JAPANESE RADIO TRANSMISSIONS
SIGHTINGS OF FLARES IN IRON RANGE AREA
OF FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND IN APRIL 1943
On 20 April 1943, members of the 197th Coast Artillery AA Regiment at Iron Range intercepted two way radio talk in Japanese. On 22 April 1943, The Northern Command Intelligence Officer wrote to his Headquarters in Brisbane as follows:-
"...The following is a copy of a signal message brought to I.O. Townsville by Capt R. Crosby, Sig. Officer, Yorkforce, and it is forwarded for your information:-
"SECRET. FOLLOWING SIGNAL FROM 13 GRN BN TIMED 2115 20 APRIL READS 197 CA A/A BTY REPORTS OFFR OPERATING SCR 194 WALKIE TALKIE RANGE APPROX. 25 MILES INTERCEPTED TWO WAY TALK IN JAPANESE 1930 HOURS 20 APR ON 39 MEGACYCLES. COULD HEAR CLICK OF SET AS SWITCHED FROM TRANSMIT TO LISTEN. ENDEAVOURING TO LOCATE WITH RAAF. IN CASE OPERATING ON LAND REQUEST SUITABLE MONITOR BE FLOWN IN IRON RANGE IMMEDIATELY. ACK. ENDS."
Captain Crosby tried to determine which Section in Townsville would be most interested in this report. Capt. Crosby was taken to RAAF Intelligence and then to the Section in the RAAF that keeps watch on this type of Communication. This was a top secret unit. It was most likely No. 1 Wireless Unit (RAAF).
About a month after the reported incident, the Deputy Director of Security, Qld, Lt.-Col. Wake advised his superiors in Canberra as follows:-
"...Corporal-Investigator A.M. McDonald and Mr. Richards of the US CIC Cairns are proceeding to Iron Range to conduct an investigation..."
The finding was that it was unlikely that the Japanese transmission was made from the local area and that freak atmospheric conditions may have allowed local reception of a very remote transmission.
Flares were also reported being seen by men of the 197th Coast Artillery AA Regiment. Investigations were also carried out to check the reliability of these reports. The 13 Garrison Battalion, 1 Aust Army, CMF carried out patrols but were unable to confirm the alleged sightings. Major Cunningham, the CO of the 13 Grn Bn arranged for trial activation of flares at unannounced times and locations. They were all observed by personnel at Iron Range. The flare sightings generally always lined up with periods of brightest moonlight. After consulting with 'responsible persons' it was announced "that the sighting of flares were without foundation."
Airfields WW2 - 50 Years On"
By Roger R. Marks
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 2 April 2004
This page last updated 16 January 2017