Home Front – Ham Radio Operators – Intermission Story (18)

Canadian radio operators

Naval Communication Reserve, the Army Amateur Network (not military and often used by the Red Cross), and the Amateur Emergency of the American Radar Relay League  (AARL),were the main networks as WWII brewed toward the USA. The messages were relayed and transmitted free of charge.

In Los Angeles, CA, the Major Diasater Emergency Council, a behind-the-scenes orgaization, prepared early to take over the handling of relief and and public safety.  The operators wore a special uniform and each had special instructions as to their duties.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), trained intelligent men who were needed to man the new long-range surveillance and direction-finding radio interceptor stations that were being built as part of the national defense program.  [This was transpiring in 1939, long before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor]

A very short (1:28) video on the secret wireless war from the UK.

 

In time of war, thousands of trained members of these nets would be taken in by the military services for active duty and many others would be detailed to guard various frequencies to detect enemy and spy messages.  Resitrictions governing amateur radio were being tightened and all owners of transmittng stations were fingerprinted and were required to show proof of citizenship.

In June 1942, at the request of the AARL, the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS), was created.  The FCC continued to offer amateur licensing throughout the war.

Gwendoline’s contribution for us – Here you can see the letter sent from Mrs. Cecilia McKie in Sacramento, California to Mrs. Alice Eaddie, Yorkshire, England (a similar letter sent to Mr. & Mrs. Nils T. Peterson, MT).  In it Mrs. McKie explains that she listens to the shortwave program and overhears messages from Allied POWs in Japanese camps.  During February 1943 to the present date of this letter, Cecilia had mailed out 8100 letters to the families of these prisoners.  The message to Mrs. Eaddie was:

“Received your cablegram and safe.  Hope you are all still well at home.  Give my love to Mother and Dad.  Best wishes to our friends.  Tell May Charles (?) is all right.  All my love to you, Patricia.”

Ham radio WWII letter, contributed by Garrulous Gwedoline

 

Other countries had many other radio operators – here is an incredible example from Australia –

http://www.arrl.org/news/behind-enemy-lines-an-amateur-radio-operator-rsquo-s-amazing-tale-of-bravery

This post was inspired by Garrulous Gwendoline and her contribution to this site.  Her own website is well worth a read – you’ll love it!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

“I DON’T CARE IF DIVISION DOESN’T SEND QSL CARDS……GET ON THAT RADIO!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Butler – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Korea

Caleb Erickson – Waseca, MN; USMC; Afghanistan, Cpl., KIA

Samuel Hadley Jr. – W>Palm Beach, FL; US Army, WWII

Paul Himber – Elizabeth, NJ; US Navy, USS Threadfin

Stanley Krolczyk – Toledo, OH; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Cmdr. (Ret. 24 y.), pilot

Al Kuhn – Chcago, IL; US Army

Rex Phelps – MI; US Navy, WWII, LT., LST

Larry Satell – Palm Beach Gardens, FL; US Army, Korea

Kent Stirling – Pittsburgh, PA; US Air Force

Leland Uhlenhopp – Storden, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 21, 2017, in Home Front, Letters home, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 145 Comments.

  1. Great post as always GP we always need communication that is not government controlled and that one day maybe needed once again to save the world from another form of tyranny …. Even though l hope it never happens better to be prepared this time …. Ian ⭐️🙏😊👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope there are still people with this skill. You never know when it might be necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fascinating GP, these were men apart.Real unassuming heroes who probably thought of themselves as anything but.

    On the link provided at the finish there are some photos; one is of the DSM being pinned on Petty Officer Mason,

    I think perhaps it might have been Lt. Read; the uniform of the man being decorated is that of a Lieutenant (pronounced leftenant by the British) Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, also known by the British as the Wavy Navy, because of the braid on the uniform. Petty Office Mason’s uniform would have had brass buttons instead.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My grandfather was a Ham Operator enthusiast…He spent hours communicating all over the world…I still remember his lic #. He fought in WW2 and received the purple heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Paul Mason had quite a story! Can’t imagine tanning the tull tull man’s backside with a lump of wood. That’s wild!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have a gift for finding new facets of history to highlight. Each post demonstrates the valor and sacrifice of those who came before us. If we do not do our part to safeguard the rights they gave their all to protect and preserve, our children will be the losers and we can hang our heads in shame.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agreed. My son was killed while serving in the Marines and those over-paid athletes that kneel during the anthem should be forced to spend time serving – maybe they;d grow up and have respect.

      Like

  7. that spy radio video was great – nice post – thanks G

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi thanks glad you like nice to meet you I recreated Bruce Lee The Dragon of jade blind swordsman for everyone on the planet thanks for liking and message back

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love these “intermissions” – and this one particularly caught my eye since my great-great (or so) uncle was Samuel F.B. Morse (my Mom’s maiden name). Loved the vid clip. I did not realize the civilian input to the WWII war effort, however. Fascinating – and a good reminder that we each CAN make a difference and change our world – as long as we are willing to step up.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. A fascinating and still very secret war.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tank you, Hilary. Good to hear from you. What’s been keeping you busy lately?

