November 1940 QST
Table of Contents
These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the ARRL's
QST magazine. Here is a list of the QST articles I have already
posted. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
"Do you think that F.C.C. would be engaged
in the present terrific expense and effort of getting our fingerprints and citizenship
histories if there were intention of shutting us down shortly?" That statement was
printed by the QST magazine editor in the issue that preceded the December
7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor by thirteen months. A few things about it are troubling.
First, the FCC was collecting fingerprints of licensed amateur radio operators.
Second, the FCC was assimilating information about licensed amateur radio operators'
citizenship histories. Third, a combination of short-sightedness and apparent naiveté
concerning the FCC's willingness to shut down amateur radio operations once America
had been inevitably drawn into World War II. We know now that the FCC did immediately
shut down all amateur radio transmissions on
December 8, 1941 - a
mere day after the Pearl Harbor attack. The action was not without precedent since the
U.S. had suspended amateur radio operations during WWI as reported in this "War and the Radio Amateur" article in the May 1917 issue of
The Electrical Experimenter. The takeaway lesson here is to never fool
yourself into believing there is something that the government 'would never do,'
because history is replete with evidence to the contrary.
Incidentally, do you know that on the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack that
Japan also attacked American and British military installations in the
Wake Island? This,
before war was declared and peace talks were ongoing. Hirohito was doing to Southeast
Asia and the Pacific Ocean what Hitler was doing to Europe and North Africa, and
in many ways more brutally.
War Comes!, January 1942 QST;
Editorial re FCC
Potentially Shutting Down Amateur Radio During WWII November, 1940 QST;
News Items from F.C.C., December 1940 - January 1941 National Radio News;
Radio - End of War in Sight, November 1944 Radio News;
September 1947 QST
Amateur Radio Editorial
"It Seems to Us -"
Are you one of those amateurs who are holding off from buying some needed or
much-desired piece of gear because of fear that amateur radio in this country is
going to be closed up soon? There seem to be several of you, and we have a few words
we'd like to get off on the subject:
Manufacturers and dealers are currently offering us the most interesting line
of apparatus and parts that has existed in the history of radio. If we and they
are not to lose contact, if we are not to lose the benefit of their business interest
in us and their new developments especially designed for our field, it is perfectly
manifest that we must continue to patronize them - if we can feel safe in doing
so. Otherwise they'll go broke and fold, or - what is of almost the same result
to us - concentrate on government orders and abandon us. The thing seems to hinge
entirely, then, on whether we can feel safe.
For twenty-odd years we've been keeping the rails hot between Hq. and Washington.
We frequently visit many government officials there, both military and civil. They
were somewhat concerned about amateur operation early this past summer. That's why
they got up the orders that were imposed on us last June - to correct the things
that they thought needed correcting. All of them now profess to us to be satisfied
with our present situation. They realize that amateur radio is that most remarkable
kind of a training school, one in which ardent devotees train themselves in the
intricacies of a very complex art at their own expense! They want to see this self-training
intensified, not discouraged; national defense considerations require it. Do you
think that F.C.C. would be engaged in the present terrific expense and effort of
getting our fingerprints and citizenship histories if there were intention of shutting
us down shortly? No, the indexes all point the other way and they tell us that no
new regulations are even under contemplation. We do not have the slightest knowledge
whether this country will eventually get into the war but there is certainly no
suggestion that it will in the near future; and we feel that, short of that, we
are going to continue our present serene course without further material restriction.
So if you're planning a new antenna system or eyeing a new receiver or lying
awake nights visualizing a new sender-outer, we consider that you are safe in investing
in it; hop to it.
November will be a momentous month in the American chronicle, marking the first
peace-time induction for compulsory military training in our country's history.
Inevitably, amongst those thus drafted will be a goodly number of radio amateurs,
members of A.R.R.L. A word to you young fellows:
The military folks will be keeping a sharp lookout for numerous kinds of technical
specialists amongst the men called up. You, because you're a radio amateur, will
prefer radio work - because it will be more interesting to you than other work,
because you'll learn something new, and because you know you can serve best by giving
of your radio talents. You will find that arrangements have been provided to give
radio assignments to conscripts who are hams. This is the way we understand it will
When conscription begins in November, the men called up for duty will first be
ordered to a local" induction station" or "reception center," where their qualifications
will be determined and the proper arm or service for them decided. Have your license
with you, because right there is the place for you to announce your. radio qualifications
and press hard for an assignment to radio work. It shouldn't be difficult since,
we are told, they will have instructions to locate as many radio men as possible.
