On September 24, 1914, the Captain of the Cavite ship yard on the Philippine Islands sent a letter to the commandant providing details of radio wave propagation and indicated an early interest in Japanese radio codes and a suggestion for extra pay for operators who become proficient in the Japanese language.
On August 7, 1914, one month prior to the Cavite letter featured below, the British government officially asked Japan for assistance in destroying the raiders from the Imperial German Navy in and around Chinese waters. Japan sent Germany an ultimatum on August 23, 1914 which went unanswered; Japan then formally declared war on Germany on August 23, 1914 in the name of the Emperor Taishō.
For historical context, this letter was sent 10 years prior to Admiral Edward W. Eberle, the CNO, who asked Admiral Thomas Washington, Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet to expand radio intelligence facilities in his area. As a result this request, in 1924, the first shore-based intercept station was established in the American consulate in Shanghai. The primary target was diplomatic radio network serving the numerous Japanese consulates throughout China. Shanghai also copied both Naval and commercial traffic, Japanese and British. Shanghai is where CRM Kidder started to intercept Japanese communications. Four years later would pass before the birth of the “On-the-Roof Gang” training.
For ease of reading below is the letter typed; a copy of the original letter is at the end of this post.
********** The Letter ************
UNITED STATES NAVAL STATION
Cavite, Philippine Islands,
September 24, 1914
From: Captain of the Yard, Commanding.
Subject: Communication by radiotelegraphy.
REFERENCE: (a) Secnav let 12479-708-Op-4; 5/22/14, and
memo. And correspondence from Supt. Naval
1. For operations in Asiatic Waters the radio station at Cavite, P. I., would probably be the main source of information to the Commander in Chief. The present installation has a daylight range of approximately only 350 miles and from 1200 to 1500 miles at night. A steady communication is not possible under unfavorable atmospheric conditions, and the range is greatly reduced. For efficient radio communication with vessels operating at a considerable distance, a modern high power set, such as has been proposed for Sangley Point, is necessary. With the present installation at Cavite there are no foreign station within range during daylight. Under usual conditions, at night, communication can be had with the station at Kelung, Formosa, and with Ose Saki, Goto Islands, Japan, under favorable condition. These stations are both owned and operated by the Japanese Government and would not be available for official business in time of war if Japan maintains neutrality. There is also a station controlled by the Japanese Naval Authorities at Kelung, Pescadores Islands, with which communication could be had if the Japanese Government would authorize it. At present this Station will not communicate with foreign stations under any circumstances.
2. A radio chain to northern waters could be established without the use of ships, as follows: Cavite-Kelung-Ose Saki-Tsingtan or Cavite-Kelung-Ose Saki-Dalny, the advisability of the foreign stations of course, depending upon international relations. The Tsingtau station has a daylight range of approximately 600 miles.
3. In regard to personnel it is recommended tht operators on the Asiatic Station be required to become familiar with the Japanese radio code. It is believed that extra compensation should be given operators who become proficient in the Japanese language, especially in the use of Japanese script. Operator with this knowledge would be of great value on the Station.
********* Copy of the Original letter *********
Source: Echoes of Our Past