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Obtaining Parts for a Radio Receiver

Heroes Remember

Obtaining Parts for a Radio Receiver

To have a clandestine radio was a death sentence and in this camp 3 years earlier on the american warship the Houston, the Houston encountered a major Japanese fleet in the Sunda Strait off the coast of Java, and in a naval battle was sunk. When she went in to the water, her radio crew took little critical components of their powerful receiver on the battleship into the water with them. Now some of these men were in the water for ten hours before they got ashore in Java and managed to conceal these critical little elements of this ship's radio receiver. This wasn't a transmitter, it was a receiver. Now these radio men are highly trained electronic technicians. They were all professional sailors and so when they got ashore, they hid them in false heels and in false water bottles and all sorts of places while they were prisoners of war in Java. And when they finally wound up in northern Japan in this camp, one of them named Ralph Bunch, a very highly skilled electronics warrant officer in the american navy was placed by the Japanese in their electronics repair section to repair Japanese electronics in the mine. Well, that was like putting the fox in with the hens. He began to steal the additional components needed and to avoid detection, he had a hat which he built a secret compartment in where he could put things like transistors into his hat. When he was searched, he managed to escape detection. When he thought that a Japanese product needed only four transistors but it had five, he would simply extract a transistor. If it worked, he would keep it. And being the skilled man he was, he built a receiver, and he concealed it in the barracks. And so two or three of us were given the news every day from the receiver. The senior american officer and myself received the news but it was a very dangerous undertaking.

Mr. MacDonell speaks about a dangerous undertaking by fellow POW’s stealing parts and building a radio receiver.

George MacDonell

Mr. MacDonell was born in Edmonton, Alberta on August 15, 1922. He lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his uncle and family. In 1939, he ran away from home and made the decision to join the army. Mr. MacDonell served as Company Sergeant Major during the Battle of Hong Kong and in 1941 was captured and was a POW for four years. Post-military, Mr. MacDonell earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto and went on to have a successful business career. Mr. MacDonell is very active in his city and very proud of having served. Mr. MacDonell is retired and resides in Toronto, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George MacDonell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada
Vehicle Technician

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