WW2 Phonetic Alphabet.

Discussion in 'General' started by Owen, Apr 7, 2006.

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  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    British WW2 Phonetic Alphabet
    As directed by:
    HMSO Manual: Signal Training Pamplet No. 5,
    Signal Procedure Part I. - Procedure for Radio Telephony
    War Office 5 June 43


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Phonetic Letter
    Able A
    Baker B
    Charlie C
    Dog D
    Easy E
    Fox F
    George G
    How H
    Item I
    Jig J
    King K
    Love L
    Mike M
    Nan N
    Oboe O
    Peter P
    Queen Q
    Roger R
    Sugar S
    Tare T
    Uncle U
    Victor V
    William W
    X-Ray X
    Yoke Y
    Zebra Z


    Most of us will be familiar with some of this alphabet.
    Some questions.
    When did this come into use as opposed to the old WW1 style alphabet (such as ack, emma, pip etc ) and has anyone the full WW1 alphabet?
    Did the US Forces use this too and when did the modern NATO style (alpha, bravo, charlie,deta etc) come in?
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Aha I've answered some of my own questions.

    British forces 1904:

    Ack Beer C D E F G H I J K L Emma N O Pip Q R Esses Toc U
    Vic W X Y Z

    [The OED has a reference for Beer and Emma dated 1891]


    British 1914, perhaps Post Office approved:

    Apple Brother Charlie Dover Eastern Father George Harry
    India Jack King London Mother November October Peter Queen
    Robert Sugar Thomas Uncle Victoria Wednesday Xmas Yellow
    Zebra


    Royal Navy 1917:

    Apples Butter Charlie Duff Edward Freddy George Harry Ink
    Johnnie King London Monkey Nuts Orange Pudding Queenie
    Robert Sugar Tommy Uncle Vinegar Willie Xerxes Yellow Zebra

    British Army 1927:

    Ack Beer Charlie Don Edward Freddy George Harry Ink Johnnie
    King London Monkey Nuts Orange Pip Queen Robert Sugar Toc
    Uncle Vic William X-ray Yorker Zebra

    U.S. Army 1916:

    Able Buy Cast Dock Easy Fox George Have Item Jig King Love
    Mike Nap Opal Pup Quack Rush Sail Tape Unit Vice Watch X-ray
    Yoke Zed

    U.S. Navy 1940:

    Affirmative Baker Cast Dog Easy Fox George Hypo
    Interrogatory Jig King Love Mike Negative Option Preparatory
    Queen Roger Sail Tare Unit Victor William Xray Yoke Zed

    By 1952 the ICAO adopted a version which with minor changes was adopted by the Allied Forces then by NATO and by the ITU in 1956.
     
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Have you been listening to radio 4? If you haven't this is a huge coincidence as a program on the Phonetic alphabet has just ended.
    'Alpha Bravo Yankee Zulu'
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/pip/dho56/
    doesn't seem to be on 'listen again' yet but I assume it will be soon, what I heard of it between requests for 'bikkits' and 'Nonuk' (yoghurt) sounded very good.
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    No I haven't had the radio on but that is odd isn't it?
    I asked because I had an email last night from my ASH Can Veteran who was a qualified Signaller and that got me thinking about how the Alphabets changed over the years.
     
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Found the German one here.
    LANDSER Home Page

    - Anton
    Ä - Ärger
    B - Berta
    C - Cäsar
    Ch (arlotte)
    D - Dora
    E - Emil
    F - Friedrich
    G - Gustav
    H - Heinrich
    I - Ida
    J - Julius
    K - Konrad
    L - Ludwig
    M - Martha
    N - Nordpol
    O - Otto
    Ö - Ödipus
    P - Paula
    Q - Quelle
    R - Richard
    S - Siegfried
    T - Theodor
    U - Ulrich
    Ü - Übel
    V - Viktor
    W - Wilhelm
    X - Xanthippe
    Y - Ypsilon
    Z - Zeppelin
    Sch (ule)
     
  6. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Missed this one the first time round; interesting to see the differences between WW1 and WW2.
     
