Radio ‘sparks’ in the Battle of the Atlantic WW2

When Nazi Germany invaded neutral Norway in 1940, most of Norway’s merchant fleet was at sea, Although the Germans ordered them home, not one turned back. King Haakon VII and his government went into exile in London. From there, they formed Nortraship (the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission), which administered the Norwegian merchant fleet outside German-controlled areas. Nortraship operated some 1,000 vessels and was the largest shipping company in the world. It made a major contribution to the Allied war effort. 

The Sparks (named after spark-gap transmitters) maintained the links between the ships and land-based stations. Operators provided aids to navigation, weather information and radio-direction finding, as well as visual signalling. They usually handled clerical and purser functions. If their ship was under attack, the Sparks had to get rid of the code books, no matter what – they could not fall into enemy hands. It was their job to transmit the ship’s name and position in the event of a submarine sighting, torpedo attack, surface raid or other emergency. Their main responsibility was to listen – signals were in Continuous Wave (CW), keyed in Morse Code. The operators had to decode messages to see whether they applied to their ship or convoy. The formats changed often. A missed or incorrectly-decoded message could lead the ship to disaster. The emergency frequency commanded their utmost attention.
Of the nine thousand foreigners who served aboard Norwegian vessels during WW II about 2000 were Canadians, according to records from Norway. Of these 2000 Canadians, twenty-two were young women who served as wireless operators aboard Norwegian vessels; little information is available on these women, aside from the Norwegian records . Fern Blodgett was one of many Canadians and Britons to sail the North Atlantic with Nortraship.
(tnx as always to Heather Holland for the media)

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Charles M0OXO

I was born in the 1960’s and have lived all my life in the Coal Mining Town of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, Northern England. My parents were all from this area of Yorkshire and my father worked in the main Industry of the local Collieries as a face worker. I have been married to my wife Debbie for 35+ years and we have two children and two grandchildren.

I have been licensed for around 20 years after my interest was re-kindled when I retired from my role as a Police Officer within South Yorkshire Police Force. The latter few years were spent as Radio Operator in the Force Operations Control Room at Sheffield, before my career ended.

IOTA chasing is (and always has been) my real passion, as climbing the ladder to reach Honour Roll status was always my main aim. The 1000 Islands Trophy is still out of reach but I am heading in the right direction. I am currently a Board Member of IOTA Ltd and IREF.

In my free time I am a keen Photographer of Wildlife, Aviation, (anything really) but the QSL Manager role is my main passion within Ham Radio.