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Smart Radio?

Wartime tends to result in innovative measures for communications and electronics technologies. Just prior to World War I, the areas of communications and electronics had begun a rather rapid evolution that would eventfully lead to where we are today. The use of radios in WWI, a technological advance or innovation in and of itself, would give way to innovations that would provide an answer to newly evolving questions related to the need to know what your adversary was saying. Why this question? From a tactical standpoint the answer would allow you to determine what your adversary was planning.

The photograph featured in this blog is both interesting and intriguing!

CE Museum Photo #288

CE Museum Photo #288


According to information that is available with the photograph, the photo is of a mobile radio intelligence station that was located in what was for four years an area considered no man’s land. The purpose of this mobile station was to intercept communications made by the enemy. The station was, as stated on the back of the photograph, equipped with a very powerful wireless set

This station could also be used for goniometric purposes. Goniometry involved the use of an apparatus to quickly determine compass bearings of any station sending a message. Using the bearings collected from a few stations the operator could determine the intersect point of the compass bearings for the signal, and then determine the enemy station location; with this information, troop concentrations could also be determined. An excellent discussion of this tactic can be found in the “Report of the Chief Signal Officer to the Secretary of War” for 1919.

The photograph featured here is of a station near Avocourt, Meuse, France, on 22 October 1918

These items and other communications-related documents and photographs are available for review at the CECOM Historical Office. The Historical Office is located at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Contact us via our Web-based contact form at for additional information.

This post was written by Floyd Hertweck.

Posted in From the Archives.

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