A brush with the Navy

I have always found the Royal Navy a funny old lot. During the Wars of 39/45 I once got lumbered with a Royal Marine Signal Section who had very thoughtlessly, left their Officers in the U.K. The marks of that experience still show. The Navy ran a large radio station (DELTA) near Abukir, far larger than the Army station (POLYGON). The man in charge was a lowly Warrant Officer. The Army equivalent was a Major who had enough spare time to intrigue continuously to be made a half-Colonel (in which he ultimately succeeded).

In general, when you met their higher Officers they were very autocratic and hated technical people. Perhaps their attitude is best illustrated by the then current Naval Toast “To the Royal Navy, the Evacuees (i.e. the Army) and the Royal Advertising Federation”.

However, the Sin of Pride sometimes gets its reward. They had contingents at Alexandria and at Cairo, and somehow they got hold of Teleprinters for use between the two Sites. The word soon got round that they were using clear language on all traffic. The Signals General pointed out to C-in-C MED that this form of communication was wide open to local ill- wishers and got a very dusty answer – that nobody could read Teleprinter signals other than another Teleprinter and no local had one.

Accordingly, a small party descended on the Mouski or local Bazaar where you could, even in wartime, buy most things. The shopping list included spools, paper strip, clockwork mechanism, 2 6L6 valves, batteries, bits of metal, ink etc., etc., and – I nearly forgot — a hypodermic needle and a bicycle bell. This was all freely bought and sold and after a few days a breadboard was produced which was essentially a high input impedance flip-flop driving a very presentable syphon recorder. A tame Egyptian State Telephones wireman was then borrowed and a party set out from GHQ. Somewhere outside the perimeter a manhole was opened and the party went down, bearing with them the breadboard, the wireman and, of course, the bicycle bell. This attracted no attention from Police or passers by.

With the aid of the wireman we hooked on to the Teleprinter line for a couple of hours or so.. The result presented to some Cypher people who were instructed how to read Teleprinter recordings, and behold, amongst assignations with numerous WRNS for the next weekend, solid blocks of Fleet Movements. The result was a return visit by the Signal’s General and. some very red faces.and. the. introduction of Cypher machines. An ill disposed local could have done all this.

The bicycle bell? Oh, the hypodermic needle which acted as recorder, was connected by bicycle valve rubber to the bell, which, placed upside down, held the ink!!

Eric Vast – May 1981.

Return to the index of Vital Spark articles.

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air

Prepared by the clubs RSGB trainer, G3MGQ, you will find the latest DX contests including the ones to shoot for as well as ones to give a wide berth. Why not download the latest edition of Month on the Air and enjoy your DX just that little bit more.

Become a member of HERC

Join the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.

Why not join one of the largest and most established Radio clubs in the South East of England? Very low joining cost, and free for a year to new licencees.

Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

Take a look through a large selection of articles written by club members over the years which have been published in the monthly Vital Spark newsletter .

Used Ham Radio Equipment

View HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list..

Every four weeks, HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list is updated on the site. Bookmark the gear for sale page to re-visit easily and take advantage of the used equipment on sale through the club.

Club Photographs

HERC Image Galleries.

Here is the official HERC photograph archive which contains multiple image galleries spanning several decades since the club was formed many years ago. Enjoy the images!

UK Amateur Radio Repeaters

UK repeaters

Click button above for full list, or a local repeater callsign below for info.

GB3EB 2m in Uckfield- Active
MB6EB 2m DStar Node in Eastbourne - Active
MB6RY Wires-X DigiGate in Broad Oak - Active
GB3HE 70cm in Hastings - Active
GB7HE 70cm DStar in Hastings - Coming soon
GB3ZX 70cm in Eastbourne - Low Power
GB3JT 23cm ATV in Hastings - NoV cleared
GB7RY 70cm X-Wires Repeater Rye - Active
GB7ES Eastbourne - DSTAR Rpt. - Active
GB3ES 2m in Hastings - Active

For a complete list of repeaters, head over to
the UK Amateur Radio repeaters list.

Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

Amateur Radio Resources

Other Radio Clubs & RAYNET

BSARS - Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society

RAYNET - The Hastings and Rother RAYNET Group.

HERC members sites

Sigord - Gordon Sweet
Hastings Radio Comms - Andrew Haas-Campbell
Hoofbags - Liz Costa