Tag Archives: WWII Radio

The RAAF No. 4 Wireless Unit: Never to march, never to be mentioned

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Neil Bolitho, who shares the following story in reply to our post yesterday Australian Codebreakers in WWII. Neil writes:

Never to march, never to be mentioned.

Since the end of the Second World War, many thousands of returned service personnel have marched at Anzac Day services throughout Australia.

My father never marched.

My father served in RAAF No 4 Wireless Unit, Central Bureau.

Central Bureau was under the direct command of General Douglas MacArthur, and was set up to detect, record, and translate all messages transmitted by Japanese forces in the Pacific.

Central Bureau was headquartered in Brisbane, but its Wireless Units worked in the field, moving forward with MacArthur, constantly intercepting and deciphering enemy messages.

As the war progressed, the units became so efficient in their work that they were monitoring all enemy radio traffic, and in fact frequently knew the Japanese intentions before the messages reached their intended destination.

The Wireless Units served throughout the Pacific islands providing vital information about enemy strengths and positions.

RAAF No 4 Wireless Unit was formed as a highly mobile unit, and served at Hollandia, Morotai, Labuan Island, and at Luzon, Philippines.

The U.S. High Command highly praised the Wireless Units of Central Bureau, stating that their work effectively shortened the War in the Pacific by at least two years.

At the end of the war, Central Bureau was dismantled. All personnel signed a lifetime secrecy order to not speak of their wartime activities.

No promotions applied. No evidence of their Central Bureau service was recorded, including overseas service. No medals were struck.

Family members, including children, were not told in any detail, of their father’s war experience.

It was only in the late 1990’s that the Australian government allowed information to be released.

In the early 1960’s, my father mysteriously went on an unexplained visit to Brisbane.
It was not until over thirty years later that I found out that he attended a twenty-year anniversary of his unit’s graduation.

I write this on behalf of the children and grandchildren of those Central Bureau personnel that served diligently and efficiently when called upon, and who, when the job was done, quietly went home. They are our heroes.

Indeed. Thank you so much, Neil, for taking the time to share your father’s story. We’re honored to post it here.

If you’re interested in WWII signal intelligence, here are a few fascinating posts from our archive:

Australian code breakers in World War II

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ian P, for sharing the following from the radio program, ABC Overnights:

The crucial role of Australian code breakers in World War 2

Thanks to the recent film, The Imitation Game, you may be familiar with the story of how British intelligence, led by mathematician Alan Turing, cracked Nazi codes during WW2. Did you know there were also two secret organisations in Australia working to break Japan’s military codes?

These were staffed with brilliant cryptographers, including some who had studied mathematics and the classics, and others who had lived or grown up in Japan. By patiently and carefully unravelling the codes in Japanese signals, their intelligence played a crucial role in the battles of Midway and the Coral Sea, as well as the push into the Philippines.

Trevor Chappell interviews Craig Collie, author of the book Code Breakers – Inside the Shadow world of Signals Intelligence in Australia’s two Bletchley Parks.

Duration: 36min 36sec
Broadcast: Mon 10 Apr 2017, 1:00am
Published: Mon 10 Apr 2017, 4:43pm

Listen to the full program/interview via the embedded player below:

Click here to download the MP3 or click here to listen on the ABC website.

I’ve also noted that you can pre-order Code Breakers – Inside the Shadow world of Signals Intelligence in Australia’s two Bletchley Parks at Amazon.com. There is no expected delivery time yet, however.

Code Breakers is available directly from the publisher in Australia–click here to view.

Remnants of WOO at Good Luck Point to be removed

Many thanks to SWLing Post readers Al Quaglieri and Alan Tu for sharing the following story via app.com about the removal of the remnants of radio station WOO:

BERKELEY TOWNSHIP — The mysterious poles have stood in the open marshland off Good Luck Point for nearly 80 years, but sometime in January these local landmarks will finally be removed.

“We’re still working with the contractor to determine the exact start time,” said Virginia Rettig, a spokeswoman for the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. “This is a little more difficult than the typical project, as we’re trying to be sensitive to the marsh surface.”

The Good Luck Point poles – and a similar pole field in Stafford’s Manahawkin section – were part of inactive shortwave antenna fields used by AT&T for ship-to-shore shortwave communications.

They’ve become a familiar landmark for boaters, fishermen and residents of the area, and can be seen from the bayside in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.

The antenna field was in operation from the early 1930s until 1999. A shuttered building on the Good Luck Point portion of the antenna field contained equipment related to shortwave communications.

Under the call sign WOO, the shortwave facility at Good Luck Point (known as Ocean Gate) was a renowned transmitting station, which helped broadcast Voice of America around the globe after 1944 and enabled communication with ships at sea throughout the 20th century, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to federal officials, about 340 poles will be removed from the Berkeley site, along with several metal antennae.

In Manahawkin, about 113 wooden poles will be removed from the antenna field. Several metal antennas will also be removed.

Continue reading at app.com…

Check out this excellent video–an aerial view of Good Luck Point:

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
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36245666

A shorter version of the BBC report is at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36248874

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

Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society (MKARS)
http://www.mkars.org.uk/

WWII Correspondence Collection highlights POW radio letters

Atwater-Kent-Dial

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.