How Ed Won The War
“Old Radar Men Never Die –
Their Echoes Fade Away
According to the Inverse Fourth
Power Law”
My Pre-War Period
In November, 1940 , I was 19
years old
Licensed ham since 1938
WWII had been going since
1939.
Applied to RCAF as WAG but
long wait list
“Invitation” to apply as Wireless
Electrical Mechanic. Accepted.
First uniform photo (R)
#1 Manning Depot (Toronto)
About 300 former hams,
radio servicemen, and
others with radio training
All received LAC (Leading
Aircraftsman) rank
Month of marching drill
here on the CNE grounds
Full pack (water-bottle,
mess kit etc)
Then ordered overseas.
My 1st North Atlantic Cruise
Departed Pier 21
Halifax on 5 January,
1941 on troopship
Leopoldville
10 days to Liverpool –
zig-zagging alone
without convoy
Wore great-coats at all
times in case of attack
Arrived 15 January
S S Leopoldville (Belgian)
- later sunk by U-Boat on
Christmas Eve, 1944
Marker shows Yatesbury. Note port of arrival - Liverpool, my
first posting - Plymouth and my port of departure for India –
RAF School - Yatesbury
17 January, 1941 began training to become a
“Radio Direction Finding Mechanic”
Our three-month course was the first Canadian
radar class to graduate.
All later classes were in Canada - six months long,
at Canadian universities and colleges, followed by
a radar course at RAF Station Clinton.
Graduates of these courses served on all fronts in
WWII, including with the Americans in the Pacific.
Some even served with the Royal Navy and
Marines
The following “Air Ministry Experimental Station” types were selected
from the 50 developed during WWII. (Many later types were
microwave)
AMES Type 1 Chain Home - 1 Mw; PW 5-54µS; PRF 12.5, 25, 50; Freq
22.7 - 29.7 MHz. Earlier systems had 200Kw and 800Kw outputs.
Some systems were designed for 42.5 - 50.5 MHz operation.
AMES Type 2 Chain Home Low - 150 Kw; PW 3µS; PRF Variable ~400;
Freq 200 MHz. When on 200' tower or on 200' cliffs, range on target at
500' 110 miles. TX/RX antenna is a 5-bay, 4-stack of end-fed horizontal
dipoles with 300Ω feedline and spark-gap T/R switching. BW ~ 20°
AMES Type 3 CH/CHL Types 1 & 2 in close proximity operating as
one unit
AMES Type 4 Chain Overseas Low. A version with Type 2 specs. For
use overseas. Also known as Intermediate CO
AMES Type 5 Mk.1 Chain Overseas Low. Few in the UK. Type 2 specs.
Prior to AMES 530 – used gantry. Manually aimed by wheel or pedals.
AMES Type 5 Mk.2A COL - From AMES 531. Used gantry, power
rotated.
AMES Type 5 Mk.2B COL - As AMES Type 5 Mk.2A, but using towers.
AMES Type 15 COL GCI - as AMES Type 5 Mk. 1 but truck-mounted.
Chain Home – 22-29 MHz
“Curtain” Arrays of
horizontal dipoles
on three 360 ft steel
towers. Receiving
Receiving
Arrays on four 240
ft wooden towers stacked dipole
array
CH Curtain Array
performance
shown above.
Chain Home Low – 200 MHz
TX/RX array has 5-bay 4-stack of endfed dipoles positioned 1/8 λ from the
wire-netting reflector screen
Produces 20º beam width
Rotation was manual using a steering
wheel or pedals and chain to position
the array for best image of targets
Later types had motorized continuous
rotation with slip rings or link coupling
instead of direct feedline connection
See height of man for size comparison
The Bed-Spring Array
Clear closeup photos of the
CHL/COL antennas could not be
found for this presentation
Those TX/RX arrays were 5-bay 4stack (20 end-fed half-wave
elements)
The “Bed-Spring” array shown
(Top) is a 4-bay 4-stack (16
elements) but the feeding and
stacking are similar.
Physical layout (Bottom) is also
similar to CHL/COL arrays, but
with separate TX and RX arrays.
The CHL/COL TX Finals
Air-cooled amplifier “valve” VT98.
