Soldiers Undergoing Morse Code Training

Soldiers Undergoing Morse Code Training

Military Communications & Electronics Museum

© Military Communications & Electronics Museum


In his teenage years, Bill Bushell had a strong interest in amateur radio. Unfortunately, being unemployed he had no means to pursue his hobby. In 1939 the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals was in desperate need of young men, and Bill saw the chance to learn Morse code and support his desire to be an amateur radio operator. Bill was sent to Vimy Barracks in Kingston, Ontario, to learn Morse code along with several other young soldiers.

In addition to Morse code, Signalman Bushell had to learn how to use wireless equipment, like the obsolete Wireless Set No. 1 pictured here. Manufactured by Northern Electric in 1937, the No. 1 set had very little output power and the regenerative type receiver was very difficult to tune. Nonetheless, this was the type of equipment that was available to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals at the start of the Second World War.

There were some pleasant days at Vimy Barracks when Bill and his mates took the wireless sets out for field training exercises.

After completing his training, Bushell was posted to Iceland. There his Morse code training was put to the test when he had to communicate with a search aircraft by using Read More
In his teenage years, Bill Bushell had a strong interest in amateur radio. Unfortunately, being unemployed he had no means to pursue his hobby. In 1939 the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals was in desperate need of young men, and Bill saw the chance to learn Morse code and support his desire to be an amateur radio operator. Bill was sent to Vimy Barracks in Kingston, Ontario, to learn Morse code along with several other young soldiers.

In addition to Morse code, Signalman Bushell had to learn how to use wireless equipment, like the obsolete Wireless Set No. 1 pictured here. Manufactured by Northern Electric in 1937, the No. 1 set had very little output power and the regenerative type receiver was very difficult to tune. Nonetheless, this was the type of equipment that was available to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals at the start of the Second World War.

There were some pleasant days at Vimy Barracks when Bill and his mates took the wireless sets out for field training exercises.

After completing his training, Bushell was posted to Iceland. There his Morse code training was put to the test when he had to communicate with a search aircraft by using a high-speed "bug" lamp, like the one pictured here, to send Morse code as rescue teams attempted to rescue some downed airmen. Later, after being posted to Italy, Bushell used the "bug" lamp to send Morse code on a radio frequency. However, this had to be stopped as the distinctive sound of the lamp could identify his station as being the Divisional Headquarters.

Bushell was eventually employed as the radio operator for the commander of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, Major-General Christopher Vokes. During the attacks on the Hitler Line in Italy in the summer of 1944 Bushell moved his Wireless Set No. 19 from an exposed position above ground to an abandoned German trench, as shown in the photograph here. It turned out to be a safe and comfortable operating position.

The No. 19 set was built in Canada throughout the war and formed the backbone of the Canadian army’s field communications network. It could send Morse code over a distance of approximately thirty kilometres and voice about half that distance. Bill Bushell used it during the war and also after the war as an amateur radio operator until the late 1990s. It gave him great pleasure and brought back many memories of his service with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signal.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Two soldiers Practising with a Wireless

Two soldiers Practising with a Wireless.

Military Communications & Electronics Museum.

© Military Communications & Electronics Museum.


High-Speed "bug" Lamp

The high-speed "bug" lamp was used to send Morse code messages.

Military Communications & Electronics Museum.

© Military Communications & Electronics Museum.


Wireless Set No. 19

The Wireless Set No. 19 formed the backbone of the Canadian army's field communications network.

Military Communications & Electronics Museum.

© Military Communications & Electronics Museum.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Develop an understanding of the participation and role of Canada’s Army in the World War II
  • Examine the contributions, sacrifices and experiences of individuals who participated in military events during World War II
  • Identify key locations in which Canada’s military operated during World War II

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