WW1 trench comms - buzzers, Fullerphones, etc

Can anyone point me to a simple description of the technology of power buzzers, Fullerphones and other comms gizmos used in the front line? I'm looking for something suitable for someone with a very shaky grasp of technicalities based on Higher Physics four decades ago.

I've got Priestly on the Signal Service but it's a bit opaque to the uninitiated. I know where I get my hands on 'Wireless for the Warrior' - would this help?


Did somebody mention military history and WW1 front line communications? Ah well, the wife's already divorced me about ten times and the peace and quiet will do me good. Again. I'm off for a good dig about and some education. Thread watched, looking forward to it.


You can find info at the IWM about A.C. Fuller's phone (Major-General Algernon Clement Fuller CBE) and Line comms. And Google helps - lazy bones - but it's a nice subject anyway. It seems Fullerphones were made up from converted field telephone sets but weren't the most successful. By the end of 1916, the Fullerphone seems to have been favourite, by 1918 most divisions had adopted Fullerphones for all their forward communication circuits. The principles behind the Fullerphone used technology that was developed in the Victorian era; after the Armistice, the instrument was improved. Home. It's even been on the One Show.

The basic principle never changed; around 1937 a fully re-designed model, the Mk. IV, went into service. This (and its later variations) appears to be the most successful model, and more sensitive than its predecessors.

It had also a simplified buzzer-chopper, and was easy to use as it carried no telephone set. Although the Fullerphone was devised as a non-overhearable signalling set for static warfare, it was again widely used during World War Two because of its capability to work simultaneously with a telephone over the same line and working through very long or leaky lines where telephone or telegraph traffic was impossible. In the South West Pacific, for example, the Australians made extensive use of the Fullerphone, notably in New Guinea.
Louis Meulstee’s web site; Wireless for the Warrior - Fullerphone main page

GCHQ experts to appear on The One Show - 25 March 2015
Tommies coveres the birth of the Royal Signals
Tis on BBC drama
Provost can give you the gridref for the actual birthplace. It's 51° 0'3.53"N, 0° 4'59.44"E. It's Maresfield Camp (not the later WW2 camp along the road where the Int Corps started.)

Nothing to see now as it is all now covered by a later housing development. I think that the camp was set up there at the start of WW1 when a large house (Maresfield Park) and land were confiscated from some ex-pat Prussian who owned it. The R. Sigs formed up there in 1920.

How many scaleys know that?


We should let the Sigs do the business here, but fill your boots, there's tons of this stuff, morse code buzzers, power buzzer squads and various rudimentary Line comms, as you might expect. British Army Portable Wireless Sets and BF Wireless Stations were around in 1911. Some of them had a range of up to 200 miles. Marconi and the Post Office were big players. Marvellous stuff.


WW1 & WW2 communications - Royal Signals Museum

What is a Power Buzzer Squad? - Units and formations - Great War Forum

The story of British communication technology in World War One
"Initially in 1914, the civilian telephone was pressed into frontline service, fairing badly in the damp, muddy conditions. Later developments included the field magneto telephone for voice transmission and buzzer telephones for Morse. The Telephone D Mark 3 became the standard army telephone and the Fullerphone telegraph instrument prevented the German army intercepting messages."

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