Great Radio Hams of the Past – Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica in 1769. He had an unusual childhood. While the other boys were out in the street setting fire to their grandmothers he would be in his father’s shed making crystal sets. By the time he was twelve no one on the island knew more about the cat’s whisker than he did. He was an ambitious lad and as soon as he was old enough he took himself off to the mainland where he quickly became one of the leading radio hams. He specialised in expeditions and there are recorded accounts of his visits to Italy, Austria, Spain and the Low Countries.

He was not a tall man – scarcely more than 5/8 of a wavelength for 2 metres – but, you could pick him out in a crowd because he had a military type cocked hat which he always wore sideways to keep the rain out of his headphones.

There was also romance in his life. Somewhere along the line he got himself involved with a young party called Josephine. She was a nice enough girl, she had the blue eyes, the ringlets and all the other funny bits, but it has to be said that she was not terribly bright. Her knowledge of the ionosphere could only be described as sketchy, and the simple rudiments of solar-factual data seemed to have passed her by altogether. She kept pestering our hero for QSOs at all hours of the day and night. He found this very wearisome and on one occasion, when she was trying to persuade him to go on upper sideband during a sunspot minimum, he was obliged to put his foot down. “Not tonight, Josephine,” he said.

In spite of all this happiness, Napoleon had one secret sorrow. Try as he might, he could not get any QSL cards from the notorious Box 88 in Moscow. He decided to make a personal visit to the place and shake them by the throat in the true spirit of international friendship. And in 1812, accompanied by an elite team of aerial riggers, he set out for the frozen wastes.

As the days grew progressively colder they encountered the first signs of trouble. The earth spike would not penetrate the ground. Napoleon remarked about this to his chief logger General Ney but he could have saved his breath because Ney was one of those boring people who talked about packet all the time and all he could suggest was that they should send someone back to Toulouse for a bigger hammer

A few days later icicles started to dangle from the tri-bander, the SWR went all to pot and they were splattering all over so it wasn’t altogether surprising when a detector van came out from Tomsk and revoked their reciprocal licence. Napoleon needed this like a woodpecker needs a headache and, turning his back for ever on Box 88, he started on the long journey home.

He became more cheerful as they approached Belgium and he realised that he was just in time for the Waterloo Mobile Rally but his enjoyment was short-lived. He was talking to a pleasant Englishman named Wellington who was demonstrating a sort of insulated safety boot designed for field-day working and was in fact about to make a purchase, when along came a great blundering Prussian named Blucher who trod on the carrier bag which contained Napoleon’s entire stock of 807 valves. This meant QRT with a capital Q and Napoleon was never to smile again.

He retired in misery to the island of St Helena where he made one or two feeble attempts at QRP before going silent key in 1821.

Stan Simpson – G4ITM.

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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.

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