THE CATSWHISKER – JANUARY 2000

Happy New Year  to all members, friends and readers !

Well here’s another Catswhisker but shorter than usual because there was only a short period for producing it after the last edition. (Actually it’s even shorter here on the Internet as Mike, G0NEV lost the floppy disk with the text on it! – Geoff)

You might care to consider this however: if in this new millennium  (Ah, but is it a new millennium or did we get it wrong- Geoff) we are going to be able to watch over 200 TV channels, select a film from an on-cable library of over 100,000, do all our shopping from home, listen to superb hi-fi digital radio (“The ear can’t hear as high as that – still it should please any passing bat”) and get even more information into the bargain – there will still only be 24 hours in a day so will we have the time to do anything else? What use will video recorders be if we can’t spare the time tomorrow?

And, once our couch-potato society accepts that we are too tired to do sport (though we will beat the world in the Computer Olympics), what will they turn to?

Perhaps Amateur Radio and such hobbies for those whose minds need a challenge and a sense of purpose?

To all members, friends and readers – have a prosperous New Year and please keep those contributions rolling in for Catswhisker or there may not be one!

John, M0BQQ

From D-Day to the year 2004

The South Dorset Radio Society reserved the Special Event callsign GB6OD (GB6 Oscar Delta) for use during June 2004 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day 1944. We were operating from the Nothe Fort in Weymouth from Wednesday the 2nd of June through Sunday the 6th. For the first time ever we were granted permission to stay at the Fort overnight on the Saturday. There will be a report and pictures posted here soon. Try clicking on the GB6OD QSL card below!

GB6OD was also used during International Museums Weekend on the 19th and 20th of June; continuing as part of the D-Day commemorations and at the same time promoting the Nothe Fort as a Museum of  military history.

QSL via the Bureau or direct to G3SDS (QTHR). Please include SAE, or if outside of UK, one Euro or US Dollar for direct returns.

Nothe Fort Weymouth

Visit the Nothe Fort – Fortress Weymouth

Click here to view pictures of the 1994 events

HISTORY OF THE EVENT

Early in 1992 I had a packet radio message from Jim, the sysop of the local BBS GB7SIG at Blandford to say that he had noticed a bulletin from a US station looking for contacts in the Weymouth area. Jim asked if I would be interested in replying. The station was Jack, KA4NCE from Merritt Island Florida and little could I have known then what was to develop from my decision to do so!

During the summer of 1944 Jack was serving on the USS Melville moored in Portland Harbour preparing for the imminent invasion of France when he met his wife Doris at the Dorothy Cafe on Weymouth Esplanade. At that time Doris was stationed at the Ringstead Bay Radar station, part of what was then known as the ‘Chain Home’ system. 1994, the 50th anniversary of D-Day was also to be the year of their 50th wedding anniversary! Using Packet Radio and later HF SSB, regular contact was established and soon other stations from both sides of the ‘pond’ joined in. Locally they include brothers David, G3OEW and Derek, G3OWE, Mike, G0NEV, George, G3DLG, Ray, G1YRS (sadly now silent key) and XYL Irene G7EIS as well as Gerry, G7JEZ in Bournemouth and our dear departed ‘Mayor of Chickerell’ Bill, G0NRQ.

Another station from the US who was to become a firm friend of us all was Doug, K8APD from Franklin, West Virginia. Doug, also a WW2 veteran had been stationed at Piddlehinton and Chickerell Camps with the US Army’s “Big Red One”, the 1st Infantry Division of V Corps. As part of ‘Force O’ he took part in the assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day the 6th June 1944. In the year 2004 we are all still in contact although e-mail and the Internet have been added to our means of communication.

The events leading up to D-Day and the invasion of Europe was to be commemorated nationally during 1994. Weymouth and Portland had played a vital role in Operation Overlord and The South Dorset Radio Society decided that it would play its part in the commemorations by running a special event station from the Nothe Fort at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour. The Fort overlooks the embarkation jettys used by over 30,000 US troops who had departed for the Normandy beaches 50 years before.
The major part of the American assault force which landed on the shores of France on D-Day 1944 was launched from Weymouth and Portland harbours and from June 6 1944 to May 7 1945 418,585 troops and 144,093 vehicles were embarked.

Click here to view pictures of the 1994 events

The event was to be a huge success! GB5OD (GB force ‘O’ on ‘D’ day) operated from the 28th of May to the 6th June 1994. Among the many hundreds of visitors to the station were veterans of WW2 from all over the world including Jack, KA4NCE with his XYL Doris and Doug, K8APD with XYL Lillian.

In addition to the above event my XYL Mary and I hosted a Garden Party at our home where our US visitors were able to meet members of the SDRS including most of those who had been in contact with them.

GR5OD – 1995

click to enlarge

In 1995 the South Dorset Radio Society again set up a Special Event station at the Nothe Fort to commemorate VE and VJ Days. After the events of D-Day, Weymouth and Portland continued to be a major staging post for troops and equipment to Europe and by the end of the war nearly half-a-million men had embarked from Weymouth and Portland harbours. GR5OD remembered all those who helped to bring about that final victory.

See the official Weymouth and Portland Web Site  for details of regular WW2 Veteran events.

The American Experience

GB6OD – 2004

1944 Click here for more infomation about GB6OD 2004

Click the QSL card image above for more information about GB6OD

PILGRIMAGE

A poem by Hugh Simpson (c) Ruth Simpson 1974

This poem, from a book of Poems, “Farther Fields” by the late Hugh Simpson of Newlands Farm, West Lulworth, Dorset, tells a poignant story that seems particularly appropriate. I include it here as a tribute to all those who took part in what is now often referred to as ‘The Longest Day’. Hugh was the father of a good friend of mine, Bob, G3SLG. I will never forget the happy hours spent in and around Newlands Farm in my early teens ‘playing’ with Wireless.

THE JOURNEY

Across the fields I walked to Arromanches….
Down the quiet road that sloped towards the sea,
Past farms and fields that slumbered in the sun
And new built barns where stables used to be
Until the shells their roofs and rafters razed.
In deep depressions in the pastures green
The brown and spotted Norman cattle grazed….
I picked some cherries from a bending bough ;
Down through the winding street towards the square
I spat the stones like bullets in the dust
Once stained with blood from men of England there.

The town was sleeping in the midday sun,
And pigeons fluttered from the cherry trees
Scared by the echo of a distant gun.
Outside a cafe’, in the courtyard shade,
A class of children chattered as they ate
Their bread and cheese ; their buzz of converse made
A contrast to silence in the square.
The beach was bare ; across the pitted sand
The gentle breakers toppled from the sea
Upon the memories of that haunted strand.

