POW camp radios

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Interrogator#6, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    POWs were not permitted radios. They were considered contraband, strictly verbotten. But, still, they got radios.


    I know US POWs were sent crystal sets built into cribbage boards. These didn't require electricity to function, thus were almost impossible to detect.

    In discussion the question arose of POWs building their own sets from scrounged tubes, and spare parts. I do not know of any examples of this, other than in fiction. Does anyone know of either ETO or PTO POWs having vacuum tube radio sets?
  2. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    Crystal radios are actually easy to detect because of the way they are powered. They resonate with the radio waves and I have had a bit of fun using a crystal radio to change the tuning on a nearby radio. The main reason they were used was because they are much smaller than a tube radio. I remember the days before transistor radios. Tube radios are large and draw a lot of power.
  3. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    I remember pre-transistor radios. Most required AC power. And, yes, the relatively few "portable" radios required rather large DC (battery) to carry enough charge/time to make them practicable.

    As a young buck my grandfather sent me one of the first transistor radios. It quckly broke. Perhaps I was too young for it.

    Yes, too, crystal radios may be detectable IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK. The radios I know which were smuggled into POW camps were expertly disguised as Cribbage Boards. As they used no Electrical Power I suppose they were nearly impossible to detect. I also believe they were also pre-tuned and could only be changed with great difficulty.

    Oh, these also functioned as Cribbage Boards, so could be left in plain sight, with a deck of cards. Who would think to check them? Other non-radio Cribbage Boards were also sent to POWs.
  4. Diptangshu

    Diptangshu Active Member

    On other occassion once I came accross this brillint as well as painstaking story of Lt Col R G Wells' story which but I just can't help stop sharing!
    Purely this is a story of making a foxhole set in a Japanese POW camp, after the fall of Singapore :
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  5. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    Crystal radios have electronic circuitry which cannot be hidden e!ectronically. The Germans had many highly skilled electronic engineers. The equipment to find a crystal radio would have been easy to get, so it is a very serious case of incompetent prison officials that allowed these radios to get into the pow camps and remain undetected. This speaks poorly of the prison guards. Not the elite troops of the Germans.
  6. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    S muggling in a few crystal radio sets disguised as Cribbage Boards placed into "Red Cross" type packages does not surprise me. What does surprize me is how on at least one occasion a simple one-shot pistol was smuggled into a POW camp. This story comes from a book called "Escape Factory" author forgotten. The author was a US Army corporal attached to a special unit (less than 50 persons) whose mission was to prepare civilian-style aid packs (essentially Red Cross packages) to be sent to POWs.

    Included in these packs were mostly the standard foodstuffs and woolens and reading materials. Some even had records (78s). But some had disgused German money, Maps, cameras, film, compasses, et cetera.

    They were able to send coded messages via the mails to select individuals who recieved special training before capture. When captured the Germans were required by Geneva Convention to inform a Third Party of everyone. When it was noticed that one of these special-trained persons were now a POW, the American POW-aide people knew of it and knew they had an agent in camp. They then waited until "Aunt Tilly" (or whomever) wrote in special code. Messages were short.
  7. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    As I mentioned, the prison guards were probably not the elite of the German forces. I also imagine that not all of them were die-hard NAZIs. I remember as a child meeting a number of Germans (mostly women) who had married US troops. They always claimed that most Germans did not understand all that the NAZIs were doing, and that they were usually afraid of openly disagreeing with what was going on.

    I have read writings by Werner Heisenberg, and he asserted that the German scientists deliberately directed the "bomb" research towards peaceful post-war uses for nuclear power. They were shocked that the US had actually developed the bomb because they thought that the US scientists would also focus on not developing the bomb (indeed, there was a great deal of reluctance, but knowing what Hitler was like helped them develop the bomb).

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