WW1 Heritage / Radio Relay - 14-18 NOW
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Radio Relay, Past Frequencies - Live Transmissions


Image credit: Image courtesy of Graham Fagen

WW1 Heritage / Radio Relay

Radio Relay

The First World War marked the dawn of the modern age. A war that began for British forces with a cavalry charge in Belgium ended in battles that coordinated tanks, heavy artillery, machine guns, and aeroplanes.

Part of this astonishing technological change was radio. The first commercial radio sets were built by Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor who had moved to Britain in 1896 to develop his invention. Many of the transmitters used by British troops during the First World War were developed by Marconi (who himself fought on the Italian side).

Soon, the value of this cutting edge radio technology became clear. Radio allowed instantaneous communication between commanders on the front line of the Western Front, while operators with portable transmitters were responsible for alerting troops to a gas attack. Transmissions were also used by the Germans to guide the bombing runs of their infamous Zeppelins, and to communicate with tanks and aeroplanes.

In the final months of the war, as the deadlock on the Western Front was broken and the war became more mobile, radio played an important part in coordinating these new forces. In the twenty-first century, wars are fought through communications systems, with satellite-guided bombs and remote-controlled drones. The origins of this type of combat, which depends on instant telecommunication, can be found in the First World War.

Sources/further reading:

World War One: How radio crackled into life in conflict,BBC News

Thomas H. White, ‘United States Early Radio History: Radio during World War One

C N Trueman, ‘First British Shots Of WWI’

Biography of Guglielmo Marconi


Soldiers guarding the entrance to Trinity College.


The G.PO. Sackville Street, centre of the Easter Rising 1916.


Guarded by British troops, an arrested Irish republican is marched across a bridge following the Easter Rising in Dublin in April 1916.


Easter Rising in April 1916.

British troops man a street barricade in Dublin.


Burning buildings in Sackville Street, Dublin during the Easter Rising

Burning buildings in Sackville Street, Dublin (subsequently renamed O’Connell Street) which sustained severe damage during the Easter Rising. The General Post Office had been seized by Irish republicans. British forces bombarded it and set it on fire, forcing the republicans to relocate to Moore Street.


Easter Rising in April 1916.

Troops holding a Dublin street against the rebels during the Easter Rising in April 1916.

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