Category Archives: World War 2

Peace Light 2017


This cartoon marking the 1st anniversary of Pearl Harbor appeared 75 years ago today in the Pittsburgh _____, Dec. 7, 1942.

This cartoon marking the 1st anniversary of Pearl Harbor appeared 75 years ago today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 7, 1942.

Pearl Harbor Anniversary

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, marking the entry of the United States into World War II.


The Peace Light

As a symbol of peace, we show the flame above, which has been burning for hundreds of years.  This flame was burning throughout the Second World War, the First World War, the U.S. Civil War, and every other war in modern history.  It’s shown here in my living room, but it originates from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where it has been continuously tended for hundreds of years.  The exact date that some monk struck a flint to ignite it is not known, but it is believed to be about a thousand years ago.

Each year during the Advent season, it is transported from Bethlehem to Europe and North America, courtesy of Austrian Airlines.  This year, it was brought to Kennedy Airport on November 25.  From there, volunteers fan out across the country to distribute the flame.  Most of these are connected with Scouting in some way, and Scouts and Guides in Europe participate in similar activities.

As I did last year, I played a small part in the distribution.  Prior to my getting it, the flame traveled to Indianapolis, and then to Chicago.  From there, it went to Des Moines, and I met an Iowa Scouter in Albert Lea, Minnesota, to transfer it to St. Paul.  From me, it was picked up by others who took it to Wisconsin and North Dakota.  From there, it will travel to Winnipeg, and probably to other points.  Meanwhile, others are taking it to other parts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

You can read more about the Peace Light at the U.S. Peace Light website or the Peace Light North America Facebook group.  If you’re close to St. Paul, Minnesota, and would like to receive the Peacelight, feel free to contact me and we can make arrangements.  In other areas, you can find a local source on the Facebook page.



One common question is how the Peace Light travels on two international flights from Israel to Austria, and then to North America.  The flame is transported safely in an antique blastproof miner’s lamp.  On the ground, it is walked through customs by airline employees to the airport chapel.



On the ground, the most common way to transport the light is with a lantern such as the one at the top of the page.  These are rarely used these days, since mantle type lanterns provide considerably more light.  But in the 19th century, the cold-draft kerosene lantern was something of a revolution in lighting, since it provides a fairly bright flame and is also relatively safe, since it will self-extinguish if tipped over.


A good history of the lantern can be found at this site.  Prior to such lanterns, the best available option for camp lighting was the candle lantern.  As the name implies, it was just a ventilated enclosure in which a candle was inserted.


The ad at the left, from the June 1916 issue of Boys’ Life, shows both types of lamps.  Interestingly,  in addition to providing more light, the kerosene lantern is actually less expensive.  Candle lanterns start at $1.50, but the cold-blast lantern is only 75 cents.


Both types of lanterns are readily available today.  The cold-blast kerosene lantern can be found at Amazon at any of the following links:


You can also obtain the lantern at WalMart with this link or this link.  The fuel is available at this link.  You can order the lanterns and fuel online with these links, and then pick them up the same day at the store.

And for those who want to be even more retro in their camp lighting, these candle lanterns are also available at Amazon:

The lantern shown below is very similar, or possibly identical, to the 1916 candle lantern shown in the ad:

How to Transport the Peace Light

If you need to transport the flame only a short distance, one good option is to use a votive candle at the bottom of a coffee can. For longer distances, I place the lanterns at the top of the page inside a 5 gallon bucket similar to the one shown at the left, wtih sand or cat litter at the bottom.

Carrying it in this manner is very stable, and I have never experienced it tipping.  If it does tip, the entire lantern is safely contained, and the lantern will self-extinguish.

It should be noted that because there is an open flame, you should not refuel the vehicle with the Peace Light in the car.  Fill up your gas tank before picking up the light.  If you need to buy gas before you reach your destination, it will be necessary to leave the lantern at a safe location before driving to the pumps.  And while the combustion of these lanterns is very complete, it is a good idea to keep a window of the car open slightly.

Plans for a more a elaborate carrier are also available at the site.



Wartime Radio Log

1942Dec5RadioGuideSeventy-five years ago today, the December 5, 1942, issue of Radio Guide included this listing of all of the broadcast stations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Numerous other such listings are available, most of which can be found at  This particular listing is handy since it takes up only two pages, and provides an interesting snapshot of the broadcast band during the war years.

An alphabetical listing by call letters can be found in the December 19 issue.

1942 Coffee Rationing

1942Nov30Life75 years ago, the war had hit the home front, as shown by this article in this day’s issue of Life Magazine, November 30, 1942. It wasn’t tires or gasoline or even sugar. This time, it was serious. German U-Boats were sinking freighters coming from Brazil, and as a result, the United States was about to adopt coffee rationing. Coffee addicts would be limited to one pound of coffee every five weeks, and Life magazine showed them how to cope.

