Field telephones were used for military communications. They could be powered by their own battery, a telephone switch (via a central battery), or an external power source.
The first field telephones had a generator that allowed the operator to generate the voltage needed to ring a manual telephone exchange or another telephone. This technology was used from almost the invention of the telephone until the 1960s.
Military personnel would connect to existing telephone lines using two clamps. To then connect to operators, they had to hand crank the generator.
In this display case:
Above, two Bakelite telephones used in offices and barracks.
On the middle shelf, at the bottom right, a Spanish field telephone which was also used in the civilian world in tramways. At the bottom left, in its leather case, a French military field telephone. Front left, a French military field telephone from the Second World War.
Decorating this shelf, you will find a gourd in the centre and in front, an ashtray made by a soldier during the First World War. The ashtray was made from an artillery shell.