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A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL:

from The ARRL Letter on March 27, 2014
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A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL:

In 1940 and 1941, the US Army continued its road to full mobilization, holding large-scale "maneuvers" in various parts of the country. The Army needed more frequencies on HF, and plans were made to turn over the entire 80 meter band to the Army. In return, US hams were allowed to use voice on 40 meters for the first time.

Then, on December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his famous "date which will live in infamy" speech, asking Congress to declare war against Japan. Soon, the US was fully involved in World War II. Amateurs were immediately ordered off the air, with a special exception for W1AW to alert the few hams who were unaware of the FCC order. On January 10, 1942, all stations, including W1AW, were put off the air for the war's duration. ARRL continued to lobby for permission for hams to operate for civil defense purposes, however.

In June 1942, the FCC established the War Emergency Radio Service (WERS). It allowed radio amateurs to supply communication for their communities. An interesting sidelight is that the Government Printing Office was so overwhelmed at the time that the WERS order and information were promulgated via the ARRL and QST.

ARRL again offered its and its members' support to the war effort, but this time, Amateur Radio had become a well-known and respected entity within government circles, and the government quickly took advantage of the offers. Because radio manufacturers weren't able to keep up with the military's demands for new equipment, the ARRL put together lists of equipment that hams were willing to sell to the government. Many hams volunteered for military duty, and more than a few times a newly sworn-in military operator would find himself sitting down in front of the equipment he had recently sold to the government!

By March 15, 1942, about 15,000 hams were known to be in the military. Many other hams were working in critical defense jobs. Once again, hams answered the call!

The ARRL and QST were soon working hard to issue publications used by the military, by training schools, and by radio clubs throughout our country to train more radio operators and repairmen. In addition, the ARRL started making plans to ensure the reappearance of Amateur Radio after the war ended.

Next week: We'll continue with the story of US hams in World War II.


The ARRL Letter

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