[Jim Sullivan collection -interview with WAAC Beryl Osborn]

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Tono kōrero mai

Part of an interview by Jim Sullivan with former WAAC Beryl Osborn, of Christchurch, about her work during World War II as an army signaller, intercepting Japanese Morse radio messages.

Beryl begins by describing describes how the WAACs who were based at Miramar, were trained for this work. They had to learn the 84 symbols of the Japanese alphabet 'katakana' to be able to take down Japanese radio signals.

By December 1943 she was based in Johnsonville, Wellington at a hilltop listening post which operated 24 hours a day. They used very modern receivers but the building was unlined and very draughty, with only bread and cheese for meals.

The other, male signallers were Railways or Post and Telegraph radio operators. She says one quickly got to know different Japanese operators by their style of message. They took down signals without having any idea what they meant.

The messages were then sent on for translation in Washington, some 48 hours later, which she says seemed incredible.

Their work was very secretive, and any signallers who talked about their work were soon removed.

She still meets up with some former WAACs, some 60 years later and discusses the bond that wartime service created.

She says she was told one of the signallers she was listening to, was a lone Japanese soldier on Tarawa Island in the Pacific.

Her war-work stopped in July 1945, shortly before the end of the war.

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Reference number 262511

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Radio interviews
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits Osborn, Beryl, -2014, Interviewee
Sullivan, Jim, 1946-, Interviewer
Radio New Zealand National, Broadcaster

Duration 00:13:51

Date [1999]