  7. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    1944 - NATO Today
    A Able -- Alpha
    B Baker -- Bravo
    C Charlie -- Charlie
    D Dog -- Delta
    E Easy -- Echo
    F Fox -- Foxtrot
    G George -- Golf
    H How -- Hotel
    I Item -- India
    J Jig -- Juliet
    K King -- Kilo
    L Love -- Lima
    M Mike -- Mike
    N Nan -- November
    O Oboe -- Oscar
    P Peter -- Papa
    Q Queen -- Quebec
    R Roger -- Romeo
    S Sugar -- Sierra
    T Tare -- Tango
    U Uncle -- Uniform
    V Victor -- Victor
    W William -- Whiskey
    X X-Ray -- X-Ray
    Y Yoke -- Yankee
    Z Zebra -- Zulu
     
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Jed

    On an earlier thread Owen supplied the following:

    British Army from 1927 (and I certainly remember using this in December 1942 when I first became a wireless op)

    Ack Beer Charlie Don Edward Freddy George Harry Ink Johnnie
    King London Monkey Nuts Orange Pip Queen Robert Sugar Toc
    Uncle Vic William X-ray Yorker Zebra
     
  9. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    These came from a 1944 SFHQ document HS8/381 for the 1944 ones.
     
  10. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    1944 - NATO Today
    A Able -- Alpha
    B Baker -- Bravo
    C Charlie -- Charlie
    D Dog -- Delta
    E Easy -- Echo
    F Fox -- Foxtrot
    G George -- Golf
    H How -- Hotel
    I Item -- India
    J Jig -- Juliet
    K King -- Kilo
    L Love -- Lima
    M Mike -- Mike
    N Nan -- November
    O Oboe -- Oscar
    P Peter -- Papa
    Q Queen -- Quebec
    R Roger -- Romeo
    S Sugar -- Sierra
    T Tare -- Tango
    U Uncle -- Uniform
    V Victor -- Victor
    W William -- Whiskey
    X X-Ray -- X-Ray
    Z Zebra -- Zulu
    it was still the same phonetic alphabet in 1955 ..
    not sure when it changed ..
     
  11. bigmal

    bigmal Member

    What about Y- Yankie?
     
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  12. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    What about Y- Yankie?

    Prize for the gentleman who spotted the deliberate mistake. must admit I hadn't noticed it missing.
     
  13. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Y- Yoke - Y Yankee (Blush - been formatting images all day) Now edited original post!
     
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Post-war, there was a brief flirtation with N-Nectar before it became November.
     
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I had the same alphabet as Ron as a wireless op. initially then it was changed - probably in the middle of 1943 which caused us all to go even slightly more mad- relieved by a great deal of humour as we had to change a number of things in order to accomodate our new Allies- one change we thought uproarious at the time was the fact that any equipment needing repair - we would mark as U/S = unserviceable - this allegedy upset our new Allies and so we had to change our markings to DIS = Disabled .....
    Cheers
     
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Jed

    On an earlier thread Owen supplied the following:

    British Army from 1927 (and I certainly remember using this in December 1942 when I first became a wireless op)

    Ack Beer Charlie Don Edward Freddy George Harry Ink Johnnie
    King London Monkey Nuts Orange Pip Queen Robert Sugar Toc
    Uncle Vic William X-ray Yorker Zebra

    Thanks for reminding me about that one from 2006, I've merged the two threads.
    :)
     
  17. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    I believe the current format was implemented in the early fifties, possibly 1951. However I recall being asked by a BOAC pilot in the 70's what the current 'Nan How' (QNH) was. So some changed sooner than others :)
     
  18. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Just a further thought on the 1942 phonetic code.

    When we were learning this by rote (at my W/T training depot in Whitby) we had to chant it out, just like 5 year olds learning their multiplication tables.

    My still vivid memories say the first para went:

    Ack, Beer, Charlie, Don
    Eddie, Freddy, George (Note Eddie & not Edward)

    Anyone else remember this ?

    Ron

    ps
    As an after-thought if the Morse Code is more your thing go have a look at this old thread: http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/veteran-accounts/33496-morse-code-versus-text-messaging.html
     
  19. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    Missed this thread earlier - there is a usefull page on the "Wireless Set No 19 Group" website Wireless-Set-No-19 Group Archive giving a brief history of and comparrison table of Phonetic Alphabets in British use.

    Noel
     
  20. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    Here's an aide-mémoire that was issued to my father in the early days of the war.

    QVR Morse.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
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