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Surfin’: Emergency Radio Service During “The War”


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ considers ham radio during the Second World War.

Veterans Day is Thursday, so I wanted to write something appropriate. My first thought was to write about ham radio during The War, especially since my Pop was a veteran (4th Marine Division on Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, with two Purple Hearts).

I don’t know about you, but as a kid growing up during the 1950s and 1960s, all the adults around me referred to World War II as “The War,” despite the fact that the Korean Conflict occurred after The War. By osmosis, I now refer to World War II as The War, too.

Anyway, it did not take much marching around the Internet for me to recall that the government had shut down ham radio during World War II.

According to AC6V’s USA Amateur Radio History and Licensing Web site, hams were a valuable pool of trained technicians and operators and were in high demand by the military. By 1942, about 15,000 hams were in the US armed forces.

Little did I know that the ARRL pushed on the FCC to create a radio service during The War to provide communications for air raid protection and natural disasters. The service was called the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS) and was a precursor to Civil Defense and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

Unlike ham radio, communities held the WERS licenses, not individuals; however, an individual participating in WERS had to have a ham license. The WERS frequency assignments were 112-116 and 219-225 MHz.

To learn more about WERS and ham radio during The War, read The War Years by Jeffrey Herman, KH6O, by scrolling down about one-third of way down AC6V’s Web site.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, writes Surfin’ once a week. To contact Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog (which has now been visited by a black bear four times and counting).



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