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World War Ii

By Ian V. Hogg

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Originally, only certain letters were identified by words to differentiate them from similar-sounding ones – for example, B, C, D, E, G, P, and Z – and easily understood letters were not assigned words, which were only assigned to all letters in 1938. In World War II the US Army used a different alphabet from that used in World War I, with many letters assigned a different word. The Flag and International Code Alphabet used during World War II was slightly modified in early 1941 by the replacement of certain words.

IWM b14350) 2/3/10 10:06 Page 44 could be recorded, and then transmitted at a higher speed with experienced operators “copying” at speeds of 40wpm and more. An individual telegraph operator’s “hand” could be recognized by other experienced operators; they could not know who he was, but recognized his subtle individual characteristics of keying. This was valuable to radio-intercept operators when identifying a station even if frequencies had been changed. It was also useful to confirm if an operator such as an agent in enemy territory had been compromised and substituted.

By radio transmission Morse can be sent to extremely long ranges, much further than voice transmission, and is usually more “readable” (understandable). It can be manually transmitted at a high speed measured in words per minute (wpm), with an average word being five letters long; a typically trained operator can transmit 10–15wpm, and the record is 35wpm. Operators can usually receive at a somewhat higher speed. A transmission VISUAL SIGNALS this selection illustrates only a few examples of the wide variety of means of visual signaling available, ranging from the simplest flags, through various forms of blinker lights, to colored smoke.

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