Morse code operator identification

Discussion in 'General' started by Cliff Corderoy, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Hello, just found this forum.
    And apologies for this rather long and obscure question for 1942 information.
    Reading "I only joined for the hat" by Christina Lamb and "The spies at Gilnahirk" by George Busby I understand morse code signals received on a radio, were inked onto paper tape using an undulator. From this, two WRENS would take measurement and plot them onto squared graph paper to reveal the distinctive signature of the key operator. So, how are the measurements taken and how to draw the graph. Apologies again. Cliff (a radio 'ham)
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Re member

    Clive - you are becoming very geeky :wacko::pipe: you OK?

  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    This isn't my area but apparently every morse code operator has a unique style, known as his 'fist' and this can be recognised by other operators. I remember seeing a programme on the sinking of the ferry Princess Victoria during the severe gale of 1953. The ship sent out an SOS by morse code as she did not have a radio telephone and the operator at Portpatrick, the receiving station, said he could tell which radio officer was transmitting. The radio officer was David Broadfoot who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for remaining at his post till the end.
  5. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit Patron

    This piece of kit was not used on Morse,but Tunny, but the principle of getting a printout is the same. Since this system is mechanical there is no detectable difference in rhythm, which you would get in a human Morse operator.
    Tunny used a radio signal modulated to represent the 5 bit teleprinter codes. Each bit (1 or 0) was represented by audio tones which modulate the radio signal. These tones had to be filtered out to determine if each bit was 1 or 0. There had to be no errors in regard to lost characters, else the code breaking would not succeed.

    Enigma was sent by Morse and I believe an experienced intercept operator 'got to know' the style of the operator. I believe it was also used to check if agents had been substituted, which may be the reason for the OP.

    For 'Fingerprinting', see here:

    Special Operations Executive methods to uniquely identify a W/T Operator -
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  6. Many thanks to Clive, Tim and Geoff for the replies. I've been doing a lot of catchup reading in this forum on, Y service, hut 6, Leo Marks ; my domestic's are getting behind with it all. Thank you again. Cliff.
  7. Hello geoff501, In the link you posted it says " Miss Cameron's Section deals with "Finger Printing" ". I know its close to impossible but could Miss Cameron's notes/method/instructions working with TINA, be discovered ? it's a long shot. Cliff.
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    i see you say: "This isn't my area but apparently every morse code operator has a unique style, known as his 'fist' and this can be recognised by other operators"

    I can confirm this from my own limited experience of using morse code in Sicily when RToc signals were very poor.

    After only a very short period of using morse, we were able to distinguish one operator from another by the way they sent individual letters, sometimes, for example, elongating the last part of a letter so that instead of Da Da Dit Da (for the letter Q) it was sent as Da Da Dit Daaa.

    Hope that makes sense :)

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  9. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit Patron

    Try searching for TINA Morse on the National Archives catalogue.
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  10. Hello Ron, Thank you for the post. Yes, listening to the 'ham bands ( even with all the high speed computer generated morse ) an individual can still be noticed. One I have got to know uses a side-swiper, I can pick him out even when he changes band. Cliff.
  11. geoff501,Ah! a resource I've not used before. Will let you know how I get on. 73's. Cliff.
  12. Kew have replied with ".....specific information within this document is not easily identifiable and will require research......" so I'm not sure which step to take next. More advice appreciated. Cliff.
  13. rememberthem

    rememberthem ex member

    I had no idea such things weŕe possible! Fascinating and moving to learn of David Broadfoot. Tho I guess there would be only a few that were likely to be doing the job at the time, to choose from...

    I tried to learn it off and found I forgot it unless I rattled it off constantly and I took about half a minute to go through the blocks as I learnt them to choose each letter and I never understood messages sent as SO fast!

    Of course they WOULD know me, as there would be about 2 short words a minute coming through with expletives thrown in and apologies and Starting again...

    Plus I have learnt a new term
    morse code operators FIST

    Would that have been from choice of punctuation or usual pattern spelling mistakes or choice of words or time pattern or choices of gaps - or all of the above? Mistakes made with spelling etc would differ if another person wrote the message to be sent, rather than sent from the thoughts of the operators?

