Training Civilians for Wartime Radio Operating
September 1942 QST Article
was a time when a sense of national pride accompanied an ingrained a
desire to perform a civic duty, particularly when crisis or war was
upon the country. Unlike today's environment of "rights" and entitlements
promised by politicians without any authority in the Constitution, people
volunteered to assist neighbors and friends for the good of not just
their immediate neighborhoods, but of their country. Rationing was imposed
on many goods by the government for the sake of the war effort, but
most folks were more than willing to comply since nearly everyone had
a son, father, uncle, or good buddy serving to defeat the Axis powers.
Recall the scene in "It's a Wonderful Life," where George Bailey and
family served as volunteers for the Red Cross, bottle and tire drives,
and Civil Defense block wardens, while younger brother Harry flew bombers.
September 1942 QST
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the
ARRL's QST magazine. Here is a list of the
QST articles I have already posted. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
As is their proud history, Ham radio operators contributed mightily
to the war effort by helping to train civilians in the proper and efficient
operation of radio equipment, and by joining the service to apply their
own skills to the task. Here is an article that appeared in the November
1942 edition of QST magazine on the subject of training.
all available vintage
Training Civilians for Wartime Operating
Organizing Community Classes for Radio Training
By John Huntoon
In the prosecution of the war our armed forces
find themselves confronted with a great shortage of trained specialists.
This is particularly true in the communications field. Training schools
by the hundreds with a prodigious total enrollment have been set up
to relieve this shortage, but they are not enough. Then, too, the flow
of trained civilians into military service has stripped essential home
communications activity of personnel, creating a serious problem in
finding operators to man the War Emergency Radio Service.
affiliated clubs and other amateur groups have responded to this need
by setting up classes in radiotelegraph code and theory in their respective
communities. Now that Autumn is upon us and the school season returns,
this is an "allout" call to every club and every amateur remaining
home to assist in this widespread training work. Let it not fall on
deaf ears at "one of those meetings of hams-at which everyone sits and
suggests that something ought to be done," (as Jack Hill describes them
on page 80). This is an important job, one which we amateurs can do
well since we have a supply of the necessary raw material - instructors
Our broad objectives should be three-fold: First, to give pre-induction
training to prospective selectees so that they may advance rapidly during
their military communications schooling; second, to prepare local civilians
to fill essential communications jobs whose former holders have gone
to war; and third, to train operators for the War Emergency Radio Service.
Every training class should have as its goal the acquisition of an FCC
license, amateur or commercial, by each student; such a license is about
the only documentary evidence, aside from a radio engineering degree,
which military personnel officers will honor in support of a candidate's
claim to radio ability.
The new War Emergency Radio Service needs many trained operators.
Sixty-nine YL's graduated June 28th from A WVS radio classes under
the supervision of Leonore Conn. W2NAZ, and are now awaiting their
amateur licenses from FCC. Reeve Strock, W2GTZ. deputy radio aide
for New York City, was right on hand to sign up the gals for participation
first step is to decide what scope of training you will offer - code
or theory, and to what degree. Important considerations will be what
instructor material is available and what equipment can be secured.
Probably code is the better course to offer, at least at the beginning,
for it is a more interesting one to evening students and one which a
greater percentage of amateurs are capable of teaching. It is obvious
that only reasonably-good operators - meaning good fists rather than
high speed - should be allowed to handle the code classes, so that no
poor sending habits will be transmitted to students; we want to turn
out a product far superior to some of the mass-production nonamateur
Army field operators we often hear.
You will need a classroom,
of course. The principals of local schools should be willing to help
you out; in fact, they may wish to offer the course as part of their
regular evening-school training. If this source is not productive, contact
civic clubs, the YMCA, chambers of commerce - we're certain you won't
need to go further. (You need not be particular, but if there is a choice
between classrooms choose one which has the most sound insulation.)
If your town has a population greater than 50, you need have
no fear of the success of your course. If publicity should appear in
a local paper you probably will need a police guard to handle the crowds
around the registration point you name! Of course, a large number of
applications is a desirable thing; you can reserve the right to select
students on your own specification, and can thereupon proceed to choose
first those for whom induction is imminent, and so on.
Adequate training literature in the form of student texts for both code
and theory classes is available from Hq, In addition, we shall be glad
to send to any club without charge a mimeographed set of material containing
hints to code instructors, together with some practice material. There
is also available, gratis, an outline of a theory course based on the
Handbook, though the current QST series is much more elaborate and detailed.
Above are pictured some examples of amateur-sponsored community
training classes in radiotelegraph code and theory, designed to
give both stay-at-home civilians and future Army selectees preliminary
knowledge of radiocommunication. Upper and center left:
The Bamberger classes are held in the WaR studios, with Ed Oberle,
W2LCA, instructing in theory. Lower left: Troop of Rock Springs,
Wyoming, Girl Scouts receiving code instruction from John Duffy,
W7DIE. Upper right: First graduates of the Navy League Service radio
class, instructed by Walter Faries, who will be remembered as the
winner of the Cairo Survey Award. Center right: The St. Paul Radio
Club's 15-minute radio program goes on KSTP. to teach code to Twin
Cities' listeners; left to right, Leo Hartig; J. L. Hill, W9ZWW;
A. E. Swanberg, W9BHY; R. N. Runyon; Dorothy Swanberg. Lower right:
Dr. E. F. Murphy, age 68, and Glenn Still, 12, learn code from Willard
Coder, W9HWS, president of the St. Paul Club. Has your club started
a training program yet?
Equipment is not much of a problem in code classes, for
an adequate oscillator may be built from nearly every amateur junk box.
Procurement of new headphones and keys is not always possible, but students
can be informed that they must bring their own 'phones, along with the
suggestion they scout around, inquiring of friends and acquaintances
for old pairs; they exist in many attics and cellars and usually will
fill the need. Telegraph keys can be acquired in the same manner, while
early receiving practice is under way; keys may be shared, too, so that
a supply equal to the class enrollment is not necessary. As a last resort
only, if sufficient 'phones are not available, buzzer sets or a loud
speaker may be used. The equipment problem becomes more complicated
for classes on theory, but here again the junk box may be source number
one, for the QST-course series utilizes demonstration units constructed
to a great extent from just that type of gear.
In any class, but particularly in one aiming at the radiotelephone
third-class operator permit, you should plan to turn out operators,
not just licensees. If you happen to be instructing members of the Civil
Air Patrol, for example, make certain they get classroom practice simulating
airport control station and aircraft contacts, so they will learn voice
technique in a snappy manner. Give your code students practice operating
in networks, alternating the control station assignment, and let them
handle dummy messages. Trainees should receive guidance in copying to
typewriter, ten-to-the-line. In theory classes, allow as much time for
"laboratory" work as possible; nothing is more abstract than radio technique
when only a paper knowledge exists.
To any affiliated club wishing
to conduct code tests, ARRL will be glad to send a supply of proficiency
certificates upon receipt of an application accompanied by a description
of how the competition will be conducted, equipment used, etc. The awards
are issued in the name of the sponsoring group, and can be used for
sending or receiving ability.
By no means least, keep
us informed of your activities. Let us know how many persons you are
training and to what end, so we may list you in the "Honor Roll." We
want amateur radio to do a bang-up job in community radio training,
and we want to chronicle it in QST's pages.