A pair in CHL/CHL use ran with 25,000 V on the plate.
• Dotted Line shows CH
Main coverage at 15,000 ft in
September 1939.
• Grey Area shows CH Low
coverage at 500 ft in
September, 1940
• Solid Line shows CH Main
coverage at 15,000 ft in
September 1943
Chain Home Low Plymouth
Our Rame Head CHL was “paired” with the Hawkestore
CH on the other side of Plymouth
I was posted here in April, 1941- my first RDF site
Heavy German bombing of the nearby port when I arrived
Could see the German bomber markings as they flew
over the RDF
Noisy army-manned anti-aircraft battery next to us that
shook tools off the walls of our hut
I also volunteered as an RDF Operator
The RDF Operator Displays
‘A Scan’ displays plotted
“slant distance” to target
(Above R)
Operator also noted angular
position of the antenna array
Motorized continuous
scanning allowed full use of
the now familiar ‘Plan
Position Indicator’ display,
for GCI (Ground-Controlled
Intercept) operation
(Below R)
Target Detection and Plotting
Operators sat in front of
CRT displays (L) in a
darkened room
Sighting reports were
forwarded to a central Filter
Room (R) and then
forwarded to the Group
Operations Room for
plotting and fighter
dispatch (Below)
After 11 months at Rame
Head, I was posted to join a
Far-East convoy.
My
st
1
South Atlantic Cruise
Left Glasgow 16 Feb 1942
5,000 army and air force
personnel aboard our ship
Convoy (largest to date) had
2 aircraft carriers, 10 troop
ships, 1 battleship, 1 cruiser,
2 destroyers and 4 merchant
ships
Stopped at Freetown, West P & O Liner SS Stratheden –
Africa (no shore leave)
23,500 tons. Survived war and
Had to eat hard-tack and
sailed Britain to/from
bully beef after food ran out Australia during 50’s & 60’s,
At Durban, South Africa
before being scrapped in 1969
invited for a home-cooked
meal and good food.
Bombay, Bangalore, Madras
Bombay (now Mumbai)
streets filled with
unfamiliar sights & sounds
Many natives had red teeth
from chewing betel nuts
and spat what looked like
blood. (We were afraid it
was tuberculosis)
Train to Bangalore (now
Bengaluru) and then
Madras (now Chennai). ‘Identity Pass Air Forces in India’
Met a train leaving Madras
stayed on me at all times
with occupants and
hangers-on glad to see us
Madra Street Scenes WWII
Jockey’s Quarters
At Madras housed in Jockey’s Quarters at now-inactive
Gindy Race Track until the completion of road to our site
Our beds called charpoys - wooden sides and legs, no
springs or mattress. Weave of rope criss-crossed side-toside and end-to-end covered by thin mat called a dorais
This would be the type of bed I had on all future RDF sites
First morning we awoke with blood on our legs.
These charpoys were infested with bed-bugs
In addition to beating the beds in sunlight and mounting
oil-filled cans on each leg, I also sewed my sheets to form
a bag. This kept the bugs out of my bed.
Fun at the Jockey’s Quarters
Here we wrote letters home.
We also practised rapid dropand-shoot with the British
Army unit, using the .303 (Top)
Introduced to shooting the
Thompson submachine gun
(middle), Sten submachine gun
(bottom) and the Lewis gun
(shown later).
Finally, road finished
We proceeded to our site on a
high hill at Pallavaram SW of
Madras (now Chennai)
542 AMES COL - Pallavaram
Adjacent to our site were
some British civilian homes
We had concrete buildings
with no windows, doors or
screens to keep out bugs
Our site included the
Technical Commanding
Officer (Jim Elliott from
Brandon), Adjutant, Cooks,
Service Police, RDF
operators, vehicle drivers,
542 AMES Pallavaram 1942
and four RDF Mechanics
E. Morgan Back Row (R)
542 AMES COL (cont’d)
Uncrated and installed RDF gear
Built 20 ft gantry for the 1.5 ton antenna and rotating
system out of 18” square teakwood timbers.
1” holes bored with hand auger. Took turns. Still took
days in the hot sun.
Received my RAF Corporal stripes.
Had pleasant time here. Even played badminton.
