Cryptologic Bytes

World War I Runners Faced Perilous But Critical Mission of Carrying Messages

In this 22 January 2020 article by Patrick J. Kiger for, we learn about the most reliable, but also the most dangerous form of communication during World War I - the runners.

An excerpt from the article is included below.

In an era when wireless communication was still primitive, armies in World War I depended on a range of methods to relay messages between units. Options ranged from the telegraph to telephones to colored flares, mirrors that reflected flashes of sunlight, bugles and trained dogs and pigeons. But the most reliable means of communicating along the front was in the form of one of the war’s most dangerous roles: the runner.

Human runners were more dependable than staticky connections on phone lines. They could memorize complicated messages in case papers they were carrying were destroyed or became illegible. And they could locate hard-to-find places.

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