Don't Shoot The Messenger - Frank Rogers

On a cold dark and damp night Frank very kindly came to our club to entertain us.

Frank went through his previous presentations, the trilogy
Station X - about Bletchley Park,
Keyholders of the Reich - about the battle of the Atlantic and how Bletchley broke the Enigma code.
Secrets of the Samurai - which encompassed the battles for the Far East, Singapore, Pearl Harbour etc.

When Frank had finished them people were coming up and asking what was coming after. So after thinking about it for a while he decided that people were interested Intelligence – who had the best, the British, the American or the Russians.

This led to Don't Shoot the Messenger

Frank commenced his presentation by going through the origin of the British Intelligence Services, how the seeds had been sown 30 years before. He outlined how the then young Churchill and David Lloyd George (Chancellor at that time) persuaded the Government to set up and independent code breaking services – as distinct from the Naval and Army Intelligence – Room 40 in the Admiralty, it found its feet during WW1. However although intelligence was improving, there was distrust from the armed services about using it, his example was the battle for Jutland.

After Jutland nobody really knew who had won, but had the Navy used the intelligence service correctly Britain would have won. Frank identified how the failure to correctly use intelligence meant the Navy was half a day late finding the German Fleet- hence what is popularly considered as a draw.

By the 1940's nothing had really changed, the Army distrusted intelligence, but were forced to take it seriously – and that led to our intelligence sucesses . That and the fact we had a Prime Minister who believed in intelligence.

But what of the Germans? Frank discussed the probability that overlap in German Intelligence and their distrust of each rival service, added to the fact that more and more men were sent to man death camps meant German intelligence was disorganised. It is believed that it was suggested to Hitler to group intelligence under one umbrella, but Hitler with his fear and paranoia wouldn't have it.

The Russians – unsurprisingly Russia had one of the best intelligence services available in the war, the problem was Stalin. When the Russians had accurate intelligence prior to the German attack on Russia Stalin didn't want to know, he knew they weren't ready for war with Germany.

The summary is
Stalin was surrounded by Conspiracy in his mind and ignored his intelligence.
German rigidity and Nazi ideology robbed their intelligence of initiative.
Britain – mobilised its Don's, and had faith in their brilliance.

We all enjoyed Franks Talk, It was well supported with handouts, music and visual aids.
What added to our enjoyment all the more was knowning that our evenings entertainment was suppporting Franks work for charity, as he is a tireless supporter of local charities.  Well Done Frank.

Lisa Mossop

Experiences working for Cable & Wireless

On Tuesday 15th April 2008 the Club was lucky to have a presentation by Les Green. Les came to share his experiences of working with Cable and Wireless in the 70's, a company he worked for after leaving the RAF.
The first place Les showed us was the Turks & Caicos Islands, location 550 miles south/east of Miami. When Les was there it wasn't a tourist spot as it is now, it was a beautiful island of white sands, picturesque wooden shuttered house in the same style as those found in Jamaica & Bermuda, 2 US Military bases and the remains of what had once been its main industry – Salinas – Salt Production.

The Capital Isle is Grand Turk, seven by one mile in size, with its highest peak measuring 75 feet. The two military camps are a naval base and an air force base. The USAF base operated a Pan am facility and was part of NASA's Eastern Test Lanes – Les was there when they did the Lunar landing, everyone was euphoric.

The town landing strip was nothing like the USAF strip – or any other strip I have ever seen. It was rough and windswept with a roughly constructed dilapidated shack as the departure lounge – but it worked (there very own T5). Landing at the USAF strip was expensive,, the Americans demanded a high level of insurance before they would allow planes to use their strip, so people did use the town strip. Eventually however the town strip feel into disrepair and closed.

Another way to the Island was by sea – but a photo showed us how rough they are. Les showed us a picture of the Royal Mail ship, this brought frozen food to the C&W workers, when it came in it resulted in a round of dinner parties.

Then we saw pictures of the Salinas, which hadn't been used since the mid 1800's so they were in Les's words “whiffy”. Les took us through how they were operated and had pictures of the wind pumps and sluices. Salt production had been the Islands main industry but as refrigeration became more in use, the use of salt as a meat preservative declined. The island still had many donkeys which had been used to transport salt – now they contented themselves by wandering about and being a hazard to any keen gardener if they gained access.

Cable & Wireless had had a station on the Islands since the early days of submarine technology. Then radio took over, so then it became a HF station to Jamaica & Bermuda, telex by HF was not reliable 24/7 at that time. The station also did links to near islands via UHF by phone and later by telex.

At the time Les was there C&W were planning to take over the local telephone services, which at that time were based in a local prison. When the warden was busy it wasn't unusual to get a prisoner answering the call.

After his time in the Turks, Les went to Belize, then was moved on as a secondee to Sierra Leone, in its capital Freetown on the West African Coast. Les was part of the team who were to install a Standard B Earth Station.

Les was overseeing the project, but had specialist assistance for the building of the foundations of the Station.

Les took us through the complete process of constructing the foundations, the erection of the structure and the application of the antenna dish to the top – all well supported visually. They faced many problems – including the problem of space, with 300 crates to keep on a site that was not flat, nor roomy, that had been heavily vegetated, it was a challenge.

The Standard B dish is 11meters wide, and only moved half hourly, unlike Standard A, so it moved on a step track. The project was completed to time. Which was just as well as a large opening ceremony was planned with The President of Sierra Leone doing an inaugural call to a neighbouring president.

