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David Thompson (VK2BDT)
David Sidney THOMPSON
It is with great sadness, I can report the passing of David Sidney Thompson.
David passed away on the eve of his 92nd Birthday, on the 18 July, 2011.
David Thompson had an extraordinary life, and was involved in so many facets ranging from radio to race horses, and farming to a diverse range of community activites.
He was born in Sydney on the 19 July, 1919, and lived his early life in Strathfield.
From an early age he was interested in radio. Together with a few friends he constructed a very early form of transmitter using loop modulation with a hard back carbon microphone, which may have been “borrowed” from somewhere.
During the 1930’s he had built several types of receivers. He purely dabbled in these things as a hobby.
He used Windom Antennas in an attempt to fool the old radio inspectors who would be on the look-out for “pirates”.
His father was a Barrister (KC), and he may have been horrified at David’s radio technology-inventing antics, and breaking the law of the time.
However, David, and his pirate mates always seemed to elude capture by the authorities.
Unfortunately David did not always avoid this type of situation. After leaving school David worked for a large trustee company and began his studies in Accountancy. He was also serving in the Militia (Army reserves), before enlisting in the Australian Army on the 26 June, 1940 at Rushcutters Bay. David was a corporal in B Company of the 2/20th Battalion in the 22nd Brigade of the 8th Division AIF .
After some months of training, the 22nd Brigade sailed to Malaya in February 1941. Japan attacked Singapore, and Malaya on the 8th December 1941, and simultaneously mounted Strikes on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the 7th, (taking, into account the International Date Line).
The 22nd Brigade took the full brunt of the Japanese invasion of Singapore on the 8th February, after having fought the Japanese down the Malaysian Peninsula since early December.
David was one of many wounded at Singapore in February 1942. From March 1943 he spent time 15 months on the Thai-Burma railway as a prisoner of war, including working in Hell Fire Pass.
He often described this as “fettlers work”. He was amongst the fittest of the remaining men on the line, and was taken to Japan as a slave labourer after the completion of the railway.
He endured the horrors of being a prisoner of war, and witnessed first hand the aftermath of the dropping of the atom bomb on Nagasaki.
One of Davids’ most lasting memories was of the train trip approaching and going through the remains of the Nagasaki, and onwards to the dock area. “As we approached, trees, and telephone posts began to lean out from the city, and buildings were slightly damaged, this was about 15 miles out. As we got closer to the City, buildings were more damaged, and trees either leaning over more or flattened out.”
He went on to say, “In or about the city centre there was just nothing except huge piles of rubble and then as we went towards the wharfs, trees stated to stand up again, and some damaged buildings appeared.”
The total strength of the 2/20 at Feb 42 was about 750 by the end of the war the battalion had lost 601 men. The 2\20th Infantry Battalion were liberated in late August, 1945, and returned to Australia, where they were demobilised.
David was discharged from the Australian Army on the 5 March, 1946. He secured a job as a jackaroo for the Graham family on “Bongongoo Station” at Adjunbilly for two years. From there he decided to travel to NSW, and set off in a horse, and cart, working on various properties as he went. On reaching Tamworth he was summoned by his brother, Henry who had bought a property, “The Decca” at Bigga. David was told he should return, and manage the farm.
In 1958, David was granted a Soldier Settlers block off Fullerton Station at Golspie. The family packed up and moved there, firstly living in a tent while a fibro shed was built to live in, and eventually a cottage.
While at Golspie in the late 60’s he renewed his child hood passion for radios, and electronics. The location at Golspie was of a high altitude, and perfect for HF, and VHF radio. He had a wonderful antenna farm.
By 1971 he had obtained his amateur radio licence, VK2 BDT, which he held until recently.
He remained farming at Golspie until 1973, and then the family moved into Goulburn. David also bought a property, “Marama”, and ran it from town.
He had a fantastic well appointed “Shack”, which was crammed full of everything one could imagine, new, and old, like an Aladdin’s Cave. He used a 100 year old fire brigade 20 meter tower, as an antenna. He had many Yagis antennas mounted on the tower. He was still climbing the tower well into his 80’s to service the antennas.
Along with many interests, David also became involved in satellite communication, and built a mast with a rotator on top so he could track amateur radio satellites. He used cross polarised Yagis, and was able to work many amateurs from all over the world.
Because of his passion for amateur radio, along with 15 other men who shared his love, the Goulburn Amateur Radio Society was formed in 1978. David was the first president.
In 1978, David also became the VK2 Division President, and served in that position for several years.
In the early 1980’s, David assisted in the formulation of the Goulburn Probus Club.
David was involved in the Amateur Radio Society for 33 years, and held many positions in that time. He was a driving force, and there was always something happening.
He was brilliant at improvisation, scrounging equipment, and able to raise funds for the society.
He was always interested in new forms of technology, and by the mid 1990’s he was heavily involved in packet radio, and constructed a packet radio repeater in Goulburn.
He had a very distinctive, clear, and concise stentorian voice, and for many years he could be regularly heard talking to his great mate, Peter Page, (SK) VK2APP, (a blind amateur at Monteagle). These chats covered a variety of subjects, had a huge audience of listeners, and the conversations were generally joined in by many other amateurs.
In the late 1990’s, there was an amalgamation of radio clubs in Goulburn, and the Southern Highlands. The new organisation was then known as the Goulburn, and Southern Highlands Radio Society. David handled all the paperwork for this amalgamation.
By 2008, his health was failing, David moved to a retirement village in Goulburn. He sold off much of his equipment when he left his farm.
There is so much I could say about David, but space won’t permit it. He was my good mate, and I learnt so much from him. He was a mentor to me.
He was an avid reader of, AR, and would often hold up a copy to me, and say, “What do you think about this article mate?”
He was one of those people who are “life’s characters”. He was a true friend, and definitely will be missed by all who knew him, and in particular all the members of the Goulburn, and Southern Highlands Radio Society . Men like David Thompson are a vanishing breed. He was a legend in his own lifetime.
He is survived by his wife, Pat, sons, Stewart, and Henry their families, and five grandchildren.
Submitted by Ian Jeffrey VK2IJ
Contributed by: Chris Devery (VK2EF)
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