Tibet Radio Operator, Diplomat Robert W. Ford, ex-AC4RF, SK
Robert W. Ford, who operated from Tibet as AC4RF from 1948 to 1950, died September 20 in London. He was 90. His fascinating autobiography, Wind Between the Worlds, published in 1957 and available as a free Internet Archive download, describes his time and travails in Tibet and how his radio work nearly cost him his life.
As Ford explains, he first came to Tibet “by accident” to relieve the radio officer at the British Mission in Lhasa. He returned later as a member of the Tibetan government to establish Radio Lhasa. He also tells of how he kept in touch with his parents in England via ham radio.
His stay in Tibet coincided with overt threats from China to liberate Tibet “from American and British imperialism” and the ultimate Chinese invasion of the Himalayan nation. Ford eventually was imprisoned by the Chinese in 1950, interrogated at length and feared for his life. He was tried for “radio espionage” and spent 5 years in jail before being released.
He later became a member of the British Diplomatic Service, serving in various postings before retiring in 1987. He was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire.