US Army Model A telephone

In the Great War, the unprecedented and widespread use of telephones and rudimentary radio telephone transmitters for command and control brought forth the problem of misunderstanding what the person on the other end was trying to yell into his primitive device, especially during the noise and confusion of combat, and thus led to the practice of spelling out words and substituting codes for letters of the alphabet. This continues to the present day, although the code set has changed several times, and the current version was first promulgated in 1956. Here’s the 1914-18 table:

Letter British Army British Navy 
A ACK APPLES
B BEER BUTTER
C C CHARLIE
D DON DUFF
E E EDWARD
F F FREDDY
G G GEORGE
H H HARRY
I I INK
J J JOHNNIE
K K KING
L L LONDON
M EMMA MONKEY
N N NUTS
O O ORANGE
P PIP PUDDING
Q Q QUEENIE
R R ROBERT
S ESSES SUGAR
T TOC TOMMY
U U UNCLE
V VIC VINEGAR
W W WILLIAM
X X XERXES
Y Y YELLOW
Z ZED ZEBRA

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official living in Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.