Tag Archives: WWII

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.

Dame Vera Lynn on the White Cliffs of Dover

Dame Vera Lynn

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT), who shares the following news about Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday:

(Source: The Mirror)

The face which inspired hope to a nation during the dark days of WW2 will once again light up the White Cliffs of Dover.

Forces Sweetheart Vera Lynn turns 100 today with a special tribute to the singer and the song she made famous…They’ll be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover.

(Source: The Mirror)

A 150ft image of the inspiring Vera is being projected onto the iconic white cliffs in Kent as she becomes the first centurion to release an album! [Continue reading…]

Mike adds:

“It is March 20, the 100th birthday of the wonderful Forces Sweetheart. Remember her boys who flew the Spitfires and the Lancasters. Remember her boys at Arnhem.

Remember them all.”

Mike knows I’m a WWII buff and also a fan of Dame Lynn.

Photo source: Decca Records

Indeed, back in 2015, I recorded The White Cliffs of Dover being played through my WWII era Scott Marine Radio Model SLR-M in honor of Memorial Day. If you missed it, click here to enjoy a little tribute to the Forces Sweetheart.

Wish I could be in Dover tonight to see the white cliffs–! Happy Birthday, Dame Lynn.

Mike also suggests this excellent pictorial timeline tribute to Vera Lynn via the BBC website.

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:

The role of radio intelligence before the Pearl Harbor attack

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island shortly after the beginning of the Pearl Harbor attack. (Source: WikiMedia Commons, Public Domain)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Guerin, who writes:

Interesting article from the US Naval Institute on the role of radio intelligence before and during the December 7 attack.

“The key to the success of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor-specifically, what enabled the Pearl Harbor Striking Force to reach its launch point undetected (and totally unsuspected) by the Americans-was Tokyo’s radio denial-and-deception actions. Significantly, these activities simply were not just a “bag of tricks” meant to bemuse U.S. naval radio intelligence. Rather, they constituted a function of the change in Japanese strategy and were meant to convince the Americans that there had been no change from defensive to offensive intentions.”

See “How the Japanese Did It”

http://m.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/2009-12/how-japanese-did-it

Fascinating read! Thank you for sharing this bit of WWII history, Michael.