History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
Lionel Voss - HMTS Alert (2), CS Faraday (2)
My grandfather, Lionel C. Voss, was assistant engineer on the HMTS Alert (2) and was drowned when it was torpedoed in 1945.
Having fought right through the first world war it seems tragic that he was torpedoed in his early fifties, just a matter of weeks before VE day. I understand that Alert was being monitored by the coastal radar at St Margaret’s and they watched it disappear from their screens but did nothing. Some bodies and a lifeboat were washed up on the Belgian coast.
I have acquired my grandfather’s photograph albums, which contain some rather interesting photographs of cable maintenance and repairs being undertaken, probably in the late 1920’s or early 30’s.
He photographed two operations:
1. The laying of the Anglo-Irish cable from the Isle of Man. The ship in this case is CS Faraday(2).
2. The repair of one of the Anglo-French cables from Alert.They are mainly shore-based operations but give an interesting insight into what these operations actually looked like.
ANGLO-IRISH CABLE - 1929 My grandfather has written "Laying of the Anglo-Irish Cable" on these pages of his album. See also the detailed page on this cable.
He wrote "Cable Ship Faraday off Port Grenaugh" against the next series of pictures. Port Grenaugh is on the south east of Man and I assume this is where the cable arrived from the UK mainland. (I note from your website that this is where the 1987 fibre optic cable also arrived).
He wrote "Shore Operations at Port Erin I.O.M" against the next series of pictures. They have a striking resemblance to the photograph on the 1929 Anglo-Irish telephone cable page. I assume this is where the cable set off across the Irish Sea.
The interior shot of the cable tank and the man on deck are with the Isle of Man photos so I have to assume this is also CS Faraday. The picture taken from the ship of the headland is definitely Port Erin.
ANGLO-FRENCH REPAIR - 1931?
The next set of photos he called "Repair of Anglo-French cable". It’s clearly the south coast but could be anywhere between Eastbourne and Margate (those chalk cliffs go on for miles!).
There are two pictures of Alert. The first one is a separate postcard.
The other picture, showing the ship moored, is with the Anglo-French series. It appears to be the same ship although I understand Monarch (3) and Alert (2) were very similar.
This photo is with the Anglo-French series so it is likely to be the terminal hut on the English side.
Other photographs in the album are dated 1929 and 1931 so this is as close as I can get to dating both sections. The GPO trunk cable was laid from Norbreck (near Blackpool) to Port Grenaugh in 1929.
Text and images on this page copyright © 2006 Charlie Voss
See also the main page on Alert (2)
Last revised: 15 June, 2016