Thursday, 11 August 2016

A Morse Key Connection

Today..... 11.8.2016 .....  11th August 2016..... is 102 years anniversary of the Klopfertaste M99 key on the previous blog. dated on the side   11.8.14

As a tribute to the family that were the previous owners, I present a story about the history of that key, it`s connection to the family, and now connecting me with the family, and all the history, too.

At the end of the story, there is a short video of me using the key, to send the message that is mentioned in the translation of Georges Julien `s life, (By kind permission of Christiane Lesven ). The message would have been broadcast, in French, by an announcer before the 9 pm news broadcast  on Radio Londres, and not  sent by morse code.

Here is the story .....

                                                A Morse Key connection –

            a potted history of the life of a German Morse key known as the Klopfertaste type M99

This story has several starting points ! But only one ending.…

          It was on  Ebay France that I saw this dirty old uncared for part missing morse key.. I had no idea, at that time, of the journey it would take me on,.. But it was a “buy it now”.. So I contacted the seller, and they gave me a price to post it to England… but before I received that, I decided I had better “buy it now” … before someone else did !..

Original Condition as received from France

Refurbished, rewired, and a new longer base

          And so starts a remarkable story, of how the information came about, through the curiosity about the markings on the side… It took me quite a lot of searching on Google images, before I finally tracked down the  name and type of key… Until then, I assumed that, because it was coming from France.. That it would have been a French maker… the “crown” looked to me, as though it was a copy of a French Priests hat.. ! !.. What the French Religious Authorities were doing with a morse key , I am not sure ! ! !.

       First is the Historical start point, or the Date of Manufacture. The key has a date impressed  on one side which is quite clear 11.8.14…. I am assured by a German friend, who has done a lot of the research work behind this key, that date would be 11th August 1914. .. Which means it was made 2 weeks after the start of the First World War. … From the other markings on the other side, my German Friend, has found that the F over S insignia, refers to the company of…  Ferdinand Schuchhardt, Telegraphenbauanstalt, Berlin SO.16, Germany. Established in 1886.

         The second starting point, would be that of who it was made for, and where it was used.  There is a “crown” like “logo” on the side, and this was really tricky to track down, as it is not  easy to track a picture on google internet search for “images”… however,  Once again, my German friend used his “local knowledge”, and a lot of intuition and guesswork, I would think.. Eventually he found a picture of the “crest” on a flag of the Post Office !.. … an almost identical match to the one on the key !.. And by this means, we have now associated it to being an “ownership mark” to indicate that it was “post office property”..

Which brings us around to a third starting point… How it ended up in the loft of a French Family…... but more of this one later ! ! ..see the translation of the life of Georges Julien, Croix de Guerre with palms, Renaudin of the Resistance.
( Original French version here…  )
 by kind permission of Chris Lesven.  (Merci Chris)

          All of the above information, was gleaned as a result of my interest in “old morse keys” and a daily search of morse keys for sale on Ebay… not satisfied with just the U.K. market, I also delve into the USA ebay, the SouthAfrican equivalent “bid or buy”.. And Ebay Germany and Ebay France.  

         However, it turns out to be of German Origin, as already mentioned,… properly identified as a KLOPFER TASTE.. Or “knocker key”, after the sound it made in use. And the model was a newer version of the original M99. The basic difference being the older version had a solid brass rocker arm, and the newer one, ( from 1906) was made with a “pressed steel” flat bar rocker arm. Interestingly, the design incorporates a “sprung steel” leaf under the contacts at both ends, this design “improvement” was to lessen the knocking sound, when the  key was being used… Imagine (say) 20 operators in the same room, bashing away at their morse key, sending those urgent telegrams, and messages across the Original Internet… … ..  What a noise it must have made…

Having received the morse key.. I decided to “give it a go” , in its present state of neglect, surprisingly, it had a very nice easy movement, and made good morse !.. I was expecting it to be a bit stiff with rusty pivot points making an uneven contact… So, off to the workshop, and the story about it`s refurbishment is on my blogsite

Meanwhile, I had again been in contact with the seller  ( Dominique Julien ) to see if he had any  more information  about where it was used, and by whom.. Etc. I was most surprised to find out that the key actually belonged to his Grandmother, who, together with her husband, the Grandfather, both worked in the French PTT, or Postes, Telegraphes et Telephones… ( about 1921 to 1930 ) . Which was formed in 1921,… some 7 years after the key was made, and 3 years after the end of World War 1…   
      Dominique Julien  also informed me that the Grandfather, was a member of the Resistance, in World War 2.

(see the translation of the life of Georges Julien, Croix de Guerre with palms, Renaudin of the Resistance. ) ( Original French version here…  ) by kind permission of Chris Lesven.  (Merci Chris)

  Dominque Julien does not know exactly the history of this key, but has said…..

“  1) my grandfather and my grandmother both worked at the PTT, the French position, (edit… French Poste, Telegraphe & Telephone )  and it is likely that it was a telegraphist in the 1920 or 1930 (I could be confirmed through letters I have ).

    2) my grandfather was a great resistance during WW2 (see website: and may be there is  many messages passed using this morse key.”

