SECRET SIGNALS AND CYPHER
AT VICTORIA BARRACKS,
I was told by an acquaintance that an ex WAAAF who was a telegraphist, did her training at 1 Engineering school at RAAF Ascot Vale, which was located at the Melbourne Show grounds, in late 1942/early 1943. She learnt to send and receive Morse Code. After she finished her training, she was posted to Frognall in Canterbury, Melbourne.
For a period of about three months she was posted to Victoria Barracks at St. Kilda Road in Melbourne. The office that she was in, was a wooden annex to one of the bluestone buildings in the barracks. It is believed that it was somewhere in the northern end of Victoria Barracks.
The main office in the annex contained six radios with one telegraphist per radio. Instead of the signals coming in via the air they came in by landline. The WAAAF telegraphists were never told where the signals originated. Naturally the signals were not in plain language. A second office in the annex contained a WAAAF Cypher Officer, which dechipered the signals. When the signals were dechipered, a Despatch Rider came to the office where a closed container was chained to his wrist and he then departed. The telegraphists were never told where the Despatch Riders took their cargos. (Can anyone tell me more about their destination?)
A second copy was despatched, via some sort of internal tubing to the bluestone building. When the WAAAF telegraphists asked who was at the other end of the tube, the Cypher Officer said the Chief of Air Staff AVM Jones, but said it in such a way that the telegraphists thought it was a joke. Years later, the Telegraphist though this may have been true, but said it in the way it was to make sure that they thought it was untrue.
The WAAAF telegraphists were told nothing about who originated the signals, what was in them or anything about what they were doing, but every thing tended to say "secret".
I would love to know
about this office and its operation
Can you help me?
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© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 1 September 2002
This page last updated 14 January 2015