East from Le Hamel, where the Dorsets came,
A little girl ran, dragging with her spade
Where smoke and sudden death and spitting flame
Once had their hour ; where with a shuttered eye
The gaunt grey houses stood, unwelcoming
Those sick brave men who did not want to die ;
who struggled through the surf, and clenched their hands
On rifle butts, and with leaden feet
Passed through the nightmare of those cluttered sands.

I turned, and as I walked towards the square,
Past the brown and rusted hulks of Churchills dream,
I saw, within a pool, was lying there
A shaft of human bone, that dragging tide
And recent storms has sifted from the sand.
I picked it up, and as I tried to hide
It in my coat, there crowded round the pool
A dozen children dancing with delight
To be upon the sand, and free from school.

The boys and girls came running to the sea.
Their faces shining with the summer sun
And in their eyes a sea-love ecstasy,
A joy untold ; they cried a welcome to
Unshaven weary men and carrier crew
Who turned the key to end those prison years,
And loosed the shackles of their fathers chains
That tyranny had forged, with blood and tears.

Their flags were flying in the sea borne breeze….
I left Port Winston – where once had begun
The turning of the lock by freedoms keys -
With Europe’s children playing in the sun.

THE RETURN

With bag and spade I climbed the cliff-top hill
Of Hambury, upon whose summit still
The barrowed bones of ancient history lie.
I dug a spit, and placed below the turf
The bone that I had borne to English earth.

And then, eastwards, came a flash of light -
The morning sun escaping from the night,
On fire with freedom, rolled across the sea,
And colour, light and warmth encircled me.

And so, on the beach at Weymouth or Dinard, or where you will,
The endless song of the saving sea beats out their memory still.
And Rachel, the girl from Israel – black hair and Semitic nose – can play in the sun with the German Gretchen, and Mary the English rose,
With never a dream of that terrible dawn when the Longest Day
had begun, So that all through the morning and afternoon, the world could
play in the sun.

THE SOUTH DORSET RADIO SOCIETY

HISTORY  PRIOR TO THE FORMATION OF THE SOCIETY

In the late 1940′s and 1950′s, prior to the formation of the South Dorset Radio Society, a number of ‘Hamfests’ were held in the Weymouth and Portland area. These well attended events were organised by Alf Barrett, G5UF and held at the Antelope Hotel in Dorchester and The Askers Road House on the Yeovil Road. There were also occasional Official Regional Meetings of the Radio Society of Great Britain held in the South West. These photographs of some of those events were kindly provided by George Short, G2DGB. The pictures are of good quality and be can be enlarged by simply clicking on the image.

Hamfest at Dorchester.

The picture above was taken by Photographer Evan Jones of 13 Trinity Street Dorchester, later a member of the SDRS. Some of the people have been identified by George, G2DGB as; in the front row, starting 3rd from the left G2TZ, G2DGB and G5UF. Behind them starting from 4th from the left is G6SV, Ken ‘Obrien and Gordon Udall G2HCD. Second from the right in the same row is Doctor Russell Stevens, (Doc) G3DUQ, later to become the SDRS’s first President.Visitors from the Bournemouth Radio Club are amongst the line up.

Another Hamfest at Dorchester.

RSGB ORM at the Royal Hotel Weymouth.

Many local Radio Amateurs are easily recognised in the above picture, believed to be the ORM that was held on the 2nd of October 1960 just a few months before the formation of the SDRS.

RSGB ORM at Plymouth.

In the above picture, included amongst members from Devon, Dorset and the Bournemouth area; the 4th from the right in the front row is ‘Dudd’ Charman, BEM. G6CJ, well known for his ‘Aerial Circus’ lectures.

MARCONI – 2YT – G2YT

1916 – 2000

SEE UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE

In the April 2000 edition of RadCom, the journal of the Radio Society of Great Britain, Peter Fox (formerly G4MCK) made an appeal for historical information about the callsign G2YT. Past and present members of the South Dorset Radio Society were quick to respond and the following is an account of the story so far.

This page was originally written in August 2000 but has now been updated and (where appropriate) corrected. All of the information given is believed to be accurate but we would be very pleased to know more!

Geoff, G0EVW October 2004

2YT – G2YT

In September 1916 the American authorities issued 2YT to the Marconi Company in New York for use at the Marconi Institute. Ref: http://earlyradiohistory.us/speclnd2.htm

The original callsign 2YT was issued in Britain to the Marconi Company for use at the Poldhu Station in Cornwall in the early 1920′s. 2YT is recorded as being used for tests between Poldhu and station 2FC Willoughby, Australia in March 1924. Ref: www.qsl.net/vk2dym/radio/Marconi.htm
It is also recorded that 2YT was used by Marconi from his yacht Elettra, see update below.

G2YT was issued to F J Rumary, then of Down Road, Redcliffe Bay, Portishead, Somerset in 1936. Nothing else is known about this issue.

G2YT was issued to Crispin Redshaw, G4VZ of Bridport Road, Dorchester in Dorset. The exact circumstances and date of this re-issue is not known but Cris is recorded as using G2YT from his Dorchester station in December 1957.

Crispin Redshaw became a ‘silent key’ in 1974.

G2YT was re-allocated to Peter Fox (formerly G4MCK) of Shefford in Bedfordshire in 2000.

OLD CALLS FOR NEW!

An old friend of Peter Fox, Mr Tim Moore is the Grandson of Cris Redshaw. When Peter mentioned that it might be possible to resurrect his grandfathers old callsign Tim spoke to his mother (Patricia Moore – nee Redshaw) who wrote the required letter to the RA, who in turn approved the transfer. Tim knew that his grandfather had been involved with Marconi and the Dorchester Radio Station and remembers sitting with him for many hours. He also remembered that his grandfathers callsign was G2YT.

It was only after Peter had received his ‘new’ call that he realised that it was “a bit special” and he decided to try and find out more about it’s history. He now says that he feels very honoured to be the present custodian.

THE DORCHESTER / POLDHU CONNECTION

A FAMILY AFFAIR!

When George Short, G2DGB arrived at Dorchester in 1952 Cris Redshaw was the Engineer in Charge. He is well remembered in the Weymouth and Dorchester area as G2YT. Frank Marshall, G2XQ (QTHR) says that in his 1927 callbook G2YT was shown as being held by the Marconi Station at Poldhu and a Mr T Moore is mentioned. George remembers that a ‘Pony’ Moore, G8OO was also working at Dorchester in 1952 and retired in 1957 or 58. The daughter of Cris Redshaw by his second marriage in the very same Pat Moore who married ‘Pony’ Moore’s son and it seems likely that ‘Pony’ Moore is the Mr T Moore from the Poldhu Station. It is coincidental that both calls finished up connected to the same family.

