Events

Our project included public events and lectures, a workshop, a conference, family-friendly days, and lots more.

Upcoming events

There are no upcoming events. If you would like to invite us to deliver a public lecture on World War One telecommunications, please get in touch.

Previous events

Tuesday 15 April 2014: “The Role of Radio Amateurs in World War One”, an evening talk at Oxford & District Amateur Radio Society (ODARS), Oxford

Dr Elizabeth Bruton delivered a lecture on the vital role of wireless amateurs during World War One and their consequential influence on the development of broadcast radio in the early 1920s.

Saturday 15 March 2014: World War One family-friendly event, Wireless in Wales museum Open Day

Dr Elizabeth Bruton produced a number of family-friendly museum resources about telecommunications in the First World War for the Wireless in Wales museum Open Day.

Tuesday 28 January 2014: “Waves and Wires: Telegraphy during World War One”, an evening lecture at Dorking and District Radio Society

An evening lecture delivered by Dr Elizabeth Bruton on various developments in telecommunication – wired and wireless – during World War One. This is a variation of the lecture of the same title delivered before IET Humber, Grimsby on Tuesday 12 November 2013.

For further details, see the Dorking and District Radio Society website.

Friday 24 January 2014: Making Telecommunications in the First World War, University Club, Oxford

To mark the end of the project, we held a one-day conference at the University Club, Oxford on Friday 24 January 2014. This was preceded by an evening lecture “Patriotism and Profit in the Great War” by Graeme Gooday and Elizabeth Bruton followed by a reception on the evening of Thursday 23 January 2014 at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.

  • Full Programme including abstracts
  • Elizabeth Bruton and Graeme Gooday, University of Leeds, IntroductionPowerPoint slides
  • Dr Phil Judkins, University of Buckingham Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, Trawling the Waves: Warfighting and Wireless in World War 1
  • David Barlow, Radio Officers Association and Lizard Wireless Museum, Wireless and direction finding at sea and in the air in World War I. – with emphasis on the role of Captain Henry Joseph RoundPowerPoint slides  Audio recording via SoundCloud
  • Keith Thrower, Army radio communication during the Great WarPowerPoint slides  Paper [pdf]  Technical factors affecting CW radio communication in WW1 [pdf]
  • Professor Anthony Davies, Emeritus Professor, King’s College London and Visiting Professor, Kingston University, Surrey, The right tunes? Wavemeters for British army and air force uses in World War I timePowerPoint slides [pdf]  Paper [pdf]
  • Stephen Erskine, Green Howards Museum, ‘Victory calling’-evolution of operational communications: an infantry Battalion experiencePowerPoint slides
  • Paul Coleman, University of Leeds, Wireless defence: the use of wireless telegraphy against U-boats in the First World WarPowerPoint slides
  • Dr. Andreas Marklund, Post & Tele Museum, Denmark, Watching for the State: Cable Censorship and Practices of Surveillance at the Danish State Telegraph during World War IPowerPoint slides
  • Axel Volmar, University of Siegen, Germany, Where Only the Explosives Prevail: German Innovations in Sound Ranging and Telecommunications in World War I
  • Mary Harris, Contribution to roundtable discussion: Elizabeth Alexanderdocument [pdf]
    This is a draft extract from the forthcoming publication: Harris, Mary. Rocks, Radio and Radar: the extraordinary scientific, social and military life of Elizabeth Alexander. Imperial College Press, 2015

Thursday 23 January 2014: Patriotism and profit during World War One, an evening lecture at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

This lecture, delivered by Graeme Gooday and Elizabeth Bruton, explores the different motivations of individuals, the military, industry, and commerce in relation to World War One telecommunication innovations – were they motivated by patriotism, profit, or both?

Tuesday 3 December 2013: The Role of Radio Amateurs in World War One, Cafe Scientifique, Leeds

Dr Elizabeth Bruton delivered a lecture on the vital role of wireless amateurs during World War One and their consequential influence on the development of broadcast radio in the early 1920s. This is a repeat of the lecture of the same title delivered at the RSGB centenary convention on Saturday 12 November 2013.

Details: Seven, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3PD at 8pm. No booking required.

Tuesday 12 November 2013: Wires and waves: telegraphy during World War One, an evening lecture at IET Humber, Cleesthorpes.

Elizabeth Bruton gave an evening lecture before IET Humber, Grimsby on various developments in telecommunication – wired and wireless – during World War One.

Location and time: Beachcomber Holiday Park, Cleesthorpe at 7.30pm

Abstract: Different systems of telecommunications have been major features of military and civilian life since the early twentieth century. The role of wireless telegraphy in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 is a well-known example of the pre-World War One success of telecommunications. By the outbreak of war in 1914 the telegraph, the telephone, and wireless telegraphy were being used to differing degrees and successes. Upon the outbreak of war in 1914, some of the earliest actions of the war involved curtailing enemy telecommunications while guaranteeing the security and safety of friendly modes of telecommunication. In this talk, I will explore the different uses of telecommunications – wires and waves – during World War One and show how wartime innovations influenced post-war developments and successes.

Saturday 2 November 2013: Patriotism and profit during World War One, a public lecture at Science Museum, London at 11am.

This lecture, delivered by Graeme Gooday and Elizabeth Bruton, explores the different motivations of individuals, the military, industry, and commerce in relation to World War One telecommunication innovations – were they motivated by patriotism, profit, or both?

Wednesday 23 October 2013: Blurred Lines: Interception and secrecy in World War One telecommunications, a lecture at IEEE History Center, Rutgers University New Jersey.

Elizabeth Bruton delivered a talk about the blurred lines between interception and secrecy in British telecommunications during World War One.

