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Heresy - enough for all

My father ( Squadron Leader R.R. Purdie M.B.E. 1902 - 1989 ex VK2RP VK2ARP ) was one of those brave - mad souls - who joined the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 14 in 1916 during WW1. Fortuitously this led to a lifelong career in radio. Dad enjoyed it so much he signed up for 12 years, finally leaving the Navy in 1930.

He held by that time a First Class Operators Certificate and that was really something then. Also he was well versed in that new fangled invention everyone was talking about - "radio".

Dad promptly opened a Radio business with his severence pay only to find not long after what the dreaded words "depression" really meant for him. In fact along with so many others he was totally devastated. This was indelibly imprinted upon his mind for the next 60 years.

Fortunately a man with his skills - telegraphy in particular - was quickly able to find emploment with Australia's Post Office the same year the Royal Australian Air Force was formed. Some time later when operating as an outback telegraphist he had a chance encounter with an air force pilot downed due to mechanical problems.

This pilot quickly convinced my father he ought to apply to join the air force where his skills were desperately needed - this was 1933. Dad sent off a telegram to Air Force H.Q. at 8.30 a.m. the next morning. He received a reply before lunch informing him he had been accepted and he was upgraded from his former naval rank and please report within 3 days.

So began an eventful 20 years. At the beginning of WW11 he commenced a rapidly expanding Wireless/Air Gunner course. The majority never returned.

By 1941 he was in Wireless Intellegence and after Japan and the U.S.A. entered the war Dad was appointed to Macarthur's W.I. staff. This culminated in a landing at Morati 6th June, 1944 where Dad remained until about January, 1946 holding much senior acting ranks than with which he retired.

He returned to Australia a much different man. In particular he began to check up on the whereabouts of earlier students. One entire class of 45 never returned. Dad was due to retire in 1949 but Korea intervened.

When he left in 1953 at the age of 51 he was ineligible, due to age, for the plum jobs he had looked forward to. Dad became a Postmaster and only retired at 72 when on his 72nd birthday his boss was present when a customer extended birthday greetings and enquired of his age. The boss literally retired him on the spot and initiated an enquiry as to how a man avoided the compulsory 65 years retirement age.

My part

Firstly, and this is quite true I am told, if the U.S. military had not sent staff to Melbourne in June, 1941 for urgent discussions I would not be here. It would seem my father being called to participate in the conference, was allowed to reunite with Mum whom he had not seen since September, 1939. You can speculate the rest with my arrival in the very grim days of 24th March. 1942.

I saw very little of my father until 1953. One of the earlier recollections was he would not allow older brothers to pursue trades because of his obsession with the depression. By 1954 when I became interested in electronics he put every obstacle imaginable in the way. Stupidly I brought home a note from the Boy Scouts which sought parents with 'skills' to teach the scouts. Mum volunteered Dad to teach morse code and semaphoring.

Naturally all the kids thought I was a "special" for this badge and gave me heaps. I dug my heels in - wouldn't listen to my father etc. - no badge.

To this day I have a hang up with CW (I'm gunna have to get over it now).

I've seen my father send high speed morse - receive another message - and conduct a conversation - all simultaneously. How do you that environment.

Anyway when Dad retired in 1974 I worried he wouldn't survive and brought him an FT101 over his objections, his previous gear was confiscated in 1939 and he never replaced it - but he religously renewed his licence each year and subscribed to all the mags. He was back on air again and renewed many an old aquaintance.

Dad and I ceased being father and son, becoming "mates". He had much earlier given me his copy (1943) of the A.R.R.L. Handbook. Theory was no problem for me just CW. The more he tried to help the worse I became. I couldn't sit for exams without doing CW - I was too ashamed.

Watching him operate then, on SSB 40M, and all they talked about was who died recently, who had cancer etc. As you imagine this didn't exactly fire me up to get on air either.

I simply pursued my total obsession with receivers, devouring anything written by a whole bunch of guys I am greatly indebted to for teaching me so much over the period 1957 to the present.

Why am I always on an 880 learning curve?.

Anyway Dad passed away in 1989 and I immediately sat for the very next full licence exam (except code) which I passed no trouble - piece of cake. I hold Certificate of Proficency (Limited) No. N2350 issued 20/6/90. It would want to be easy after 30 years of experience. But 9 years and 11 days later I became licensed as VK2TIP.

So there you go - heaps of knowledge etc. etc.

Lots of SWL and a passion for AMBCBDX - a hell of a lot harder than you think.

P.S. For those in Australia and are old enough - Do you remember "Electronic Enthusiasts Emporium" or "Electronic Distributors" ( 1976 - 1981) both of Pendle Hill N.S.W.?  Now you know who I am and yes what happened to Dad in 1930 happened to me in 1981.

My dad literally wept. "I told ya about the depression!" - "I told ya not to go broke like I did". I wept with him. Not the money - but I loved the business, the people you met and helped every day. Bloody shame but that's life folks, plenty are a lot worse off.

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Copyright © 1999 Ian C. Purdie. All Rights Reserved.


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This site was entirely written and produced by Ian C. Purdie* Created: 2nd January, 1999 and Revised: 27th January, 1999