A further point of interest is that another friend of Peters, Alan Holdsworth, G0SAH has been given permission by ‘Pony’ Moores son Jeff to have his fathers old call G8OO so that both calls will once again be in use.

The picture above shows Cris Redshaw in his Dorchester Shack in the 1950′s. Also shown below is his QSL card which includes the text ‘XZT in 1912′. This presumably refers to one of the first experimental callsigns issued by the Postmaster General from 1910 up to the outbreak of the first world war. No mention is made however of his other callsign G4VZ. The receivers in the picture are from left to right; R107, AR88D and CR100.

Cris Redshaw’s QSL – note the reference to ‘XZT in 1912′

Peter ‘s very attractive new QSL – August 2000

UPDATE

This page was originally written in August 2000 but has been updated and (where appropriate) corrected. All of the information given is believed to be accurate but we would be very pleased to know more!

WAS 2YT USED BY MARCONI ON HIS YACHT ELETTRA?

Paul Hawkins, G4KHU has a large collection of photographs of the Beam Wireless Station that Marconi built at Dorchester in 1927. Accompanying one of the pictures is a typed document  that describes how short wave radiotelephone equipment was installed at Dorchester in 1929 to enable tests with Marconi on his yacht Elettra. The document goes on to tell how the first tests with Elettra, call sign 2YT, were made using the ‘Egyptian Beam’ at Dorchester, call sign GLM. At the time of the tests the yacht was off Genoa and the tests proved ‘quite satisfactory’.
If the document is accurate then it seems that callsign 2YT was indeed used by Marconi when transmitting from his yacht as has often been suggested. However, this is the only written evidence that I have seen to date.

THE RADIO ‘SHACK’ 1922

Paul has also kindly provided these two pictures of Cris Redshaw’s station in 1922. They are very good quality and can be seen in a larger format by clicking on the image. Although it is assumed that this is an ‘Amateur’ Station it is not known what call sign Cris was using at that time.

Cris Redshaw’s Station 1922  Cris Redshaw’s Station 1922

Cris Redshaw’s Station in 1922 – Call-Sign unknown!

THE US CONNECTION

2YT is recorded as being issued by the U.S. Government to the Marconi Company, New York, NY in September 1916. The ‘Y’ in the callsign indicates that it was intended for use at a ‘technical and training school’. The call sign was issued to Marconi for use at the ‘Marconi Institute’, still in business and now known as ‘TCI – The College for Technology’. It seems unlikely that the U.S. 2YT was ever used for Marconi’s commercial activities.

Below is a quote from the NYMentor web site at TCI – The College for Technology

TCI was founded in 1909 under the name Marconi Institute by Guglielmo Marconi, the Nobel Prize winner and inventor of the wireless telegraph. It was acquired in 1919 by David Sarnoff, who also founded RCA and renamed the school RCA Institute. Through the years, the school became known as one of the top schools in the country for the training of technicians in the growing fields of radio, television, electronics and communications.

When licensing resumed after WW1, some U.K. licensees were allowed to choose their own call letters providing they had not already been used. Perhaps, when the time came for Marconi to be issued with a U.K. callsign, 2YT was chosen by him or his representative because Marconi had a fondness for the Institute he had set up in New York.  In 1920, (after the takeover of the Marconi Institute by David Sarnoff) 2YT was still listed as being the institute’s callsign and therefore the U.S. 2YT would presumably not have been available to Marconi himself.

There is an extensive archive available at www.marconicalling.com although a search for 2YT and XZT (see below) failed to return a result.

OFFICIAL RECORDS

It would be nice to able to refer to an official archive of U.K. Amateur and Experimental callsigns. Radio licensing in the U.K. is now handled by OFCOM, the Office of Communications. All the early calls were issued by the Postmaster General, followed by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and more recently the Radiocommunications Agency. Also, in recent years the actual business of keeping the records up to date and dealing with renewals etc has been contracted out to various commercial organisations. Since it seems that only the records of current callsigns were transferred during each handover of licensing responsibility and administration it is unlikely that any such archive now exists.
The ‘Amateur Radio Callbook’; published annually by the Radio Society of Great Britain, is probably the most reliable record of Amateur Radio callsigns available. The information was, and still is, taken directly from official records at the time of publication. Other lists have been published from time to time but it is not known how accurate they are.

THE RE – ISSUE ISSUE

No information has to come to light so far regarding the exact circumstances of the transfer / re-allocation of the callsign prior to the most recent allocation to Peter, although it seems likely that F J Rumary was employed by the Marconi Company as was Crispin Redshaw. It is interesting to note that contemporary callbooks describe all the ’2′ series as ‘Amateur’ callsigns even when issued to commercial organisations such as 2LO and 2MT to the Marconi Company.
George, G2DGB says that the first recorded instance in his log of Cris using G2YT was in december 1957. Even as late as 1963 the International Callbook shows G4VZ being held by Chris with the address at Radio Station Houses, Dorchester, whilst the address given for G2YT is at Osmington.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS – Can anyone help please?

There are many questions still to be answered.
For instance; why did Crispin Redshaw apparently have two callsigns for at least 5 years? Was G2YT in fact held by F J Rumary of Portishead and Crispin Redshaw of Dorchester because of their connection with the original licence holder, The Marconi Company? This is surely a reasonable assumption? However, might it not also have been the case that both were intended to be used as ‘Club’ callsigns, attached perhaps to the Radio Station and only held ‘on behalf of’ that club or society? There was a GPO Coastal Radio Station at Portishead. Did it have a Radio Club Station, and if it did what was it’s callsign?
Considering the very unusual circumstances, that of one of the original Marconi callsigns being issued by both the U.S. and U.K. Governments; it seems rather strange that there is so little documented about 2YT. After all it was used at the most famous of all Marconi sites at Poldhu!

WHO OR WHAT WAS ‘XZT’ ?

