British Signals Intelligence in the Trenches, 1915-1918: Part 1, Listening Sets

Jim Beach, James Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article explores the development of signals intelligence within the trenches of the Western Front during the First World War. It explains how, using listening sets, the British belatedly imitated their ally and enemy by intercepting messages that had leaked from telephone lines or were transmitted through the ground. The rise and decline of this system is unpacked comprehensively and a fresh assessment is made regarding its military contribution. It concludes that previous interpretations are broadly correct, but they have underestimated the system’s influence and longevity. The article also clarifies how listening sets were used for eavesdropping on prisoners.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Intelligence History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Feb 2019

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development of intelligence
Western world
allies
prisoner
telephone
Military
interpretation
Trench
Western Front
Allies
Prisoners
Enemy
Telephone
Rise

Keywords

  • Signals intelligence; communications security; prisoners; First World War; Western Front; British Expeditionary Force

Cite this

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abstract = "This article explores the development of signals intelligence within the trenches of the Western Front during the First World War. It explains how, using listening sets, the British belatedly imitated their ally and enemy by intercepting messages that had leaked from telephone lines or were transmitted through the ground. The rise and decline of this system is unpacked comprehensively and a fresh assessment is made regarding its military contribution. It concludes that previous interpretations are broadly correct, but they have underestimated the system’s influence and longevity. The article also clarifies how listening sets were used for eavesdropping on prisoners.",
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British Signals Intelligence in the Trenches, 1915-1918: Part 1, Listening Sets. / Beach, Jim; Bruce, James.

In: Journal of Intelligence History, 08.02.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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N2 - This article explores the development of signals intelligence within the trenches of the Western Front during the First World War. It explains how, using listening sets, the British belatedly imitated their ally and enemy by intercepting messages that had leaked from telephone lines or were transmitted through the ground. The rise and decline of this system is unpacked comprehensively and a fresh assessment is made regarding its military contribution. It concludes that previous interpretations are broadly correct, but they have underestimated the system’s influence and longevity. The article also clarifies how listening sets were used for eavesdropping on prisoners.

AB - This article explores the development of signals intelligence within the trenches of the Western Front during the First World War. It explains how, using listening sets, the British belatedly imitated their ally and enemy by intercepting messages that had leaked from telephone lines or were transmitted through the ground. The rise and decline of this system is unpacked comprehensively and a fresh assessment is made regarding its military contribution. It concludes that previous interpretations are broadly correct, but they have underestimated the system’s influence and longevity. The article also clarifies how listening sets were used for eavesdropping on prisoners.

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JO - Journal of Intelligence History

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SN - 1616-1262

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