The following article on the military phonetic alphabet is an excerpt from Barrett Tillman’ D-Day Encyclopedia. It is available for order now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 


Phonetic alphabets are at least as old as radio communications, meeting the need for precise transmission of alpha-numeric information, such as map grids. During World War II all combatant nations had standardized phonetics, though the Allies’ multiple systems frequently overlapped. For instance, in 1941 the U.S. Army and Navy had different alphabets, and throughout most of the war the British army, navy, and air force had their own similar but not identical systems. By 1944 the Anglo-Americans had agreed upon a standard phonetic alphabet, but changes still occurred.

Phonetics were part and parcel of the language of D-Day. The Normandy landing beaches were divided into specific sectors, each with a phonetic identifier. For example, the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan occurs at Omaha Dog Green Sector.

 

American

German

NATO

Able

Anton

Alfa

Baker

Berta/Bruno

Bravo

Charlie

Caesar

Charlie

The World War II German system was little changed from the First World War. Some differences in 1914–18 were Charlotte, Julius, Theodore, and Ypsilon. Additionally, Germany’s Great War alphabet had separate phonetics for words with umlauts, which are pronounced as an E sound, such as Oedipus or Uebel.

American

German

NATO

Dog

Dora

Delta

Easy

Emil

Echo

Fox

Friedrich/Fritz

Foxtrot

George

Gustav

Golf

How

Heinrich

Hotel

Item

Ida

India

Jig

Josef

Juliet

King

Konrad/Kurfurst

King

Love

Ludwig

Lima

Mike

Martha

Mike

Nan

Nordpol

November

Oboe

Otto

Oscar

Peter

Paula

Papa

Queen

Quelle

Quebec

Roger

Richard

Romeo

Sugar

Siegfried

Sierra

Tare

Toni

Tango

Uncle

Ulrich

Uncle

Victor

Viktor

Victor

William

Wilhelm

Whiskey

Xray

Xantippe

Xray

Yoke

Ypern

Yankee

Zebra

Zeppelin

Zulu

This article on the phonetic alphabet is part of our larger selection of posts about the Normandy Invasion. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to D-Day.


This article is from the book D-Day Encyclopedia, © 2014 by Barrett Tillman. Please use this data for any reference citations. To order this book, please visit its online sales page at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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