In the illustration above, the magazine notes that boiling is the most efficient method of producing coffee, followed by percolating, followed finally by drip methods. The magazine discussed methods of conservation, the simplest being not filling the cup all the way. It noted that adding a small amount of chicory would stretch the yield about 30% without affecting the taste very much. And while not advised by experts, the magazine even touched on the possibility of “double dipping.”

To prevent hoarding, some retailers were breaking the seal on vacuum packed cans of coffee, insuring that the contents be consumed promptly.


1942 Army Signal Corps Recruiting

1942NovPMThis recruiting ad for the U.S. Army Signal Corps appeared in Popular Mechanics 75 years ago this month, November 1942. It noted that this was a radio war, and that the nerve center of the army needed skilled hands.  It suggested a number of opportunities to serve.

Physically fit men ages 18 to 45 were eligible for direct enlistment in the Signal Corps Enlisted Reserve.  Those with experience as a licensed radio operator, a trained repairman, or active telephone or telegraph worker would qualify for active duty at once with pay of up to $138 per month, plus board, shelter, and uniforms.

Those without direct experience but “skilled with tools” would qualify for training and ordered to active duty after completing the course.

Degreed electrical engineers, as well as junior and seniors in EE programs, would be eligible for commission.

Young men over 16 having an ability with tools would be eligible for immediate training, with pay of not less than $1020 per year.  Even those with a minor physical handicap could find a place to serve.

US Army Signal Corps, 1942

Signal Corps mobile radio unit.

Signal Corps mobile radio unit.

Seventy-five years ago this month, most of the November 1942 issue of Radio News was devoted to the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and included dozens of photographs, including the color photos shown here. The photos themselves were taken by Signal Corps photographers, which comprised a branch of the service.

Here are a few of them, showing various phases of both wireline and radio communications.

Command car equipped for both voice and code communication.

Command car equipped for both voice and code communication.

Operation of handheld radio from Jeep, probably around 50 MHz.

Operation of handheld radio from Jeep, probably around 50 MHz.

Radio-equipped halftrack.

Radio-equipped halftrack.

Students receiving instruction on portable transmitter.  Note operating frequencies of ___ kHz.

Students receiving instruction on portable transmitter. Note operating frequencies of 2300, 2900, and 3400 kHz.

Operating radio from concealed position with hand-driven generator.

Operating radio from concealed position with hand-driven generator.

Operating four-band portable field set.

Operating four-band portable field set.

Field telephone in operation.

Field telephone in operation.

Field telephone switchboard.

Field telephone switchboard.

Placing telephone lines.

Placing telephone lines.




1942 RCA Shortwave Transmitters

1942Nov16BCSeventy-five years ago today, the November 16, 1942, issue of Broadcasting carried this ad with a story showing the importance of the nation’s shortwave broadcast transmitters.

When Herr Braun was ordered to report for farm work in the south of Germany, he made an arrangement with his brother who worked in the rail yards. No matter what happened, the brother promised to write from Cologne every week.

At first, Herr Braun received letters written on cheap thin paper. But one week, the letters stopped with no explanation. The local Nazi paper reported an ineffective British raid on Cologne, but with only small damage. The Luftwaffe was invincible, according to the paper, an the enemy could never reach Cologne in force.

But the letters never came. So one night, Herr Braun tuned to a forbidden station–an American shortwave station. “And there it was–the facts, the figures, the full grim story of the mighty German city blown to bits from the air. Yes, the railroad yards were destroyed.”

So Herr Braun started to wonder. The newspaper had lied. Thanks to the powerful shortwave transmitters using RCA equipment, Herr Braun’s faith began to fade.

Armistice Day 1942


Seventy-five years ago today, November 11, 1942, was the nation’s first wartime remembrance of Armistice Day.

The two pictures shown here appeared in that day’s Pittsburgh Press, showing a parade of 20,000 men who marched in celebration of the end of the last war. The included both the veterans of the First World War, along with their comrades fighting the Second.

The newspaper noted that the parade, which had been underway for an hour, halted at 11:00 AM while buglers sounded Taps in “an official and solemn recollection of the end of the last war, the tribute to the honored dead of that war, and, it seemed, a spiritual pledge of victory in the new and immensely greater war.”

Ying Ong, American Radio Patriot

1942NovRadioCraftShown here in the November 1942 issue of Radio Craft is Ying Ong of Phoenix, Arizona, rightly described by the magazine as an American radio patriot.

Mr. Ong took it upon himself to listen to and transcribe the broadcasts from Chungking Radio. He took the contents down by shorthand, and then relayed them to his fellow Chinese-American countrymen and to American news services. His dispatches often were made by telegram, and he bore the expense himself. He also sent copies to the FCC, Chinese-American newspapers, and the Chinese consulates.

The nationalist Chinese government took note of this, and at one point sent him a check for $100 to help cover his expenses. He endorsed the check over to the China War Relief Fund.

The broadcasts of the powerful GE San Francisco shortwave station KGEI often, the magazine noted, contained in its newscasts the phrase “Chungking radio says….” These reports were able to hit the air so quickly thanks to Mr. Ong’s transcripts of the broadcasts.