After 14 months in Madras area was posted to 544
AMES at Diamond Harbour, near Calcutta (now
Kolkata), far to the northeast.
• Transport to
Madras (now
Chennai) railway
station
• Long train ride to
Calcutta (now
Kolkata)
• Transport to the
Diamond Harbour
site
544 AMES – Diamond
Harbour
Site on Houghly River just south of Calcutta
Housing was bamboo hut with thatched roof
20 ft gantry antenna similar to AMES 542 but on top of
187 ft teak wood tower
Open wooden ladders zig-zagged up the tower (no
security shields)
RDF gear and generators same as AMES 542
Lister 4-cylinder diesel generators ran 12 hours with
changeover to refuel
Diamond Harbour - More
Well-qualified RAF
Flight Sergeant Clarke
kept us all alert  The headset jack
incident
 Order to clean the
antenna element
insulators
Above steel tower is
similar to our teak tower.
Diamond Harbour - More
The daring of youth
 Racing up the tower ladders
 Balancing on the rotating antenna array at 200 ft
Further practice with the Lewis Machine Gun (below) to
protect the RDF Operators, in case of enemy attack
Now receiving RCAF Sergeant pay but no stripes (to
avoid conflicts with the RAF)
Ordered to report for two-week Defence Training Course
Defence Training Course
Two-week course in mosquito-infested jungle camp at
Alipore, near Calcutta
100 RAF LAC’s or below, and me - the only Canadian
Issued coveralls, canvas running shoes, pith helmet and
a .303 rifle with a larger bayonet than Army issue
Had to carry rifle and bayonet at all times - often
overhead
No running water - just one hand pump for washing and
bathing
Endurance hikes, barbed wire, trip wires, shaky bridges,
jungle patrols and bayonet practice - fun and games in
the jungle
Alipore (cont’d)
Brylcreme very useful
Jump the mud pool
airman!
The blank bullet incident
Hide and Seek with the
instructor
My parade fiasco
Passed the course and got
it entered in my paybook.
65 years on, Alipore is
now surrounded by
the city of Kolkata
Back to Diamond Harbour
RDF operators in concrete building, no windows
Door closed door to well-lit RDF Mechanics’ room
One day shift, RDF operators reported 50+ echoes to the
Filter Room in Calcutta, who assumed they were friendly
Japanese planes soon overhead on way to bomb Calcutta
Anti-personnel bombs. Little damage
Hurricanes scrambled. Most shot down on takeoff by
Zeros flying top cover for their bombers
For weeks Hurricane pilots seen around Calcutta with legs
and arms in casts. One was killed
Bengal Famine that year. Very distressing.
 Dying people on the street
 Trucks picking up bodies for cremation
Calcutta Street Scenes WWII
Never Volunteer
Chain Overseas Low barge
Air-drop into China
Combined Operations Training Course
Anti-Malaria Measures
Ordered to 885 AMES at Dimapur in northeast India
Dimapur in a malaria area near “the front”
Issued special green uniform and bush hat with snaps on
the side for the brim
Received another “medical” and malaria prevention
instruction by young RAF doctor who declared me fit
Cautioned me about future trouble with my tonsils (?)