     3)  my grandfather was arrested at work on 15/12/1943, but due to the negligence of German, he managed to escape into the street and disappear in the Paris metro, and of course, German then went to the home of my grandparents where they waited in vain, in the presence of my grandmother who knew nothing, and finally departed leaving with his cat       ! ! ! .

Chris Lesven   ( cousin of the seller Dominique Julien )  says  “  The only thing we know for sure is that it was probably recovered from a job in France (probably in Paris rue des Archives)”     
……….  who knows  ? ? ?  It survived the war and remained with Grandmother Julien afterwards until it came up for sale

The following is a translation  of the page …. Supplied by Chris Lesven…..

Georges JULIEN

Grand Resistant
Officer of the Legion of Honour
Croix de guerre with palms

Georges Julien was born in Tours on March 18, 1902. His father was a watchmaker, his mother a teacher. They live in the center of town, rue Jules Moinaux. George is the fourth child of a family that will have six, two boys and four girls.
In 1921, George met in Rouen his future wife, Marie Gabrielle Lesven he married the following year. Both start at Rouen a career in PTT.
In 1927, Julien torque is transferred to Paris, to the harmonic station on Rue des Archives (4th).
In 1937, Georges Julien controller is in Paris Central, seconded to LSGD, underground lines at great distances, always rue des Archives.
In 1939, it provides a course in Brest telephone exchange.

Entry into Resistance

In the first months of 1941, through the French Red Cross, Georges Julien, Robert Keller and Robert Guillet contact with Vic Smith, co-founder of Vengeance network. The three men, apart from their activity in the intelligence network, recruit comrades among the two center staff, that of rue des Archives (telegraph), and that of the Rue de Grenelle (phone).

      Georges Julien had the joy of learning the announcement of the Normandy landings, hearing the night of June 5 to 6 personal message he had been waiting for months the broadcast, he has not been given to know the liberation of his country, for which he fought in 1941.

   The day before his death, aware of the dangers he ran in Bordeaux, despite his official mandate of representative of the National Committee of Resistance, he said to a friend: 'I do not fear death under German bullets, but I'm afraid of falling victim to those I defend'

     At the end of June 1944, Bordeaux is both a `magazine` (explosive place politically)  and a basket of crabs. Since the wave of arrests that have taken place since the summer of 1943, and who literally dismembered Bordeaux Resistance, a climate of suspicion reigns between the various resistance movements.

   What is later called Grandclément case there is obviously a lot. But this is not the only cause: after landing, this is the question of the future organization of France that is asked. Power issues, put into the background during the dark years, now taking place in the foreground.

     The power struggle being waged by General de Gaulle and his powerful allies, are not confined to the traditional  circles of politics and diplomacy, it also manifests itself in the field.

        And in the Bordeaux region, where the British Secret Service (SOE) have a determining position from the beginning of the Resistance, it is clear that London intends to pull its weight, even at the cost of a confrontation between networks.

    It is in this context that  Georges Julien, alias Renaudin, arrived in Bordeaux in late May 1944, with a mission to recognize the authority of the National Council of Resistance. He will face the suspicion and intolerance of uncontrolled groups.

   June 29, 1944, a group of four men, members of the Bordeaux region of resistance networks, Georges Julien was seen on the corner of Mouneyra Street and Heron Street. Without a word, they empty on him their weapons at close range and fled swiftly from the surrounding streets.

They just killed Renaudin, the National Resistance Council was commissioned to bring order in the dramatic situation of the Resistance in Bordeaux, where a fratricidal war in 1944 took over the arrests, executions and deportations that struck this region since the summer of 1943.

End of translation……..

Note… The message that Georges Julien heard on the radio, was probably broadcast by Radio Londres – a French radios station from the BBC to support the French Resistance by passing “innocuous”  seemingly meaningless “personal messages”.

The following is taken from Wikipedia
        Shortly before the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944, Radio Londres broadcast the first stanza of Paul Verlaine's poem "Chanson d'automne" to let the resistance know that the invasion would begin within 24 hours.[2]

    Les sanglots longs
    Des violons
    De l’automne
    Blessent mon cœur
    D’une langueur

Blessent mon cœur d'une langueur monotone ("wound my heart with a monotonous languor") was the specific call to action.

        It is, therefore, a Great Honour for me to be able to resurrect this key, with all its history, and use it in memory of Georges Julien (Renaudin), who was tragically murdered by his own people, after serving his country in the most difficult of ways during the second world war. ..

     I am humbled by his bravery, and will always be in awe of him, as I use the key to connect with my friends over the NEW Internet…. Just as he may have done,  ( just maybe, as there is no confirmation that he did use this key)  with the OLD internet during his lifetime.

    From now on, for me….  this key will be renamed, the Georges Julien Key, in his memory, as I feel that I am somehow connected by this Morse Key, with your family, and Georges in particular..

A very sincere “Thank you“ , to Dominique Julien, and Chris Lesven, for supplying the information and history, and  for allowing me to re-tell this story,  I shall treasure this Morse Key, as a memento of a Hero of the French Resistance. 

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