11 February 2004

First Draft: South Shields. Tussling with Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse was of course the inventor of the Morse code and yes, I had quite a tussle in both sending and receiving of the code. With sending it was the case of being left handed and sending from a right-handed position. The flow of my Morse dots and dashes were uneven and not too good to copy.

With receiving I had a problem with pausing momentarily to think... what letter was that and in the end missing one or more following letters following letters. This habit took a lot of shaking off. In learning to receive Morse there are often two plateaus’ where you seem to stick and not be able to receive faster. These are usually 8-9 words per minute and again at about 15-16 words per minute. Mine were a little longer than normal.

When our speed of sending progressed into double figures we would all sit around the table and each of us in turn would do a period of sending to the others. Some of us were good even senders and easy to copy others were ragged and uneven and more difficult to copy. I was I'm afraid one of the worst ones and a groan would go up when it was my turn. The instructor once or twice a week at this stage would sit in on a session of sending and monitoring each student in turn observing progress. At the end of that student's session he would if it were necessary advise how to improve in the sending technique.

But we will leave that for now.

Adult Students

The College had a few adult students on a shortened course. These were ex forces personnel who had done their 2 years national service in the Army or RAF as wireless operators. Their Morse was close to the speed required and they just needed polishing and learn procedures. They had a smattering only of radio theory and practise so the course concentrated on this area only. Most seemed to be in their early twenties and to us seemed to be able to send at very fast speeds. We only saw them when they had one of their Morse practise sessions using the same room as us. They always ignored us teenage youngsters.

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