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School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Blurred Lines: Interception and secrecy in World War One telecommunications Dr Elizabeth.

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Presentation on theme: "School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Blurred Lines: Interception and secrecy in World War One telecommunications Dr Elizabeth."— Presentation transcript:

1 School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Blurred Lines: Interception and secrecy in World War One telecommunications Dr Elizabeth Bruton, Postdoctoral Researcher, “Innovating in Combat: Telecommunications and intellectual property in the First World War”, University of Leeds. IEEE History Center, 23 October 2013

2 Innovating in Combat Aims: to help museums, archives, and public to better appreciate the significance of communications technologies and patents during World War One Partners: BT archives, IET archives, Imperial War Museum North, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Science Museum, University of Leeds HSTM Museum University of Leeds and Museum of the History of Science, Oxford Graeme Gooday and Elizabeth Bruton Funded by AHRC School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS

3 Outline Introduction Telecommunications important but overlooked case of non-lethal innovation Issues of security, privacy and interception come to the fore at outbreak of war in August 1914 Contrasting perspectives of WWI telecommunication Cable Telegraph network Telephone and interception Wireless telegraphy and Marconi Company Conclusions 'Are YOU in this?', courtesy of the Imperial War Museum. © IWM, Art.IWM PST School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS

4 Importance of Telecommunications Communications key feature of warfare - need interconnected combat machinery pigeon, messengers, telegraph etc Key issues: speed, reliability, & non-interception - telephone brings benefit? Wireless used since Second Boer War ( ) Symmetrical use of wireless & telephone in Russo- Japanese War (1904-5). Counter-measures taken against security risks: defensive and offensive. In UK outbreak of war on 4 August 1914 & armistice on 11 November 1918 both announced by wireless signals – Marconi School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Transcript of wireless message sent from Marconi station at Poldhu on 4 August Image courtesy of Burton-upon- Trent Amateur Radio club.

5 Cable Telegraphy before World War One School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS 1891 Telegraph Cable map. Image available in public domain.

6 Telegraphy and “Cable Wars” School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Left: Segment of Borkum cable. Image courtesy of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. Right: Map of the action between HMAS Sydney and SMS Emden on 9 November 1914 at the Cocos Islands. Images available in the public domain.

7 “Cable Wars”: The attack on Cocos Islands School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS The two severed ends of the “dummy” cable after the attack. Image courtesy of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.

8 “Cable Wars”: The attack on Cocos Islands School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS The destroyed wireless mast after the attack. Image courtesy of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.

9 “Cable Wars”: The attack on Cocos Islands School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS The instrument room on Direction Island, as left by the Germans. Image courtesy of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.

10 “Cable Wars”: German attack on British-Norwegian cable, 1915 School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Left: The message left by the Germans that attacked the Cable. Right: The two ends of the severed cables with the “mysterious apparatus” still attached. Both images courtesy of BT archives.

11 “Cable Wars”: Zimmermann Telegram School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Left: The encrypted version of the Zimmermann telegram obtained from Mexican telegraph office. Right: A portion of the Telegram as decrypted ‘Room 40’. Both images are available in the public domain.

12 Telephones the Trenches ‘In the summer of 1915 the enemy did suddenly appear to be extraordinarily well informed of all that was going on behind our lines. This was manifested in many ways… Carefully planned raids and minor attacks were met by hostile fire, exactly directed, and timed to the minute of the attack. One day, even, a well-known Scotch battalion took over its new front to the strains of its regimental march, exceedingly well played upon a German cornet’ Major R.E. Priestley, The Signal Service in the European War of (France) 1921, pp School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Wills’s cigarette card from 1915 showing Corporal Cyril Bassett, Divisional Signals, New Zealand Engineers, laying telephone lines at Chanuk Bair, Gallipoli on 7 August Image available in the public domain.

13 Response: Fullerphone Developed in 1915 by Major Algernon Clement Fuller Response (sort of) to problems with frontline telephone communication Who was Fuller? Army Wireless Co, Aldershot in 1910: amplification technique of “Dynaphone” : Claimed unaware of the insecurity of trench communications at battlefront Invented privately in ‘cottage’: technique of chopped up tiny telegraph signals School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Fuller being awarded the Royal Signals Institution’s Princess Mary medal Image courtesy of the Royal Signals Institution

14 Fullerphone Anti-interception telegraphic device by Major A. Clement Fuller in Miniscule earth currents of signal transmuted to ‘noise’ - very difficult to intercept. Claim for telegraphic ‘Fullerphone’ to Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors, 1920 Claimed £21,899 – but only awarded £3,500, due to limited originality, & patent benefits Instead made OBE 1922 and CBE 1941, promoted to Major General School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Fullerphone mark III ( ) with earphones. Image available in the public domain.

15 Wireless Telegraphy – Marconi Company Marconi company innovations in wireless point to point communication: 1897 & : British Marconi Co. patriotically offers wireless operators & training to services. Company allowed government ‘censors’ to monitor all wireless communications – code- breakers in Admiralty’s secret ‘Room 40’. Impact on long-distance wireless stations? No upfront demand for payment. in summer 1915 Marconi’s General Manager complained “not one penny-piece has yet been refunded to us.” BT Archives POST 30/4162 School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Marconi Wireless Station, Poldhu, c Image available in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons

16 Wireless Telegraphy – Marconi Company Map of routes of Zeppelins made by Marconi direction-finders on English east coast, 1916, Marconi Archives, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Image courtesy of Bodleian Library, Oxford. School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS

17 Marconi Company case for reward? Key role in intercepting hostile communications, and “direction finders” tracking German navy and airships Marconi Company entered legal dispute with UK government over unpaid patent royalties in Protracted discussions on six-figure royalty claims: devolved to a private adjudication. Marconi Company: discreet deliberations c.£500,000 Soon to form Cable & Wireless School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Temporary wireless direction-finding station on the cliffs of Hunstanton, Norfolk, c.1915 Image from the Marconi archives, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

18 But what could wireless amateurs do during wartime? “Listen in” – wartime wireless interception and signals intelligence Russell Clark and Richard Hippisley Henry Norman MP Wartime Service Leslie McMichael School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS Richard John Bayntun Hippisley ( ) Image from Mate's County Series (1908) and available in the public domain.

19 Conclusions Case study of battlefield telecommunications interception as driving technical innovation Security and practicality: telegraph, telephone, and wireless telegraph Wartime innovations such as Fullerphone not an immediate nor straightforward response to wartime needs What were the just rewards of invention: Financial, reputational, decoration? What place for telecommunications in Great War commemorations? ` School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS “Through” 1917 Francis Martin, Royal Engineers. Image courtesy Royal Signals Museum

20 Thank you! e: w: School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science FACULTY OF ARTS


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