could be
transmitted over damaged lines and across breaks (provided each side
of the break was in ground contact and not too far apart). This system
was still in use, in an improved version) in WW2. It was the first
scrambling device.

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Posted 30 March , 2008


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edwin astill 
Lieut-Colonel N&M do (or did) a reprint of 'The Signal Service (France)' in the 'Work of RE in
the European War, 1914-19' series. Unfortunatly it is not the most readable

E
book on the signal service. Perhaps a challenge for someone with technical
knowledge and a fluent pen.
The Royal Signals Museum is well worth a visit, and the staff are helpful.
Edwin
Old Sweats
821 posts
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Location:Sheffield
Interests:7th Infantry Brigade
(especially 1st Wilts, 3rd
Worcs)

Smithmaps Posted 30 March , 2008 


Lieut-Colonel
 centurion said: 

Guy
All the field telephones and buzzers communicated via a single line and
an earth spike
The buzzers were actually lighter than the trnch phones and were used
Old Sweats
where the signal had a longish way to travel.
692 posts
I have to differ I'm afraid, we must be talking about a different thing.
D3 telephone sets were light, worked on a single line and earth spike, as a
phone or morse buzzer.
The Power Buzzer, however, was a large unit, powered by numerous heavy
accumulators.
I enclose a picture of one which is at Blandford Museum.
To quote Priestley, in the Signal Service France. P227.
Probably the most striking success of all the alternative methods of
communication in 1917 fell to the lot of the previously despised Power buzzer
and Amplifier. The first suggestion of the utilization of earth induction telegraphy
is found in the early experiments which were conducted at the Signal Service
Training Centre in 1915.
Signals were transmitted through the earth by means of buzzers, and were
picked up on an ordinary telephone receiver, connected to widely seperated
earths.
The first practical apparatus used in the British army was contrived at
Vermelles in the area held by the dismounted cavalry division in 1916.
Here two french earth Induction transmitters were installed in the forward
trenches. They were hand driven alternators giving a high note, which was
picked up by special listening sets. These represented the first type of Power
Buzzer.

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He goes on to talk of difficulty of carrying the heavy accumulators, range


inprovements with the introduction of Amplifiers, and the shortcomings of one
way working, ie transmit and listen.
Sorry to contradict you, but the Power Buzzer is a little known, but important
piece of apparatus of the Great War
kind regards
Guy
Pic of the 'Amplifier' set in Blandford below.

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centurion Posted 30 March , 2008 


General
 Old Tom said: 

Hello,
Interesting, many thanks! I note the visual signaling links and suppose the
crossed flags indicate semaphore. I had not realised that semaphore was
in use in 1917.
Old Sweats
Yes but not with flags. Since 1915 a portable shutter based system was
24,005 posts
Gender:Male available for day light operation. This could be operated from below the parapet
Location:The Marches using a periscope for sighting etc. At night the Trench Signaling Lamp was
Interests:Military history, available - this was electric and operated with a Morse key, it had a special lens
science fiction
to concentrate and focus the light. Normal operation was to place the lamp up
on top of the parapet and the operator again used a periscope.
Trench signal lamp

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 Quote

Old Tom Posted 31 March , 2008 


Major-General
Centurion,
Many thanks, we live and learn!
Old Tom

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Old Sweats
3,000 posts
Gender:Male
Location:Hampshire, UK
Interests:Tactics and
technology

6th Hauraki KIA Posted 1 April , 2008 


KAHA
Hi
Lieut-Colonel
Thanks Peter for posting that info very interesting.
centurion, strange the royal signals museum has a late 1930s lamp listed as
WW1.
You can tell by the improved key, the reading lamp, the webbing lid instead on
canvas and 37 pat web style strap instead of leather. I have seen these 1938/9
dated just before they changed to the metal box type.
Old Sweats
579 posts Jonathan
Gender:Male
Location:Auckland, New
 Quote
Zealand
Interests:Div Signals N.Z.E,
Mounted Signal Troop.
Signals Equipment. 6th
Hauraki.

Peter Beckett Posted 1 April , 2008 


Lieut-Colonel
Another diagram from 4th Infantry Brigade AIF diary of Aug 1917. Note the
pigeon locations
Peter

Old Sweats
1,488 posts
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 Quote

Peter Beckett Posted 1 April , 2008 


Lieut-Colonel
This is the schematic for the same diagram. Note the amplifier LD3
Peter

Old Sweats
1,488 posts

 Quote

Peter Beckett Posted 7 April , 2008 


Lieut-Colonel
Found this information in the 7th Infantry Brigade AIF Diary of May 1916
Peter

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Old Sweats
1,488 posts

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