Ack was the “letter A in Signallers' vernacular: a word coined for clearness of expression and to prevent misunderstanding. Men's lives, even the fate of a battle, may depend on a signaller's message, on a signaller's pronunciation of a single word, even of a single letter. [During the First World War] the words ordinarily used by the Signal Staff as substitutes for letters of the alphabet in transmitting messages, particularly by telephone, were as follows:-
|Ack (also Ak)||— A|
Ack, Ack, Ack signified the close of a sentence or message. A.M. (before noon) was transmitted as "Ack Emma." P.M. (after noon) was transmitted as "Pip Emma." How a message may be distorted in oral transmission through a number of men, the following Signal Service story of pre-War days, exemplifies. The first man in an extended chain of signallers under instruction was given the message to pass along the line "Goin to advance - send reinforcements." The message was delivered by the last man in the chain as "Going to a dance - lend me three and fourpence!" ” This, if anything, shows how important the use of specific words used as substitutes for letters were to ensure that messages were received exactly as they were sent.
References / notes
- Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London p.1.
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