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.
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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
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.
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.
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.