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S.S. Great Eastern laying the first trans-Atlantic cable, July 1866

Type: Image

The world’s largest steamship, the Great Eastern, laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable from Valencia, Ireland, arriving at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland in July 1866 as shown in this print. The transatlantic cable had revolutionary effects on British military and diplomatic communications. Messages that once took weeks to travel now took only a few hours.

Site: National Defence

Rating raising signal flags, Royal Navy, 1892

Type: Image

Until the advent of the electric signal light, communication between ships at sea was done mainly by flying signal flags such as the ones shown in this engraving. The uniform shown here was layed out by Admiralty regulations in 1857 and was worn with few changes for the remainder of the 19th century.

Site: National Defence

Motorcycle courier, Canadian Signal Corps, 1917

Type: Image

In the days before portable and reliable radio sets, motorcycle couriers (or 'dispatch riders') were often the fastest way of moving messages to and from the battlefield, especially when laying telephone or telegraph lines was impossible. This 1917 painting of a courier with his mechanical mount is by Inglis Sheldon-Williams, an official Canadian war artist. Note the white over blue badge on this man's arm. When the first motorcycle dispatch riders were introduced, they wore a blue/white brassard on their arm. The colour combination was used for signal flags, and was distinctive enough to help give dispatch riders priority on the roads. (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

Untitled (Women's Royal Canadian Naval Switchboard Operator), by war artist Margaret Kathleen MacLeod

Type: Image

An electronic reproduction of the watercolour on paper artwork, Untitled (Women's Royal Canadian Naval Switchboard Operator), created by Margaret Kathleen MacLoed.

Site: Canadian War Museum