On this thread, Brian Drury mentions a reference in the TNA to Aux Units being issued with Murphy B81 and B93 receivers. Has anyone come across this? Were such receivers widely provided in OBs? They are ordinary domestic receivers and I wondered if they might have been used to receive coded messages from the BBC in a similar system as employed by SOE.
Also, is there any evidence of Aux Units (as opposed to SDS) ever being supplied with WS17 sets? John Warwicker mentions an abortive plan in 1942 to issue them (Britain in Mortal Danger, p.191). Again, the thread on the Vintage Radio site above raises this possibility.
Apart from general interest, I picked up a nice WS17 set at the Malvern Militaria Fair and so am interested in its use within Aux Units / SDS.
I work closely with Brian, and I am familiar with his post on the vintage radio repair forum (my user name on there is trh01uk).
The reference to the Murphy receivers comes from various documents about equipment issued to the SDS now held by the PRO (public records office at Kew). They appear to be standard broadcast receivers (i.e. medium and long wave), but we can't be absolutely certain what they were used for. We suspect they were used to listen to the BEETLE network transmissions. This was a service set up to warn and inform the population and defence units acros the UK using the standard BBC transmitter network of the day, about an impending (or actual) invasion by the Germans.
Whether the Beetle messages were coded I am not sure - I haven't made a close study of Beetle and the amount of information about it at the PRO is scanty.
The SDS were certainly issued with some hundreds of WS17s. Quite what these sets were for remains something of a mystery. The main means of communication between SDS outstations and control stations was a set called the TRD.
John Warwicker suggests that the WS17s were issued as part of the lead-up to D-Day, to help fool the Germans into thinking that the invasion would occur around the Calais region, rather than Normandy. The idea was apparently to have lots of spurious radio traffic in Kent and East Anglia, laid on by SDS operators, who were told to read anything they liked over the air - just keep the traffic flowing to simulate a "busy army".
If that is correct - and there is no documentary evidence for this operation in any PRO document found so far - then the WS17 was incidental to the SDS' main purpose. Mind you, by 1943/44 the SDS was incidental to the war effort anyway, and its a bit of mystery why the whole SDS operation was kept going so long, when invasion was clearly never going to happen.
As the winter nights draw in I have decided to make a non-functional replica of the TRD set (and a MkIII 'Tinker Box'). As Parham is a long way from Worcester and is closed until the new invasion season - does anyone have any pics of the sides and back of their replica?