WW II Propaganda Stations

This article was originally broadcast over AWR in their “Wavescan” program 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 May 1 2002. Author: Adrian Peterson

For a period of approximately one year during the era of the war in the Pacific and Asia, five shortwave radio stations in five different countries were on the air with international programming beamed towards British India. This clandestine programming was monitored in Australia and New Zealand under several slogans, including “Indian Freedom Radio” and “Indian Independence League”.

The five radio stations in the five countries were located at Bandoeng in Indonesia, Singapore in Malaya, Bangkok in Thailand, Shanghai in China, and Nazaki in Japan. The legendary Arthur Cushen in New Zealand stated in his book, “International Listening Guide”, that the first of these independence radio broadcasts was noted in February 1942, though the first monitoring reports do not appear in print until three months later, in the month of May 1942.

The first monitoring observations of this new clandestine programming beamed towards India appeared simultaneously in both of the Australian radio magazines, “Australasian (OS-tral-Asian) Radio World” and “Radio & Hobbies”, though we note that both of these magazines have since ceased publication.

The first signals and the strongest signals from these new “Freedom Radios” were from a dual purpose communication and broadcasting facility located at Bandoeng in Indonesia. This station was noted in both New Zealand and Australia with strong signals, and direction finding equipment determined that the signals were indeed coming from Bandoeng in Indonesia.

This clandestine programming was on the air from a transmitter that had been installed at Bandoeng some 10 years earlier and it was on the air in pre-war days under several callsigns, though perhaps the best known was the callsign PLE. The power rating of this transmitter was listed at the time as 80 kW, though it is probable that these days this would be calculated as 40 kW.

All of these freedom broadcasts from Bandoeng in Indonesia, noted initially on 9380 kHz, were heard closing with a recording of the well known march, “Liberty Bell”. These shortwave signals were heard by many international radio monitors in Australia and New Zealand, as well as by the government monitoring station near Melbourne in Victoria.

The clandestine broadcasts from Radio Thailand during this same era were made from a low powered shortwave transmitter which was listed after the war at just 2.5 kW. The broadcasts from Thailand beamed towards India were noted in Australia on 7190 kHz and they were on the air for only a very short period of time.

The third station in the third country that was on the air with freedom broadcasts beamed towards India was Malaya; and more specifically, Singapore. A 7.5 kW transmitter was removed from the shortwave station located on the island of Penang and installed at a new location, Jurong, on the outer edge of the island of Singapore. This radio base subsequently became the main radio base for Radio Singapore.

This Penang unit was upgraded in Singapore to 10 kW where it was heard on the air as “Shonan Radio”. This station was listed by Arthur Cushen as carrying freedom programs to India under the Hindustani title, “Azad Mozeem (a-ZAHD moo-ZEEM) Radio”.

Located near Shanghai in China was a fourth propaganda station that beamed freedom programming towards India. Available information would suggest that a new 5 kW transmitter was installed near Shanghai specifically for the relay of clandestine programming, and it was noted ever only on one channel, 11970 kHz.

Around the same time, two transmitters located at Nazaki in Japan were noted with Indian independence programming. The two channels were outside the recognised standard broadcasting bands, and no callsigns were listed for these transmissions. It would be presumed that these broadcasts beamed to India from Japan were intended for direct reception, and also for relay purposes by the station in Shanghai, China.

In assembling and assessing all of this available information, it could then be stated that the clandestine freedom programming from three of these stations, Bandoeng Indonesia, Bangkok Thailand, and Jurong Singapore, was all produced locally, whereas the programming from Shanghai in China was taken on relay from the main studios of Radio Tokyo as relayed by two shortwave transmitters at Nazaki in Japan.

The final monitoring entries in radio magazines for these freedom broadcasts was in the month of March 1943, with the broadcasts from Shanghai in China. Thus, they were on the air for just one year. As would be rather obvious, no QSLs were ever issued for these radio broadcasts from these five radio stations in five countries.

World War 2 Propaganda Stations

Time Lines

Year Date Country City kW Observations
1942 Feb Indonesia Bandoeng 80 ATC 1st Indian Independence programs
1942 May Indonesia Bandoeng 80 1st published report, closed Liberty Bell
1942 May Malaya Singapore 7.5 Transmitter transferred from Penang
1942 Sep Thailand Bangkok 2.5 Heard with propaganda programming
1942 Sep Japan Tokyo 50? Noted with IIL programming 2 outlets
1942 Oct Malaya Singapore 10 1st freedom broadcasts noted
1942 Dec China Shanghai 5 Indian Independence League broadcast
1943 Mar China Shanghai 5 Final entry for all stations in this network

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