"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.
Wavescan, August 8, 2010
The Fascinating Story of a Temporary PWI Shortwave Station in Europe - France
Our story today focuses on a series of seven shortwave transmitters, or perhaps you might say eight, way back in the middle of last century. These transmitters were all made by Press Wireless, they were all rated at 40 kW, they were all exactly the same model, and they were subsequently installed at various locations throughout the world. In particular, we take a closer look at one of these units that was associated also with shortwave radio broadcasting.
We begin at the beginning, which was in the year 1941. At that stage, plans were laid and training began, for what turned out to be seven teams of technical radio personnel. They received their training on a 40 kW PWI transmitter already installed at the huge shortwave station operated by Press Wireless at Hicksville on Long Island, New York.
The first of these radio teams installed their PWI 40 kW transmitter at Asmara in Ethiopia in October 1942 and it was in use for communication purposes associated with the American landings in Africa. A year or two later, this same transmitter was removed and taken to Italy where it was re-installed at Naples, again for communication purposes.
Another 40 kW PWI transmitter was installed at Anchorage in Alaska, and a third near Honolulu in Hawaii, both for army communications.
A fourth unit was installed at Capabala on the edge of suburban Brisbane in Australia in 1943 and this was inaugurated under the direction of General Douglas MacArthur for trans-Pacific communication. The control center was in the basement of the AMP Building in downtown Brisbane.
The last of the seven units was installed at Frankfurt in Germany in 1945 where it carried communication traffic for what was known then as the SHAEF headquarters.
Now, that leaves just two more of these 40 kW PWI shortwave transmitters, and this is what happened.
Again, the teams of technical radio personnel associated with these two units received their training on the similar unit located at PWI Hicksville. In 1944, the technical equipment and personnel were taken by ship to the British Isles. One ship in use for this purpose was the ex-passenger liner, Mauretania which travelled across the Atlantic alone, without convoy. It was considered to be a fast ship that could outrun any other seafaring vessels that might be in pursuit. The equipment was landed in Scotland and taken south by road.
The radio personnel installed one of these PWI transmitters at an army camp located at Stowe-on-Wold in Gloucestershire, almost in the south of England. This transmitter was used for two purposes. One was to broadcast fake communication transmissions that would give the impression that the invasion of continental Europe under what became D-Day would take place in Calais, or perhaps even in Norway, instead of the intended Normandy; and the other purpose was for army communications back to the United States.
Following the installation of the transmitter in England, the PWI team landed in France and began work on the installation of another unit at Les Essarts, an outer suburb of Paris. Originally, this 40 kW PWI transmitter was scheduled for installation at Renne in France. However, with the progress of events at the front line, a further advanced location, Les Essarts, was chosen.
The transmitter facility was installed in buildings commandeered for the purpose and the receiver station was located in an old farm house further down the same road. Power came from three Cummings diesel generators, and rhombic antennas were beamed on the United States for communication with PWI Hicksville, New York. This new and rather substantial shortwave station was activated in September 1944. A photo at the entrance way to the station shows the callsign as CZ2T, though it identified on air simply as Radio Paris.
The main purpose for this PWI station in Paris was to relay news items and news commentaries from SHAEF back to the United States for insertion into the broadcast programming of the Voice of America. On several occasions, international radio monitors in the United States, New Zealand and Australia noted PWI Hicksville and Paris in communication with each other for the transfer of radio news items.
For example, in March 1943, Radio Paris CZ2T was noted on 15920 kHz with a program relay to the United States, and in September this station was noted on 15293 kHz with program inserts for the NBC Blue Network. In the reverse direction, PWI Hicksville was noted calling SHAEF Paris on several occasions. The Hicksville channel callsigns at the time were WPJ on 11640 kHz and WJQ on 10010 kHz.
Apparently someone in the radio world had an insight into the workings of PWI Paris, because in September 1945, a column editor in Australia stated that the permanence of this station was doubtful.
However, the story does not end here. In addition to the single 40 kW PWI transmitter at Les Essarts, there was a multitude of other transmitters, maybe even 15 or more. One of these was a 10 kW shortwave transmitter that was installed in a subsidiary building at the Les Essarts station for the relay of radio programming from Radio Diffusion Francaise in Paris. The main coverage area from this unit was intended to be Europe and Africa.
As far as is known, this shortwave broadcast transmitter operated on only one channel, 9560 kHz. The programming was always a relay from Paris, and often in parallel with shortwave transmitters at other locations. This station was often heard in the United States, and sometimes in Australia and New Zealand. It was also listed in several of the earlier editions of the World Radio Handbook.
It appears that the power of the French shortwave station at Les Essarts was raised from 10 kW to 100 kW somewhere around the year 1947. It is possible then that the power level of the 40 kW transmitter was raised in the era after peace was resumed in Europe, and after the American personnel had returned to their homeland.