The call XZT mentioned on the G2YT QSL card is also rather mysterious.
Three letter callsigns were issued before before WW1 to all so called ‘experimental’ stations. By the early 1920′s when 2YT was issued three letter callsigns were still being allocated. Ships had callsigns that began with the letter M; the Mauretania for instance was MGA. Fixed stations had callsigns beginning with G. Lands End Radio was GLD and North Foreland Radio was GNF. Although ‘Amateurs’ were being issued with the ’2 plus two letter’ callsigns so were commercial organisations like the Marconi Company and the British Broadcasting Company, who had 2LO. The letter G was added later to Amateur callsigns and from then on there was a clearer distinction between Amateur and Commercial callsigns.
If XZT was issued in 1912, it could have been for ‘amateur’ or ‘commercial’ use but there is no record of it in the ‘Directory of Experimental Wireless Stations’ published by A. W. Gamage in March 1914. In almost all the callsigns listed the first letter is the same as the first letter of the surname of the licensee and (perhaps not surprisingly) there are no callsigns starting with the letter X! So who was XZT issued to? Was it in fact a callsign of the Poldhu experimental station before 2YT and was the ‘X’ in some way special?
This web site www.users.zetnet.co.uk/rdixon/crs/long-range/tx-sites.htm says that the Marconi Maritime Communications Station at Poldhu in 1901 was callsign ZZ and a number of other web sites tell us that the Poldhu station callsign was MPD. Although this looks like a ships callsign, pre WW1 callsigns did not reserve the M for ships, and the letters (PD for Poldhu) are consistent with the fact that many callsigns were based on the location of the station or a vessels name. The SS Victorian for instance was MVN and GNF (above) was North Foreland. In the case of private individuals the callsign was often based on the persons surname. John Clarricoats for instance was 6CL.
However; I have not not been able to find any reference to XZT!

Further Refs: www.offshore-radio.de/fleet/first2.htm and www.gi3ymt.com/titanicmgy.html

SOUTH DORSET WIRELESS MAKERS IN THE TWENTIES

One of our members is looking for a radio piece so he can repair one of his radios. Contact him here or find him playing at http://www.slots-online.ca.

(First published in the BVWS www.bvws.org.uk/ Bulletin, Winter 2004)

See also Weymouth Vintage Wireless

There are pictures of these wireless sets here www.sdrs.zoomshare.com

The Weymouth and Portland area has been known for high-tech industry for the past hundred years. The increasing degree of sophistication required by the Royal Navy – which was based in Portland Harbour – and the Admiralty Research Establishments provided the impetus for a cluster of advanced technological companies to gather here. There was certainly some interaction with specialists in the district.

This is an attempt to investigate the local response to the country-wide wireless craze of the 1920s, when almost every locality had its share of small retailers/manufacturers. Most of these were on too small a scale and, being unable to compete with better organised national firms, had sunk into oblivion by the nineteen-thirties. Such a fate befell those under review here.

Weyrad, whose coils and kits live in the fond memory of many readers, are outside the scope of this article as they appeared much later.

Of particular interest are four three-valve wirelesses, two made by Smith’s, and one each by Marshall’s and Bennett’s. Marshalls also made a two-valve set. The names were mentioned in a page in the Dorset Evening Echo in 1996; this paper is strong on memorabilia and receives nostalgia from older residents.

It was while I was working on the circuits of two of the sets that I began to ask deeper questions than ‘how do they work?’, because they seemed to be quite straightforward TRFs. Further investigation however revealed that each company had an individual approach to tuning the sets though their output stages were perfectly orthodox. They appeared to have such an interesting tale to tell that I realised that there would also be a fair amount of historical research involved.

Researching documents and books

First stop was Weymouth library and Kellys Directories for the 1920s and 1930s. Kellys are the well established sources that contain personal and trade sections grouped under categories. A sequence of these can tell the life of a company from beginning to end

‘Smith, W and Son, electrical engineers, 7 Royal Arcade’ was listed in 1923, but they had already been a respected electrical company for twenty years. Their premises is now one of the tourist shops on the Esplanade. In 1929 they also described themselves as ‘makers of the Smith Majestic Musical Equipment’ but by 1936 had reverted to simply ‘electrical engineers’. That was the last entry for Smiths.

Also in the 1923 edition, for the first time, is ‘Marshall, Ernest, watch maker’ which was indeed his profession and why he opened a business in Portland. By 1927 he described himself as ‘Marshall, Ernest, electrical, mechanical and radio expert and watch repairer’. Entries for Marshalls continued through the 1930s.

The first appearance of V.H.Bennett the Department Store, in this category, was in 1927 when electrical engineering was listed with other retail items. It was included in ‘wireless dealers’ in 1932 but in 1936 ‘Bennett & Escott Ltd. Registered electrical installation contractors and wireless engineers’ appeared.

I had long suspected that they had devolved in their own right from the parent company. Verification came from an advert in the Southern Times dated September 6th 1924, announcing that Mr T.H.Escott ‘will personally superintend all repairs and give free estimates for new work. Special attention given to Wireless installations’.

Trawling through the Southern Times of the 1920s was a long, neck-aching chore peering at an unreliable micro-reader, as the paper has been photographed onto this format. I was hoping to discover when these wirelesses were introduced, as surely any self-respecting manufacturer/trader would want to inform people about their products. But no. I find it almost incomprehensible that there was such a lack of adverts, that the firms didn’t bother to advertise at a time when this new and accessible technology was sweeping the country, and trade was there for the taking, but that seems to be the case.

My search did turn up some interesting other evidence though: at the time of the renowned South Dorset Radio Society’s 40th year in 2001 I had investigated its early days, linking the SDRS with the Weymouth Short Wave Club of pre-war days. It was quite a surprise to find that there had been a South Dorset Radio Club in the 1920s – they had their annual dinner in June 1924 when the guest of honour was Capt. P Eckersley of the BBC. He was pleased to see so many aerials in Dorset, a sign of the growing popularity of wireless.

There was an advertisement placed by Fredk. Young, an engraver. He is known to have engraved radio panels for both Smith and Marshalls.

There was also a very slight hint that another company may have been involved: in June 1925 an advert by D.N.Menzies of Weymouth mentions sets with one, two or three valves at between £3 and £15, plus one called a ‘Super III’ at £17; tantalisingly, it doesn’t say who made them – but one is tempted to suppose home-made, to order, by Mr Menzies. Considering that the shop did not advertise again, nor is there any further record of its existence, perhaps there was a problem. About the same time a Dorset correspondent to Amateur Wireless was quoted by ‘Southern Times’ columnist Radio Rex:

Hideous Disturbance: It is usual to saddle the hapless listener with the whole of the responsibility for the oscillation nuisance, and one who has become acquainted with the methods of certain ‘manufacturing’ retailers feels constrained to ask whether they have not got something to answer for. A single valve circuit evolved by a retailer…. was a vile contraption, bearing no indication of its origin, of course. The components were crowded on to a panel measuring about 3in by 9in and the circuit was probably never intended for expert eyes. Closer inspection of what appeared to be an innocuous variometer revealed a very crude form of reaction at the aerial, and a seasoned experimenter could not tune the thing without creating a hideous disturbance.

Research of this nature provided a good deal of background material; the radios that I could now investigate at first hand, and the personal sources still available to me, enabled me to piece together the history and technicalities of the local wireless industry.

