Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Ancient DX Report 1918

The year 1918 was a very decisive and concentrated year in the history of human events upon planet Earth.  The deadliest war in the entire history of civilization up until that time came to an end; one of the very worst contagious plagues the world has ever experienced had its earliest beginning during this era; and rapid electronic communication began to explode around the globe during this same epoch. 
It is estimated that up to 100 million people worldwide died from the plague that is known somewhat inaccurately as the Spanish Flu.  Some reports state that it had its earliest origin with a single case in the American state of Kansas in January (1918). 
The first oceangoing concrete steamer SS Faith was launched at Redwood City California on March 14.  Its first voyage was to Honolulu, though subsequently it carried cargo to various destinations in the Pacific and the Atlantic. 
Seven days later, the German Big Gun began shelling Paris, 71 miles distant, with shells that traveled at a speed of 3681 miles per hour, reached a height of 25 miles, and then landed on Paris 3 minutes later.  By this time, Paris had moved 50 miles due to the rotation of the Earth.
Exactly one month later on April 21, the famous German aviator Captain Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, the Red Baron, was killed in action over France.  At the age of just 25, he had been credited with the confirmed shooting down of 80 enemy planes, and possibly another 20 that were not officially confirmed.
On May 20 (1918), the small town of Codell in Kansas was hit by a third tornado, each of which struck the town on the exact same day three years in a row.  On July 17, all seven members of the Russian royal family were executed in Ekaterinburg. 
On July 22, a lightning strike in Utah’s Wasatch National Park killed 504 sheep.  On October 21, Miss Margaret Owen of New York City set a world typing speed of 170 words per minute for one minute on a manual typewriter. 
News reports state that more than 1,000 Pilot Whales were stranded on Long Beach in the Chatham Islands, 500 miles east of New Zealand.  This was the largest ever mass strandings of whales anywhere in the world.
On the wireless scene, two high powered American longwave stations were under construction during the year 1918, one at Annapolis Maryland and the other at Bordeaux in France.  The major electrical equipment at NSS the Annapolis station consisted of two arc transmitters at 500 kW each, and an antenna system suspended on four towers standing 600 feet tall. 
The receiver facility for navy station NSS was located at Cheltenham, also in Maryland.  This new high powered station made its first transmission on August 6, though work on the corresponding station in France was suspended for a year or two due to the subsequent Armistice in Europe.
According to a historical bulletin from the United States navy, a submarine submerged at a depth of 21 feet in 1918 was able to hear radio messages from land based stations in Europe and the United States. The American Major Edwin Armstrong developed the circuitry for a new radio receiver with superheterodyne tuning as a result of his experimental radio research while in France.
On September 22, wireless traffic from station MUU, the Marconi station in Carnarvon in Wales was first heard in Australia at station AWY in the Sydney suburb of Wahroonga.  On December 19, the trans Pacific radio service from San Francisco to Hawaii and Japan was reopened; and likewise, the radio service between San Diego in California and Peking (Beijing) in China was inaugurated.
A new high powered wireless communication station LCM was opened at Stavenger in Norway in April.  Test transmissions from a Dutch wireless station in Indonesia were heard in Holland; and on December 3, the trans Atlantic communication service between Clifden in Ireland and Glace Bay in Canada was also reopened.
It was observed that military personnel at many different locations in what had been war zones began firing up radio transmitters for the broadcast of entertainment programming after the November 11 (1918) Armistice at the end of World War 1.
At 7 pm on Christmas Day, an American submarine chaser in the central Atlantic presented an hour long recorded music concert over its wireless transmitter for the benefit of other ships in the squadron.  Then, the wireless operator aboard the USS Algonquin in the same fleet received approval to broadcast a live concert from his ship, provided by the ship’s brass band. 
This information about radio broadcasting from ships was contained in a letter that Ensign Sanford Lawton wrote to his parents.  Ensign Lawton was the commander of a submarine chaser in that fleet.  Lawton’s parents passed the letter on to the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican and they printed the letter in its entirety in their edition dated January 10 (1919).
More about the radio scene at the end of World War 1, coming up soon here in Wavescan.