With the entrance of the United States into World War One, amateur wireless was shut down with the takeover of all radio transmitters by the U.S. government. Many amateurs entered military service, and QST carried occasional reports from the new enlistees, until the magazine suspended publication with its September, 1917 issue. QST, July, 1917, page 23:
In the Service
At the time of writing, I am "on watch" on ----- at the ----- and have just listened to, and copied most of the "Navy press" formerly sent out by NAA at 8:30, now sent at 10:00 after the customary time and weather reports.
You may be surprised to learn that at the present time there are very few radio messages sent, and these are entirely between ship and shore. The land wires are used entirely for communication from one land station to another, I understand. Everything is changed now. The attention signal, ship and shore station call letters and the usual QRA to QTA are also different. Practically everything is in code.
I have sometimes listened for three hours without hearing anything to disturb the absolute silence of the "ether". Just think what a blessing this would have been in normal times.
The set on board is a 1-2 k. w. 500 cycle set, made by the Wireless Improvement Co. of New York, and is complete, in two panels, placed together on a frame about 24 x 36 inches. Automatic starting of the motor generator, and a "break in" system, together with a continuous wave changing apparatus, which indicates the standard positions, together with a coupling scale are some of the refinements. The receiving set is the Wireless Specialty Co. "I. P. 76" and with the Mica Diaphragm receivers, and our 110 foot antenna, NAA comes in very much like it used to at home.
There is a nice hot wire ammeter, like the one I have, on the panel, and the antenna switch is quite complicated. I mean to get one if I can when I quit the service.
As it is nearly midnight and I have already taken up considerable of your time, will QRT, trusting that you may find time to pardon this hasty letter. There is as Underwood Typewriter within easy reach, but I think it too noisy for this time of the night. "P".
August, 1917, page 17:
In the Service
Here's a lively one by our old friend, Bill Woods (9HS). He has just begun to enjoy the service. Many of the old amateurs are with him. Look it over and consider enrolling yourself.--Editor.
It is 1 a. m. and I am sitting--as I did almost every evening last winter--at my wireless set with the phones on. However, in this case it is not my set, but is the Marconi station at Manistique, Mich, recently taken over by the Government, call letters WMX. I am a 1st Class Electrician, Radio U. S. N. R. F. and am on the mid-watch. That is--from 12 midnight to 6 a. m.
The station is in a ------ ------*, and is fitted up with all modern conveniences, and as I look out the little window at the old moon, I can almost realize that I am home in my own little radio shack and waiting to hear 2AGJ call C. Q.
There is a good fire in the stove, QRN is absolutely nil, and there is no QRM at all. Believe me, O. M., it is some night for distance. I would give a lot if I could just give 'em one C. Q., but nothing doing. "it can't be done." Have just finished reading the last ad. in the May QST and it made me so "home-sick" for the long winter nights and wireless that I will attempt to describe my experiences of the last few weeks.
In one of the "back" issues of QST, I remember reading about how some of us might perhaps have the honor of "tickling the key" at NAA, providing war was declared. As we all know, war has been declared. Shortly after this declaration, I presented myself at the "nearest Navy Recruiting Station" and declared my intention of becoming a censor for duty during the duration of the war. I was duly examined and passed the test in fine shape. The same evening several of us were given tickets and "subsistence" money and told to report at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Ill. We left St. Louis in high spirits and arrived the next day at NAJ. We were met at the gate by a formidable looking young man who told us to stand in line. He then separated the Reserves from the Regulars and marched us down to Barracks D. Here we were met by a very gruff and curt individual who told us to make ourselves at home and walked away. Thus left to our own resources we began to walk around. Barracks "D" was a very large room with innumerable canvas hammocks hanging just above our heads, and completely covering all available floor space were small folding cots. We asked several young men in sailors uniforms if there were any radio men there. They looked us over but did not seem to know what we meant by radio. Finally one fellow took us over to where three fellows were sitting, sewing buttons on their pants, and told us there were the radio men. We introduced ourselves and I prepared to have a regular "ham fest" with fellow amateurs. I asked one what his call was and he asked me what I meant.
After testing them out with a few words such as paragon and regenerative, I came to the conclusion that they did not know very much. About this time one of our party suggested that we all go over and take a look at the "set." In a very much awed tone of voice our new friends said it was not allowed, in fact, no one at all cud go near the station. They said they had been there ten days but had never seen the station. This statement didn't sound at all nice, so three of us held a consultation and decided that we would boldly walk over to the station and see what could be done towards viewing the set. After much hesitancy and each one telling the other to go first we finally started. We stood in front of the small building that housed the set, and looked up at the aerial, and decided it was some class.
After we had looked the aerial over completely, we gathered up our courage and walked right in the building. We confidently expected to be ordered out at once, but much to our surprise an officer came up to us and very nicely inquired if we were radio men. We quickly informed him that we were, and even insinuated that we were pretty good ones, too. He didn't pay much attention to the last remark, but led us outside and assigned us to a tent, which, we were told, was to be our home. We had no more than got settled and picked out the cots we were to call "ours" for several weeks, than we heard a great commotion and loud cries of "fall in for chow." We followed the crowd and were placed at the end of a line of fellows, all in sailor's suits. A sharp command was given and we commenced to march.
We all were in step and the tramp, tramp of the feet sounded rather soldier like. In fact, I rather liked it, and my spirits rose several notches. We marched into a big room with long tables and a "place" set every foot or so. Each man stood in front of his place; at the command "seats" we all sat down on little stools and commenced to eat. I didn't care much for the dinner nor the service, but the way the older men ate was a revelation. The man next to me ate all of his dinner and then requested mine. I gladly accomodated him, and in a moment he had cleaned the plate. As the men finished they got up and walked out. At the door, as we came out, was Mr. Reiling, our superior officer, and the man in charge of the radio station. He explained that he would have to take us back to the station, as the sentry would not let us pass upon seeing we were in civilian clothes.
