By 1916, artillery officers in training were learning that the “necessity for an efficient telephone service cannot be too strongly impressed on the B.C.s [Battery Commanders].” (1)
Efficiency had several aspects: just using the instrument required clear speaking, “which is an acquired art,” and the whole system required maintenance and repair. And that was dangerous work.
“Casualties among these men, who do not hesitate to go out and repair lines under the hottest fire, are bound to occur,” the artillery officers-in training were told, “and therefore there should be plenty under training.” (1)
Bertie Cox of the 59th Battery was one of those who took special training in telephony; he told his brother and sister-in-law about it.
“I am on the Headquarters Party or as it is usually termed the ‘Suicide Gang’. Sounds encouraging doesn’t it? Have just finished taking a telephone course, as this is our chief work at the front as soon as we get into a position. There are about 10 different phones all connected up; from guns to observing officers and to Headquarters and to Divisional Hqtrs. And Infantry Hqtrs. And to the first line trenches etc. and we have to get out and find the breaks in these wires and repair them. Great fun.”(2)
Then he wished them a Merry Christmas, “and slide an extra one down for me.”
(1) Notes on Field Artillery Training compiled by the officers of the 34th Battery, CFA, CEF. 1916. 111
(2) Cox Bertram Howard. Letter to Mabel and Carl, November 29, 1916. Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project.
The image is from the Canadian War Pictorial: a Photographic Record.2 (1916): 15; this publication is available through Early Canadiana Online.
Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”