Amateur radio was suspended in the United States and in much of the rest of the world at the beginning of World War II. During the war years, there was some local radio activity in the US as the government eventually began to organize war time radio services and permitted hams some local traffic for public service. But contact with anyone outside the States via radio was strictly forbidden. At the conclusion of the war it would take some time before the amateur radio service would resume normally.
Having never lived through a radio service “shutdown” I’ve often wondered if hams obeyed those rules to the letter. Could you really sit by your receiver and hear someone calling and not respond? I’ve collected a small pile of anecdotal evidence that some hams continued to make use of the radio during the band. There are even a few stories of amateur radio operators in the military service who were positioned on lonely Pacific outposts continuing to use their modified shortwave transmitters thru the war years and I wonder who they were working?
Still others were just anxious to get back on the air after the War:
On VJ (Victory over Japan) day, August 15, 1945, one fellow was in Shanghai, China. Even though the FCC still didn’t allow the military to transmit on the ham bands in the USA or on foreign soil for at least another year, military personal around the world (and some US citizens) were putting up wire antennas and became active. This guy was no exception. He had his homebrew transmitter with him, a pair of 807’s, built from the 1937 ARRL handbook. He got on the air from Shanghai in October 1945 as W3AG/XU. When contacting other GI’s across China, he noticed that their “made-up” callsigns had the XU substitued for the prefix. He then changed his call to XU3AG for his remaining time in China. Several of these GI’s were approached by the FCC on their arrival back to the USA. They were chastised for their operations abroad before formal approval but nothing else was done.
And hey, no judgement on this from me. I understand the temptation and given the same situation would probably have done the same thing. Now that most of the Greatest Generation has passed, we’ve lost the ability to easily interview these fellows to get the complete scoop. And I’m just guessing some of those radio tales would have been amazing.