Escher.gif (426 bytes)

History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Cable Stories

One of the rewards of running the Atlantic Cable website is the contact it provides with present and former cable industry staff. As a result of answering inquiries about cableships and cable companies, I’ve been privileged to hear stories and see photographs showing the recent and not-so-recent history of the cable industry. This page presents some of these stories for the first time, together with reprints of historical articles about cable workers.

If you have any cable-related material you’d like to share (photographs, family histories, artifacts or souvenirs of any kind), please feel free to email me.

-- Bill Burns
1850-64 Frederick C. Webb: Old Cable Stories Retold
1858 James Burn Russell Journal of the Atlantic cable expedition
1858 Thomas Worrall and the Atlantic cable
1858 Richard Williamson and the 1858 Atlantic Cable
1867 Philip Crookes and the 1867 Florida - Cuba Cable
1870-74 James Nicol - Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company
1873 Benjamin Powell Wilkins - CS Robert Lowe
1873-1875 Ernest William Enfield - Cable expeditions on Great Eastern and other ships for the firm of Ford and Clark.
1875-1897 John Seymour - CS’s Hibernia, Kangaroo, Edinburgh, Scotia, Medina, Britannia, Seine (2)
1879-1900 Henry Ash - CS Faraday (1)
1883 George West - cable repairs off the coast of Peru
1886 James Graves - Superintendent, Valentia Cable Station
1885-1890 Letters to John Clement Cuff - Electrical Engineer, Eastern Extension, Australasia and China Telegraph Company, Singapore
1889-1911 Alf Newsome - CS Silvertown, Dacia, Mexican, Electra
1890 Charles Henry Baker - Central & South American Telegraph Company, Barranco, Peru
Robert Langley Boyd - Eastern Telegraph Company cableship captain
1892 Captain Basil C. Combe - CS Silvertown, CS Omba, CS Dacia
1894 Charles W. Banks - fire on CS Minia
1895 Captain Samuel Trott - cable repairing on CS Minia
1897 John Brown and CS Contre Amiral Caubet
1900-13 James Joseph Cope - Siemens Brothers and CS Faraday (2)
1902 Captain Christian Christenson - CS Ydun and the 1902 Mexico cable
1902-37 Frank R. Crowther - a lifelong career at the Pacific Cable Board then All America Cables. Includes “A Submarine Cable War Tale: 1917”
1902-45 Francis Herbert Trethewey - brief notes on his employment by the Eastern Telegraph Company from 1902 until his retirement in 1945, and his service on CS Sherard Osborn (1910-12)
1903 Mortimer O’Connell - A brief survey of the first fifty years of the cable industry, particularly the Atlantic cables, by a telegraphist who worked at Ballinskelligs cable station from 1879 to 1915.
1910-50 Nelson J. Perryman - “Around the World: A Career in Cables.” Cable consulting with Latimer Clark’s London-based firm followed by many years at All America Cables
1912-2? Charles Skilliter - CS Faraday and HTMS Monarch (3)
1914 Walter Claypoole - Far Rockaway and Canso stations of the Commercial Cable Company
1915-16 Alfred Lawrence Spalding and CS Levant II - cable laying during the Gallipoli Campaign
1919-55 Captain Harold W.M. Milne and the Eastern Telegraph Company
1924 John S. Whaley - All America Cables, Santa Elena Station, Ecuador
1925-85 Wallie Graves & Marshall Killen in An operator’s view of the early days of the Italian trans-Atlantic telegraph cable
by Donard de Cogan
1926-35 James Alan Bambrough - CS Dominia & CS Telconia
1927-40 William Elmgreen - engineer on the Great Northern's cable ships in Shanghai, CS Pacific and CS Store Nordiske [external link, archive copy].
1929 George Browne - CS The Cable and a sweepstakes win
1929-31 Leonard Francis Ellis - CS Dominia & CS Faraday (2)
