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The shortest telegram in history was my Grandmother

​​My Grandmother, Hilary Yvonne Holme was born 100 years ago on the 4th February 1918 in Geneva, the city where I will be playing at and adjudicating the Menuhin Competition this Spring.

Her father was the Manchester-born officer, Richard Carlyle Holme who was responsible for some of the biggest artillery at the Front in France during the Great War. He wanted to receive the news about his first (and only) baby being born via the shortest possible telegram, Morse code message that was agreed upon in advance. The telegram was a scarce resource in the trenches and should have in principle, only be used for military purposes.

However, Richard was accorded the right to receive news about his coming, much wanted child, but the message had to be short. So, they decided that the message would be one dot for a girl and two dots for a boy.

Her mother was on constant bed-rest, as per the doctor’s advice in a health resort in Geneva, due to previously having had many miscarriages, but when time was drawing near, she thought that she might risk getting up. The doctor had been right and my grandmother arrived at once.

And so, the shortest telegram in history was sent: one little "." and because of this, my Grandmother’s nickname remained "Dot" for the rest of her life.

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