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H.M. WIRELESS STATION

INTRODUCTION

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Introduction

RNR Men

The 30 KW Naval Wireless station ordered by the Admiralty in November 1914, was one of eleven identical 'long range' stations built and completed by 1915. Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd. supplied every component - specified in meticulous detail - in its prescribed schedules and drawings. A copy of these documents is available in the Admiralty House Archives.

The Admiralty required the stations to be built "with the utmost rapidity"... and "is further required to maintain and operate the station for the admiralty". The guaranteed range of the station was 1000 nautical miles (from East through South) "operating on a principal wavelength of 1300 meters and up to 2000 meters, and also on 600 and 1300 when using reduced power, and to receive all wavelengths between the limits of 600 to 2000 meters on the spark system and up to 5000 meters on continuous waves".

Three 305 foot sectional antenna towers were constructed to support the twin wire "T" antennas. The antennas could be warmed electrically to melt winter ice and prevent damage. The buildings: one for the transmitting and receiving plant, workshops, stores and offices, and one residential building (now housing the Admiralty House Museum and Archives and the SONRA radio station) were also part of the Marconi contract.

The station's call sign was and still is: BZM. The staff were also specified: Officer in charge (Commander MacDermott, of HMS Calypso/Briton reserve training vessel moored in St. John's Harbour), and engineer in charge Sub-Lieutenant R.N.V.R. four operators, Warrant telegraphist R.N.R. and so on. The station was operational for seven years until 1922 when, along with the HMS Briton, it was decommissioned. The antennas and transmitting equipment continued in use, providing the province's first high-powered broadcast radio VONF (which became the CBC in 1949).

During the station's Naval operation it made the first contact with the British rigid airship the R34 on the first crossing of the Atlantic made in 1919. Earlier in February 1918, the station also received the S.O.S. call from the Marconi wireless operator on the stricken S.S. Florizel (MZL). Rescue was initiated by the station commander and naval reservists were involved in the rescue, some aboard the rescue ships and others on the rescue train.

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