|This article was originally material for a broadcast of “Wavescan” via Adventist World Radio in October 2000, 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 June 1 2000. Author: Adrian Peterson|
The Story of the Jungle Network in the South Pacific
When we think of the word “jungle”, we usually think of a vast expanse of massive trees and thick undergrowth all bathed in a hot steamy climate. Perhaps we would place the location of these “jungles” in the tropical areas of the Amazon Valley in South America and in the mountainous regions of New Guinea. And of course, all of this would be correct.
According to the dictionary, the word “jungle” comes from an Indian word in the Hindi language. In India, the word “jungal” means a desert, a forest, a jungle. It comes from an earlier word in the ancient Sanskrit language, “jangala”, meaning a hot dry desert. Thus the word has changed its meaning somewhat over the years, but ask the American, Australian, and Japanese soldiers in the Pacific War what they understood by the word “jungle” and they will all tell you the same thing. It is a place of massive trees and thick undergrowth bathed in a hot steamy climate.
During this Pacific War, a whole network of entertainment stations was installed in the jungle areas of New Guinea and nearby islands. Actually, the first entertainment station in this area was installed, not by the Americans, but by the Australians, at Milne Bay, right at the bottom tip of the ‘tail’ of the island of New Guinea.
This station was established by the Royal Astralian Air Force and it made its inaugural broadcast on Australia Day, January 26, 1944. The original transmitter was a 60 watt communications unit.
“RAAF Radio”, as the station announced on air, was moved shortly afterwards to a jungle location near Madang some 500 miles further up the north coast of New Guinea. At the same time, a new 250 watt transmitter was installed.
It was at this stage, that an interesting relay experiment was implemented. RAAF Radio near Madang relayed the programming live from the Australian Army station 9AA in Port Moresby, on the same channel, 1250 kHz. In view of the fact that there were no telephone lines at the time spanning the 200 miles of mountains, rivers and jungle separating these two locations, then probably the relay link was by shortwave. However, no DX reports at the time refer to this probable relay service.
The first American station in the areas of the “Jungle Network” was station WVTI at Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. This station went on he air in March 1944 under the generic callisgn, AES, American Entertainment Service, though shortly afterwards it was given an American callsign WSSO which was changed again to WVTI.
Station WVTI later moved to Cebu City in the Philippines where it joined the “Mosquito Network”, and then to Manila where the network name became FEN, the “Far Eastern Network”.
The next American stations in these jungle areas were AFRS1 & AFRS2, located near two small northern cities in New Guinea. The callsigns were changed to WVTA & WVTB when the Jungle Network was established.
Altogether, there were seven American stations in the Jungle Network, all located in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the southern Philippines. Each station was given an American callsign in the WVT sequence, ranging from WVTA down to WVTQ. QSL letters were received in Australia and New Zealand from at least four of these stations.
And so we leave the “Jungle Network”, which is known today only by some of those who lived and experienced that era way back more than half a century ago. If any of our listeners can provide us with additional information regarding the Jungle Network and other similar stations, do make contact with us at the address below.
Jungle Network Stations
Please let us know of any correction, additions to the above list.