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Thread: RAF Ferry Command W/T transmissions/Syko cards

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    Default RAF Ferry Command W/T transmissions/Syko cards

    I'm reading Carl Christie's "Ocean Bridge. The history of RAF Ferry Command" and I'd appreciate some advice with what appear to be contradictory references.

    1. There are many passages that refer to wireless operators spending considerable time improving their skills in using morse code, and I can understand that this was used to send and receive messages. Yet on page 224, describing a leg being flown by a Mosquito crew (McVicar and Eby - pilot and navigator) between Goose Bay and Bluie-West 1, the author writes:

    "As they hurtled along, high above the Davis Strait, the captain (McVicar) was amused at the USAAF radio stations: 'Eby called them and I smiled as I heard them, as before, calling themselves Blondie and Dagwood. I wondered what the unsmiling Germanic minds of the U-boat monitoring stations made of this comic-page humour'."

    The way that is written indicates very strongly (since the pilot could overhear the conversations) that messages were being passed en clair rather than in morse.

    2. Page 181 describes a wireless operator's experience in preparing for a light:

    "The mad dash was halted when the dispatcher didn't have the right Syko cards to give me (For decoding purposes)."

    I don't know what "Syko" means (help) but the need for code cards indicates morse, rather than voice transmissions.

    It seems to me that these two passages indicate a mix of plain language and morse transmissions, but I wonder if anyone could expand on what the procedure actually was?

    Brian

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    Hi Brian,

    1. there were also devices for voice transmission, typycally used by pilot during approach etc. as far as I know.

    2. SYKO was British coding machine - see for example http://home.ca.inter.net/~hagelin/crypto.html

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    My copy is packed away and I'm at work but what are the tiems of these two praragraphs? 1941 and 1944? As time went on they may well have been able to resort to voice com's due to the reduced/lack of threat.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Thank you gentlemen,

    Item 1 referred to a flight on 29 April 1944; item 2 to a flight at the beginning of June 1942.

    There is an ulterior reason for my interest.

    In a very long report at the end of the war, Dr Rudolf Benkendorff, Director of the German Meteorological Service at the High Command of the German Air Force, listed sources of data used by the Germans to construct their weather maps. Although the Germans were never able to break the Allies met codes there was an Achillies heel - the weather observations passed en clair to aircraft returning to their bases in the UK.

    In addition the Germans were also able to intercept messages to/from aircraft en route across the Atlantic, and he specifically noted the interception of messages relating to weather for the Azores, Greenland and Iceland.

    If, as I'm thinking, the Mosquito crews were using plain language (and has been pointed out off-board they didn't have WOps) then that fits in neatly with Benkendorff's claims.

    As an aside there were no U-boat monitoring stations, there simply weren't enough U-boats for that; but there seems little doubt the Germans had the ability to intercept messages at vast distances.

    Brian

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    Just discovered the SYKO code was broken, probably fairly early, see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_code_breaking_in_World_War_II
    Brian

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