German morse code

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

  1. gold1640

    gold1640 Junior Member

    As someone who has just started to learn morse code, I'd be interested to know at what speed, in words per minute, that the German operators were trained to use in order to send Enigma traffic?

    Thanks.

    --
    Ian
     
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Firstly, Welcome aboard !


    Wikipedia has this to say about speeds that could be achieved but no reference is made here as to which language was being discussed;



    Operators skilled in Morse code can often understand ("copy") code in their heads at rates in excess of 40 WPM. International contests in code copying are still occasionally held. In July 1939 at a contest in Asheville, NC in the United States Ted R. McElroy set a still-standing record for Morse copying, 75.2 WPM.[16] In his online book on high speed sending, William Pierpont N0HFF notes some operators may have passed 100 WPM. By this time they are "hearing" phrases and sentences rather than words. The fastest speed ever sent by a straight key was achieved in 1942 by Harry Turner W9YZE (d. 1992) who reached 35 WPM in a demonstration at a U.S. Army base. Today among amateur operators there are several organizations that recognize high speed code ability, one recognizing Morse code ability at 60 WPM.[17] Also, Certificates of Code Proficiency are issued by several amateur radio societies, including the American Radio Relay League, whose awards start at 10 WPM and are available to anyone who can copy the transmitted text. To accurately compare code copying speed records of different eras it is useful to keep in mind that different standard words (50 dot durations versus 60 dot durations) and different interword gaps (5 dot durations versus 7 dot durations) may have been used when determining such speed records. For example speeds run with the CODEX standard word and the PARIS standard may differ by up to 20%.


    Just as a point of reference, when I passed out as a Driver/Op the speed at which I was tested at receiving was a mere 12 words per minute, sending rate was probably 18 wpm.


    I shall follow this thread with interest.


    Ron
     
  3. Driver-op

    Driver-op WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Like Ron I was a Driver/Op and intially had to pass at 14wpm, but before we went to Europe we increased to 20wpm, which meant extra pay.

    Jim
     
  4. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Hi Ian amd welcome.
    Out of interest what are you learning morse for?
     
  5. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    My Dad was an RAF Teleg. When I was learning morse (airfield beacons transmit a morse identification code at 6wpm) my old man asked me why I was only learning the letters T and E!

    He reckoned that, at his best in the mid 50's in 2ATAF he could send a message, receive another message and hold a conversation - all at 40 wpm. But then he did tell me that he was hot by a German sniper as well!

    Roxy
     
  6. gold1640

    gold1640 Junior Member

    Out of interest what are you learning morse for?

    I've had an amateur radio licence (G6PFX) since 1982, but never got around to learning morse. It's always been something I wanted to do, so as I've been retired for a few years I've decided to have a go.

    Keeps the brain working over, even though it's a skill that's now not really required.

    As for the Enigma part of my query, I've always been interested in cryptography, even though the maths is beyond me.

    I started out as an apprentice with Post Office Telecommunications and was a maintenance engineer on Strowger exchange equipment (and beyond) for years, so the mechanical aspects of Enigma machines have always fascinated me.

    --
    Ian
     
  7. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Hello Ian,

    Welcome to the forum.

    In case you've not already see this, here is a link that is sure to interest you:

    Frode Weierud's CryptoCellar

    I looked at some of the images of original forms to see if a start/end time is given but it does not appear so.

    The only one with timing is Sharnhorst's message; the first part ended at 18:23 and the second, the last message, at 18:32. But since there are only 24 groups of 4, there must have been a break between the 2 parts.

    I will see if I have something more on speeds. I suspect U-Boat transmissions were pretty nifty to avoid RDF

    cheers,

    geoff

    ps I did not get as far as you, passed the exam but never bothered to go for a licence.

    Mike - daft question!:)
     
  8. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    as a operator wireless and line [ royal signals ] to pass out we had to be able
    to transmit at a minimum of 19 words per minute and recieve the same . [ 1952 ]
    when you reach very high speed reading , one as to take it down by short hand
    or typewriter ..the best i could manage was about 22 w.p.m.
     
  9. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    It doesn't offer much, but there's a scene in Das Boot
    where the enigma messages are being deciphered - at
    a very slow pace. I would imagine that it was equally
    tedious to encode them. Obviously I'm not offering a
    movie as empirical evidence, but I think the director
    went to some lengths to illustrate accurate reality


    Welcome aboard, by the way! I hope you enjoy it here
     
  10. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    AHD, thats much like it was, enciphering was a slow two man job. The message would be written on a form by the cipher clerk, like this for U-Boats:

    http://home.comcast.net/~dhhamer/images/message_pad.JPG

    Then handed to the radio man for morse transmission.

