RDF Ground Newsletter July 1943

National Archives of Canada

S 239-12-1




JULY 1943


The big news this month is, that eight detachments are now on the air. Of the four new stations that have become operational this summer, No 27 Detachment, Marble Island, was the first to make the grade. No 27 started telling at 1200 hrs June 8th. Congratulations, OC and personnel of No. 27.

No 11 Detachment came in second, on June 10th, No 9 Detachment, Spider Island, third, on June 11th, and No 26 Detachment, Langara Island, fourth, on June 17th. No 26 Detachment was held back by lack of circuits for telling purposes at No 4 Group.

A great deal of credit must be given to the Detachment Commanders and personnel of these new stations. All four detachments may be classed as "remote" and the difficulties that had to be overcome to reach the goal of becoming operational, were considerable. Shortage of personnel, problems of communication and transportation, lack of unloading facilities for bringing equipment ashore, combined with unfavourable weather conditions, all contributed to the complexity of the task. All of these problems are not completely solved yet, but the fact that these four detchments overcame their difficulties sufficiently to go "on the air" reflects very favourably on the personnel concerned.


The ranks of RDF Officers in this Command have been considerably thinned recently, by the departure of those who are taking the signals course at No. 3 Wireless School, Winnipeg. F/L Sheppard and P/O George are 2 MU's representatives, F/O Bland has temporarily relinguished his position of Group Radio Officer, No. 4 Group, to attend, P/O's Loomis, Yates, Beckett and Balmer have vacated supernumary positions at detachments and headed east for the same reason.

Good Luck - don't let WAC down, fellows!

It is intended that all RDF Officers shall take this sixteen week course - so don't be impatient. Your turn will come.


--F/O I Mudrick, OC No 10 Detachment Cape Scott, has taken over the post of Group Radio Officer at No 4 Group, replacing F/O DK Bland, who is attending the signals course.

--F/L G Schneider, No 8 Detachment, has been posted to AFHQ, thus terminating a ten month term at Sea Island.

--F/O Delaney, formerly supernumary at No 10, has become OC of that detachment.

--F/O Metcalfe, OC No 9 Detachment, has become RDF Officer at No 8 Detachment.

--F/O Davis, supernumary at No 26, has become OC No 9 Detachment.


Fir flooring is to be supplied soon to all detachments, to replace the present floors in mess halls. The present composition flooring is undoubtedly unsuitable for such buildings, being difficult to keep clean, and presenting a very un-attractive appearance. The installation of proper fir flooring should be a great improvement.


Perspex covers are to be provided for all detachments to fit over the face of the PPI tube. It is most probable that the covers will be gridded and mapped before being sent out to the detachments, thus relieving the RDF personnel of a very unwelcome task. The present method of drawing map and grid on the tube face directly is not very satisfactory, being difficult to accomplish accurately, and requiring each tube to be done separately. With one cover to fit all tubes, accuracy and uniformity should be much improved.


It has been noted at some detachments that there is a tendency to relax somewhat in the long still watches during which nothing happens. Surely everyone must realize that this is the worse possible kind of show. Operators must be impressed with the fact that now--this very five minutes, is just as good a time as any to make history. Just because "there never is anything at this time of night" --is not the slightest excuse for relaxing our vigilance one particle. The very next second may revel what we are all out here looking for. In the USA, they say, "Remember Pear Harbour"--everyone knows how closely that warning should apply to our business.

If your detachment is equpped with phase-reversal and aerial switching gear--use it. Operators must learn to use every means at their disposal to ensure that the area is being swept thoroughly. Cases have been found where the operators have sat for hours, reporting nothing at all, when a flip of the aerial switch was all that was necessary to bring in a track.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that it is strictly the responsibility of the OC to see that the very best state of alertness and vigilance is maintained at all times.


We note that last month No 10 Detachment, to quote their MTR, "Increased the output of the Tx by increasing the PRF" We've thought and thought, and we still feel somehow, that if increasing the PRF did anything to the output, it would decrease the peak power. Can you prove it, No 10?

