Comms History

Take a little walk back in time. Take time to learn about our History as it is important to know where we have come from and where we are going.

13 Responses to Comms History

  1. harvie graham says:

    Hi, I received this link from a friend overseas and immediately thought of learning to type in the old classroom at North Head. I’m sure many Communicators around my era will remember the likes of Jumpa Collins putting on the records and us trainees bashing away on those old black typewriters. Can still remember many of the old typing exercises – hell we typed them often enough! Especially the one from Rudyard Kippling “If you find yourself lying wounded in the fields of Afghanistan…etc” Cheers Harvie

  2. Dave Neil says:

    ….and wasn’t there one that went “when I had done all this I set fire to the far end of the field etc….?
    sheer drudgery and my least favourite part of learning to be a communicator, but stood me in good stead when I joined the Police…. made a bob or two out of typing other cops reprts for them.

  3. Christine says:

    Also remember the music one learned to type in time with. Starting from typing VERY slowly to “Ebony Eyes” by the Everly Brothers and finishing up at the end of 6 week with “Quartermasters Stores”.
    Normally Wrens were required to be able to type before they could join the Comms Branch, but I was lucky, as I gather it was decided about the time I joined up that that a lassie could join the Comms branch and would be taught to type. That is why I had a 6 week, 8 hour per day concentrated typing course. Turned out to be one of the most useful skills I have ever learnt as most communicators – ex and present – have found in this age of computers.

  4. Albie Cross says:

    We learned to touch-type (Pitmans of course) on the Remington Rand 17 with your digits on the guide keys – ASDF ::LKJ and with a metal shroud over the keyboard so you could’nt have a shufti. A large LP provided the music through our earphones and we began “after five taps”
    Exercise No. 1 sounded something like “twinkle twinkle little star” and if you think that was boring , when we got to Exercise 34 it was more like “The flight of the bumble bee.” Many months later when we reached that stage we were reading SBX’s or (MTX’s) as they were later called at 22 wpm. After mid-day there were times when our Instructors (Jim Roberts and Rahu Greentree ) would add a bit of QRM to our nasal organs by leaning over and exhaling cigarette smoke laced with neaters Myself, like Casper , found touch-typing a valuable commodity as when I joined the Police and graduated from Trentham after 13 weeks , as part of our final exams we had to type a report to the Ministry of Transport containing details of a fatal motor vehicle accident. I had my own typewriter and after completing my own report, I typed one for a classmate. When the results were promulgated, out of a class of 30 , Charlie came first and I was 14th equal.. I reckon I gotta green rub, !!

    • Frank Elliott says:


  5. Tony Bullock says:

    In a naval ships forum I follow (, a member has quoted a large chunk of part VIII of Jim Dell’s history of ships wireless systems. Attention has been drawn to the last couple of sentences re OTAGO’s 1975 TEMPEST failure and the sensible question was asked “having failed the TEMPEST trials, what was done to correct the failure????”.
    The enquirer is an ex-RN sparker (1958-1974).
    I wonder whether Jim or another RNZNCA member has an answer that I can pass on?

  6. Jim says:

    On that particular commission, nothing could be done to rectify the problem other than to ensure that the ship tied up Port side to, whenever in port as the W/T Office was on the starboard side. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the RNZN got rid of those teleprinters and replaced them. Waiouru had the same problem but this was overcome by putting in a large sheet of copper under the floor in the corner of the Morse Room nearest to the On-line Room and using it as a “floating”earth. Whilst waiting for the copper to arrive, an enterprising POOW used the soil to grow radishes.

  7. Jim says:

    Further to my last – not much was known about electromagnetic radiation in those days with the emphasis being on keying characteristics of HF transmitters. Why so much work was done at Naval Receivers in Waiouru was probably as a result of the “Cold War”. However, it was hard to believe that maybe a large black limo, flying a red flag with the hammer and sickle on it, was hidden in one of the tree belts, in the hope of picking up valuable information.They probably saved themselves the petrol and got the info they wanted out of the Capital’s dailies, The Dominion and Evening Post.

  8. Tony Bullock says:

    Many thanks, Jim. I’ll pass this info on.

  9. Frank Elliott says:

    some of the draft records are amazing . i had seven drafts in twelve years ? hi don i did a short ew course at cerebus. whilst on rotoitis 1960 fes stint . what i found using the ua3 was nobody believed me ?

  10. John Hair says:

    Chad says what no Swab Shore wireless Transmitter or Rhombic aerials in the mix. U.K. Sparkers could hit an unbelievable 60 wpm. They learnt Morse as a pianist plays by ear. Every sparker had their own style when sending which could be recognised except for one I knew nicknamed Pusser Hill. His morse sending resembled that of a morse automatic sender: dit .’ Dah, the dots are holes punched in the paper tape to be run through the sender. And Pusser’s morse was as automatic hence the name Pusser.

  11. Aaron Cassidy says:

    My Grandad William Charles Nielson served on the H.M.N.Z.S ACHILLIES and was wondering if there are any records on him at all

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