World War: New Signal

At 3 roy p.m. one afternoon last week, at latitude 22:10 North, longitude 51:28 West—1,900 miles east of Havana, Cuba, on the regular trade route from Barbados to England—the wireless operator of the British tanker El Ciervo began tapping out an alarm: SSS...SSS...SSS...

Long familiar to landlubbers has been the distress signal SOS. Contrary to landlubber tradition, S 0 S is not an abbreviation—either for "Save Our Souls" or "Save Our Ship." It is simply one of the clearest, simplest signals that could be devised from the Morse Code: Dot-dot-dot dash-dash-dash dot-dot-dot.

S S S—three triplets of dots—is a new signal, invented and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!