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Pacific War Stations

By Dr. Adrian Peterson

The following list was originally published in the Volume 2 #8 edition of the Radio News Bulletin, published by the Special Projects section of Adventist World Radio.) It appears here with permission of the author.


One of the interesting episodes associated with the Pacific War was the usage by the Americans of a large number of small radio stations for the purpose of bringing entertainment and information to their troops in forward areas. The total number of these stations, with their various locations, ran into several hundred during the last three years of the war, though the total number on air at any one time reached a maximum of about 150.

The first of these AFRS stations was a small and unofficial unit of 10 watts located up in Alaska. It was established in Fort Greeley on Kodiak Island in the Aleutians in December 1941 and it operated under the self appointed callsign KODK. This unofficial mediumwave station was later replaced by an officially licensed 50 watt station with a regular callsign, WVCQ. From this small beginning grew the worldwide network that became AFRS, the Armed Forces Radio Service.

In the South Pacific area, the first broadcasts for American forces during World War 2 were heard over the ZB network in New Zealand, stations 1ZB, 2ZB, 3ZB & 4ZB. These broadcasts were made from transcription discs from AFRS headquarters in Los Angeles and they began in December 1942. In fact, so many United States troops were in New Zealand that they were granted sole usage of one of the government radio stations. This was station 1ZM which was located in Auckland, the island dominion's northern-most city. This station was on the air with 1 kW on the channel 1250 kHz and it carried only American AFRS programming from April to nearly Christmas during the year 1944. There was some talk that station 1ZM would be given temporarily an American callsign, but, as Arthur Cushen states, this never eventuated.

Soon after New Zealand radio stations began carrying American programming, many commercial stations in Australia also began the broadcast of American programming for American forces on R&R or deployment in Australia. In addition, other stations in the Pacific were also taken over temporarily for AFRS programming, such as ZJV & VPD2 on the island of Fiji.

Actually, in the South Pacific area, there were three clusters of AFRS MW Stations. Although each station operated independently, yet they were grouped together in networks. The Jungle Network was made up of half a dozen stations located in Papua New Guinea; the Mosquito Network was a group of some eight stations located on the smaller islands in the south west Pacific; and the Pacific Network consisted of 20 or 30 stations in the other areas of the South West Pacific. The programming for these stations was derived from three different sources; off air relays from AFRS SW in Los Angeles, transcription discs coming in by mail, and locally produced programs.

Actually, the first AFRS station in the South Pacific was station WVUQ on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. This was a 1 kW unit operating on 690 kHz which was inaugurated on March 12, 1944. Other stations in the Mosquito Network were established in such locations as Bougainville, New Hebrides and New Caledonia. The station on the island of Samoa was WVUV, which was later reestablished as a commercial venture and is still on the air today.

The first station in Papua New Guinea was a joint operation between American & Australian personnel, and this was station 9PA-9AA with 500 watts on 1250 kHz. The first station with an American callsign was WHMS which was also established in Port Moresby but it,was later moved to Milne Bay.

Most of these AFRS stations in the South West Pacific were heard by active DXers in Australia and New Zealand, and occasionally in the United States. It was quite an accomplishment to keep up with this ever-changinq radio scene which was changing almost daily. New stations came up without prior notice, stations left the air without warning, they changed their callsigns and channels, and they moved to other locations.

Most of these AFRS stations operated in the range of 1300 - 1500 kHz with a power output anywhere from 50 watts up to 1 kW. There was an attempt to systematize the callsigns into clusters, with for example stations in the Jungle Network having calls in the WVT series, but this was never very consistent.

Many DXers sent reception reports on these stations to various addresses, but only a few QSL letters were ever received. It is known that QSL letters were issued by the following Jungle Network stations; WVTA Finschhafen with 50 watts, WVTH Lae with 50 watts, and WVTK Leyte with 475 watts. The only QSL from these AFRS stations in the "Wavescan" collection is from WVTK.

When the war was over, some of these stations were transferred to Japan, others were handed over to local government authorities and others were just abandoned.


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