Wellington Radio 1940-49

1940: On 27 November, Awarua Radio and Wellington Radio received the RRR message (Raider Attack) from the ill-fated RMS Rangitane as she was shelled and sunk by German warships disguised as Japanese freighters 300 miles east of New Zealand.

1942: “For two years from October 1942 Wellington Radio provided a hand-speed Morse service, using a 1kW transmitter, for the Army and, in 1943-1944, equipment and accommodation for a US Marine radio telegraphist, to allow him to receive material from the US War Information Service.”1 Wellington Radio established a high-speed radiotelegraph link with Mackay Radio in San Francisco, as a backup in case cables were attacked.

1943: “A radiotelephone service was instituted between Wellington Radio and the RCA San Francisco station, as the request of the US Office of War Administration, to allow US correspondents to send ‘live’ war commentaries from New Zealand. The service was augmented in August 1945 by another link from Wellington to the AT&T station in San Francisco.”2

1944: Most of the Wellington area radio reception services were transferred to the newly opened Makara Radio, west of Karori. In June, the Navy vacated Wellington Radio for its own station (HMNZS Irirangi) at Waiouru.

This photo of the ZLW hostel was taken from the top of a mast adjacent to the social hall of the station itself

“This photo of the ZLW hostel was taken from the top of a mast adjacent to the social hall of the station itself. Tom Gates got quite upset when he found out from where it was taken.” Photo 1948: Clyde Williams

Ray Allsop

Ray Allsop

My father, Ray Allsop was in charge of the transmitting station on Tinakori Hill from about 1941 until the station was nearing decommissioning and Himatangi opened.

I was born in 1940, and every day after school (I guess until 1954, although I’m not sure of the exact dates) I walked up the hill and met him to walk home with him. My dog, Max, went with him every day also. As we did not own a car, Dad and I used to walk up and down that hill every day. Dad used to take me everywhere, and I remember often looking out the windows of the receiving station on the way home if dad called in, and the rain and wind there with the magnificent views over the city and harbour.

I remember the generator shed next to the main door and the noise it made when it was started up. There was also a canteen there, and I was often bought a chocolate bar by dad or one of the men there when I arrived after school. While waiting for dad to finish work, my dog Max and I explored all of Wireless Hill, as it was known then, as far as Wadestown, discovering the two caves where they were going to store the transmitters if the Japs came. A big point of interest for me was the old reservoir near the gun placements, and of course the old gun there.

We lived in Rodney Street, then Albermarle Road, and we looked up at the western side of the hill – no houses there then.

Dad had several invitations to visit ships when they came into port, and two notable ones were the Dominion Monarch, the latest in cruise ships, and an exploration ship to the Antarctic. I loved the husky dogs on board. Dad took me to each of these ships.

– Tony Allsop

Clyde Williams on 500kHz at Wellington Radio ZLW in 1949. At this time he was on the 'B roster' so would have been relieving for an A operator.

Clyde Williams on 500kHz at Wellington Radio ZLW in 1949. At this time he was on the ‘B roster’ so would have been relieving for an A operator. Photo courtesy Clyde Williams

1945: “At the conclusion of the war [Clive Drummond] resumed work at the Tinakori wireless station, but after a period of illness he transferred to the staff of the Chief Post Office in Wellington. Later he was appointed a clerk at Wellington South.” (See biography of Clive Drummond – NZ radio broadcasting pioneer)

1,2 Wilson, A.C. (1994). Wire and wireless: A history of telecommunications in New Zealand 1890-1987, (p 138), Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.

» 1950-1959