Failure to contract malaria so far, in spite of numerous
mosquito bites, convinced me I was immune
After my first tablet of Mepacrine or Pemikiran (I forget
which), was walking down street in Calcutta and felt
dizzy. Had to sit with my head between my knees
At future “pill parades”, instead of taking the pill when
ordered by the senior NCO, I flipped it over my head
Map shows Dimapur , Kolkata (Calcutta), and Monywa
my next site, and nearby Mandalay
885 AMES Mobile GCI - Dimapur
After 13 months at Diamond Harbour, and ferry, train,
transit camp, train and overnight stop at Pandu, arrived at
885 AMES at Dimapur 20 August, 1944
Site comprised several temporary huts and large mess hall
RDF Mechanics (all RCAF Corporals) had a small hut
labeled “Canada House”
We all took turns sharing duties and helping each other
Showers were from the mobile water bowser - comfortable
885 AMES used similar RDF gear to my previous sites
Transmitter, Receiver/Ops Room, Lister diesels, and
Antenna Assembly individually mounted on four vehicles
Antenna rotation was manual (by waist-height pedals)
Left/right/stop bell signals from Operator
Was not asked to share cramped operator position but did
take few shifts at antenna aiming by hand pedals
885 AMES (cont’d)
To start the Lister diesel generators they had to be handcranked after first decompressing the valves
Numerous failed starting attempts ( not fun in the heat)
Devised a starting trick by tying a rope between the
compression lever and stick of wood held at an angle
When cranking speed was sufficient I just tromped on the
wood to engage the compression lever. It worked
My badminton prowess on the pristine court at 542 AMES
was not up to this crude court defined by bamboo strips,
so I was the loser to the other players here
27 September – 23rd birthday. No celebration. No town
25 November – cable from US sister that Dad had died
Advised her to sell our Ottawa house
Heard Canada was repatriating all with 3 years overseas
Sent cable to RCAF Bombay HQ that I now had over 4 yrs
885 AMES (cont’d)
One day, band of large monkeys invaded “Canada House”
Tore down mosquito netting, squeezed toothpaste and
shaving cream tubes. Made a real mess
Wrung the necks of the ducks being kept by the cooks for
future meals. RAF meals were adequate – not extravagant
Early in January 1945, we got orders to break camp and
move 885 AMES to “the front” at Monywa, Burma
My task was to prepare the antenna vehicle
Dissembled the antenna system
Before crating them for the trip, marked all parts for easy
re-assembly.
After my 5 months here we left for Imphal, our first stop
I wondered if meals at the front would still be adequate
Marker shows Imphal 15 ½ hour drive south from Dimapur.
Much farther ahead to Monywa (and only 25 miles east of
that, Japanese-held Mandalay)
Monywa, Burma – The Front
17 hour road trip from Dimapur to Imphal
Imphal recaptured from Japanese previous day
Ruins of buildings still smoking
To beat the heat, slept outside (Could have had throat slit
by Japanese patrol)
7 February, 1945 - Arrived Monywa, Burma
Just 25 miles to Japanese-held Mandalay, Burma
After only a week here, received my orders for repatriation
Before departure I was begged to lay out all the antenna
gear that had been marked for easy re-assembly
Had to leave the Japanese copy of a Bren gun I had found
Hitched a ride on RAF Dakota (DC-3) to Calcutta, after
being refused by Americans and RCAF (not on manifest)
Trains to Bombay to board the troop-ship homeward
Homeward Bound – 1st Leg
After 34 months in India,
boarded Capetown
Castle on 28 February,
1945 for the passage to
Liverpool via Suez Canal
Shore break at Port Said,
Egypt for two days
Went to a movie (English
but sub-titles in various
languages)
Bought Turkish candy
and Egyptian coins
S S Capetown Castle –
27,000 tons – built 1938
• Glorious night at Long
Bar in Manchester
• Departed for several
weeks at the RCAF
Repatriation Centre at
Bournemouth
• Two-week side trip to
London, before
departure homeward
from Southampton.
• “A” still marks
Yatesbury, Wiltshire
Homeward Bound – 2nd Leg
2 May, 1945 departed for Halifax
from Southampton
8 May, 1945 (mid-Atlantic) got
message war was over
Anti-sub procedures continued
I was issued a beige pea jacket
with wooden buttons by a ship’s
officer to be in charge all
armament so got to tour the
ship including the dummy
funnels
23 May, 1945 - Halifax Pier 21 (R)
#2 Release Centre - Lachine
Issued all new kit – RCAF uniforms with Sergeant
stripes, shoulder patches and sparks badges
Could enjoy the Sergeants’ Mess at last!
“Useful Employment” checking and recording serial
numbers on hundreds of .303 rifles
Proper boot lacing, Wing Commander’s Parade
Oh to be back with the RAF without spit and polish!
Finally posted to Rockcliffe for more medicals and
discharge
RCAF Station Rockcliffe
Many medical tests to
endure before release
Finally - Honorable
Discharge 6 August 1945
Age 24 years
4 years and 268 days of
service
Now back in my birth-city
free - but no family here,
no home or job.
What will the future hold?
Thank You
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How Ed Won The War - Chapter 70 (Ottawa, ON)