Laying of First Transatlantic Telephone Cable

HMTS MonarchJune 28, 1955

The HMTS Monarch, the largest cable laying ship in the world at the time, launches from Clarenville, Newfoundland to begin laying TAT-1, the first Transatlantic telephone cable. TAT-1 would be inaugurated 15 months later on September 25, 1956. TAT-1 may be best known for carrying the famous “hot line” between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

  • Birgit

    I’m doing some family history research.  My grandfather was William Bruce Duncan from Aberdeen, Scotland. He was born in 1902. In approx. 1956 he was honoured at Buckingham Palace for his involvement with the lanying of the First Transatlantic Telephone Cable but I can’t find out any more information from the internet.  My mother has the award (not sure where though) so I know it exists.  Have you any idea how I can proceed?
    Birgit Jones

    • Wow, if you could find that award, I’d love to see a picture of it! The key may be in finding out what is inscribed on that award. I as well couldn’t find anything about your Grandfather or any award given to people involved with TAT-1.

      What I did find was that at the time of TAT-1 being laid, the HTMS Monarch was under the control of the British GPO (General Post Office). The GPO was a government entity during the laying of TAT-1. So it sounds like your grandfather may have been part of the GPO. That could be a starting point.In 1969, the GPO was basically disbanded and all the entities under its control were broken out into private companies. I believe the entity that was responsible for telecommunications eventually became British Telecommunications corporation. So perhaps you could get some information on the crew or people involved with the HTMS Monarch and/or the laying of TAT-1 from British Telecom.Also, the Monarch was renamed the Sentinel and was sold to Cable & Wireless, Ltd. in 1970. That company may have some information as well.

      This web site seems to be a good resource about the laying of transatlantic cables:

      Good luck! Let me know how it goes!