Marshalls’ of Portland

This is a well known Portland electrical store, and has existed for as long as anyone there can remember. I made contact with Frank Marshall. Frank – still active as G2XQ – was a mine of information about the Portland sets in particular and local radio matters in general. Indeed, it was Frank the hoarder who had unearthed that wonderful animated movie by W. Heath Robinson advertising Amplion speakers His elder brother was Harry, who with his father Ernest developed the Portland series of radios. Harry made some tape recordings of his memoirs which have been invaluable.

Now in his eighties, Frank remembers that as a small boy – in the ’20s – he helped to wind some of the coils that went into the sets his father and Harry had designed .

The circuit details of the Portland Three were described in Harry’s tapes. It seems probable that the set was a development of a design in Amateur Wireless by R.W.Hallows.

A detector valve was followed by two LF amplifiers – all triodes of course – (this configuration is described as 0-V-2); aerial matching was achieved by 7 tapped studs. The swinging reaction coil originally had 2 or 3 tappings with extra ones on the loading coil. Harry added another reaction coil in series with the swinging one which enabled good oscillation over a wide range including Long Wave – presumably in response to the popularity of the new Daventry station.
The controls were simple – once you tapped into the required band, you fine-tuned with a variable condenser, and used the reaction to set the volume. To general astonishment, it was very successful and achieved a good reputation locally. These sets often emitted ‘hideous disturbances’ to the annoyance of neighbours who would retaliate by setting their own sets in oscillation!
The cost was £16, plus loudspeaker which could be from 30/- to £25 (Brown Super-duper was recommended). They were made to order in batches of about six. This so undercut Mr Smith’s rival set that he wrote a sharp letter to Mr Marshall accusing him of infringing Marconi’s conditions of licence by emitting too much radiation due to reaction acting direct on the aerial coil. Marconi, with whom Marshall took up the case, said there was no such regulation.

Although the centre of interest was the Portland Three, Frank also recalls that there was a long-ish set, perhaps a portable. We have no evidence of this so can only hope that one will turn up – as long as it has escaped the jaws of the skips!

Frank did not know anything about a Portland two-valve set – until I heard of a facsimile of a 1926 advert from the Royal Manor Times, a now defunct Portland local paper. There, clear for all to see, is mentioned a Portland II, complete with loudspeaker for £11-10-0: this vindicated Ray Henville’s belief that two empty cabinets in his possession were for Portland IIs. Ray is a collector living in Blandford Forum, who has been both helpful and kind.

In the end galloping technology, screen-grid valves, dual-ganged condensers and cheaper, better mass-produced sets rendered Marshall’s enterprise uneconomic.

Dating the Portland sets

Harry in his memoirs is quite certain that the Smith upright set was on the market first and that it was the one with double doors.

The relaxation in 1924 of the regulation that the reaction circuit should not cause the aerial to radiate may explain Marconi’s reply following Smith’s complaint. The date of the relaxation along with the probable 1924-25 date for the Smith III could help fix the Portland III at not earlier than 1925, i.e. after the ending of the GPO registration scheme, which would account for the absence of a number or stamp. Every indication is that the P-3 was Marshall’s first foray into radio production. The advertised P-2 (October 1926) would have been an addition, or replacement.

A further clue could be in the few recognisable components. When were a Brandes VLF tuning condenser (0.0005uF) and a Gecophone BC 720 ratio 2/1 transformer available at the same time? And, when was the R.W.Hallows design published in Amateur Wireless?

The Smith Three-valve radios

Only two sets made by W. Smith & Son are known to exist. The earliest is a model in the style of a smoker’s cabinet, with full-length doors; there is also a sloping front model.

The Smoker’s Cabinet Model (the Upright)

If ever someone was in the right place at the right time, this is an amazing stroke of luck. The South Dorset Radio Society’s chairman a few years ago, Bill Young, filled time before an appointment by visiting a nearby antiques shop.

That evening he told me he had seen an old radio there, bearing the name ‘Smith’. My considerable eyebrows went into orbit with suppressed excitement and I think he understood that he should try to acquire it.
If Bill hadn’t visited the shop at that time, would we ever have known? Would some other customer ever have appreciated it? This proved to be a missing link. It is an upright model – similar in style to the Portland offerings, and by the same cabinet makers.

The circuit is a 1-V-1 using triodes. It was “too complex, but clever” (Harry), with abundant controls for dad to play with.
Medium or long wave transmissions could be selected by switching in or out tappings on a coil on the HF valve’s grid and pairs of coils in the anode circuit. All the tuning and reaction was accomplished with variable condensers (home-made, along with some other components), which had to be set independently and accurately. An audio transformer (Triumph B-G) coupled the output triode and ‘phones or speaker were connected as usual. The dials were made by a firm called Ormond. Also, a centrally-located meter allowed voltage checks on HT and LT.
The set was said to be heavily damped and stable but had poor amplification because in order to achieve selectivity the valves had to work at times with grids very positive.
Trying to work out a circuit diagram by tracing the wiring was tricky, because some deterioration had taken place in this set, and to this end a digital camera was worth its weight in gold! (The technique is: print a light colour picture of the chassis wiring, use an analogue meter (not digital) to confirm the wire runs on the set, and highlight the same on the picture with coloured pens.)
Not surprisingly, the set was expensive at £40, and the Amplion Dragon speaker was 5gns.

Dating the Smiths upright

The BVWS list of GPO registrations shows: ’2093 Smith (Weymouth) III. 3-valve sloping panel’.

I believe that it was Ray who submitted this information to BVWS. At that time the only Smiths III he was aware of was the sloper in his possession. The new find, the upright, came as a surprise. It bears the GPO/PMG stamp which (assuming Mr Smith was a law-abiding trader) appears to date it to 1922-1924.

The GPO registration 2093 would have been granted to a two-valve set (hence the 2..) in late 1922 or early 1923. Timing is suggested by the registration number 2001 given to a Marconi V2 in November 1922. The Smith two-valver then gained a valve – probably the HF valve – but kept its GPO number and PMG/BBC stamp. If there was a two-valve set, it has regrettably gone for ever.

Marconi’s reply to the altercation mentioned earlier between Smith and Marshall over the matter of oscillation suggests that the reaction ban had been lifted, which dates both sets to at least late 1924.

A switch is labelled push for 5XX and Paris and pull for local and other stations. 5XX was the experimental station in Chelmsford which began in 1924 and transferred to Daventry in mid-1925 operating on long wave as a broadcasting station. The switch itself is a three-way rotary, with an off position and it looks very original. A blanked-off hole into the battery compartment may have been intended for an on-off switch. Clearly, the fascia panel was made before the modified switching arrangement, but how long before? And which 5XX was received in Weymouth – Chelmsford or Daventry? Why did the panel still bear the GPO number and the PMG stamp, as 5XX wasn’t commissioned until well after the GPO scheme was history. The figure ’25′ appears below the Smith scroll: it is more likely to be a serial number than a date.

