International Morse Code Day.....

I'd heard that the other way round - operators, after carrying the heavy radio (in a suitcase), had 'lost' their 'fist'.

Hence questions being asked on the receiving side whether it was actually Agent X sending, or he had been captured/turned.
I daresay both happened. you can imagine that SOE operators who travelled or relocated would try to disguise their fist, to frustrate kraut intelligence efforts. At other times, an unexpected fist change would cause concern to the home side.


Book Reviewer
He is sending with his left hand almost behind his back at about 22 wpm (I could manage to take about 18 at the time, though it wasn't my trade, so was able to give a pretty good guess). Under normal conditions, as long as the op at the other end could handle it, as Morse definitely 'takes two to tango' he could do 32. All the ops were good because of the fact that unlike most TG Ops, it was the 'day job', but this guy was a natural.
As a bunting, my Morse was never going to be much faster than ten wpm. You can't work a ten inch projector too much faster than that.

When one of the ROSM's at DRAKE came into our classroom one day where us babies were listening to Morse tapes, he said:

' God I thought it was sonar'

true dit dat.

Our CPO RS was also a radio ham in his private life ( Ginger Jones) and he had one of those twitcher keys. He could send at around 30 wpm - but as you said, it takes two to tango. No damn use if the guy at the other end can't read it.
Last edited:
To aid those duffers who would like to follow this thread, this link shows a listing of some Q and Z shorthand codes. It isn't complete by any means, and even ZBA is missing. But you can get the idea.

Royal Signals - Q-Z Codes.

Roger so far ?

Still used as audio identifiers for ndb/vor in aviation.

@Toastie do any proper pilots actually use these? I never at ppl level.can see how they’d be useful though in certain circumstances.
I've navigated all over the world by VOR/DME and NDB.

But that was in FSX Gold Edition! It is quite a challenge as the beacons range is typically no more than 100 miles. It's why your Bendix King radio has active and standby frequencies for NAV and voice
QSA ? - I still get the odd Message on my Mobile from ex - 216 & 613 (?) lads , always ending with QSA , whether voice or Msg...old habits , die hard , eh ? ;)
63 :) Probably more likely to be QSL. That's what they generally send me: QSL card - Wikipedia
QSL card derived its name from the Q code "QSL". A Q code message can stand for a statement or a question (when the code is followed by a question mark). In this case, 'QSL?' (note the question mark) means "Do you confirm receipt of my transmission?" while 'QSL' (without a question mark) means "I confirm receipt of your transmission.".
I was knocking out 20wpm+ send and receive quite easily back in 1972 in training at Harrogate. Unfortunately, I fractured my primary wrist in 4th term (slipped on some ice) and was never the same standard again, although I managed to pass out as a fully fledged RTG in summer 73.
Didn't use it much at all (apart from on my Class 1 course) and have never really felt the urge to give it another go for decades.
I reckon I'll try out one of those sites linked in the thread - it must be good for the aging grey matter!
What kind of distances did you military chaps used to work on HF?
Personally, the longest I recall was Kenya to Cyprus. Generally it depended on the Ex area and where we were communicating to. Stirling and Lancaster to Portsmouth.
Aunt Edna, left school at 14 joined the Railways as a telegerphist worked through the war and on into fifties. Could still bat out very rude words at 80+ (years not wpm.)

What kind of distances did you military chaps used to work on HF?
Usually the most inconvenient, like 20 miles. Too short for skywave, too long for ground. Have worked Scotland-Cyprus with only 20-30 mins down time per day for freq/crypto changes and Bulford-Nairobi but that sort of fun was unusual for any unit I was with.

Similar threads

Latest Threads