enter in the war. There is a need to
maintain reliable and continuous communications between
american forces in France and the United States. Because
of the sub-marine war, the transatlantic cables are
unreliable. The LYON-LA-DOUA telegraphic station has just
been completed by french Marine but is already very
busy/loaded. In addition it does not guarantee
communication at any time with america.
Sept 1917, french General Ferrie sees two solutions:
1st- increase power of Lyon station and increase height
of its towers.
2nd- build a new station able to ensure that communication
any hour, any season. This is what is requested by
US General Pershing, responsible for US troops supplies.
This solution receives the agreement of US high authority
represented by Admiral Simpson.
A french delegation leaves for the US. On October 4th 1917
an agreement is signed in New London, CT between the
US Government and this delegation Tardieu. This agreement
establishes the principle of creation of a powerfull radio
station. On January 9th 1918 the french President du Conseil,
minister of war, prescribes immediate creation of a high power
radiotelegraphic station able to ensure communication with
America day and night.
The inter-allied radiotelegraphic commission decides the station
will be built on Croix d'Hins former flying ground.
It is far from place of military operations, close to the
harbour of Bordeaux, it is near a railway and has the
highest altitude in the region.
The US Marine will supply the transmitting equipment and the
metal towers. The french "Radiotelegraphie militaire" will
establish the general layout of the station, define the
kind of antenna and ground plan, build the groundwork (base)
of the towers, build the buildings and energy supply.
To remind of its origin, franco-american friendship and
cooperation, the station will be called LAFAYETTE Radiotelegraphic
The first work done by France is started March 7th 1918.
The american team of 750 Marines is sent to build the towers,
as per the original agreement. It is managed by post-captain
SAINT CLAIR SMITH and commanders SWEET and HICKEY. This team
will start its work on MAY 28, 1918, that is once the
towers base/groundworks have been completed by the French.
The station is to be equiped with a geant antenna covering
an area 400 meters X 1200 meters. Its installation requires
to build eight geant 250 meters high towers. Material is
huge and heavy. To allow its transport, a railway is built.
Starting from the nearby Croix d'Hins railway station, this
railway goes all around the station area and goes to each
of the future towers. It also goes inside the future main
building where the radio transmitter will sit. Is also
enters the coal warehouse/building.
The locomotive carrying material has a weight
of 15-20 tons. The crane weights 60 tons.
Work progresses at good speed.
On the day of the end of the war, November 11th 1918,
the groundwork of the towers and of the technical buildings
are completed and six of the eight towers have been started.
Based on the agreement signed october 1917, the american
involvement is stopped. The work is stopped and new
negociations start and a new agreement is signed on
February 11th 1919. According to this agreement, the station
will be finished/built by those who have started it, and
once completed, it will be handled to the french Post and
Work resumes in March 1919. The towers are completed in
November 1919, the first tests are done April 1920.
were manufactured by Pittsburg Des Moines Co.
They will be 250 m high.
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