It is probable that this set was made in 1925 using an old fascia panel from the stockpile; the ‘advanced’ technology enabled band selection by switch, rather than the usual coil-swapping.

The Sloping Front model

The three valves here are a screened-grid (PM12A), a triode detector (PM1HL) and an output pentode (PM22A) with a side cap.

The whole circuit is mounted on a wooden baseboard and an angled fascia, being easily demountable for servicing. It seems very well made, the square-section wiring being bent and cut and soldered to a good standard. An oddity is the Pye Differential Condenser, which is mounted awkwardly, as if it was an afterthought or a development of a now defunct set, as clearly the cabinet was not designed for it originally.

Smith again used fixed coils and variable condensers for reaction and tuning, with simplified switching selecting MW and LW via pairs of coils. Some components are labelled: a condenser ‘Polymet New York’ and another one ‘Hydraworks Berlin’ while the audio transformer is ‘Bear Brand No. 1000′.

What is its date?

This set contains only the registration number 2093 and no BBC/PMG stamp, though there is a serial number 1059. It must have been made after the stamp scheme was dropped. Hence, the entry in the BVWS list itself might need to be altered. The use of multi-element valves puts it to 1928 at the earliest, a notion that is reinforced by the provision of a pick-up input to the detector grid. I believe this set was made in 1928 or 1929; possibly the former as by 1929 Mr Smith advertised himself as ‘maker of the Smith Majestic Musical Equipment’ yet there is no sign of this on the set itself.

The VHB III

This was an attractive looking item. The cabinet – 16″ x 12″ x 12″ – with a hinged top lid looks similar to some advertised in 1927 magazines; it may well have been bought in, and there is no similarity to the cabinets made for Marshalls or Smiths. Could the circuit itself have been bought in? It is not clear whether it was locally designed but if so it was probably by T.H.Escott.

Its valve configuration was 1-V-1 using triode valves PM1, P220, HL210. Filament rheostats controlled valves 1, and 2 + 3. The wooden baseboard plus fascia slides out for easy servicing. The most noticeable feature is a tri-coil pack . These coils are in the aerial circuit, switched for band coverage, with the central coil tilting between vertical and horizontal, being energised from V2′s plate and coupling inductively into V3′s grid via an audio transformer. The switch also selects one of two coils (below the baseboard) in V1′s plate circuit. The five coils are labelled 50, 58-60, 150, Atlas Patent 75 plug-in coil, Finston lo-loss No.75.

We wondered if this was a regenerative set. It appears, however, that the moveable coil was part of an inductive neutralisation circuit which prevented the circuit from oscillating. Normally, the inter-electrode capacity in the valves gave rise to unwanted oscillations – the ‘Miller Effect’. It was possible to neutralise this by sending equal signals but in the opposite phase through part of the circuit. If the moveable coil is connected the ‘right’ way round, neutralisation is accomplished.

Fine tuning is effected by variable condensers one of which is impressed ‘Regd 71928′.

The audio transformer is the reliable Ferranti AF3.

Dating the VHB III

This set is full of paradoxes. Dating is difficult, but 1926 seems a fair estimate. As it has no GPO or other markings it presumably post-dated the registration scheme – always bearing in mind that there were several ‘pirate’ builders in business who didn’t belong to the BBC.

But it isn’t as straightforward: the tri-coil pack is similar to those illustrated in the Harmsworth Wireless Encyclopaedia which appeared around1923. When did these go out of use? This neutralisation circuit was also popular in the early twenties, and in those days technology and design progressed by leaps and bounds. As the vast majority of radios bought in the early twenties were crystal sets, and V.H.Bennett’s electrical division was announced in 1924, this set is likely to have been designed some time in 1925 and manufactured in 1925-1926.

T.H.Escott’s son Brian showed me a receiver his father had made in the early 1920s. I had hoped this would be a prototype, but it looked very home-made, and had three bright-emitter valves. There was no resemblance to the VHB III.

The fate of old wirelesses!

Some sets, made by illustrious manufacturers, are sought after by collectors. The less famous – products of the many local firms countrywide – have little commercial value. They are, however, priceless in the context of their place in the local economies. They were a response to the immense interest in the wireless craze of the time.

I would hope that wherever you are reading this, where some firm nearby but long ago had supplied their sets to their customers, there may be a few collectors aware of such wirelesses and pro-actively seeking them out. Don’t let them find their way into skips. Acquire, cherish, pass on – to a museum if appropriate but ensuring that they will be looked after.

Those I have described are the only known surviving examples: it would be helpful to know if any others exist.

Perhaps, under the auspices of a BVWS initiative, some of the surviving local sets now scattered far and wide around the country, might find their way back to their home district. Alternatively, a register of such sets could be established, so that even if the present owners aren’t aware of their origin, there might be somebody out there who can identify them.

Now for a personal ‘want’. An HSP, made in the ‘thirties by H.S.Phillips of Weston-super-Mare, any offers?

John Rose, M0BQO

There are pictures of these wireless sets here www.sdrs.zoomshare.com


SOUTH DORSET WIRELESS INDUSTRY – A further update!

 (First published in the July 2006 edition of Catswhisker)

A few years ago, members may recall, I wrote a piece in Catswhisker about the three small-time firms who made radios in the early 1920s (February 2003). They were Marshall of Portland, Smith of Weymouth, and V. H. Bennett of Weymouth.

A Smiths two-valve radio appeared on the internet during 2005. Unfortunately I didn’t get to know about it until too late, by which time it had been sold at the National Vintage Communications Fair in October 2005. The trader had sold it, along with a lot of other old sets, possibly to an Italian dealer and it is this lead that I’m trying to follow up, more in hope than in anticipation.

Now, it looks as if this set, whose origin the trader hadn’t heard of (‘Never heard of Smiths – probably a small company somewhere’) is in many ways similar to the three-valve set with a sloping front that we are familiar with, except for the tuning controls. Enlarging the picture shows a scroll on the fascia just like other Smiths panels, the name ‘Smith’ has to appear somewhere so why not in the scroll. The shape of the cabinet is the same (not forgetting that ready-made cabinets were available then – but a local cabinet-maker worked for Smiths and Marshall).

The reason for the excitement is the fact that it was a two-valve set. On the panel of the Smith sets we know the GPO registration number 2093 appears. This was granted to manufacturers by the Post Office when their sets intended for sale had passed certain tests, such as radiation control. A number that started with ’2′ indicated a 2-valve set but makers were allowed to keep their number for subsequent developments in their range.

So, was this mystery set really made by Smiths of Weymouth? Does it indeed have two valves? If ‘yes’ then it could be the missing link – the prototype or one of the first production run to carry the GPO number. We can’t be sure until it has been traced and photographed, and questions answered.