    Once again, I am left feeling completely inadequate as a human being
    Again feeling totally inadequate

    Those messages are so bewideringly fast but I could imagine I would linger on a last letter ending daaa - in relief I'd managed to remember all the letters in a word and a deep breath before starting the next!

    Was there a pattern of some spelling mistakes or choices of punctuation that gave people away? Though I would imagine you went too fast to pick that up until message complete and you had time to read as complete

    I tried to learn it but unless I constantly repeated the letters in the blocks I learnt, I forgot all but the ones that had a pleasing pattern that reminded me of a riff of music - or the most simple

    I did read a story in an old air force magazine that with the second world war pretty well over, a fighter pilot and pal spotted a friendly naval vessel at sea and flew around it a couple of times in the mischievous joy of young men who were feeling pretty safe, only to get a sour unamused fcuk off message from the ship
  14. rememberthem

    rememberthem ex member

    Sorry I thought I'd erased first reply

    I belong in the 60s I fear
  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    If you want to learn about "patterns" try sending the following phrase.........


    Ron, in a skittish mood :)
    timuk likes this.
  16. rememberthem

    rememberthem ex member

    Does it qualify as a pattern if it takes 20 mins to send and there is a delay because you dropped your How to send secret messages for kids reference book, halfway through a word?

    (skittishly in reply)

    PS How do you cross things out?
  17. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Very funny Ron. If I had ever tried sending that it would have come out as complete gibberish. When I joined the RN, despite not being a signaller, I was supposed to be able to send and receive morse by light at 5 words per minute. We practised by sitting outside with the Chief Yeoman sending messages to a lamp on top of the flag pole. We all passed the final test due to a lot of cheating. It never did me any good as on the rare occasions when I needed this skill my painfully slowly sent message was replied to with a barrage of flashes sent at such a speed that I could never read the reply!
  18. rememberthem

    rememberthem ex member

    I had thought this was attached to the morse challenge. I think it was but on one of the moments when I lost access I must have lost the reply tag and not noticed


    I wondered if you were going to give me all dots but I knew b had both

    So first line is _.. . ... _
    and second is _.. . N is opposite of a?
    So _.. . _. _

    can't remember w
    then i is .. and I can't remember r tho I know I will kick myself and e is .

    And era would be . r ._

    Any awful mistakes?

    U is the only complicated vowel Is it the opposite of b?

    I have had the most terrible time getting online or I'd get online but then couldnt get onto the threads I wanted

    I'm sure its a fault my end. Of late I am almost permanently informed I have no service

    Or I'd get 1 answer done but then not be able to get to another thread and be banging my phone with taps that were becoming finger punches that would qualify as assaults and just be ignored by the dratted machine
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
  19. rememberthem

    rememberthem ex member

    I think I did D for B !!! Cringe of Shame

    So U is opposite of D?

    And apropros first post, while there seems to be all this cleverness in being able to identify the 'fist' sending the message, I recall reading, about 30ish/35 years ago, about a huge scandal and tragedy concerning SOE? in WW2 where an operative was caught and told to send messages or die by the Germans and acceded to the order because they had to put a key word or phrase in message or start of message to make clear the message was safe and not sent under duress and they sent message saying

    send another operative or need to meet another operative or somesuch,

    WITHOUT the strictly agreed words to mean message safe and the missing phrase was ignored and another operative was sent and the Germans were waiting and I think the same thing happened again and possibly again. I recall the absolute horror I felt and the awful desperate feeling of wanting to stop this long ago cock up and helplessly reading of the result

    Wasnt one of the enigma changes by Germans solved by a woman working at Bletchley, who said ALL security depends on the plodder staff at the keyboard and whats the easiest thing? Advance 1 letter or something and they tried it and it worked...
  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    If this link works then you will see why we were taught to send the words:
    BEST BENT WIRE...... they actually sound out the rhythm of a tune !

    If you GOOGLE Bens Best Bent Wire there is lots about it on the internet
    or try this link Morse Code Alphabet - By G4JNN - Bing video
    to hear basic letters being sent.

    Finally, use this link:
    if you know NOTHING about Morse :)

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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