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Setting up phone system in Korea


Attempting to dig out hole for establishing a telephone exhange during the Korean War.

Commentary about this image by Bob Jagger

Arthur Newdick, Red Harris and Alex Quate are on pick and shovels. They have been digging into the frozen ground to set up a new manual exchange. They have dug a bit of a hole but ultimately gelignite had to be used.

The exchange was where we took the messages, plugging into a board. This plug-in phone system allowed us to connect with others in the field and reach particular people. For argument’s sake, it might be a Gun Sergeant calling the M.O. (Medical Officer) who would have his own plug. We could reach to a radius of a couple of miles (three kilometres).

Everything we heard on the phones was confidential. We did sometimes listen in and on one occasion, we heard a discussion about the dishing out of medals. Mentioning no names, the Colonel said, ‘Who shall we present a medal to?’ The officer at the other end of the phone said, ‘Well I could do with one!’ We would love to have told the whole world about that one but we were under a strict obligation to keep quiet.


Image: Bob Jagger collection, not to be reused without permission

Text: Bob Jagger interview by Sue Corkill, Fern Publishing

How to cite this page

Setting up phone system in Korea, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated