|This article was first broadcast on Adventist World radio and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to South Pacific DX Resource hosted on radiodx.com for a period of five years from January 1 2003. Author: Adrian Peterson|
There was an interesting report in the Melbourne based radio magazine, “Listener In” in Victoria, Australia back in the year 1946. Ern Suffolk in South Australia reported hearing the Indian army radio station in Basra Iraq on 875 kHz. This tantalising report spawned a spate of research into the subject of “Indian Army Broadcasting”.
Actually, there are very brief reports of at least three stations that could be considered as radio broadcasting stations operated by the Indian army. One was in Basra Iraq, another was in India itself, and a third in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal.
The mediumwave station in Basra Iraq was operated by the British Forces Broadcasting Service, BFBS, and it was on the air from 1944 to 1947. This BFBS station was allocated the channel 870 kHz and it carried programming in English and Indian languages, with Iraq and Iran as the designated coverage areas. Available information would suggest that the station was on the air under the callsign JFPA with programming in English and JFPB with programming in Indian languages.
There is a single brief entry in a radio directory printed in 1949 which shows a military station on the air in that year. However, this entry can be read to show that the station was located at Hyderabad with the callsign VUV, or it can be read as Jodhpur on 4000 kHz. That is all that is known about this station.
There was a Gurkha transit camp located at Dharan, 150 miles east of Kathmandu in the kingdom of Nepal, and a cable radio station was in use with distribution to all barracks and buildings. Programming for this station came on tape from BFBS stations in London and Hong Kong.
In addition to the three radio stations in Iraq, India and Nepal, there were several additional stations that carried programming for Indian troops on service in other countries. In Europe towards the end of the war, the BFBS mobile station, identified as B4, was on the air in Italy and later in Athens Greece with programming in Indian languages. There was a small volunteer station at Serla in Brunei on the island of Borneo that also carried Indian language programming.
During the Asia-Pacific War, the Japanese established a radio station at Macassar in the Celebes Islands in what is now Indonesia. The original output from this shortwave station was 3.5 kW and this was increased to 6 kW in 1946. This station was noted in the United States with programming in English and also Hindustani.
The large BFBS station in Singapore was on the air shortwave and FM, and the schedule shows that they were broadcasting in five languages, including Indian languages for the local contingents. When the Singapore station was closed, the Indian personnel were transferred to the BFBS station in Hong Kong which carried Indian language programming until Hong Kong was re-absorbed into China.
Indian Army Stations
Station Information & Reference
JFPB Basra Iraq
Heard by Ern Suffolk on 875 kHz; LI 79.24 18-5-46
Listed on 870 kHz; LI 79.24 18-5-46
JPFA (JFPA?) at Basra; Taylor 64.445 24
Station Profile; Taylor 64.445 27
Part of Middle East Network; Taylor 64.445 77
Not listed in NZDXRA Radio Calls of the World 1946; nor in WRHB 1947
BFBS on the air in 5 languages, including for Gurkhas; Taylor 79.24 159
Local programming, and from BFBS Singapore; Taylor 84.445 160
Technical supervision from Hong Kong; Taylor 84.445 185
British Gurkha Transit Camp at Dharan; Mohini Shepherd letter
Dharan is 150 miles east of Kathmandu; Mohini Shepherd
Cable radio to barracks & buildings, programs on tape; Mohini Shepherd letter
Satellite of BFBS Hong Kong; BFBS Hong Kong letter
Small volunteer station enlarged by BFBS; Taylor 84.445 185
Gurkha staff from Singapore; Taylor 84.445 162
Details; Taylor 84.445 183
Radio Macassar established by Japanese during the war; RN 7-46 119
Recent power upgrade from 3.5 kW to 6 kW; RN 7-46 119
Operates on 36.06 m (9357 kHz) RN 7-46 119
Programming in Hindustani & English for Indian troops; RN 7-46 119
Macassar Celebes YFA9 9367 kHz 36.06 m; WRHB 1947 55
Indian Military Government 4000 kHz, or VUV Hyderabad; YB 84.200 1949 214
Programming for Indian troops from BFBS mobile Italy; Taylor 84.445 12
B4 with Indian programming in Athens; Taylor 84.445 14