It was an entertaining talk which introduced us to some exotic and beautiful locations, Les was a warm, friendly and informative Guest Speaker. Everyone enjoyed the night.

I would like to again extend thanks to Les for a great night's entertainment from Chester & District Radio Society.

Lisa Mossop

Quiz Night

This week we didn't have our usual club night, instead members travelled to Irby and participated in a quiz night as guests of WADARC

The evening was introduced by Club Chairman Gordon Nicolas, who then handed over the compering of the night to Club Secretary Tom Howarth G4BKF. Tom explained that the quiz was dedicated to our dear friend Peter G3PYU, and the winner would take home a very handsome trophy. Tom added an extra element by inviting the audience to form into teams of up to three, as these teams could also take part with a bottle for each participating member of the winning audience team.

We had an official team, comprising of Dave Ollerhead G4JMF, Bruce Sutherland M0CVP, who challenged against Wirral's team of Bob Smith G4NCI, Simon Grainger 2E0BDO and Phil Jones G6IIM.

Within the audience from Chester we had myself and my husband Greg G0DUB, Pat M3XSD, Alan G3LPO, Graham G7NEH, John G0KKO and wife Viv, Derrick M1SUM, Greg and I formed team “Bright Sparks” (a name gifted by Pat but then she became part of a team with Derrick and Alan), John, Viv and Graham made up our other audience team.

There were 60 questions, 30 on radio, 30 on general knowledge. Questions on radio were devised by our very own Alan Hopkinson G8OJQ, who had a ringside seat and had the final say on what was or wasn't an acceptable answer to the radio questions.

We were in the Cricket Club at Irby, which is a lovely club house, Wirral are very lucky to have such excellent facilities there, and it was nice to a have a bar available whilst we all socialised. Wirral Club members were very welcoming.

Tom was an entertaining Quiz master, and before we knew it was eyes down, thinking caps on. In my own little team of myself and Greg I found I was mostly happy with the general knowledge – but literally handed over the quiz sheet when it came to the radio questions (and non of you are surprised abit are you? :-) ). 60 questions passed by remarkably quickly, and I realised that I hadn't really looked at the official team in the entire time of the quiz, so involved was I in our own answers. Then we took a break and had some sandwiches kindly provided by a member of Wirral Club.

Marking then commenced – you can imagine what it was like, all good fun, but plenty of “what about....”, Alan sat impertubable throughout – clearly enjoying himself.

And the final result, our offficial team won on behalf of Chester – well done again chaps. The winners from the audience teams, to my total shock, was Greg and I (mostly thanks to Greg I suspect) – all of which left me tickled pink with delight and richer by a bottle.

All in all it was a really fun evening, inviting the audience to participate was a stroke of genius as it got us all involved and made it much more fun. Our welcome was warm and every one enjoyed themselves – a perfect night out for us all.

I must also pass on special thanks to Neil G4AOR for the pictures he took and kindly forwarded to me.

Thankyou again to Wirral Club for hosting such a fun, entertaining and brain teasing evening.
Lisa Mossop M0LSA, Chairman Chester & District Radio Society

Tunnel Communications (Standedge Tunnel), by Eric Walton & Jack McEwan

Eric and Jack commenced their presentation by going through a little personal history, the Standedge Tunnels History and then the background to the tunnel communications exercise.

Standedge tunnel runs NW / SW and directly seperates Greater Manchester from the connabation of Leeds and Yorkshire, it presents a nearly impenetrable barrier for tunnel communication.
The tunnel is 5 kilometres long, running under rugged hills and valleys, and can only be approached via windy village/rural roads. Standedge tunnels isn't just one tunnel, its comprises of four, the first was built in 1795 – 1810 for the Huddersfield canal, which has recently been refurbished and is navigable. The other three are rail tunnels, one currently in use for high speed trains, freight trains etc, the other two are no longer in use.

Due to its location an emergency exercise involves emergency services from two areas. Basically Network Rail thought they should plan for a train derailment in the Standedge Tunnel, currently they have no communications from one end to the other. They called in Bolton Raynet to assist. The scenario was to simulate a derailment in one of the unused tunnels, which are dead straight, with the requirement of comms portal to portal, and comms between admistrative headquarters on one side of the tunnel to the other.

On the day Greater Manchester Fire Brigade brought out their comms vehicle, but this did not benefit them greatly, their system can't talk to York over the hill, so they had thought they could use airwave (still in its infancy) – but it failed to work on the day. In the end Fire Brigade mobiles were dead and they ended up borrowing Jon Mossmans' (Gtr Manchester Raynet) mobile! By the end of the day the Fire Brigade used Raynet for at least an hour for their comms. At a debrief it was said “Raynet saved the day” what better PR could they have?

British Transport had also planned to use airwave, but on the day they could only reach Picaddilly
With much expirimentation with different bands and various locations, and by the use of talk through they sucessfully overcame the tunnels and provided comms over and through as required. They also did further testing with CREG (cave radio & electronics group).

In fact although not wishing to reprise the enter presentation they had to overcome a number of issues, some of the locations tested could only be accessed in good weather, determining the best band took a lot of expirimentation and they found they that FM was the best to use as SSB was subject to noise from the rail signals.

It was a really good presentation with a great deal of information both of general interest and technical interest. It was clear the audience loved it – I did certainly. Thanks very much Jack and Eric.

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Lisa Mossop M0LSA