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School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Innovating in Combat
• Elizabeth Bruton, Postdoctoral
Researcher, “Innovating in Combat:
Telecommunications and intellectual
property in the First World War”
• Aim of the project is to help museums,
archives, and the wider public to better
appreciate the significance of
communications technologies during
World War One
• 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
Outline
• Introduction
• Cable Telegraphy prior to World War One
• Outbreak of War and “Cable Wars” – cutting of
cables
• Britain cuts international cables including
Borkum
• German attack on Fanning Island
• German attack on Cocos Islands
• German attack on Britain-Norwegian cable
• Zimmermann Telegram
• Conclusion
Cover of Horatio Alger, Jr.'s The Telegraph Boy, c.1880.
Image available in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Electrical Telegraphy
Left: William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone's electric telegraph "needle telegraph")
from 1837 now in the Science Museum. Image licensed by GNU license Via Wikimedia Commons.
Right: Morse key, by Ken Owen. Image licensed via Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Cable Telegraphy
1891 Telegraph Cable map. Image available in public domain.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Cable Telegraphy
Map of the Submarine Telegraph between America and Europe. Image available in the public domain.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Outbreak of War
Left: Segment of Borkum cable. Image courtesy of Porthcurno
Telegraph Museum.
Right: Map of the action between HMAS Sydney and SMS
Emden at the Cocos Islands. Image available in the public
domain.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
The attack on Cocos Islands
The two severed ends of the cable after the attack. Image courtesy of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
The attack on Cocos Islands
The destroyed wireless mast after the attack. Image courtesy of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
The attack on Cocos Islands
The instrument room on Direction Island, as left by the Germans.
Image courtesy of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
German attack on British-Norwegian cable
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.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Zimmermann Telegram
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.
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Zimmermann Telegram
Translated version of the Zimmermann Telegram as decrypted by ‘Room 40’
We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We
shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the
event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the
following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial
support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost
territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to
you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the
outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain and add the
suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate
adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please
call the President's attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our
submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to
make peace." Signed, ZIMMERMANN
School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science
FACULTY OF ARTS
Thank you!
e: [email protected]
w: http://blogs.mhs.ox.ac.uk/innovatingincombat/
@WWITelecomms / @lizbruton
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PowerPoint slides from evening lecture