      Like

    • Hilary, on the same microfilm reel I found many pages related to British POWs, including letters and sketches. I thought it might interest your research. Perhaps you are already familiar with this material, but if you would like, I can have a look for the reference numbers. The originals are held by the West Yorkshire archive service.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sorry Gwendoline, I’ve only just seen this. If I can get to Yorkshire, I’ll look at these archives. I think some of my 68 men were Yorkshire-based, I will look again at the addresses of their families. Thanks.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Harry Eaddie. Deed box collection: formally at Bradford Public Library, date range 1942-1947

          This is what was on the microfilms reels sent to me from CANBERRA. Of these, I think the archive you are after is . . . Harry Eaddie. Deed box collection: formally at Bradford Public Library: William Cudworth (1830-); Longley Family History; John Malham Dembleby papersDeposited collections: Mitchell Family; John and Mary Glasson; Miriam Lord (1885-1968) papers; Moore Family papers; J.W. MacGregor correspondence; Hirsch Family papers; Cliffe Castle Museum Keighley miscellaneous records; Bradford City Council (Lord Mayor’s Office); Edward R. Hartley (1855-1918); Bradford Arts Club; Illingworth Morris PLC; Deighton Family papers; Journal of voyage to Sydney on “Scotia”; Harry Eaddie. Deed box collection: formally at Bradford Public Library: William Cudworth (1830-); Longley Family History; John Malham Dembleby papers. Family and Estate papers: William Paley Baildon papers; Michael Heaton and Walter Spencer Stanhope correspondence.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Hilary, I believe the correct reference is “Harry Eaddie. Deed box collection: formally at Bradford Public Library, date range 1942 – 1947”. If that is not correct, let me know and I will send all the references that were on that microfilm. GP – I accidentally hit the send button on another garbled reply. Please feel free to delete if it comes through. Gwen

          Liked by 2 people

  11. Isn’t it fascinating how much life has changed. My parents sent a telegram from San Francisco to Scotland to announce my birth – still have it.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. GP, You have enough folks to answer without me chiming in! Ham Radio Operators deserve this attention & tribute!!! They even helped us get messages home from Vietnam in my day! That PBS Ken Burns series on Vietnam is tearing me up inside!!! Thanks for taking a look & for the “Like” on my David McCullough, Book #11 !!! He has been & still is at 84 a great historian! On my website in the right margin under “Book Reviews,” if you like his works, you can click on my impressions of all 11 of his books; I do Books 1-5, then 6-9, 10, & now the 11th, all in just 4 posts! May all things be well with you, GP! And thank you! Phil

    Liked by 4 people

  13. gain a good story an superb video

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Great post!
    It brought to mind another civilian form of service in the U.S. which has existed since WWII and continues today, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). It’s an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, and I had high school friends who participated in the program in the early 2000’s. http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/about/

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Great stuff GP. I’ve seen some documentaries on this subject and they never fail to be fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Interesting article, GP. This was somewhat what I did when I was in the Navy 30 years later, albeit my time the world was at peace. Your posts, fascinating, as usual!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I had neglected to link back to your blog in today’s Friday Funnies post, but I fixed that:
    https://56packardman.com/2017/09/22/friday-funnies-multiple-stab-wounds-edition/

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Who knew so many people would be HAM operators? It reminds me of my English “mother”, who, in the late 70s re-married, to a retired naval commander. She wanted him to take up a hobby, but was woefully unprepared for the study he created and fitted out with equipment, and the dish he set up in the back garden. I’d come “home” from my European travels and she would complain about how he shut himself in there with his ‘dit-dahs’ all day long. His walls were littered with the postcards the operators would send after receiving and transmitting signals with each other. There were cards from all over the world, including plenty from what was then ‘behind the iron curtain’. I was secretly jealous of his hobby.

    I’d already taught myself semaphore signalling as a young child and would have loved to learn morse. I remember learning the flags from some kind of Girl’s Own Manual, from which I also learnt how to train my dog, and basic hand sign language for the deaf. All skills forgotten by my early twenties.

    I want to come back and read that other link when I have a bit more time, but I sped read it and got to the pidgin English part. When I worked in export we shipped a lot of cargo to PNG, and somehow I got hold of a tax return form. It included such gems as, “married name”, which translated as something like: “suppose you bin meri, name bilong man bilong you”.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Great post, GP! I enjoy the way you bring all the little pieces of the puzzle together – the pieces that all had to fit to win that war. The bonus in this post is the car in the video is a Packard! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thank you for the feature on Ham Radio Operators. My dad was an operator before and after the war. I remember going through his QSL cards and dreaming of all the faraway places he used to visit by radio. His call sign was W8ZZ.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Very interesting and informative share GP! Thanks!
    I love learning about the history of communications. I think it comes from the fact that I am from Augusta, GA. where Fort Gordon, “The Home of The Signal,” is located.
    I was always fascinated by that distinction 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  22. A great article, GP! I also enjoyed reading about the Australian coastwatchers.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. What a great post.
    Wow, the letter shows such a great commitment and sacrifice!
    Thank you for sharing this with us!
    Blessings~

    Liked by 2 people

  24. How wonderful….not just the history but the things ordinary people did that helped

    Liked by 2 people

  25. This effort is so easily forgotten. Thanks for the reminder–and the Australian story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No problem – maybe one day you’ll write a story about it!! [and WOW Jacqui, you sure can write! You put a hook on the first page and the action never really has that awful lull period that a majority of books have!! Incredible.]

