Role of the Voluntary Interceptors finally gets Recognition

Voluntary Interceptors finally receive official recognition for their contribution to World War 2

It was good to see in January’s (2024) edition of Radcom an item about the voluntary interceptors Finally receiving official recognition for their valuable contribution to World War 2.

WW2 SOE Morse Code Training set on display at the NRC

WW2 SOE Morse Code Training set on display at the NRC

In the item, it’s a picture of the RSGB President John McCulloch G14BWM giving a certificate to Paul Court-Wright G3SEM there’s a copy of the Certificate which is signed by Anne Keast-Butler Director of GCHQ, Ken McCallum Director of MI5 and Sir Richard Moore C chief of SIS,  at one time I’m sure these people’s identity would have been total secret.

Now it’s good to see that these people many of whom kept their work secret for years of finally been recognised.

The voluntary interceptors were dispersed throughout the United Kingdom not only were they proficient in receiving and copying Morse code sometimes called CW but they were also used to dealing with very weak and difficult-to-decipher signals which other listening services were not.

Working from Home

Often the voluntary interceptors work with home-built regenerative receivers however as the more progressed many received new and high-quality equipment to use in their voluntary activity they all had to sign the Official Secrets Act and records identifying these people were destroyed at the end of the second world war it is believed that there are at least 1500 radio amateurs who involved as voluntary interceptors.

The voluntary interceptors operated from their homes initially their role was to monitor for Secret Service agents located in the United Kingdom sending radio transmissions back to Germany,  messages received all coded were copied onto log sheets and sent to a PO Box and address in Barnet where they were sorted and they were sent to Bletchley Park for decryption.

These raw intercepted messages are unique in their nature and value and it not only provided by the voluntary interceptors they came from other sources as well. After it became clear that there were no signals emanating from spies in the UK and that the VIs were discovering and monitoring the encrypted communication network of the Abwehr the German secret intelligence service, the VIs moved into the fold of MI6 and the foreign intelligence service.

John McCullagh said “As the President of the RSGB, I am honoured to receive this acknowledgement of the work of a truly dedicated band of Radio Amateurs, who were recruited by one of my predecessors Arthur Watts G2UN


For more information please see the January 2000 and 24 editions of Radcom published by the RSGB 

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