As a title, and bearing in mind that we are on a
W/T Branch site, this looks in keeping, and it is obviously something to
do with W/T....but the 'a' ?
Well, believe it or not this title means "WARNING
TELEPHONE", and the 'telephone' bit, automatically made this piece of
equipment a W/T Branch part of ship. It has absolutely nothing to
do with wireless telegraphy, neither for that matter with telephones,
except that in the 1920's anything which had a microphone and an
earpiece [the constituent parts of a telephone] were automatically a
communicators piece of kit. The often huge amplifiers and control panels
were always sited close to the main W/T office and sound powered
telephone calls were made to the W/T office when adjustments were
required to the main tannoy or to report defects on the system.
So what is a warning telephone. Simple. A ships
Over the tannoy came spoken orders, pipes, bugle
calls, action station clangers/sirens, oh and yes, warnings.
Wa/T was a course syllabus entry for the W/T branch
and ratings were examined for higher rate on the various fits in the
It is not a subject which is even worthwhile
describing, because although a very necessary part of a warship's
organisation, a tannoy is a tannoy whether it is large or small and once
you have heard one, you will know that it is usually very loud, very
clear, an bloody annoying.
There were several Wa/T Sets [the 401, 402, 403 and
405] each one designed for a certain class of ship depending upon how
many decks, how many compartments, and the size of the ships company.
Based on those criteria, the 401  was fitted in certain
battleships, cruisers and aircraft carriers. It covered five groups of
loudspeakers viz, officers quarters, engine room group, crew spaces,
communication group and the armament group. The system covered the
VOICE facilities and the ALARM facilities. The 402, also a big ship
system had more gadgets on it than on the 401. When the 403 was
rolled-out in 1930, it was considered suitable for fitting into
many types of ships and being more modern in design and manufacture it
required a cabinet half the size of the earlier fits.
All Wa/T fits, including this, the Type 403, had a
switch which when made, sent out a distinctive low tone to forewarn all,
that a tannoy broadcast would be made shortly afterwards. With the
Type 405 designed in 1936, this switch was not fitted, and as a
HISTORY POINTER for you all, that was the start of the famous naval
" D'ye hear there"
a warning message sent out before each and every
NON-ROUTINE use of the Tannoy System. The 405 also introduced automatic
gain control [AGC] which with better power amplifiers and speakers, gave
a more easy to listen to quality. All ships in their turn were
fitted with the Type 405 system.
These are some of the pictures from some of the
Type 405 main gear. Half the size of the Type 401
Now just in case you can't read what is on the
inside of the cover to the TALK BOX of the Type 405, here is what it
|SPEECH, PIPES AND BUGLE CALLS
||Move operating key to position 1 if call does not concern
or position 2 for General Calls.
||Open alarm door
||Speak across microphone and not directly towards it - mouth
about 4 inches away.
Speak in loud conversational tone - do not shout.
When piping, pipe as close as possible to microphone.
Bugles should be at least 3 feet from and not directed straight
towards the microphone.
||Press alarm key in accordance with alarm signal
Lamp of output indicator should light and alarm note should be
heard while alarm key is depressed.
||Watch output indicator while speaking.
This should flicker and indicates that the set is working
If no flicker is seen the set should be assumed to be defective.
||Do not touch operating key except to pass any
subsequent verbal orders.
||The alarm key is never to be operated without authority.
|CAUTION If another
control position is seen or heard by the output indicator to
'break-in' while the control box is being used, the operating
key must be
That's it. Now I will sound 'pipe down' so turn
those light off and get your head down.......remember, you have the
morning watch !