      Like

  26. The contribution of amateur radio to the war effort cannot be underestimated. I find remarkable that the US allowed amateur radio to continue. “The amateur radio system was shut down entirely during World War 2. Almost every nation rescinded, suspended or cancelled laws and regulations permitting amateur radio, and informed their operator amateurs that they were forbidden to transmit radio signals over the air.” Your post was of special interest to me, as I have been an active ham radio operator for many years. Now my focus is on blogging. Thank you, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Thanks for including this group, G. They have always been dedicated to public service. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • You must know of some with your hiking and other travels. I would imagine it might come in handy around CA fires as well!!?

      Like

      • Absolutely. In fact we could have used some here. Our telephone system kept going out because of old equipment and the emergency folks were depending on them to warn us. Peggy has been battling with the phone company for months. This time one of our neighbors put together all of Peggy’s correspondence and shipped it off to the Oregon PUC and a few state leaders. Low and behold, the phone company had replaced the old equipment into days. Ham operators would have certainly come in handy! –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

  28. My father was a ham operator. His call was VE3GM (VE 3 gorgeous models) is what he would say.
    Leslie

    Liked by 2 people

  29. I have a friend who was very active in radio operations (as a hobby) and told stories about the numerous ways HAM and shortwave operators helped people in the military and beyond. A few years ago, he was showing me software that he used in a sort of virtual HAM setup. It’s fascinating to read a story like this.

    Oh, and rant on the news all you like.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Thanks, GP, for this exploration of the strength underlying the war effort, in preparation years before it was needed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I think many understood what FDR was up to and that we would be in the war as soon as he figured out how to get the isolationists’ support. But if anyone was going to foresee the need for an emergency effort – it would be the ham radio operators!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Thanks for sharing… though I don’t “radio much” anymore, I got my ham license about 40 years ago. A new mission for Civil Air Patrol focuses on radio operations in time of infrastructure loss. That old radio knowledge is being tested as we bring on younger members who spend their free time on the Internet instead of a radio.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder if any young ones even know what we’re talking about, John!! Radio – what’s that?!! haha I never knew so many of the readers were operators, I’m surprised none of you mentioned my lack of posts on them.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. I really enjoyed this. HAM radio’s been a part of my life for years. When I was in Liberia, our pilot was a HAM, and once a month he’d set up a phone patch with a fellow in North Carolina so we could talk with people in the States. Once I started sailing, I got my license. Even in these days of satellite phones, serious cruisers still check into HAM nets, and as already has been mentioned, they can be invaluable in emergencies.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Interesting post. I knew HAM and shortwave radio operators often played very import parts behind the scenes … often with little thanks or reward.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. My father was an amateur ham operator during WW II. I went to sleep every night hearing him speak out his call letters, “W8UNQ, W8UNQ”.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. It is always joy to read of the diversity of people contributing to the greater good of this great Country.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. This was an interesting read. During the Viet Nam war, HAM operators relayed calls for soldiers home [“I love you, over.”] through the MARS network.
    Few realize HAM operators still have a role to play in this day of cell phones. During hurricane IRMA, 70 percent of the cell towers in Collier County and 34 percent of the towers in Lee County went down making communitcation with people in shelters very difficult. After the storm, it was almost impossible to get through to a shelter in Hendry County. The Red Cross strives to have HAM operators available as a backup in these shelters but doesn’t always succeed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • They have always been ready for service during war or peace – just people don’t hear about them – I suppose the media doesn’t consider it news. [sorry about that – I really feel journalism has hit rock bottom and I’m always ranting about it !]

      Like

  37. This is a great post. WWII wireless telegraphy fascinates me in the way the technology was used to form civilian air traffic control post-war. I was just looking up the US Army Air Force Federal GCA MPN-1 mobile radar units that Britain bought to form air traffic control post-war. They might be linked to what’s being referred to here, “The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) [ ] new long-range surveillance and direction-finding radio interceptor stations that were being built as part of the national defense program.” Here’s where I’ve seen a photo of one of these amazing USAAF MPN-1 units: https://atchistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/the-civil-school-of-air-traffic-control-bournemouth-hurn-airport-1948-62/

    Liked by 3 people

  38. As an ex military telegraphist/wireless operator and radio ham (ex MP4TDB and ON8KP) these ww2 stories always fascinate me. I hope to be returning to ham operating in the next few months with a callsign prefix 3B8.

    Liked by 5 people

  39. I never knew about the folk that did this.What an amazing service they carried out.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. As an ex HAM and shortwave radio fanatic I really enjoyed this. ZS6BNL retired.

    Liked by 4 people

  41. A nice look at another behind the scenes aspect of a world war. Radio played such a large part in WW2, not least in the coded communications sent to resistance groups all over Europe.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

  42. Thank you, Andrew.

    Like

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