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"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 408, October 20, 2002

The Mystery of Irish Radio History - Early Mediumwave Era &
The famous "I Will Return" broadcast by General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines
The Mystery of Irish Radio History - Early Mediumwave Era

In our continuing quest to determine the authenticity of claims for shortwave broadcasting from Ireland, we take another progressive step as we look at the early history of mediumwave broadcasting in the Emerald Isle.

The first mediumwave station in Ireland was launched in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in October 1924 under the auspices of the BBC London. This new station was given the callsign 2BE and it was on the air with 1.5 kw on the wavelength 440 metres, corresponding to 680 kHz.

The first station in the Irish Free State was launched a little more than a year later under the callsign 2RN, reminiscent of "Eirean." This was also a 1.5 kw unit operating on 390 metres, 770 kHz. The inauguration ceremonies were relayed by the 25 kw BBC station 5XX at Daventry in England. The studios and transmitter for station 2RN were originally located in a wooden hut next to the police barracks, though soon afterwards the studios were relocated above the downtown offices of the Employment Exchange.

In preparation for the broadcasts of the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in June 1932, a large 60 kw transmitter was installed temporarily for radio station 2RN. After the conclusion of the Congress, the transmitter was re-installed at Athlone for nationwide radio coverage. In January 1941, the BBC London donated a new 2 kw mediumwave transmitter to replace the aging 15 year old unit. These days Dublin is on the air as RTE1.

The next radio station to be launched in Ireland was 6CK, a 1 kw unit operating on 400 metres, 750 kHz. This station was inaugurated in 1927 with its own production studios, though it became a slave relay for a period of nearly 30 years beginning in 1930.

The Athlone station began with 60 kw in 1933, though this was upgraded to 100 kw in 1955, and more recently to 500 kw when the location was changed to Tullamore. The Athlone station was never allocated a callsign.

During the European Conflict, several of the mediumwave stations in Ireland were synchronised on one channel so that they could not be used as radio beacons for invading aircraft and ships.

The famous "I Will Return" broadcast by General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines

It is just 58 years this week since General Douglas MacArthur made his famous "I have returned" speech from the shortwave facilities on board three different radio ships at the beginning of the return invasion of the Philippines. The date was October 22, in the year 1944. This is how it all happened.

In their concerted drive into the Pacific, the Japanese army landed on the north coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines on December 10, 1941. The American and Filipino troops were slowly pushed southwards until they were concentrated on Bataan Peninsula and on Corregidor Island, near the mouth of Manila Bay. General Douglas MacArthur was on Corregidor Island at the time and he listened to the daily news bulletin every evening on shortwve from KGEI in San Francisco.

General MacArthur was ordered by the president of the United States to evacuate to Australia, and before leaving he told his support staff that he intended to return as soon as possible. MacArthur, together with his wife and son, were quietly taken out of the Manila Bay area by small boat to a port in the southern Philippines where they boarded a plane for Australia. Soon afterwards, both Bataan and Corregidor surrendered.

However, in the meantime, the American forces in the Philippines established a shortwave radio station that identified on air as "Freedom Radio." This new station was first noted in Australia in February 1942 using a channel in the 31 metre band.

Now, in the era immediately prior to these events, the original Far East Broadcasting Company, station KZRB, operated at least two mobile radio stations on shortwave. It is thought that one of these mobile stations was taken over by the American army and used on the Bataan peninsula for the broadcasts of "Freedom Radio."

This station was afterwards transferred to Corregidor Island, where it was noted until the time of surrender. It is probable that army equipment was also used for the broadcasts of "Freedom Radio," both on Batman Peninsula and on Corrugators Island.

MacArthur's flight to Australia took him across Indonesia and Timor, with the intent to land at Darwin. However, because of an air raid at the time, his flight was diverted to Batchelor, some 30 miles further south. Here it was that he made the first of three speeches, re-iterating his promise to make a triumphal return to the Philippines.

According to several of his biographies, he made the same speech again at Alice Springs a day later, and a couple of days later again at the railway station in Adelaide, using on each occasion his handwritten notes on the back of an envelope. Radio station KGEI also rebroadcast this information on shortwave to the Pacific.

In Australia, MacArthur made his headquarters at first in Melbourne and then later in Brisbane. Radio magazines of that era state that a railway train was fitted up for use as his headquarters, complete with several communication transmitters, though this is not mentioned in any of his available biographies. As the fortunes of war changed, MacArthur again moved his headquarters, to Port Moresby and then to Hollandia, both on the island of New Guinea.

At this stage, the radio ship "Apache," followed by the smaller radio ship "FP47," arrived in Hollandia from Sydney Harbour in Australia. The return invasion was imminent and the American forces sailed for the Philippines, together with the "Apache" and the little "FP47" trailing at the end of the invasion fleet.

This massive fleet arrived in Elite Gulf on the evening of October 20, the "Apache" made a series of inaugural broadcasts on October 21, and Macarthur announced to the world on October 22, 1944, "I have returned," in fulfillment of the promise he had made more than two years earlier.

The inaugural invasion was made at Red Beach, north of Palo on Samar Island. Here it was that MacArthur waded ashore in preparation for his "I have returned" speech. An American army vehicle, a weapons carrier, was fitted up as a mobile communication station and MacArthur made his speech from this location.

This mobile broadcast was picked up on the navy vessel "Nashville" and re-broadcast on several shortwave frequencies for reception throughout the Philippines. The "Apache" also relayed this broadcast, and the "FP47" carried news despatches in Morse Code containing the same information.

Two days later, MacArthur returned to the navy vessel "Nashville" and made a repeat broadcast, this time for all the world to hear. The "Apache" relayed this programming to the United States where it was picked up in California and broadcast to the Pacific via KGEI as well as via other shortwave stations in California.

Almost every biography on General Douglas MacArthur makes reference to his legendary radio broadcasts, "I will return," and subsequently "I have returned." The date of his first "I have returned" broadcast was October 22, 1944.

Interestingly, October 22, 1844 is a very significant date in Bible prophecy and in American religious history. General Douglas MacArthur made his famous "I have returned" speech exactly 100 years later to the very day, a fact that is sometimes presented by Gospel preachers on radio and television.

This week forms the anniversary 58 years later of these famous radio broadcasts that were carried on shortwave from the transmitters located on three vastly different ships. These ships were the freighter "Apache," the U.S. Navy vessel "Nashville," and the converted fishing trawler "FP47."