Pre-1912 Brevity Codes
by Scott Anderson


Brevity codes in telegraphy existed for some time prior to 1908, when the British Post Office,in the absence of internationally-recognized codes,  issued the codes listed below to be used only by British coastal wireless stations and ships licensed by the Postmaster General. It was noted that the phrases themselves, rather than the codes which signify them, could be used between British ships and colonial or foreign (English-speaking)
coast stations.

These codes were in effect at the time of the sinking of RMS Titanic in  April, 1912(although there were no distress signals from that ship in which they were used), and were superseded by the first version of the present Q-codes, set by the International Radiotelegraphic Convention in London, in July of that year.

These codes listed are from the 1912 edition of "The Radiotelegraphist's Guide and Logbook", by W.H. Marchant and published by Whittaker & Company of London. (Among other titles published by Whittaker were "Wireless Telegraphy and Hertzian Waves", by S.R. Bottone; "Telegraphy", by T.E. Herbert; "Wireless Telegraphy", by D. Mazzotto).

The phrases printed with each code were also listed in French, for use with coast stations or ships with wireless operators using that language:

In the use of these abbreviations, the signal employed must be repeated three times, followed by ..--..

RA   What station is corresponding?
RB   At what distance are you from my station?
RC   What is your wave length in metres?
RD   How many words have you to transmit to me?
RE   How are you receiving?
RF   I am receiving badly.
RG   Send me ...---. twenty times to regulate my apparatus.
RH   Are you being interfered with?
RJ   I am being interfered with.
RK   Atmospherics are very strong.
RL   Tell me the wire charge to...
RM   Engaged with public correspondence.
         The ship is requested not to interfere.
RN   Stop transmitting.
RQ   Transmit more slowly.
RS   Increase your power.   
RT   Diminish your power.
RU   Repeat everything.
RV   from...to... Repeat from such to such a word
RW   ...from... Repeat ...words from...
RX   Your turn is No. ...
RY   General call to all stations.
RZ   Nothing more.

SA   I have nothing for you.
SB   Everything in order.
SC   Wait...I will call you as soon as I have finished.
SD   You can transmit faster.
SE   I am occupied with another station.

If it is found necessary to introduce additional abbreviations they
will be continued with the letter S."

(TU, OM- Many thanks to Bill Cridland, WA1HMW;
Sten Wahlskog, SM6DER;
Phillip Lennervald;
Birgitta Gustafsson;
Mrs. Griffiths, British Telecom Archives; 
Ed Gable, K2MP;
Ziyg Nilski,editor/publisher of Morsum Magnificat;
Joe Gardner, Society of Wireless Pioneers;
and Gavin Baxter, GEC-Marconi Archives,
as well as countless others on two continents and a couple of islands
for their patience and assistance in locating these historic codes and
making them available for future generations.)






Last Update:July 31, 2002