Monday, August 11, 2008

Saturday 16th March 1940

The end of the signals course. Buzzer test at 10’s – ok. Lamp test at 8’s with a fearful sun glare on the hills. Stan Ling and I may have scraped through here. “No cribbing on lamp. Ling and Dawson bring out your dead”, I wrote mournfully on a piece of paper.

Practical exam. Got 10/10 on the new exchange and was not examined on lamp or wireless set. Written exam comprised the following questions:-

1) Explain difference between a) Interference b)Screening. Give examples.

2) WCB, WCD, WCE and WCA are group working W/T. WCA is control. WCB has this message for WCD and WCE “Gas attack spreading to your sector from EAST” Tabulate to AR.

3) WTA and WTN are two V/S stations using call signs. WTA sends, “Meet you Gedera 1000 hrs.” While sending “Gedera,” WTA is interrupted by WTN who sends, “Enemy aircraft approaching”. Before AR, he corrects a mistake made in sending the word “aircraft”. WTA receives correctly and concludes original message. Tabulate.

4) Define:- Jack, Addressee, Armature, Power unit, Night screen, Crash level, Reading (on no.11 set), Flag-up.

I made a nice neat paper but the technical questions rather shook me. For instance I lamely defined Armature as “part of the buzzing device in an electrical (morse) instrument”. Crash level was better – “a device on the Set Wireless no. 11 whereby electrical external interference is eliminated”.

Made a pretty though probably inaccurate speech on screening. “Screening may be caused by some tangible objects, ie hills or trees, interposed between receiving and sending set, which conduct or partially conduct the electrical current transmitted to earth, before reaching the receiving set”.

Enjoyable afternoon. Stan and I, clad in caps, boots, slacks and pullovers (surprising how quickly it gets cold) went up on the hill with a 15 millimetre telescope and had a look around. On the farthest horizon we discovered a white building with a dome and, about 3 degrees to the right, beyond a hollow and surrounded by trees, a white spire or tall tower. The latter was not visible to the naked eye, although we could see the wood, hollow and domed building. We wondered if this place, on top of what appeared to be a bleak mountain, was the origin of the mysterious twin lights which we could see every night.

Later on, we joined a volunteer class for instruction in motor cycling (known in the Army as bog-wheeling) comprised of the Signals NCOs under George Hignall. Sid Pond was quite good, he’s ridden before. Stan, Jack Payne (now a full bombardier, much to Ron Deans chagrin!), Ron Dean and myself were absolute learners however. I felt quite confident and thoroughly enjoyed bumping up and down the rough camel tracks, standing up on the foot rests when things got too bad. There were skids in sand too.

Oh! The thrill of once more having Power under my control, feeling it surge eagerly between my knees. Of course I stalled the bugger several times and did most of the learners tricks. The controls are very different from those of a car. Ron and Jack seemed rather sedate. Stan had a fall but got up and mastered the 500cc brute which lay there bellowing its guts out in the dust.

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