Where Did Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta Come From?

Mystery Hour

Mystery Hour Question

The police alphabet – alpha, bravo, Charlie, delta etc. Why is it those words? Why not apple, banana, Clementine etc?
Dave, Orpington


** Definitive **
Name: Jez, Camberley
Qualification: Use them at work as an air traffic controller
Answer: The name is the phonetic alphabet and that’s the way in which the words sound. Each word is chosen because it cannot be confused for any other word when said, hence the reason it is used to help people spell words over phones or radio. It began with the introduction of voice-communication over radio signals.

** Also Definitive – One of the best answers we’ve ever had! **
Name: Terrence, Brentwood
Qualification: Lifelong experience!
Answer: Back in the Second World War, the British Army had Able, Baker, Charlie and these were all English words that only an English speaker could pronounce properly. When we joined NATO, it became necessary that people of all languages could pronounce these. Alpha, Bravo etc were used as it’s very difficult to mispronounce them in English. It was launched in 1953, when I was in the Korean War and had to learn the new phonetic alphabet. On the radio, they used to say “This is Children’s Hour” to confuse the enemy listening in, before we started to talk in the new phonetic alphabet.