Mk XV Ship’s Telephone

Anyone who has watched a documentary on the Royal Navy during the Second World War will be familiar with the use of voice pipes to communicate with different parts of a ship. These simple communications systems were just metal tubes that you spoke into and the sound vibrated around them to be picked up at the other end. They were simple and reasonably effective, but by the end of the Second World War they were being quickly displaced by internal ship’s telephones. One of these early designs was the Admiralty Mk XV telephone:imageThis heavy duty telephone was used in the latter parts of the Second World War and through into the post war period. It’s designation is marked on a small brass plate fastened to the front:imageIt is what is known as a sound phone so needed no external source of power to ring or to speak through. The operator turned the handle:imageWhich in turn powered a small generator that caused the corresponding telephone to ring indicating someone wished to speak. Simultaneously a light began to flash so if the telephone was in a noisy environment, such as an engine room, it was still clear that there was an incoming call. On the front of the box unit is a reinforced glass disk:imageBehind this sits a bulb:imageThe telephone has a large Bakelite handset, with a microphone and speaker unit built in:imageThis hooks into a cradle on the side of the telephone:imageThe hooks for holding the hand set are sprung to clamp the handset firmly in even the roughest weather. The user has to pull both down and out simultaneously to remove the handset:imageThe top cover of the telephone is secured with a series of captive screws. Undoing these allows the cover to be removed and for us to see the internal parts of the device:imageThe only indication of a date for this telephone can be found here, where an internal component is dated June 1944:imageThe telephone would have been securely mounted on a bulkhead, and on the rear are three brackets to allow it to be bolted on: weighing in at over 15 lbs, secure fittings would have been a necessity:imageOnce attached to the bulkhead, the wiring for the telephone to connect it to the rest of the ship’s communications system entered through the base of the telephone and several holes are cast into the body to allow wires to pass into the interior of the device:imageMaintaining these telephones came under the remit of the ship’s electrical department and this comes from a period manual advising how to maintain and set up the Mk XV telephone aboard a ship:CaptureI have no way of knowing what ship, if any, this telephone is from, nor whether it was made during the war or immediately afterwards form wartime components. It is incredibly heavy, but is a very interesting and fun piece of militaria and is now mounted on the wall as a great display piece. I just need to find a second and wire them up now…

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