French Wireless Systems

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The French Navy used wireless. The reader should note that this article is based largely on British knowledge of French equipment and practice.


Prior to 1909, the French had a haphazard use of wireless, signaling "en clair", or in plain text. Two French ships moving from Brest to Toulon communicated on a 1,000 foot wave and more feebly on a 1,200 foot wave. Their chatter seemed to indicate surprise and satisfaction with the results. Five character code groups called "Chiffre Z" were observed to be used in 1909 from the Eiffel Tower and by French ships. The protocol employed a "very long preamble."

In April, a large number of new French shore stations came online.

Procedural Signs

As any service must, the French were noted to use abbreviations and words to help control message traffic.

Word or Sign Meaning
PFT Atmospherics very good
RTB Reception very good
BSR Bon soir
BJR Bon jour
TSF Wireless Telegraphy
OFF Official message
SVP Please
PZ Reception very good
RM Reception bad
RN Nothing received
RJ Reception weak, usually followed by IMI
TG Telegram
DE (or B) From
SB Signals jammed (not by atmospherics)
Parasite Atmospherics
Brouillage Interference
Compartment emission Spark Gap
Etincelle Spark
Etincelle chantante Musical spark
Chiffre (or Chif) Code
Attacquer Call
Cloture Finished working

See Also


  1. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. Wireless Appendix, pp. 55-6.