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SOS de MGY - Titanic - Real? or Fake?

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  • David Ring
    Fellow lovers of things radiotelegraphic: - Everyone likes a good mystery. Here is one for you. Before I heard this recording, I thought it might be a
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 15, 2007
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      Fellow lovers of things radiotelegraphic: -

      Everyone likes a good mystery. Here is one for you.

      Before I heard this recording, I thought it might be a recording done
      by the AWA - Antique Wireless Association (of the USA) at one of their
      yearly meetings where all sorts of people bring spark, arc, early CW
      transmitters and receivers.

      I've listened to the recording - but I am NOT going to tell you what I
      think YET. I want you to enjoy the mystery.

      Supposedly this is a recording put on magnetic tape from an old Edison
      Dictaphone at Marconi station MCE Cape Race.

      Is it real or is it fake?

      If it is real, why?
      If it is fake, why?

      If you know positive information regarding this recording, please send
      to the group.

      Here is the present location - which will be moved in a few hours
      because the other web site where the recordings are is not available
      to me from this location.

      http://www.gis.net/~n1ea/SOS_MGY.ogg

      Most programs - including Irfanview - can play ogg files which are quite small.

      73

      DR

      David J. Ring, Jr., N1EA
      =30=
    • David Ring
      Hello everyone. Some have had problems with ogg format, so I ve just uploaded a mp3 file of the MGY SOS recording to:
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 15, 2007
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        Hello everyone.  Some have had problems with ogg format, so I've just uploaded a mp3 file of the MGY SOS recording to:

        http://mikea.ath.cx/www.n1ea.coastalradio.org.uk/SOS_MGY.mp3

        What do you think?  Real or fake? - and why?

        73

        David N1EA
        =30=
      • David Ring
        Some have questioned the speed of sending. The key used was a straight key and that speed was attainable by expert telegraphers who sent all day on straight
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 15, 2007
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          Some have questioned the speed of sending. 

          The key used was a straight key and that speed was attainable by expert telegraphers who sent all day on straight keys.  When you speak to the old timers on the air, ask them how fast people sent on straight keys back in the 1930's through the 1940s when a typical ham operator couldn't afford a bug!

          The testing for Chief Radio Officer - the 1st class radiotelegraph license (FCC T1 license, and PMG 1st class license elsewhere) was for:

          Receiving test:

          Minimum one minute copy by hand without error of plain English text sent at 25 wpm.
          Minimum one minute copy by hand without error of five character code groups at 20 groups per minute.

          Sending test:

          Minimum one minute sending by use of a straight key typical English text as found in a newspaper at a minimum speed of 25 wpm.

          Minimum one minute sending by use of a straight key five letter code groups at a minimum speed of 20 groups per minute (gpm).

          So the aproximate speed of the recording is what a Chief Radio Officer was certified as being able to send.

          Jack Phillips was known to be one of the fastest senders around.

          73

          David Ring, N1EA


        • David Ring
          Thanks for all the wonderful answers about the SOS recording of the Titanic. There were only a few who thought it was real. Most thought it was false, some
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 22, 2007
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            Thanks for all the wonderful answers about the SOS recording of the Titanic.

            There were only a few who thought it was real. Most thought it was
            false, some for the keying speed, some for other reasons which we will
            investigate later in this email.

            Regarding the keying, many thought it was a Vibroplex, however two
            people reported that they could and can send with a straight key at
            that speed and that the keying in the recording was that of a straight
            key. I know some whom I've heard on the air - TG9ADM comes to mind -
            he is a young man - less than 20 years of age - and he sends with an
            Ameco straight key - also known as a Japanese JJ38 key. He can send
            25 to 28 wpm. I've heard him.

            The other objection to the sending is the shortness of the dashes.
            However, Phillips was a former wire telegrapher and they used a short
            dash - about 2:1 ratio to speed up the transmissions. Also I've found
            that when sending fast on a hand key -- "something" has to go to get
            the speed - it's either the spacing of the length of the code elements
            - mostly the dash.

            In support of it being a fake were mentioned the "highly unlikely"
            possiblity of MCE having a Edison Dictaphone - even if they realized
            they had a "news story" and made a telegraph or telephone call - who
            are they going to call that has such a machine? This is Newfoundland
            - not New York City. However because of Newfoundland's significant
            geographic location with respect to Europe, it had significant
            telegraph coverage - if not telephone coverage. The trans-Atlantic
            telegraph cable was at Heart's Content, NF to Valencia (where present
            coast station EJK is located).

            Some interesting reading on Newfoundland early communications is at
            the bottom of the news release.
            http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/1997/tcr/0324N04.HTM

            Others question the non-fading of the signal. A signal from 300 miles
            or less - as was the distance from Titanic to Cape Race doesn't
            exhibit the quick fading of the HF bands, but if it does fade, it does
            so gradually often with the time of day - however 300 miles or less
            was almost always solid copy with modern equipment. But most noticed
            that the signal was "too loud" - I agree if the signal was received
            with such a strong signal, it would have been received "somewhere"
            barely received - but heard. It wasn't. Cape Race copied it fairly
            faintly.

            I will close by giving the email from Canadian Radio Historian, Spud
            Roscoe, VE1BC:

            On Dec 16, 2007 1:52 PM, Spud Roscoe
            Here is my 2 cents worth.

            It has to be a fake because none of the old boys I interviewed 35
            years ago that were there mentioned it. The DF station on Cape Race
            had call sign VAZ
            and Reay Bridger operated that in 1919. He modulated a transmitter
            with a gramophone and received several reports on the signal from
            passing passenger ships. If there had been a recording like this these
            old boys would have mentioned it. Unfortunately they have all been
            dead at least 20 years now.