I was not able to find a listing for Mr. Ong in either the 1940 or 1946 call books, so I don’t believe he was a licensed ham.  But as an SWL, he certainly performed a service to both China and America by ensuring that nationalist broadcasts were received in this country by all who needed to hear them.

According to the Social Security Death Index, a Ying Ong, born on 25 August 1918, with a place of residence in Phoenix, died on 17 July 1992. He is buried at Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix.


Roy Gould, W6UKX, KFXM Engineer & Engineering Professor

1942Oct26BCSeventy-five years ago today, the October 26, 1942, issue of Broadcasting carried this picture of the transmitter engineer of KFXM, San Bernardino, California, who appears to be dutifully taking some transmitter readings for the log.

Because of wartime labor shortages, the engineer responsible for keeping this station on the air was a fifteen year old high school student, Roy Gould, W6UKX.  (A few days ago, we saw how wartime labor shortages led a group of New York radio servicemen to train high school students to keep their shops open for the duration.)

Gould had received his ham ticket shortly before Pearl Harbor, and had managed to get on the air, with a homemade transmitter and receiver on 10 meter AM, before the war shut down amateur radio for the duration.

Since Gould also held his first class commercial license, he managed to stay on the air by getting a job at the broadcast station, which was at the time running  100 watts at 1240 kHz, sharing air time with KPPC, a Pasadena Presbyterian Church station.

According to the caption of the photo, Gould’s plans after the war were to go to college to “become a radio engineer.”

I was able to track down Mr. Gould–or I should say Professor Gould–and learn that his plans changed somewhat, although his early days in radio were clearly the inspiration for his career.  I received a nice e-mail from him, and also found a 1996 Oral history interview.

In his e-mail, he writes:

Thanks for the links, I have never seen this picture.

I remember those days well. I used to operate the transmitter and on Sunday evenings, record a Mutual Don Lee network program on the big 16″ acetate covered disks for replay at a later time. There was no announcer in the studio on Sunday evenings so I even signed the station off at the end of the day. I also covered remote broadcasts of some of the big bands at the San Bernardino Civic Auditorium, setting up microphones and operating the control box during the broadcast.

I got my ham license W6UKX in early 1941, and did a little operating before WWII shut down ham radio. I let it lapse in the 1950’s when I was in graduate school. However, that call sign was never reissued, so I was able to get it back under the vanity call sign program in the 1990’s. I have a web page,, but for some reason it Is down now. I’ll look into that. [Here’s the 2015 archived version at the Wayback Machine.]

Thanks again for the great photo with the short note. 73.


Roy W. Gould

Prof. Roy Gould. Caltech photo.

Gould never became a “radio engineer”.  According to his biography at Caltech, he received his undergraduate degree from Caltech in 1949, with graduate degrees from Stanford and Caltech.  He became Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics at Caltech, and served a stint as the chairman of the school’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

According to his Wikipedia entry, he received the 1994 James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasmaphysics, and served as the Director of Fusion Research at the Atomic Energy Commission.

In his 1996 interview, Gould credits his early radio experience as the seed for his career.  He reports that in high school, he was “not a very good student.”  But his uncle’s barn was full of old radio equipment and magazines, and he “used to go up there and read these things and look at the equipment, play with it and stuff like that.  I got started in electronics with crazy experiments.”  Of course, we are also advocates of crazy experiments, and students seeking inspiration will find ideas, some crazier than others, in our science fair idea posts.

The shortage of broadcast engineers meant that he was able to get the job at the radio station, which he reported as being more interesting than was going on in school.

The broadcast station where Gould got his start, KFXM, doesn’t appear to be around in its original form.  However, the station and call letters live on as a noncommercial low-power FM station, KFXM-LP.  The old AM station appears to have been a major Top-40 outlet during the 1960’s, and when it went dark, the low power FM station was licensed to The Organization For the Preservation & Cultivation of Radio to carry on the tradition.

After letting his license lapse during grad school, Gould got his ticket after achieving emeritus status, and is again active on HF, including a number of portable DX operations detailed at his website.

1942: Putting High School Students to Work Servicing Radios

1942OctRadioRetailingSeventy-five years ago, these high school students in Watertown, N.Y., were seen as a resource that would help the radio industry deal with wartime labor shortages. An article in the October 1942 issue of Radio Retailing explained the plan by which high school students could be trained to fill the gap. A group of servicemen in northern New York were planning to run an intensive course in radio servicing, open to high school seniors with a year of physics. The course was to be offered five nights per week, two hours each night, for ten weeks, and was taught by local servicemen who would both lecture in the classroom and offer periodic trips to the shop to tackle real receiver problems.

Classes would be small, and after it was completed, one or two students would take over the shop of an owner who had entered the military, running the shop on an evenings-only basis. The student would be paid a weekly wage based upon volume. Repairs would be paid by check or money order. The idea was to keep the shop open as a community service, with enough income to cover the shop’s rent, overhead, and cost of equipment.

The students would continue to attend school during the day and work at night.