It has just occured to me that no sentry stopped us the first time; guess he wasn't on the job.
At any rate, Mr. Reiling took us back, and on the way I timidly asked him if we could see the set. He said most certainly, and showed us the whole thing. He took us in the operating room. For certain reasons I will not describe the apparatus, but everything was the latest. Upon the completion of our inspection, Mr. Reiling informed me that I was to take watch from noon until 6 p. m. the following day. We will skip the night, as I did not sleep much, but at noon the next day I took my place on the spark set.
There was a good deal "doing," mostly lake boats and stations nearby on the lakes. I copied all I heard and entered it in the log book.
After a while, the novelty began to wear off. I was taking things kind of easy when I heard NAJ called three times, followed by the sign WME. I called Mr. Reiling and told him Milwaukee was calling us. In the most matter of fact way he said "all right, answer him." If Mr. Reiling knew how nervous I was he would have answered them himself. However, I called WME and signed NAJ. I took his message easily and when he said 73 in the most amateur-like way I realized for the first time that I had had the honor of signing NAJ.
* Deleted by Censor.
August, 1917, page 23:
WEST JOINS EAST
A. R. R. L. MEMBERS VOLUNTEER
Well, I am in the Navy now. About a month ago in a letter to me you asked me to give you all the "dope" about the 4th Class Naval Radio Reserves that I could, so here goes. Can only say that the fellows who are not in with us can't imagine what they are missing. Here is a golden opportunity to obtain a complete course in radio operation, see something of the world while working at our mutually beloved art, do your bit for your country and when it is all over come out financially, physically and educationally ahead. For those who are hesitating, let me say: "Hesitate no longer, but join before it is too late."
Let me tell you a few of the incidents which were part of our training at NAJ, (Great Lakes Naval Training Station). After completing the days work, which consisted of putting away three squares per day, and putting in a few hours watch on the spark or arc set we would gather in one of the tents in which we bunked and have an old time wireless gab fest. Reclining upon one of the cots perhaps could be seen "Swab" Bridges, otherwise known as 9ZL. Beside him might be seen our old friend, 8VP, or perhaps it might be our little red-headed 9GY, deeply engrossed in telling about the time he was heard in California. Strewn about the tent in many and varied postures were such lights as our "Bill" Woods of 9HS, Sparks of 9LT, the well-known 9ABD of Jefferson City, Mo., 9HN and 9DK of St. Louis, Bonson 9TM of Dubuque, 9QF of Waterloo, 9VY, 9ALM, 9PR, 9SA, 9SB and a dozen or so of the lesser lights. In the center of the group could always be found the pet of "Radio Row" - little Freddie Messing, 9AGK of Freeport, Hi., the youngest and also the smallest of the radio bugs. Signals of all frequencies and wave-lengths ran rampant in that tent. The QRM flew thick and fast. QRT, QRX and QTA could be heard dimly above the general hubbub. I cannot begin to tell you all that took place in those often held meetings. One can easily imagine what happens when amateurs who had been working each other and exchanging correspondence for perhaps years, come together. With the blowing of taps by the bugler, the meeting would come to an end, and the participating "stations" would shut down for the night.
The next day 9HN and 8VP sojourned for nearly an hour upon the top of NAJ's lofty tower. Swaying ever so little in the breeze, this massive steel tower afforded the observer a most extensive and beautiful view of the surrounding country for miles in all directions.
Such incidents as these marked my stay at this training station, and I can truthfully say that some of the most-enjoyed moments of my life were spent there. Of course, there was a certain amount of code drill and theory instructions and a small amount of drilling, these all being a part of our training.
One day it was announced that men were wanted to volunteer for Class 2 duty. Now Class 4 Radio Reserves are land station radio operators, while Class 2 duty is sea duty aboard ship. Many of the boys responded at once; others wrote home for the necessary permission. Those who changed over received orders to prepare to leave Great Lakes for the Naval Radio Reserve School at Cambridge, Mass. So the first draft of us parted company with our mates and set sail for the East, and here we are. Former amateurs from all districts are here. Sixes and sevens from the West Coast, fours and fives from the South, our own dear nines from the Middle West, and of course, innumerable ones, two, threes and eights. It is some bunch.
Now, Editor, old top, that is about as much as I can write just now. It will be evident to you that I am not much good at writing description or narration, etc., and therefore wish that if you desire to print any of this you would re-write it in your own QST style. And, by the way, if you can use any photos or snap shots can forward you a few.
Well, N. M. for this time, O. M., and if I ever get near Hartford am going to drop in and see the home of QST. And don't forget to publish the list of stations heard O. M. Noticed they were omitted in the last issue. And until further notice please forward my QST to me at the address at the top of this sheet. James A. Crowdus
September, 1917, page 25:
9CF IS IN THE SERVICE
I hope you will excuse the personal letter but I would like to have a few words with you in regard to the U. S. Naval Reserve. I fail to see why any REAL amateur operator should not enlist in the service. To anyone who has the great desire to keep in the business and do a good turn for UNCLE SAM I would say "Enlist and do it now." While as I understand it, they are not taking any more amateurs for duty on land but for active service in "Class 2" which is sea duty, there is the chance to do some real work and get the best training and experience that is to be had anywhere. Personally, I would not give up the experience that I have gained since enlisting for anything. I am stationed at present at the Marconi station at Duluth, Minn., but hope to be transferred to sea soon. While the work here is not very exciting, it helps in a way to take the place of my station at home. I am a constant reader of QST and with great regret notice the decrease in size, but can readily see the reason for it.
Wishing you every possible bit of success for the future of QST and the A. R. R. L.,