Charles Edward McGinnes

Peter McGinnes contacted me with a pair of "Voice Records" which were recorded by his father in England during the war. These were recorded messages which were sent to family back home in Australia.

The envelopes were marked with a message to only play the records with thorn needles. Fortunately, Peter had not tried to play them worried that they may be damaged in the process.

Voice Records History: Operated by AMUSEMENT EQUIPMENT Co. Ltd. Hong Kong Works. Exhibition Grounds. Wembley. Middlesex in London. The recording machines were made by Brecknell, Munro & Rodgers of Bristol. Here is a page showing some of the other machines made by BMR

Voice recording booths became popular in the 1930’s. These automatic voice recording booths could be found all over, in department stores, train stations and amusement arcades.

The Voice Record machine was first demonstrated in1924 and peaked around the mid-1930’s. They were discontinued in the early 1940 due to the war.

The Voice Records were 5” 78rpm aluminium disc discs (A composite base covered with a thin layer of aluminium). They were recorded on both sides, one side had a pre-recorded advertisement; usually advertising itself, sometimes advertising cigarettes or local shops and attractions.

This blank side was recorded in the booth via a telephone style hand set. One could record a one-minute personal message, song or any other audio. An envelope was provided with the record and a small number of “wooden needles” which were used to playback the record.

Even new, the aluminium surface was very fragile and the common steel needle would have destroyed the etched aluminium.

These two records were transcribed using an ultra-light weight tonearm (1.5g) and a 2.5mil sapphire stylus. They were only played twice but it was obvious the surface was being destroyed with each play.

So if you have one of these, DON’T PLAY IT. Take it to someone who knows what they are doing and has the correct equipment to transcribe it.

Please contact me if you have any more info on these records and the machines that made them. I have not even find a single picture or advertisement. Plenty of American versions but no European.

Original Audio from Voice Record

Cleaned Audio from Voice Record

Advert from Voice Record


Dad was born Charles Edward McGinnes, always called Charlie, in Lithgow, NSW in 1919.

He joined the Australian Army soon after the outbreak of WW2, in November 1939.

Left Sydney on the Queen Mary in May 1940 and arrived in England with the task of defending the UK if Germany invaded. He was in 2/33rd Battalion, 7th Division, AIF.

When the threat of invasion subsided, he was sent to the Middle East in 1941. First to Egypt then to Palestine to prepare to attack the Vichy French in Syria.

He fought in Syria and Lebanon successfully.

Early 1942, after Japan entered the war, his unit was rushed back to Australia to protect it from an expected Japanese invasion.

He fought in New Guinea in 1942, 1943, and 1944.

In 1945 he was in the amphibious attack on Balikpapan in Borneo. Just a few weeks before the end of the war in 1945, he was severely wounded in action.

Fortunately, he survived and made it home.

He passed away on 12th of June 1995.

He recorded these discs before Christmas 1940 He was only 21 at the time. However, he was not able to send them home till mid 1941 when he was in Egypt. Mail services were very difficult early on due to U Boat attacks and shortage of aircraft.