Abnormal maintenance will take its toll of "hours off the air" at every detachment. That is unavoidable. But-we do think that some accounting should be made for the time so spent. For example, we note that in No 13's WOR for May 23-29, ten hours abnormal maintenance was shown. No clarification was made under remarks, and the MTR for that month shows only 6 hours, 40 min, for failures in that period. It will save a lot of paper and time, if the necessary comments are made on the report that list the hours off.


Everyone reports them in varying quantities. It certainly looks bad to see one Detachment after another listing Unidentified tracks by the dozen--like so many bags of potatoes. It seemed to us, that UT's are just what we should get excited about, so we approached the Filter Officer, No 2 Group. We quote--"Unidentified tracks, so far, don't exist. Filter room has never had a track yet that was not identified." The only reason left, then, for detachments listing tracks as identified, is that Filter Room Operators don't give track numbers for all the tracks plotted. The Filter Officer points out that detachment tellers should insist on identification for each track. Ask for a track number with each plot if necessary. Lets really go after it this month. King three, filter.


Among several suggestions received from various sources for getting the best out of the equipment, we think the following has merit.

It is the practice, on overseas stations, we hear, not to wind down the TX HT below about 10 Kv, when shutting down, and to start at the same voltage when starting up again. The reason for this is, it takes about 5 Kv to strike the spark gaps that protect the Rx, so if the output falls much below that, the spark gap will de-strike, and there will be nothing to prevent whatever output is still being generated, from entering the Rx RF section. In other words by winding down the Tx to zero volts, the RF section of the Rx is likey to have the Tx output from between zero to about 5 Kv pumped into it.


We often think the Parent Units don't get half enough credit for the part they play in our RDF organization. A recent case illustrates how valuable the parent station can be in an emergency.

No 13 had the misfortune to lose the use of its turning motor on account of a short circuit developing in the armature. This detachment is the only one in this Command equipped with a half H.P. motor, and no spare motor or parts for one, were available. Normally, the failure would have kept the station off the air till the faulty part could be shipped out, repaired, and returned and installed-- a matter of nearly a week. However, the W & B Section of the parent station, Ucluelet, was approached, and they succeeded in producing an AC motor of sufficient HP, and with the correct RPM., that could be fitted into the space previously occupied by the original DC motor. The detachment was operational again within twelve hours--using continuous, oneway rotation of aerials. Credit must be given to the RDF mechanics, both NCO's and OR's, who conceived that idea of using an AC motor, and who worked like beavers making the necessary adapters etc. to complete the installation. But--without the wholehearted cooperation of the various sections of the parent station, who provided the motor, materials for couplings, tools, electric drills, etc., plus transport back and forth, the detacment would have had been helpless.

We suggest that it is only common sense, even from a purely selfish point of view, for the detachment to be on the best of terms with its parent unit. Friction between the two will certainly hinder the small detacment far more that it will effect the parent station.

Thanks, RCAF Station, Ucluelet!


All concerned will be happy about the Trade Test gen recently supplied in the form of an SRDFO. It will make things much easier for Detachment Commanders, who are responsible for setting the trade tests, in having some sort of outline to follow. It is also much fairer for the airmen being trade tested, since all trade tests regardless of which Detachments are holding them, will follow somewhat the same lines.

Don't let up on the instructional work just because all the men in your unit have reached their trade ceiling. The more the lads learn about their work, the better they can do it, and the more interesting it will be. The fact that someone in authority shows enough interest in them to want them to improve their ability is also a good thing for morale. Since most RDF mechanics on ground equipment grumble that they have "nothing to do with the equipment but dust if off each day", there shouldn't be too much difficulty in organizing a course of study.

Here again is a subject on which we would appreciate correspondence from Detachment OC's.


Every Detachment now has at least one RDF operator on brief TD at No 2 Group Filter Room. This experience should be advantageous both to the operators, in that they can see what goes on at the other end, and to Filter Room, which is suffering from a shortage of personnel.