From the reception center the men will be sent to the "replacement center" of the
service to which they have been assigned, to receive training for a period of up
to three months. The Signal Corps and the Air Corps and probably other arms will
maintain such centers for the training of their communications personnel. After
the schooling the men will go to duty with tactical units of their arm, filling
out the remainder of their training year with field service. If you are quite a
skilled amateur you will not have to take the entire school course but will slip
through with a small amount of "processing" and be assigned to a unit, or perhaps
retained at the school in an instructorship. Your cue is to advertise the fact that
you're a communications man right from your first reporting, until you have a radio
You men are giving up a year to receive training and experience at the hands
of your government. That year can be pretty much what you make it. It will be no
bed of heliotrope but if you apply yourselves you'll come out of it a whole lot
smarter and healthier than when you went in. Remember that you will be the representatives
of the institution of amateur radio. For years we have said that the amateur body
provided a great reservoir of trained personnel for national needs. In you the government
is now sampling that reservoir. Show them what a radio amateur can do! Don't be
too cocky but show them that he's good! Play the game and do your part to maintain
the tradition that a good ham can lick any other kind of a radio man at whatever
needs to be done.
Incidentally, the League has proposed to the F.C.C. that it would be swell if
the expiring licenses of men on active service were renewed upon application without
the usually-required proof of activity. Sort of keeping the home fires burning.
The Commission says it will be glad to cooperate and we believe something can be
worked out. Watch QST for the news.
Which reminds us: Have your folks re-mail QST to you, so you'll keep up with what's
going on. (Requires additional postage.) When you're "permanently" located you can
have us change your address, if you wish, but in such a request give us the QTH
of the old homestead as well as the one where Uncle Sam is putting you up. Matter
of fact, we'd like a postcard occasionally anyway, both to have the news and because
we'd like to keep a score-sheet on the ham's contributions to the defense training
program. The best of luck, OM!
There has been an American Radio Relay League in this country since 1914 - nearly
twenty-seven years. It belongs to you fellows and it looks after your interests
through the directors whom you elect. Whatever the new problems or whatever the
changing aspects of American life, the League can be counted upon to be on the job
in your interests. It has the record of having done so unfailingly for a full generation.
It isn't necessary to assert to you that it is busy today, both in looking after
your interests and in consulting with government officials on the best employment
for amateur talents as the country gears up to face a mad world. You already know
it, because you have seen these relations growing over the past generation. Your
League is already here and it's all set; it is the amateur organization. There is
no need for A.R.R.L. suddenly to wrap itself in the star-spangled banner and start
screaming like eagles as to how, with the help of the heavenly host and divers names
of big-shots, it will overnight raise a hundred million radio militiamen and save
the country from the powers of darkness, including taking over the monitoring functions
of the federal government. If our organization seems a bit too conservative and
dignified for that sort of thing, perhaps it is because our contacts are better
and our knowledge of the situation and the needs sounder.
In recent months, officials of the League have had many conversations with government
authorities, both civil and military. We have explored the possibilities for amateurs
to help in the defense picture. Some interesting ideas are in the works, ideas that
can't be talked about yet but which will be announced as they take definite form.
The important thing we want you to see now is that your association is, as usual,
on the job, and that what needs to be done is being done, even if we aren't waving
In the meanwhile, the greatest contribution to national preparedness that the
individual amateur can make is to look after his personal preparedness by raising
his code proficiency, including copying on the mill. 'Phone amateurs have not only
that code duty but also the opportunity to develop proficiency in handling traffic
by voice. For those with a yen for active-service training, both Army (Signal Corps
and Air Corps) and Navy are seeking enlistments, offering schooling, contact with
new gear and methods, and field experience.
As we go about our work on the air, we are requested to keep our ears open and
report any monkey business we hear to the nearest office of F.C.C. It is their work;
we just help. If we're approached with improper operating proposals, ditto nearest
office of F.B.I.
As the National Guard moves out for active duty, a Home Guard will be formed
in each state, mostly of men out of draft age or with dependents or flat feet. They
have to start from scratch, with little or no equipment, no radio personnel. In
some states they are already calling for amateur help. Here is a chance - see if
they don't need you in your state.
With over a million men away from home in camps and bases and schools, there
is going to be an amateur message-traffic problem of big proportions. Our Communications
Department is planning now what ought to be done about it. It's down our groove,
the kind of public service we've always given, and it will be important in the coming
year. It will take our best skill as relayers and will provide traffic proficiency
as well as code proficiency itself. There will be a place in it for everybody.
Posted July 9, 2020
(updated from original post on 4/27/2016)