German morse code

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by gold1640, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    An Infantry Battalion signaller was required to be able to read morse telegraphy at 10 wpm and lamp signals at 8 wpm. Section on infantry signals and morse in my website, which you find of interest.

    Joe Brown
  2. PeterG

    PeterG Senior Member

    .... . .-.. .-.. --- / .. .- -. --..-- / .-- . .-.. -.-. --- -- . / - --- / - .... . / ..-. --- .-. ..- -- .-.-.-
  3. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    Sorry I am months late, been engrossed in an earlier WW forum for quite a while, but found there was no reference to navy operator morse speeds.
    An ordinary telegraphist passed out at 22 wpm, to pass for Able rate the op had to be able to read at 25 wpm. As a special Petty Officer I had to pass at 30 wpm.
    The naval broadcasts of the day (50's) generally sent traffic at 22 wpm but in the
    Korean war the area broadcast was sending traffic at 27 wpm because of the heavy
    load on the facility.
    Manual transmission speeds varied from op to op but generally would have been around the 20-22 wpm.

  4. GMB

    GMB Junior Member

    Having learnt Morse code over the last few years and got to a reasonable speed, I have to say that I cannot believe that coded messages were sent anything like as fast as plain text. How on earth did they get messages transmitted without errors?

    The trouble with most codes is that one letter wrong and you are dead. What did they do about this? I guess that with a lot of messing about you could get past an error but it must be really difficult.

    I would love to know just how bad a problem it was and what was done about it.
  5. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    I have a silly question.

    How is language handled?

    If a German sailor wanted to send the word cruiser, would he send the individual letters k r e u z e r in dots and dashes ? Seems to me that would make it hard for anyone randomly listening since they would first have to determine what language was being used.

    Or is this a complete 'non-issue'?


  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As I remember it, if you failed to understand what you had just heard transmitted, you would respond with IMI (Item Mike Item), the code for SAY AGAIN.

    This was immediately followed by WB (Word Before) or WA (Word After) the word you had failed to recognise,

    And that, I reckon, is a bloody good demonstration of what one can remember after 69 years of not even thinking about it !!!!!!!

    :) :) :)

  7. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    In my 'early' days as a signaller it was Ink Monkey Ink!


  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I have just found this written explaination regarding fast U-Boat transmissions, which I remember reading a long time ago.

    Adm. Dönitz demanded regular reports from all his U-Boats.
    German radio experts knew a radio signal could betray the sender’s position, but
    only if the signal lasted long enough for the operator of direction-finding
    apparatus to turn its loop antenna until a “null” was found.
    Cf. movies of our agents behind enemy lines sending messages back to London,
    and Germans in panel trucks with loop antennas on their roofs and operators
    inside listening to locate the attic from which these clandestine signals emanated.
    Skilled operators took at least ten seconds to determine a bearing to the signal.
    U-Boat radiomen recorded their ENIGMA-enciphered reports on magnetic
    wire-recorders (like our old audio tape-recorders), and then played them back
    sped up so fast that the transmitted radio signal lasted at most 2.5 seconds.
    The signal received at U-Boat headquarters in Hamburg or France was wirerecorded
    and played back at a slower speed to be deciphered by recipients.
    Since skilled German operators could not determine a bearing from these very
    compressed signals, they believed nobody else did it. This belief was wrong.

    The Germans did not know about Allied HFDF equipment.

    Many Good U-Boat Commanders realized that transmissions were probably responsible for the large amout of sinkings and so some deliberately never transmitted.

  9. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Many Good U-Boat Commanders realized that transmissions were probably responsible for the large amout of sinkings and so some deliberately never transmitted.

    I doubt that. Doenitz would not be too pleased if his boats did not communicate since their position would not be known. Furthermore they had to radio in any ship sightings and daily weather reports.

    Incidentally, the wire recorder was not used. It was a mechanical system called Kurier, which sent high speed morse at 600WPM:

    HyperWar: Battle of the Atlantic IV: Tech. Intel. from Allied Comm. Intel. [Chapter 8]

    For info on Kurzsignalen or Short Signals methods, see here:

  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Me as well :)

    I first did my signalling in November 1942 and the phonetics started Ack, Beer, Charlie, don, Eddy, Freddy, George.

    That dates me :)


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