Abstract: Telecommunications and their interception have been major features of military and civilian life since the early twentieth century. The role of wireless telegraphy in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 is a well-known example of the pre-war success of telecommunications. By the outbreak of war in 1914 the telegraph, the telephone, and wireless telegraphy were being used to differing degrees and successes. Upon the outbreak of war in 1914, some of the earliest actions of the war involved curtailing enemy telecommunications while guaranteeing the security and safety of their own modes of telecommunication. I will explore the different interception techniques developed during the war and explore how concerns for security and secrecy shaped the development of telecommunications during the war.

The lecture was delivered by Dr Elizabeth Bruton on 23 October 2013 and was the inaugural public history lecture at Rutgers University and organised by the IEEE History Center at Rutgers.

Saturday 12 October 2013: The Role of Radio Amateurs in World War One, a lecture at the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) Centenary Convention, Horwood House, Buckinghamshire

Elizabeth Bruton delivered a lecture on the vital role of wireless amateurs during World War One and their consequential influence on the development of broadcast radio in the early 1920s.

Abstract: Upon the outbreak of World War One, the British government quickly realised what a valuable and dangerous tool wireless telegraphy could be. They immediately sealed up the transmitters of the limited number of wireless amateurs licensed and operating in Britain. However, this is not the end of the story of wireless amateurs, far from it! The small community of wireless amateurs made a valuable contribution to Britain’s war effort. They established signals intelligence (or SIGINT) in relation to wireless, “listening in” to German wireless transmissions and locating enemy vessels. They also filled the gap while the Marconi Company hastily trained up wireless operators for wartime usage. They also listened out for German spies using wireless to send secret messages but this was more myth than reality. The contribution of wireless amateurs also continued after the war with a prominent role in the development of broadcast radio.

Friday 11 October 2013: “Sacrifice of a Genius”: Henry Moseley’s role as a Signals Officer in World War One, a lunchtime lecture at the Royal Society, London

Elizabeth Bruton gave a lecture at the Royal Society, London: “Sacrifice of a Genius”: Henry Moseley’s role as a Signals Officer in World War One on 11 October from 1-2pm.

Abstract: Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley (1887-1915) was one of the foremost English physicists of the early twentieth century and was an active member of the Royal Society during this time. following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who were both prominent members of the society and were, unlike the younger Henry Moseley, elected FRS. Probably best remembered for his immense contributions to chemistry and atomic physics in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of World War One, there is little doubt that Moseley would have been nominated as a FRS if he had survived the war. Moseley’s pre-war contributions to physics and chemistry are well-know and well-documented. Instead this talk will focus on the lesser-known period of just under a year between October 1914 and August 1915 when Moseley served as a Signals Officer in the Royal Engineers. Moseley’s death in combat in Gallipoli in August 1915 was widely lamented at the time with contemporary newspaper headlines including “Sacrifice of a Genius” and “Too Valuable To Die”. Moseley’s death alongside the death of other British scientists and engineers in combat led to an increased awareness of their military value and resulted in the British military forbidding active service for these potentially valuable military assets. Moseley’s service in the Royal Engineers offers up the potential for a wider consideration of wartime telecommunications and the role of the soldier-scientist.

Wednesday 25 September 2013: Symposium, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Graeme and Elizabeth both attended this one-day symposium at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Cornwall and both presented papers. Graeme’s paper was entitled “The Fullerphone: the trials and tribulations of trench telegraph technology during and after the First World War” and Elizabeth’s was “Axes, cut cables, and Hun sea pirates: The “cable wars” during World War One”, which was based on her earlier lecture before the Ideas Café at Porthcurno.

Wednesday 7 August 2013: Drop-in family-friendly event and “Ideas Café” evening lecture at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Cornwall

Elizabeth Bruton organised a drop-in family-friendly event on the telegraph cables during World War One during the day at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. The event included regular ten-minute “bite size” presentations on the attack on the Cocos Islands including an axe from the German vessel, the Emden.

In the evening, Elizabeth delivered a lecture for the Ideas Café, “From Australia to Zimmermann: A Brief History of Cable Telegraphy During World War One.” The abstract is as follows:

Following the start of World War 1, one of the first acts by the British was to cut Germany’s undersea telegraph cables. Germany was left with just one cable, but even that was under British control: any message sent through it could be intercepted and read by Britain. The impact of this was felt later in the war with the British interception of the controversial Zimmermann telegram in 1917. In return, Germany tried to destroy Allied telegraph cables in the Pacific and Indian Oceans by attacking telegraph stations and cables at Fanning Island and the Cocos Islands in late 1914. These attacks by Britain and Germany marked the start of the “cable wars” which continued throughout the war and demonstrate the strategic importance of the newly completed global telegraph network.

The lecture was attended by about 25 people and received a good number of questions afterwards.

Tuesday 6 August 2013: “From the archives: Poldhu and the Marconi Company during World War One”, an evening lecture at Marconi Centre, Cornwall

Elizabeth Bruton gave an evening lecture, “From the archives: Poldhu and the Marconi Company during World War One” for Poldhu Amateur Radio Club at the Marconi Centre, Cornwall site of Marconi’s Poldhu wireless station and the first transatlantic wireless transmission. The event was well attended with about 25 people present and a number of those present asked questions at the general discussion afterwards.

Friday 28 June 2013: Interpreting Telecommunications in the Great War: A workshop for museum interpreters, archivists and historians, Brotherton Room, University of Leeds

“Innovating in Combat” organised and hosted a workshop in the Brotherton Room at the University of Leeds on Friday 28 June from 9am to 4.30pm. The programme for the workshop is online. The deadline for applications was 14 June 2013 and we provided bursaries to assist with attendance. If you have any questions about the workshop, please do get in touch.

The workshop was preceded by a pre-workshop reception held at the University of Leeds on the evening of Thursday 27 June.

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