WWII Radio Equipment - Can anyone ID these items?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by camnet, Jan 16, 2012.

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  1. Hi there

    I'm trying to identify some mystery World War II communications equipment and would welcome some help. I'm afraid my photo isn't very good. It's an enlargement of part of a group photo of the Signal Platoon of the 5/7 Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders, dated 8 April 1940. Their comms equipment (including semaphore flags and heliograph sets!) was laid out in front of the group.

    In the middle were 3 technical items.

    I think the item on the right is a Fullerphone, a secure field telephone that could plug into the civilian telephone network and handle morse code. However, I've no idea what the items on the left and in the middle could be.

    I had a look on a website which has photos of all the "number series" of British Army radios from WWII, but couldn't find anything resembling these.

    The battalion was not deployed overseas until 1942, so it could be pretty old stuff, even WWI vintage.

    Any comms experts out there who may know, your advice would be much appreciated!

    Attached Files:

  2. Looks like field telephone kit!
  3. d-tel.jpg See what I mean, LH item.
  4. That would explain why I can't match it! Even the middle item?
  5. Soggy4978

    Soggy4978 Old-Salt Book Reviewer

    At the risk of looking like a knob, the two sticky things are rolled up semaphore flags, I'd say.

    EDIT: Having read through the original post, it would seem you were probably already aware of this.
  6. The item in the centre could be the operators switchboard.
  7. Could the item on top of the box on the right be a morse key?
  8. RH item is also a British "Fullerphone" painted differently than this one:


    used and made throughout the commonwealth so the finish did vary.

    In the middle is a switchboard of some sort and what looks like a line drum frame.
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  9. Yes, you're right - that is definitely the left-hand item. I hadn't realised field telephones had morse keys on them... Thank you!
  10. The middle looks like a field telephone switchboard.


    Switchboard, single position, 6 lines.
    Field or camp monocord switchboard, cabinet style, self-enclosing, with handles and carrying strap; not requiring packing case. Telescopic legs. Total weight about 48 pounds, packed. Equipment is accessible from front, top and rear of cabinet. Line drop acts as ring-off or rering drop. A lamp on each side of switchboard furnishes illumination for night operation. Lower half of front acts as writing shelf and has a sheet of white pyrolin erasable writing surface for diagrams or other data. Trunks to other switchboards must be of the ringdown type. Simplex coils provided on two line units for telegraph or phantom use.
    Two switchboards BD-71 can be used together to double capacity. Spark gaps provided on lines. Includes hand generator for ringing.

    Signals Collection - US Army telephone equipment

    Edited to add this is US though
  11. Brilliant. Thanks very much for your knowledgeable and helpful replies - you've certainly answered my question. A battalion HQ with its own switchboard, eh? So this implies A company on the front line could talk directly to B company, its neighbour, a more distributed field telephone set-up than I'd have expected.
  12. Yes. But also possibility of tapping in to the National Telephone infrastructure.
  13. Prior to reliable radios (wirelesses) it was they way it was done. It was still relatively common practice back in the sixties, maybe later than that.
  14. I was still tapping into the German DEL line throughout the 80s and 90s, I'm not sure of the legal ramifications, but hey it got the job done! Field phones are still used by the less mobile REMF elements echelons and spakkers in general.

    Nice though, sitting in a snowy Gun pit in a German wood and chatting with my old dear in the UK.
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