Tag Archives: WWII Radio

Secret life of village that helped crack WWII code

WWii-radio(Source: Southgate ARC)

Whaddon: Secret life of village that helped crack WW2 code

On May 9, 2016, Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society members operated GB1SOE to establish contact with French special event station TM75SOE using WWII equipment

This was to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first transmission sent back to Whaddon Hall, Buckinghamshire, by Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent Georges Begue. They operated from Whaddon Hall during Monday using a replica MKIII transmitter and HRO receiver,  on the French side a WWII B2 spy set was used.

The BBC report: The Codebreakers at Bletchley Park are well known for their top secret work which helped to change the course of the World War Two.

But the Buckinghamshire village of Whaddon, just a few miles down the road, has long been forgotten, despite the vital role it played. It was codenamed Section 8 and was a satellite station for Bletchley Park.

It is hoped a new memorial will give it its rightful place in history.

Watch the BBC TV report on the commemoration at Whaddon

A shorter version of the BBC report is at

Further information in the QRZ.com entries for TM75SOE and GB1SOE

Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society (MKARS)

WWII Correspondence Collection highlights POW radio letters


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who shared the following article via the Winter SWL Fest email group:

(Source: Ithaca.com)

He Got News to Families of POWs

The word “archives” can conjure up an image of dusty boxes of documents and sepia photographs. Do not be deceived. In fact, the files in the Tompkins County History Center Archives are filled with stories and all manner of tantalizing clues and evidence about the lives of those who came before us. And in the hands of Archives Director Donna Eschenbrenner—knowledgeable, helpful, ever eager to assist—those files can come alive.

Such a collection is file V-63-7-6, the ‘Meredith Brill WWII Correspondence Collection. In early 1944 15-year-old Caroline resident Meredith (“Bub” to his family) Brill was a shortwave radio enthusiast. What made Brill remarkable is that he was able, with his radio, to get information from Nazi-occupied Europe thousands of miles away, about American servicemen who had been taken prisoner by the Germans. He wrote the names, ranks serial numbers and home addresses down, and then sent letters to the families of the prisoners. He wrote dozens of such letters. The archives file is comprised of thank-you letters from those families, Brill’s notebooks and some of his letters that were returned unread.

His own letters are extraordinary. They are simple without being blunt, and his all-caps typewritten directness doesn’t disguise the very human impulse to ease a family’s anxiety. “I hope this information will be of help to you because I know many parents worry a great deal about their sons and daughters in the service.”

Shortwave radios captured the imagination of a lot of young people in those days. The technology has been called the “first internet.” A shortwave radio uses frequencies just above the medium AM broadcast band, and it can be used for very long distance reception by means of “skip propagation,” in which the radio waves are reflected back to earth from the ionosphere. It allows communication around the curvature of the earth. Sound quality can vary greatly, and it depends on the season and time of day, but you can hear broadcasts from around the world. Generally, the signals are best at night.[…]

Continue reading at Ithaca.com…

Back in 2011, I posted a short review of Lisa Spahr’s book, World War II Radio Heroes, which also focuses on these amazing POW messages. Such a fascinating piece of WWII radio history.

Historic Bawdsey Radar site receives £1.4 million grant from the UK government

(Source: Bawdsey Radar)

(Source: Bawdsey Radar)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for sharing this article about the historic Bawdsey Radar site:

(Source: Engaget)

save-radarA radar site considered by some to be as historically important as Bletchley Park will be preserved, thanks to a £1.4 million ($2 million) grant from the UK government. The Bawdsey facility in eastern England, established in 1938, was the world’s first operational radar station. The then-brand new technology helped the allied forces win the Battle of Britain, and some historians think it may have shortened World War II by as much as two years. The facility was closed in 1991, and is on Britain’s “at-risk” heritage list because of structural issues and water damage.

According to the preservation group Bawsdey Radar, construction work will start in September 2016 and the building will open to visitors in September 2017. The goal is not just to conserve it, but also to unveil a new visitor exhibition featuring physical and virtual displays. The UK’s “Heritage At Risk” adviser John Etté said the facility “played a vital part in the development of radar technology during [WWII], and had a huge impact on post-war electronics and defense system,” including GPS, water technology, radar guns and the microwave oven.[…]

Continue reading at Engaget…

Rhode Island’s WWII farmhouse monitoring station

SX-99-DialMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike (AC4NS), who shares a link to this fascinating article by Tom Mooney? in the TheProvidence Journal. Here’s an excerpt:

“There was nothing remarkable to see on Chopmist Hill in 1940 when, a year before the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor and bring America into the war, a Boston radio technician by the name of Thomas B. Cave drove up Darby Road.

[…]Cave worked for the Intelligence Division of the Federal Communications Commission, charged with finding a hilltop in southern New England that could serve as one of several listening posts to detect radio transmissions from German spies in the United States.

What he discovered up at William Suddard’s 183-acre farm was nothing short of miraculous.

Because of some geographic and atmospheric anomalies, Cave reported he could clearly intercept radio transmissions coming from Europe — even South America.

As a Providence Journal story revealed after the war, military officials were initially skeptical. They wanted Cave to prove his remarkable claims that from Chopmist Hill he could pinpoint the location of any radio transmission in the country within 15 minutes.

The Army set up a test. Without telling the FCC, it began broadcasting a signal from the Pentagon. From atop the 730-foot hill in the rural corner of Scituate, it took Cave all of seven minutes to zero in on the signal’s origin.

In March 1941, the Suddards obligingly moved out of their 14-room farmhouse, leasing the property to the FCC.

Workers set off erecting scores of telephone poles across the properly, purposely sinking them deep to keep them below the tree line. They strung 85,000 feet of antenna wire — the equivalent of 16 miles — around the poles and wired it into the house.[…]”

Click here to read the full article in the The Providence Journal.

If you find this fascinating, you might also read this article about the Radio Secret Service in England.

Try that with an iPhone!

With the help and guidance of my good friend Charlie, we just repaired and aligned this BC-348-Q receiver. BC-348s were built to withstand the extreme temperatures (-60F) and vibrations on board the B-17 and other bombers, where they were used extensively in World War II. I picked this beauty up at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention for $40.

Next year, this radio will be 70 years old.

This morning, I have it tuned to Radio Australia’s Saturday Night Country on 11,660 kHz shortwave. It’s “connecting” to a wireless network over 9,800 miles away and producing beautiful, warm audio.

Try that with an iPhone.