    I found this reference:

    "On April 2, 1941, as a 19 year-old recruit, I moved into Potsdam barracks for training in the 3rd Company of the Signals Reserve Section 3. After barely 2 months I was considered sufficiently proficient to be posted with the Army High Command (OKH) as a W/T operator; I was able to receive Morse code at a speed of 100 letters per minute and, somewhat nervous and rather shakily, send at 60 - that had to suffice.
    At the "ANNA" office, Hitler's headquarters near Angerberg (East Prussia) I would be taught to handle Morse proficiently. Happily I at least avoided thereby the worst part of the parade ground drill."

    Georg Glünder

    (The writer gives no further Morse details as he went into radio teleprinter operations on the eastern front, in 1942)
     
  11. gold1640

    gold1640 Junior Member

    In case you've not already see this, here is a link that is sure to interest you:

    Frode Weierud's CryptoCellar

    Thanks, Geoff, I've had a good look over that site, as well as your ******** site. Essential reading for anyone interested in Enigma.

    So, 100 letters per minute, assuming five-letter groups works out at 20 words per minute, which seems to be roughly in the ball-park with the receiving speeds that have been mentioned.

    --
    Ian
     
  12. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    second page of this document (two well known Naval messages) suggests 60 - 70 characters per minute.

    http://aobauer.home.xs4all.nl/Enigmafunk.pdf

    auffallend is die lange der funkspruch mit 53 62 und 54 4 gruppen. bedenkt man dass auf anweisung in einem tempo von 60 bis 70 zeichen pro minute gegeben werden musste dann hatte die mittlere dauer der drei enigma sprüche etwa 4 mins 18 sec betragen - selbst für.

    Rough Google translate:

    striking is the claim of the functional groups with a long 53, 62 and 54 4s considering that on instruction at a pace of 60 to 70 letters per minute had to be given amount to the average duration of the three enigma messages about 4 mins 18 seconds
     
  13. gold1640

    gold1640 Junior Member

    second page of this document (two well known Naval messages) suggests 60 - 70 characters per minute.

    http://aobauer.home.xs4all.nl/Enigmafunk.pdf


    Interesting, Note 6 expands this to suggest not going above 80-90 charactors per minute, so 60 - 70 would suggest around 12 - 14 words per minute (assuming 5-charactor groups), although using 4-charactor groups would suggest 15 - 18 words per minute.

    --
    Ian
     
  14. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    GOLD .just out of curiosity , how are you teaching yourself or being taught the
    morse code ..have you got a morse key ?...
     
  15. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    ...although using 4-character groups...
    Ian
    Naval messages were always groups of 4. Heer and Luftwaffe used groups of 5. I guess there was a limit on speed to make sure the message got through and was read at the receiver.
     
  16. gold1640

    gold1640 Junior Member

    just out of curiosity , how are you teaching yourself or being taught the morse code ..have you got a morse key ?...

    I've gone for the Koch method with software from G4FON at A Morse Trainer using the Koch method

    Haven't got a morse key yet.

    --
    Ian
     
  17. gold1640

    gold1640 Junior Member

    I guess there was a limit on speed to make sure the message got through and was read at the receiver.

    Yes, I suppose there is an 'optimal' speed when you consider the problems of receiving morse through noise, fading, interference, etc., although you don't want to stay on the air too long in a dangerous situation.

    Straying off the subject matter only slightly, I'm re-reading Leo Marks' 'Between Silk and Cyanide' - the SOE agents must have been constantly on edge waiting for the door to be kicked in when they were sending.

    --
    Ian
     
  18. Driver-op

    Driver-op WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    When I was an Air Cadet prior to joining the army I was taught Morse by an instructor who sent us Robbie Burns 'The Lass Who Made My Bed'. Needless to say we were anxious to get it all down but were unable to guess what letter would come next, made us very keen. That's how I became a wireless operator!
    Jim
     
  19. BC610E

    BC610E Junior Member

    I found this reference:

    "On April 2, 1941, as a 19 year-old recruit, I moved into Potsdam barracks for training in the 3rd Company of the Signals Reserve Section 3. After barely 2 months I was considered sufficiently proficient to be posted with the Army High Command (OKH) as a W/T operator; I was able to receive Morse code at a speed of 100 letters per minute and, somewhat nervous and rather shakily, send at 60 - that had to suffice.
    At the "ANNA" office, Hitler's headquarters near Angerberg (East Prussia) I would be taught to handle Morse proficiently. Happily I at least avoided thereby the worst part of the parade ground drill."

    Georg Glünder



    Hi,

    Assuming Georg was sending code groups, possibly 4 characters per group or maybe 5, you would have to divide that 100 lpm by 4 or 5 to get an approx "words per minute" figure. If it was 5 letter code then he was doing about 20wpm on receive or 25 if using 4 letter code. With code groups, accuracy would be paramount, perhaps much more so than speed. One mis-sent letter might delay decoding or make it impossible.

    Good luck with learning The Code, quiet a feat at retirement age:D! Glad I did mine back in my teens, I don't think my brain would handle it now.

    73 as we say in Morse,

    BC610E
     
  20. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

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