Unfortunately interest in ancient wirelesses and support through magazines and clubs doesn’t appear to be as strong in Italy as it is in UK, so I fear news of my quest may not reach a sympathetic ear – but one lives in hope.

I’ll try to keep you up-to-date with it.

A NEW CLUB CALL SIGN FOR SDRS – M2Z

(Copy of NOV)

NOTICE OF VARIATION AUTHORISING THE USE OF CONTEST CALL SIGNS BY AMATEUR RADIO CLUBS

WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY ACT 1949

NOTICE OF VARIATION OF AMATEUR RADIO LICENCE

Name of licensee: G Watts (G0EVW) the (“Licensee”)

Name of Club: South Dorset Radio Society

Club Call Sign: G3SDS

Main Station Address of Club:

46 Links Road

Weymouth

Dorset

DT4OPE

Date of Issue of the Notice of Variation: 19/02/2002

Contest Call Sign: M2Z

The Secretary of State gives notice, pursuant to section 1(4) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1944 to the Licensee of variation of the club call sign listed in the Validation Document subject to the terms and conditions below.

Terms and Conditions

The contest call sign may only be used for the contests specified at Annex A and at no other times.

The contest call sign may only be used during 2002, 2003 and 2004. The club must re-apply to the Radio Society of Great Britain HF Contest Committee for call signs in subsequent years.

When operating in a contest, the Licensee must give seven days written notice of the location (National Grid Reference) and period of operation to the Manager of the Radio Investigation Service office in whose region the operation is to take place.

Only members of the club may use the call sign, subject to the above conditions. Holders of class B Licences may only operate if supervised by a class A licence holder.

A separate log must be kept in respect of this call sign.

The appropriate regional secondary locator (if any) should be used. For guidance see Note (w) to the Terms, Provisions and Limitations Booklet BR68.

The contest call sign may not be used outside the UK.

Signed by: D.Carter

On behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

19/02/2002

LIST OF RECOGNISED CONTESTS

ARRL DX CW

ARRL DX SSB

ARRL 1.8 MHz DX CW only

ARRL 28 MHz Multi-mode

CQ WPX CW

CQ WPX RTTY

CQ WPX SSB

CQ World Wide CW

CQ World Wide RTTY

CQ World Wide SSB

CQ World Wide 160 CW

CQ World Wide 160 SSB

IARU Championship Multi-mode

IOTA Multi-mode

WAE DX CW

WAE DX RTTY

WAE DX SSB

ARRL RTTY Roundup

BARTG RTTY

IARU 50 MHz Trophy Multi-mode

IARU 144 MHz Trophy Multi-mode

IARU 432 MHz to 258 GHz Multi-mode

March 144 and 432 MHz

May 432 MHz to 248 GHz Contest

November Marconi Memorial 144 MHz

IMPORTANT

The call M2Z can only be used by members of the SDRS who hold an A class licence or a B class under supervision. A separate log book must be kept and returned to me as soon as possible after each period of use. If the log book is an electronic one then I will need a copy of the software. Also, in order that I have time to comply with the licence requirements to notify the RIS, I must be notified in writing (e-mail is OK) at least 14 days before the call is used, giving details of the contest and the National Grid Reference (NGR) of the QTH that will be used during the contest.

Also; please let me know who the QSL manager is for the event.

Geoff Watts, G0EVW – 15/03/02 g0evw@g3sds.org.uk G3SDS/M2Z licence holder for SDRS.

More information is available in’PDF’ format from the RSGB at http://www.rsgb.org/contests/appfrm0199.pdf

MM1 – The Centenary Year of Transatlantic Wireless Communication

On the 12th of December 1901 the letter S in Morse Code, transmitted from Poldhu in Cornwall was heard by Marconi in Newfoundland. Marconi, who considered the event as the crowning moment in his life wrote:

“Unmistakably, the three sharp little clicks corresponding to three dots, sounded several times in my ear, but I would not be satisfied without corroboration.” ‘Can you hear anything, Mr Kemp?’ I said, handing the telephone to my assistant.” “Kemp heard the same thing as I and I knew then that I had been absolutely right in my calculations. The electric waves which were being sent out from Poldhu had traversed the Atlantic, serenely ignoring the curvature of the Earth that so many doubters considered would be a fatal obstacle and they were now effecting my receiver in Newfoundland.”

The full story of Marconi’s remarkable achievement is told in a new book by Gordon Bussey called “Marconi’s Atlantic Leap” Published by Marconi Communications (ISBN 0 95389 670 6) and available from the RSGB. www.rsgb.org

A recording of Marconi’s voice can be heard at www.radiomarconi.com and if your browser supports it should also be heard whilst viewing this page. Thanks to John, M0BQO for obtaining the following translation from his neighbour, Harry, G3LAG. Some time ago Harry met Princess Elettra when he was president of the radio society in that part of Italy where he worked with Euratom.

Click here to hear Marconi’s voice

“Since 1895, that is from the start of my initial experiments I had a strong intuition and indeed I could almost say a clear and secure vision that radio telegraphic transmissions would be possible over great distances.”

NEWS ARCHIVE

HISTORIC COAST RADIO STATION WILL CELEBRATE  MARCONI EVENT

Stations KPH and K6KPH will be on the air on 12 December 2001 to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first wireless signal to cross the Atlantic, received by Marconi on 12 December 1901 at St. John’s Newfoundland.

Both stations will use the original transmitters, receivers and antennas of famous ex-RCA coast station KPH. The transmitters are located at the transmitting station founded by the American Marconi Co. in 1913 at Bolinas, CA. The receivers and operators will be at the KPH receiving station about 20 miles north at Pt. Reyes, CA.

KPH will be active on commercial frequencies 500 and 425kc with most activity taking place on 500kc (600m). Power output will be 4.3kW. The antenna is a Marconi T. These frequencies have been made available through the generous cooperation of Globe Wireless, current holders of the KPH license.

K6KPH will be active on amateur frequencies 3545, 7050 and 14050kc. Power output will be 1.5kW. Antennas will be double extended Zepps on 3.5 and 7Mc, H over 2 on 14Mc.

K6KPH will begin operations at 1700Z (0900PST).

KPH will begin operations at 0000Z (1700PST) 13 December 2001Z

Commercial practices and procedures will be used on all frequencies to give amateurs the experience of working a real coast station. Traffic lists will be sent and messages for stations that have worked us in the past and sent reception reports will be awaiting in the message rack. All operators will be ex-commercial ops from KPH, KFS and other coast stations.

Amateurs and shortwave listeners are invited to contact or monitor KPH and K6KPH. Maritime stations may call KPH on 500kc.