1929-35 Alexander Purse Murdoch - CS Faraday (2) North Atlantic cable repairs (1929) and Bass Strait cable expedition (1935)
192?-45 Lionel Voss - CS Faraday (2), HMTS Alert (2)
193?-41 Hugh McDonald Campbell - CS Faraday (2)
1936 Captain Frederick Hack - CS All America
1940-49 Ken Smith, Cable Jointer- Life on board cable ships during the war and after
1941 Michael Mallia and the sinking of CS Retriever (3)
1941 James Dooley’s Violin
1942 George S. Watson - Remembrances of a Cable Operator
1943 Grace Markham - The Great Northern Telegraph Company in WWII
1944-45 Cal Sheckler - Cable Station RM - Cal’s account of diverting the 1926 Azores-Emden German cable into Normandy for use by the Allied Forces after D-Day
1944-45 Frank Foord - Protecting CS Lord Kelvin - includes details of the French Cable Wharf at Halifax, Nova Scotia
1944-50 Ernest Hunt - HMTS Monarch (3) and Alert (3) - a brief account of his service on Monarch (3) after the shelling by American destroyers earlier in 1944 up until the sinking of Monarch by enemy action in 1945, for which he was on board. Story includes a painting by one of Ernest’s shipmates.
1944-47 Eric Tate and the Admiralty Cable Ships
1945-51 S.F. (Rudy) Rudolph - Cablehead RM - Rudy arrived at the station just as Cal Sheckler was leaving, and continues the story of the operation immediately after the end of the war
1947 John Rattenbury and HMS Lasso
1948/49 David Osborn - Plaque from the 1887 Porthcurno-Zante cable
1948-53 Peter Edwards - CS Recorder (2) and CS Edward Wilshaw
1940s-50s Bernard Perrault & Jean Auger - Western Union cables at Le Havre, France
1940s-60s John Curley - Purser on HMTS Monarch (4)
1950s Ron Woodland Sr. - HMTS Ariel
1950s Mike Bonds - CS Mirror, Cable & Wireless
1950s Jim Coulson - HMTS Iris 2), Alert (2), Monarch, Ocean Layer
1950s P.T. Joergensen - Great Northern Telegraph Company
1952-59 Harry Parker - CS Monarch (4)
1953- Dave Smith - Memoirs of a Cable Engineer
Part 1: Western Union
1954 Barry Waterhouse - CS Recorder (3)
1957 Brendan Keane - CS Ocean Layer
1958-89 Telcon - Jim Jones & Ron Fox - Cable Work at the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company (Telcon) and Standard Telephones & Cables (STC)
1959 Ken Guy - CS Ocean Layer
1959 Commercial Cable Company/All America Cables - The boys who went to Latin America (external link)
1960s Gustavo Coll - River Plate cable repairs
1962 Jack Jenkins - CS Mercury
1965 David Howard - The Gentleman’s Game
1967-82 David Watson - Memoirs of an STC Project Engineer
Part 1: SAT 1 (1967)
Part 2 - Sicily - Libya (1968)
Part 3 - Germany - Sweden (1969)
Part 4 - CANTAT 2 (1973)
Part 5 - ANZCAN (1982)
1967 David Howard - The Rescue of SS Lakemba
1967-73 George Smith - CS Alert (4)
1968 David Howard - Losing a Buoy on CS Retriever
1968- Leo Parrish - CS Long Lines
1969 James Barrowman - Cable & Wireless, Fiji 1969
1978 Jose Manuel Gil - CS Mercury
1980 Bob Ceen - sonar surveys on CS Marcel Bayard
1981 Karl Howard - drafting the cable route for ANZCAN
2015 Kristian Nielsen - laying the BLAST system in American Samoa, CS Intrepid

Last revised: 16 September, 2023

Return to Atlantic Cable main page

Search all pages on the Atlantic Cable site:

Research Material Needed

The Atlantic Cable website is non-commercial, and its mission is to make available on line as much information as possible.

You can help - if you have cable material, old or new, please contact me. Cable samples, instruments, documents, brochures, souvenir books, photographs, family stories, all are valuable to researchers and historians.

If you have any cable-related items that you could photograph, copy, scan, loan, or sell, please email me: [email protected]

—Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster: