The Wandering Apache

This article was originally broadcast over AWR’s “Wavescan” DX programme 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 June1 2002. Author: Adrian Peterson

The Apache Indians lived in the southwest of what is now the United States and they were made up of five different tribal groups. The Apache Indians became famous, in legend at least, as a wandering people, giving rise to the designation, the “Wandering Apache”.

There was an old ship that was built in Baltimore, Maryland, and launched in 1891. Under its original name, the “Galveston”, this ship saw duty in the Spanish-American War, after which it was renamed the “Apache”. This ship was de-commissioned in 1937, and after the American entry into World War 2, it resumed official duties as a troop transport.

In the year 1944, the “Apache” was taken to Sydney, Australia where it was totally rebuilt and equipped with electronic equipment for service as a radio broadcasting ship. Generators, receivers, cables, antennas, all were installed, including two shortwave transmitters at 10 kW each.

This mobile broadcasting station sailed north from Sydney in late September 1944, arriving at General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters at Hollandia, New Guinea on October 10. Two days later, the “Apache” joined a flotilla of American war vessels for the return invasion of the Philippines.

It was somewhere around mid-morning of October 20 that the “Apache” made its first transmission, a navy report to California about the new invasion of the Philippines. The allocated callsign for this radio broadcasting ship was WVLC, reminiscent of the Australian callsign, VLC in Shepparton, Victoria.

For the next one and a half years, the “Apache” was heard on the air quite often, sometimes with the relay to America of Pacific war news & reports, and sometimes with the onward relay of radio programming from the shortwave stations in the “Voice of America” network in California.

After a spate of on air service in Manila Bay, the “Apache” moved to the Lingayen (ling-GAY-an) Gulf early in the new year 1945 to cover the moving tide of warfare on the island of Luzon. At the time of the signing of the surrender documents on the USS “Missouri” in Tokyo Bay, the “Apache” was there, but it was silent, simply because the more powerful land based shortwave station at Nazaki (na-ZAR-kee) in Japan was carrying the programming on relay back to America.

After this, the “Apache” was noted with radio despatches and occasional programming off the coast of Korea, and then further south off the coast of China.

The saga of radio broadcasting from the reconditioned “Apache” came to an end on April 20, 1946, when the American navy vessel, USS “Spindle Eye” took over not only the radio prograrnmming but even the callsign WVLC. The “Apache” was decommissioned, and then in 1950 it was scrapped.

During its 18 months of radio history, the “Apache” served as a communication ship, an interrnediate relay station for armed forces communications, and as a radio broadcasting unit carrying programs on behalf of the American Armed Forces Radio Service & the Voice of America. It is quite probable too, that this station also carried a relay from Radio Australia on certain occasions.

The “Apache” was logged in Australia, New Zealand and the United States under three very similar callsigns. The basic callsign was WVLC. Another callsign in use for a brief period of times was WVLO, and it is suggested that this was in reality the second transmitter, which was noted subsequently under the callsign WVLC2.

Numerous QSLs exist in old radio collections in New Zealand & Australia & the United States but they are all in the form of typed letters. There is no known QSL card in existence bearing the callsign WVLC, not even for the relay of VOA and AFRS programming.

That then is the end of the story of the radio broadcasting ship, the “Apache”, but, there is more to the story than this. Not so well known is the fact that there was another radio ship travelling with the “Apache”. with the identification FP47. Ah, but that’s a story for another time!

Updater:

The Story of the Little Radio Ship, the FP47
Two weeks ago, we presented the story here in Wavescan of the now famous radio broadcasting ship, the “Apache” with its role as a relay station for AFRS radio and the “Voice of America” during the latter part of the Pacific War.

At the time, we mentioned that the “Apache” had a co-traveller, a little vessel known as the FP47. Let’s look now at the story of this lesser known sea traveller which was in reality another radio broadcasting ship.

The FP47 was a much smaller ship than the “Apache”, at just 125 ft long and it was built originally for the Alaska freight and passenger traffic. This ship was also taken to Sydney in Australia at the same time as the “Apache” where it also was completely rebuilt and re-outfitted. Two diesel generators were installed in the FP47 as power units for all of the electronic equipment which included two American army Morse Code transmitters at 500 watts each.

In rebuilding the ship, the original masts were re-positioned in an attempt to counteract the weight of the heavy electrical equipment. However, the calculations were incorrect and the masts leaned forward giving the appearance that the ship was moving backwards. The official radio code for the FP47 was “Bedpan”.

The original delivery date for both the “Apache” and the FP47 was planned for late November 1944. However, the events of the war speeded up and the FP47 hurriedly sailed from Sydney Harbour with the “Apache” right at the end of September. Both ships, with their electronic equipment still untested, arrived at General MacArthur’s forward headquarters in Hollandia, New Guinea, on October 10, just 2 days before sailing time for the return invasion of the Philippines.

Two days later, the whole invasion fleet left Hollandia for the Philippines, with the “Apache” trailing behind, and the smaller FP47 trailing behind the “Apache”. The entire flotilla arrived in Manila Harbor exactly one week later.

The purpose for the radio ship, the FP47, was to be a subordinate radio ship to the “Apache”. The Morse Code transmitters sent war news and despatches to the “Apache” for onward transmission to the United States. The FP47 was a communication vessel for use by newspaper and radio correspondents, whereas the “Apache” was a radio broadcast station and a navy communication facility.

The FP47 saw duty in the coastal areas of the Philippines and other islands in the western Pacific, usually in conjunction with the “Apache”, but not always. After the conclusion of hostilities, the FP47 was sent back to the Philippines, were it carried radio traffic in Morse Code apparently in conjunction with land based stations that had been re-established.

That’s the last that is known about the little radio ship, known by number and not by name.

Radio Broadcasting from Ships – The Wandering Apache

Known Callsigns

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Call Reference Dates
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WVLC 1st official transmission 1944 Oct 20
WVLC2 Calling ABC on 7800 1945 Mar 24
WVLO Heard on 9295 kHz; probably WVLC2 1945 Jun
WVLQ Apparently land based in Philippines, calling WVLC 1945 Mar
WVLS ? Mediumwave AFRS Hollandia? 1944 Oct
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Radio Broadcasting from Ships – The Wandering Apache

Known Frequencies

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kHz m Event Reference Date
——————————————————————————————–
7110 42.19 Working KU5Q Guam & KFC California 1945 Jun
7750 38.70 Despatches to RCA 1944 Dec 2
7790 38.51 ATC reception report 1945 Jan 29
7795 38.48 Located in Leyte Gulf 1945 Jan
7800 38.46 Calling ABC 1945 Mar 24
7805 38.44 Despatches to RCA 1945 May
7810 38.40 Despatches to NBC & CBS 1945 Feb 3
8960 33.48 Calling JVS & JVT 1946 Feb
8990 33.37 Heard in New Zealand 1945 Jul 28
9295 32.28 Usual broadcast channel 1945 Jun 2
9370 32.02 Located in Leyte Gulf 1945 Jan
17740 16.91 Sunday morning music program 1945 Jan
14815 20.25 In Dutch New Guinea (Philippines) 1944 Dec
18180 16.50 Heard in Australia 1946 Jan
18530 16.19 Occasional relays from AFRS 1946 Mar
18575 16.15 Commentaries to ABC 1945 Sep
18585 16.14 John Clifton reception report 1945 Jun
18600 16.13 ATC reception report 1945 Jul 10
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Ship Broadcasting – Apache

References

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Ship Information & Reference
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Important Events
Allied forces landed at Hollandia April 22, 1944
Saipan surrender July 9, 1944
Leyte invasion October 20, 1944
MacArthur’s D Day invasion in Philippines began Oct 20, 1944; PC 1-95 18
MacArthur’s famous “I have returned speech”, October 22, 1944

Apache – Station Profiles
Star Spangled Banner 83.3 93
R&H 77.10 6-45 34

Apache – The Ship
55 year old ship; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
Apache, 50 year old ship; LI 79.24 28-4-45
WVLC ship; Broadcaster 14-11-45 46
WVLC Apache; PC 1-89 24
190 ft long, 29 ft wide, 416 tons; Ven website
Built by Reeder & Sons, Baltimore; Ven website
Commissioned 22-8-1891; Ven website

Apache – History
Commissioned as “Galveston” 22-8-1891; Ven website
Served in Spanish-American War 1898; Ven website
Previously Coast Guard cutter Newfoundland; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
Later presidential yacht for President McKinley; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
Then Maryland Yacht Club; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
Coast Guard duty off Texas coast; Ven website
Involved with Galveston Hurriacne 1900 Texas coast; Ven website
Renamed “Apache” 30-12-1900
Coast Guard duty Chesapeake Bay; Ven website
Decommissioned 31-12-37; Ven website
Recommissioned as transport ship WW2; Ven website
Voyaged to Sydney for fitting out as radio station; 1944; Ven website
Completely rebuilt in Sydney 1944; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
Original delivery date to PNG scheduled late November 1944; SSR 83.3 93
Decommissioned 1946
Apache has been decommissioned; RN 84.2671 7-46
Scrapped 1950; Ven website

Apache – Electronic Equipment
WVLC Apache for voice transmission only; PC 1-95 12
WVLC ship broadcaster; 14-11-45 46
WVLC Apache PC 1-89
Ton of radio apparatus; Ven website
2 International Harvester diesel generators; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
1 @ 10 kW medium frequency(?) transmitter; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
2 @ 10 kW transmitters; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 98

Apache – Travels
Voyaged to Sydney for fitting out as radio station; 1944; Ven website
Original delivery date to PNG scheduled late November 1944; SSR 83.3 93
Apache sailed north from Sydney 9-1-45 (?) to Philippines; WWH 3-97 5
Apache sailing date from Sydney probably very early October 1944
Code word for Apache – Leaky; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 100
Broke down mouth Humboldt Bay Hollandia Oct 10; Star Spangled Radio 83.3
Repaired 1 hour to spare; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
WVLC in Dutch New Guinea (Oct 10-12, 1944); 12-44 36
Sailed for Philippines October 12, 1944; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 94
Arrived Leyte Gulf Ocober 19 evening; Star Spangled Radio 83.3 98
Off coast of Leyte October 20 1944 invasion; Ven website
WVLC Apache communication ship at Philippines; PC 1-89 24
1st Allied controlled transmitter at Leyte was Apache; R&H 79.13 6-45 34
Apache gave MacArthur’s return broadcast 22-10-44; Dunlap 148
WVLC Apache made broadcasts from Manila harbor; RA 373
WVLC Leyte Gen MacArthur’s HQ Philippines; LI 79.24 2-12-44
ATC QSL 29-1-45 7790 kHz “Voice of Freedom” relay; ATC QSL letter
Moved Dagupen, Lingayen Gulf invasion Luzon Jan 9 1945; Star Radio 83.3 102
Soon afterwrds, radio operations moved ashore
Project Z radio services moved ashore into Manila 14-11-44; PC 1-95 19
PY Manila & PZ Leyte supplemented Apache despatches; PC 1-95 19
Apache off coast Leyte; R&H 79.13 3-45 36
Apache, 50 year old ship at Leyte; LI 79.24 28-4-45
WVLO Leyte 9295 R&H 77.10 6-45 36
WVLC Leyte 9295 Philippine Hour, previously VLC; R&H 77.10 6-45 36
ATC QSL 10-7-45 18600kHz occasional location changes; ATC QSL letter
Broadcasts off Saipan as KRHO relay; Ven website
Tokyo Bay but silent at surrender broadcasts; Ven website
Japan Korea China; RN 2-46 149
WVLC transferred to Spindle Eye began VOA relay 20-4-46; WWH 3-97 5

Apache – Channels
WVLC Leyte Is 38.70 (7750 kHz) despatches to RCA; LI 79.24 2-12-44
Many channels; R&H 79.12 12-44 35
WVLC 20.25 m Dutch New Guinea (?); R&H 79.12 12-44 36
WVLC Leyte Gulf 17740 Sunday morning music; R&H 79.13 1-45 36
ATC QSL 29-1-45 7790 kHz Voice of Freedom” relay; ATC QSL letter
WVLC Leyte despatches to NBC & CBS 38.40 (7183); LI 79.24 3-2-45
WVLC2 Luzon 38.46 (7800) calling ABC; LI 709.24 24-3-45
WVLC Leyte 16.14 (18587) John Clifton QSL; ADXRC DXAS 82.1 6-45 3
Apache schedule 8 kW 9295 kHz 2-6-45; Hiestand letter 79.7
WVLC Leyte 9295 Philippine Hour, previously VLC; R&H 77.10 6-45 36
WVLO Leyte 9295 R&H 77.10 6-45 36
ATC QSL 10-7-45 18600kHz occasional location changes; ATC QSL letter
WVLC 8990 Philippines heard in Auckland NZ; LI 79.24 28-7-45
WVLC Philippine Hour 9295 kHz good signal; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
Mr Clack QSL 9295 kHz 5 kW; R&H 79.13 8-45 36
WVLC 9295 strong signal in Borneo; LI 79.24 1-9-45
18180; R&H 79.13 1-46 36
WVLC 8 kW 9295 two & half hours daily; WWH 3-97 5
Broadcast schedule from Apache 9295 8 kW; Brighton 79.7 5 OWI Letter

Apache – Monitoring
WVLC Philippine Hour 9295 kHz good signal; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
WVLC 8990 Philippines heard in Auckland NZ; LI 79.24 28-7-45
WVLC 9295 strong signal in Borneo; LI 79.24 1-9-45

Apache – Programming
PC 1-89 24
WVLC Apache for voice transmission only; PC 1-95 12
Programming details; Australian Documents 79.7 5
1st transmission October 20, 1944 mid morning called Frisco; Star Spangled Apache gave MacArthur’s return broadcast 22-10-44; Dunlap 148
WVLC now on air; Nb 79.217b 41 LI 2-12-44
WVLC Leyte Gen MacArthur’s HQ Philippines; LI 79.24 2-12-44
WVLC Leyte Is 38.70 (7750 kHz) despatches to RCA; LI 79.24 2-12-44
WVLC group stations; R&H 79.13 1-45 36
WVLC Leyte Gulf despatches and program relays; R&H 79.13 1-45 36
WVLC Leyte Gulf 7795 9370 17740; R&H 79.13 1-45 36
WVLC relay 18180 American point-to-point station; R&H 79.13 1-45 36
WVLC Leyte Gulf 17740 Sunday morning music; R&H 79.13 1-45 36
ATC QSL 29-1-45 7790 kHz “Voice of Freedom” relay; ATC QSL letter
WVLC Leyte despatches to NBC & CBS 38.40 (7810); LI 79.24 3-2-45
WVLC in contact with WVLQ Luzon several channels; R&H 79.13 3-45 36
OWI request transfer Philippine Hour from VLC to WVLC; OWI letter 12-3-45
RA reply OK but not on same channels as RA; RA letter
WVLC2 Luzon 38.46 (7800) calling ABC; LI 709.24 24-3-45
WVLQ contacting WVLC; R&H 79.13 3-45 36
WVLC QSL ATC; R&H 79.13 4-45 36
WVLC calling RCA for despatches; R&H 79.13 5-45 36
WVLC 7805 & 9370 to RCA; R&H 77.10 5-45 38
Apache schedule 8 kW 9295 kHz 2-6-45; Hiestand letter 79.7
MW R&H 6-45 34 1
WVLC 9295 with Philippine Hour, ex VLC6; R&H 77.10 6-45 34
WVLC 7110 working KU5Q & KFC; R&H 77.10 6-45 36
WVLO also on 9295 (probably WVLC2); R&H 77.10 6-45 36
WVLC does verify; R&H 77.10 6-45 36
WVLC Leyte 9295 Philippine Hour, previously VLC; R&H 77.10 6-45 36
WVLC Philippine Hour 9295 kHz good signal; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
WVLC 9295 with Philippine Hour; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
WVLC QSL 18600 ATC; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
WVLC in French & Spanish; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
WVLC Luzon 8990 French & Spanish; R&H 79.13 7-45 38
WVLC R&H 8-45
WVLC Luzon 18575 with commentaries to ABC; R&H 79.13 9-45 36
WVLC relay VOA English & Japanese began March; WWH 3-97 5
R&H 79.13 1-46 36
WVLC relay 18180 American point-to-point station JLS JVT; R&H 79.13 1-46
WVLC 7780 Tokyo irregular usage; R&H 77.10 2-46 38
WVLC 8960 calling JLS JVT; RN 2-46 148
WVLC was in Japan waters, then Korea/China; RN 2-46 149
WVLC back in Japan waters in Sept; RN 2-46 149
WVLC2 AFRS relay; RN 3-46 139
WVLC2 18530 occasional relay AFRS Tokyo; RN 3-46 139
WVLC transferred to Spindle Eye began VOA relay 20-4-46; WWH 3-97 5
ARW 77.8 8-46
RN 83.1 11-46
WVLC 8 kW 9295 two & half hours daily; WWH 3-97 5
PY Manila & PZ Leyte supplemented Apache despatches; PC 1-95 19
Broadcast schedule from Apache 9295 8 kW; Brighton 79.7 5 OWI Letter

Apache – QSLs
ATC QSL 29-1-45 7790 kHz “Voice of Freedom” relay; ATC QSL letter
John Clifton QSL; LI 79.24 20-1-45
John Clifton QSL; R&H 79.13 2-45 36
ATC QSL letter; R&H 79.13 4-45 36
ATC QSL letter; R&H 79.13 5-45 36
WVLC Leyte 16.14 (18587) John Clifton QSL; ADXRC DXAS 82.1 6-45 3
WVLC does verify; R&H 77.10 6-45 36
ATC QSL; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
ATC QSL 10-7-45 18600kHz occasional location changes; ATC QSL letter
Mr Hille QSL; R&H 79.13 7-45 36
Mr Clack QSL 9295 kHz 5 kW; R&H 79.13 8-45 36
Mr Evans; R&H 79.13 8-45 36

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