John Norman writes in the East Anglia Daily Times about the Foxhall transmission site just outside Ipswich which played a key role in WW2 and the Cold War
Getting a coded signal back to the States, both during the Second World War and the Cold War, proved incredibly difficult. The solution was Operation Tea Bag: a scheme to connect telephone switching stations from across Europe, as far south as Italy, to Foxhall for forward transmission across the Atlantic.
One of the joys of running the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive (SRAA) is that, over time, more and more people have become aware of it and submit recordings they’ve had in their private collections for decades.
Quite often, SRAA off-air recordings were originally made on reel-to-reel or cassette tapes which degrade with time. When SRAA contributors take the time to digitize these recordings, and share them via the SRAA, they put these collections in the hands of hundreds of archivists. We’re grateful each time we receive one of these shortwave or mediumwave/AM recordings.
You can imagine my excitement when I received the following message from one of our newest contributors, Colin Anderton:
“As a space flight nut, I have many recordings from the 1970s from Radio Moscow. They used to broadcast on the medium wave, and I used to record the news bulletins during some of the space flights. In particular, there was a period between December 1977 and March 1978 when Soviet cosmonauts first lived aboard the Salyut 6 space station. I recorded each days’ news reports on the flights, and also some additional items about them.”
Colin has made his collection of re-engineered NASA recordings free to download on his website. If you download and enjoy his recordings, consider dropping him a donation. If you’re into spaceflight like I am, you’ll certainly enjoy this collection:
The East German secret police went to extraordinary lengths to track down people who wrote letters to the BBC during the Cold War. One of those arrested and jailed was a teenager who longed to express himself freely – and paid a high price.
It was the last day of the summer holidays. For 18-year-old Karl-Heinz Borchardt that should have meant an afternoon on a windswept Baltic beach with his girlfriend, or a few hours spent trying to catch the latest pop songs on his portable radio.
Instead his childhood came to a sudden end.
His mother hurried into his room unusually early and told him to get dressed. Five uniformed agents were waiting downstairs.
Borchardt bought himself time. “I needed time to think,” he says. “It could have been for any number of reasons.”
Insisting he needed a wash, he started to fling sheets of incriminating texts out of the window. He couldn’t know that the secret police already had all the evidence they needed.
It was two years earlier, in September 1968, that Borchardt had written his first letter.
It wasn’t easy to keep anything hidden in the cramped two-room flat Borchardt shared with his family in Greifswald, a small town on Germany’s northern coastline.
So as he sat down to write at the living room table he covered the sheet of paper with his homework whenever someone poked their head round the door.
The radio sat to his left and Borchardt was glued to the crackly foreign broadcasts coming out of Prague, where Soviet guns and tanks had rolled in to crush an attempt to introduce liberal reforms.
“To the staff of Radio London’s German service!” he wrote.
I have only just started listening to your programme, ‘Letters without signatures’, but I like it a lot, since it airs opinions you don’t find in our media. I am 16 years old. I will write to you regularly, mainly about young people and their views on world affairs. In my view, the west did not intervene strongly enough in Czechoslovakia. Does a country which fought so hard for its freedom have to carry on marching to the tune of the Soviets?
August 21, 1968 – a turning point in this country’s history. The invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact soldiers crushed hopes of life in a freer society.
Please share your memories of that time with us. When and how did you first learn about the invasion? How did the media in your country report on it? Did you by any chance directly experience those events in Czechoslovakia or by the country’s borders?
Send us your recollections, photographs and other materials. Next year Radio Prague will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the events of August 1968 with a special project. Become part of it.
Czech Radio 7 – Radio Prague
120 99 Prague 2
Czech Republic email@example.com
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