            Another thing I have been given is a typewritten log for this incident.

            Again false. The original logs burned when the MCE/VCE station burned
            in 1919. I knew the log was a fake as soon as I saw it because it was
            not written in the radio language of the day.

            Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!

            73
            Spud VE1BC
            Halifax, Nova Scotia

            So I conclude - with your help - that it is a fake.

            Thanks for the answers and the help.

            73
            David Ring
            R/O US Merchant Marine (Ret)
          • David Ring
            W5FG, Jack Najork, sends a good message - why if the recording was a fake why wasn t it circulated. I still have a feeling that the recording -
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 22, 2007
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              W5FG, Jack Najork, sends a good message - why if the recording was a
              fake why wasn't it circulated.

              I still have a feeling that the recording -
              http://mikea.ath.cx/www.n1ea.coastalradio.org.uk/SOS_MGY.mp3
              was done by the members of the AWA. I found Ed Gable's email address
              (finally) and I am sending this to him.

              Jack W5FG found the recording in Tasmania - and his last email is given below.

              The recording is just too good - it was recorded locally. Parks
              Stevenson hasn't written in about the tone of the spark - which would
              certainly be telling because unlike other ships, the Titanic (and her
              sister ships) were outfitted with a 5 kW synchronous rotary spark
              transmitter.

              Ed Gable, if you know where this recording came from, drop me a email
              and I will send it onward to the various email groups that have been
              following this.

              73

              David N1EA


              ---------- QTC ----------
              From: J Najork <w5fgnaj@...>
              Date: Dec 23, 2007 4:04 AM
              Subject: Re: SOS de MGY - Titanic - Real? or Fake?
              To: David Ring <n1ea@...>


              Hi David: Thank you for sending me that lengthy msge re authenticity of the SOS
              Titanic . I have one question which puzzles me. If, as you say, some
              of the boys got together and decided to "make history" why did they
              not promulgate their brainchild more widely? No one here or for that
              matter in EU evidently ever heard this and you would think that the
              "guys" would have had a lot more fun by passing their fake message
              around and getting some reaction. As is, the thing was just about
              lost in Australia so, good samaritan Jack decided to save
              history......well, there are a lot of negative opinions out there and
              that is what they are: opinions. In lieu of positive proof I'll just
              go along with the opinion that the message was lost, was found, and is
              of questionable authenticity but no hard proof of "fakery" exists.
              Thanks again, David. I'm off jan 3 an another world cruise...68 days
              around South America, Antarctica ...Look for me W5FG/MM on 18115
              14153 SSB or low end of CW band. 73 Jack



              David Ring <n1ea@...> wrote:
              Thanks for all the wonderful answers about the SOS recording of the Titanic.

              There were only a few who thought it was real. Most thought it was
              false, some for the keying speed, some for other reasons which we will
              investigate later in this email.

              Regarding the keying, many thought it was a Vibroplex, however two
              people reported that they could and can send with a straight key at
              that speed and that the keying in the recording was that of a straight
              key. I know some whom I've heard on the air - TG9ADM comes to mind -
              he is a young man - less than 20 years of age - and he sends with an
              Ameco straight key - also known as a Japanese JJ38 key. He can send
              25 to 28 wpm. I've heard him.

              The other objection to the sending is the shortness of the dashes.
              However, Phillips was a former wire telegrapher and they used a short
              dash - about 2:1 ratio to speed up the transmissions. Also I've found
              that when sending fast on a hand key -- "something" has to go to get
              the speed - it's either the spacing of the length of the code elements
              - mostly the dash.

              In support of it being a fake were mentioned the "highly unlikely"
              possiblity of MCE having a Edison Dictaphone - even if they realized
              they had a "news story" and made a telegraph or telephone call - who
              are they going to call that has such a machine? This is Newfoundland
              - not New York City. However because of Newfoundland's significant
              geographic location with respect to Europe, it had significant
              telegraph coverage - if not telephone coverage. The trans-Atlantic
              telegraph cable was at Heart's Content, NF to Valencia (where present
              coast station EJK is located).

              Some interesting reading on Newfoundland early communications is at
              the bottom of the news release.
              http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/1997/tcr/0324N04.HTM

              Others question the non-fading of the signal. A signal from 300 miles
              or less - as was the distance from Titanic to Cape Race doesn't
              exhibit the quick fading of the HF bands, but if it does fade, it does
              so gradually often with the time of day - however 300 miles or less
              was almost always solid copy with modern equipment. But most noticed
              that the signal was "too loud" - I agree if the signal was received
              with such a strong signal, it would have been received "somewhere"
              barely received - but heard. It wasn't. Cape Race copied it fairly
              faintly.

              I will close by giving the email from Canadian Radio Historian, Spud
              Roscoe, VE1BC:

              On Dec 16, 2007 1:52 PM, Spud Roscoe
              Here is my 2 cents worth.

              It has to be a fake because none of the old boys I interviewed 35
              years ago that were there mentioned it. The DF station on Cape Race
              had call sign VAZ
              and Reay Bridger operated that in 1919. He modulated a transmitter
              with a gramophone and received several reports on the signal from
              passing passenger ships. If there had been a recording like this these
              old boys would have mentioned it. Unfortunately they have all been
              dead at least 20 years now.

              Another thing I have been given is a typewritten log for this incident.

              Again false. The original logs burned when the MCE/VCE station burned
              in 1919. I knew the log was a fake as soon as I saw it because it was
              not written in the radio language of the day.

              Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!

              73
              Spud VE1BC
              Halifax, Nova Scotia

              So I conclude - with your help - that it is a fake.

              Thanks for the answers and the help.

              73
              David Ring
              R/O US Merchant Marine (Ret)



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