KPH reception reports may be sent to:

Tom Horsfall
1862 Tulare Ave.
Richmond, CA 94805, USA

K6KPH reception reports may be sent to:

Dick Dillman
435 Utah St., No. 4
San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

KPH and K6KPH are operated by the Maritime Radio Historical Society in cooperation with the Point Reyes National Seashore, part of the US National Park Service.

Further information may be found on the Maritime Radio Historical Society Web site at http://www.radiomarine.org or by contacting Dick Dillman +1 415-255-9221 x 317 or Tom Horsfall +1 510-237-9535.

Dick Dillman, W6AWO – Member of the Maritime Radio Historical Society http://www.radiomarine.org

Collector of Heavy Metal: Harleys, Willys and Radios over 100lbs!

News from the Marconi Radio Club – W1AA

Press release 12/11/01 in MS-Word format

Marconi 100th Anniversary – December 12 2001 – http://sonra.ca/

We have secured an ink register from Jack, W1TEC. This makes the 1902 Spark/Coherer station complete. The complete operating 1902 spark/coherer station will be demonstrated at the Marconi Special Event Station on Cape Cod on Dec 11th through the 16th.  http://www.angelfire.com/nc/whitetho/1902cons.htm

Details of Special Event held in January 2001

Ink Register as used my Marconi  Ink Register as used by Marconi.

This is what Marconi used with his coherer RX to copy the CW on a continuous paper tape. It is in fine shape but it needs a few minor repairs and cleaning. We will test it with the coherer this week. Temporarily we will have to make up some paper tapes by taping them together. We found a source for the paper tape rolls in NH.

The W1AA web page will be updated in the next week or two. The Dec 12th event will be featured with many photos.

73 GBA Whitey K1VV
Marconi Radio Club W1AA

http://personal.tmlp.com/k1vv/w1aa/

W1AA – The Marconi Radio Club

News from The Marconi Memorial Station IY4FGM

HF and microwave radio amateurs are invited to participate in the Marconi celebrations of December 12th 2001.

The Marconi memorial station IY4FGM on HF and, exceptionally, IY4FGM/4 on 23 cm EME will honour the day long scheduled ham session.

MOON BOUNCING on 23 cm, during the whole local window, will be performed through the 32 m VLBI dish of the Bologna radio astronomy observatory. The 50 odd dB of antenna gain, 150W output power and 250K effective (beam on the Moon) system noise temperature should give to most callers a good chance to QSO the unique Marconi Foundation call sign.

23 cm activity: tech details via I4BER to massetti@ira.bo.cnr.it

HF activity: tech details via IY4FGM  iy4fgm@amsat.org

US 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION

‘THE BIG RED ONE’

Organised in 1917, the First Division was the first American Division to land in France, the first to fire a shell against the enemy, to capture prisoners, to launch a major attack, first American unit to enter Germany. Never de-activated between the wars, the First Division was the first to land in North Africa, to land in Sicily and amongst the first to land on D-Day.

It was the first American Division to take 60,000 prisoners in World War II. The ‘Big Red One’ first came to England in 1942, staying at Tidworth Camp in Wiltshire.

Having fought in Sicily, the Division returned to England in 1943, this time staying in camps, towns and villages all over Dorset.

Having landed and fought in North Africa and Sicily, the First Infantry was the most experienced US Division that would land on D-Day. GI’s from the First Division were easily recognised by the badge they wore on their left upper sleeve – the famous big red one on a green shield (although on their return to England they wore no unit insignia as a security measure).

COMPOSITE UNITS OF THE FIRST INFANTRY DIVISION

16th, 18th, 26th Infantry Regiments

5th, 7th, 32nd, 33rd Field Artillery Battalions

1st Signal Company

701st Ordinance Company

1st Quartermaster Company

1st Reconnaisance Troop

1st Engineer Battalion

1st Medical Battalion

COMMANDING OFFICERS

Divisional CO, Major General Clarence R Huebener

CO, 16th Infantry – Colonel George A Taylor (HQ at Parnham House, Near Beaminster)

CO, 18th Infantry – Colonel George Smith, JR (HQ at Islington House, Near Puddletown)

CO, 26th Infantry – Colonel John F Seitz (HQ at Binnegar Hall, Near Wareham)

CO, Divisional Artillery – Brigadier-General Clift Andrus

Col. George A Taylor (16th Infantry) was the Officer who made the famous rallying speech to his troops:-

“There are two kinds of people staying on this beach – the dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here!”

The American landings on Omaha Beach began at 0630 hrs. The 16th Infantry and the 116th Infantry (29th Division were the main part of the initial assault.) DD Tanks, Demolition Engineers and parts of two Ranger Battalions were due to land at the same time.

An intense aerial bombardment was expected to seriously weaken the defending German forces in the area and the American Infantry was prepared for only scattered resistance as the GI’s waded ashore. The German 726th Infantry Regiment (716th Division), supported by the 916th Infantry (352nd Division), opposed the landings from fixed defensive positions along the Bluffs and Draws on the landward side of the beach, and poured a decimating hail of small arms fire into the Americans while the GI’s were still in the water. The beach, chosen for it’s width by the Allied Planners, offered little – if any – cover to the Americans that made it ashore. Particularly heavy casualties were suffered opposite the D-1 draw, near Vierville- sur-Mer. From their pill-boxes on the bluffs, the Germans maintained their devastating fire, and by mid-morning reports were received at 352nd Division Headquarters that the Americans had been repulsed. The Commander of the 352nd Division, General Kraiss, believing the reports to be accurate, committed most of his reserves against Gold Beach to the east – which was being attacked by the 50th British Infantry Division (including the Dorsetshire Regiment).

The Americans had, however, only landed part of the force due to land on Omaha, and assisted by supporting fire from destroyers coming close inshore, the GI’s slowly fought their way up the bloody beach. The 16th Infantry’s 2nd Battalion discovered a weak point in the German defences near the E-1 draw, and around midday, the 18th Infantry Regiment (1st Division) and the 115th (29th Division), were landed on Easy Red Beach to exploit this weakness. The Germans continued their ferocious resistance, and the 18th and 115th Regiments suffered heavy losses as they made their way through the chaos and slowly advanced towards the Bluffs.

At dusk, the Americans were fighting in St. Laurent and had cut the coastal road between there and Colleville by the end of the day, the Americans had landed the major part of two divisions on Omaha Beach, but the casualties suffered had seriously affected the fighting capabilities of the units so far landed, and the size of the beach-head was much smaller than anticipated. But the beach-head was established, and unknown to the GI’s on the beach, the Germans did not realise that Omaha was a planned major objective – and had diverted much of their reserve forces to other Allied sectors.