So there you have it. This PWI shortwave station located on the edge of suburban Paris was on the air with program relays for re-broadcast by the Voice of America, and it also operated as a relay station for the international shortwave service of Radio Diffusion Francaise.
Deception on the High Seas
In our previous feature item here in this edition of Wavescan, we made mention of a 40 kW PWI transmitter that was installed in an army camp towards the south of England in the early part of the year 1944. A major purpose for this station was to broadcast fake radio transmissions that would suggest that the coming invasion of continental Europe would take place at Calais in France, or perhaps even considerably further north in Norway.
Interestingly, radio transmitters aboard several ships in different parts of the world have been used in the same way, to broadcast fake radio messages. For example back in the year 1942, historical records tell us, two American navy vessels roamed the Coral Sea in the South Pacific broadcasting fake radio messages. This was to give the impression that a large fleet of navy vessels were in the area, and not up near Midway Island, which in reality, is where they were at the time. The documents tell us that the two ships involved with these fake radio broadcasts were a light cruiser and a seaplane tender.
Two years later, in the earlier part of the year 1944, the British Royal Navy performed a similar spate of deception in the South Pacific. As events were coming towards an end in continental Europe, the Royal Navy sent their first contingent of personnel to Australia to begin organization for a larger presence.
Later in the same year, Radio Australia began the relay of BBC programming dedicated to Royal Navy personnel in the South Pacific, of which there were very few at the time. These broadcasts were on the air from station VLC, the new RCA 50 kW transmitter that had just been installed at Shepparton in Victoria. Soon afterwards a Royal Navy vessel roamed the South Pacific broadcasting fake radio messages, giving the impression that there was a large fleet of British ships in the area, even though they had not yet arrived.
The relay of the BBC program directed to the supposedly large British fleet in the South Pacific ended in mid 1945. However, Radio Australia carried on with a similar program produced in Sydney by Lieutenant Eric Morely and this was on the air until the end of the same year, 1945.
The final broadcasts from the British fleet in the South Pacific took place around the Christmas-New Year Season, 1945-1946. Three ships were noted by international radio monitors in New Zealand and Australia, with the broadcast of radio programming from their shortwave transmitters. Two ships used code names, and these were Radio Romance on 11010 kHz and Schooldame on two channels, 12630 and 18150 kHz. The British navy vessel, Grenville, was also noted on two channels, 12640 and 14400 kHz, with a relay from the Sydney commercial station 2KY.
The Early Beginnings of Adventist World Radio in Southern Asia
The long and interesting story of Adventist radio broadcasting in the countries of Southern Asia goes way back to the very early era of experimental radio broadcasting. Back in the year 1925, the Adventist missionary from New Zealand, Elder Reuben E. Hare, made the first historic radio broadcast in Southern Asia on behalf of the Adventist denomination. At 6:00 pm on September 25, he presented a sermon over the Walter Rogers commercial mediumwave radio broadcasting station, 2AX in Bombay.
The first Adventist broadcast on international shortwave was made by Elder L. B. Losey in 1937 over the radio broadcasting station VU7MC, operated by the Travancore government in Mysore, India. This was actually a series of radio broadcasts on behalf of Spicer College, which was located near Bangalore at the time.
International radio broadcasting on shortwave was introduced on a regular basis in 1950 with the usage of the large old half hour disc recordings of Dr. H. M. S. Richards and the Voice of Prophecy. This initial radio broadcast was aired on Sunday, April 30, at 9:00 am from the old Emisora Goa on coastal India.
Later in the same year, a contract was taken out with Radio Ceylon, in Colombo, Sri Lanka for additional regular broadcasts of the Voice of Prophecy. Your Radio Doctor with the Australian Dr. Clifford Anderson followed three years later, and soon afterwards, programming in regional languages was introduced.
It was at this stage that the enlarged international radio broadcasting ministry of the Adventist denomination in Southern Asia was organized as AWR-Asia (later AWR-Southern Asia). Subsidiary radio programming was also on the air from local and shortwave stations located in Afghanistan, Burma, Maldive Islands, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
It was at this stage that SLBC Colombo asked for a DX program. This was launched as Radio Monitors International on Sunday June 1, 1975. This program is still on the air today as Wavescan, 35 years later.
At the height of its international radio outreach from the shortwave facilities of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, AWR-Southern Asia was on the air in more than 10 languages, in services that were beamed to Southern Asia, the Far East, Africa, Middle East, Europe and North America. A large mail response came in from more than 100 countries worldwide.
When KSDA was inaugurated on Guam in 1987, they took the title AWR-Asia, and the Poona-Pune programming was transferred from Colombo to Guam.