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.

From: Wavescan N76 – Aug. 8, 2010

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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).