So far, very few RDF Detachments in this Command have admin. officers on their strength. This fact makes life pretty full, to say the least, for the RDF officers, especially now that supernumary RDF officers are practically all on TD for the signals course. It is fully realized how much time and work is required for administration, and how badly it cuts into the time the OC can spend on the technical end. Improvement in this regard is in sight, but rather indefinite so far. We can expect to get some Administrative Officers after the end of July--just how long after, or how many officers, is not known. We hope it is soon, and enough.


Speaking from experience, we strongly recommend a short session with the code books before some important message arrives, or has to be sent. Half an hour spent in conference with the Signals Officer of the parent unit will be time well spent, if you are the person responsible for sending and receiving messages in Cipher for your detachment.


CHEERS FOR:--No 27 Detachment, Marble Island, for being the first of the four new detachments to become operational.

--No 13 Detachment, for making the best of a bad situation. By replacing a burnt out turning motor with a temporary AC job, they kept the station on the air till repairs could be made to the defective motor.

--No 10 Detachment, and the Command Calibration Party, on completion of calibration at Cape Scott.

JEERS FOR:--AFHQ, no less! We quote--"It is undecided whether to have or not to have, grid lines engraved on covers" (Perspex covers for P.P.I. tubes) "The decision wil depend on the location of the detachment with respect to the centre of the tube, and grid lines."

We respectfully submit, that in this command, all detachments are located right in the centre of the tube. How do they do it down east, Please?

This Command also looks askance at the practice of sending anonymous letters. A certain AFHQ officer is suspected, since the unsigned copy followed by several days an exact duplicate bearing his signature.

--Those Detachments which cannot be bothered looking up part nos. for their demands. No. 2 MU reports that they repeatedly receive signals, or E 42's demanding parts, but with only section and reference nos. shown. Since it is often difficult to locate parts on schematics or drawings, much time is lost in trying to find the part referred to. No 2 MU has finally put its foot down and declares that in the future, demands or signals demanding parts without parts numbers will be "bounced" right back at the originator. Write to F/L Mitchell c/o 2 MU for your supply of rubber E42's, especially designed for easy bouncing.

--All the Detachments in this Command, on the score of submitted material for this Newsletter. Where were you? So far, the only material we have received is this:

One detachment has had trouble with "rats eating holes in the bean bags, and stealing the beans."

One detachment has experienced undue delay in the supply of linoleum for the floors.

A fine show! Can we do better next month? Send in your comments or suggestions to Western Air Command Headquarters. Attention RO 4 - marked "Newsletter".

--Those responsible for packing and shipping a plotting table top to a far northern detachment. The original top arrived broken. So did the replacement.

--The Filter Room Operators who don't give identification on tracks. The Filter Room says there are no unidentified tracks. Why then, are not track nos. passed to the detachments-- especially when they are asked for repeatedly? And why does it sometimes take so long to get any response when the detachment calls on R/T? The monitor can hear the call coming in--but apparently someone in Filter Room can't. And why does filter room brand loud, clear, signals as "R3"? The editor has been in the monitor room at Group, and heard what were nothing less than R5 Signals designated as R3. Do you want the operator on the other end to yell his head right off?

We suggest that filter room discard their present signal strength table which must read something like this:

R1 Readable
R2 Very clear-quite readable
R3 Too strong-very clear
R4 Much too strong-headphone must be removed and place on table to avoid injury to eardrums.
R5 Shattering-headphones must be placed in bucket and covered with sand.


Electric water heaters are to be made available to all detachments in the near future. This will allow some saving in fuel now used for the purpose of heating water, and will also use up some of the surplus power being generated. The increased load on the generators will make for more efficient operation of this equipment, which in most cases are not being taxed to anything like their normal capacity.


No 7 Detachment
No 8 Detachment
No 9 Detachment
No 10 Detachment
No 11 Detachment
No 13 Detachment
No 26 Detachment
No 27 Detachment
No. 2 Group Radio Officer
No 2 Group Filter Officer
No 4 Group Radio Officer
No 4 Group Filter Officer
No 2 Maintenance Unit
No 1 Maintenance Unit
EAC Command Radio Officer
WAC 1 - CIO, 1 - CSO, 1 - RO1
#3 Wireless Schol--F/O DK Bland

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Updated: April 8, 2003