Tag Archives: Radio Security Service

Wartime radio: The secret listeners


After publishing the post about Geoff Hanley and the Radio Security Service last week, I discovered this brilliant 1979 documentary from the BBC which highlights civilian involvement in radio-based intelligence during WWI and WWII.

Here’s a description from the East Anglian Film Archive:

“It was the tireless work of amateur radio enthusiasts during World War I, that initially convinced the Admiralty to establish a radio intercept station at Hunstanton. Playing an integral role during the war, technological advances meant that radio operators could pinpoint signals, thus uncovering the movement of German boats, leading to the decisive Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Wireless espionage was to play an even more important role during World War II, with the Secret Intelligence Service setting up the Radio Security Service, which was staffed by Voluntary Interceptors, a band of amateur radio enthusiasts scattered across Britain. The information they collected was interpreted by some of the brightest minds in the country, who also had a large hand in deceiving German forces by feeding false intelligence.”

Click here to watch the 30 minute film. 

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Geoff Hanley and the Radio Security Service

Geoff Hanley (Photo source: Express and Star)

Geoff Hanley (Photo source: Express and Star)

Many thanks to my friend, Phillip, for sharing this brilliant article from the Express and Star:

Researchers discover Wolverhampton man’s secret past

He was a happily married insurance agent with a secret that he took to the grave. 

Geoff Hanley was known to be a keen radio ham but nobody realised exactly what he was doing once he donned a pair of special issue headphones in his garden shed.

He would leave his family night after night to operate from the ‘radio shack’ that was specially blacked out for fear of air raids and in which he kept a sten gun, Lee Enfield 303 rifle and hand grenades.

When the siren sounded he ensured his wife, two children and dog were safe in the shelter he had dug in the garden of their Wolverhampton home but he would not join them. He stayed above ground at his post in the shed continuing to secretly monitor German military radio signals.

The operation was so hush-hush that even he may not have been entirely sure how the information he gathered was being used. But he was certain of two things – it was important and he could not speak about it to anybody outside those he worked with.

Continue reading…

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