Home Guards protect Awarua Radio Station

The Awarua Radio Station from up a mast, showing one of the existing houses built in 1913 and a sentry box used by the Home Guard soldiers during World War 2, with the tennis court beyond. Photo: Awarua Communications Museum

DURING World War 2, security for the Awarua Radio Station was provided by the Home Guard.

The Department of Internal Affairs of the period seemed to be involved with the establishment of the Home Guard units, which then became responsible to the Defence Department.

By 1943, the Awarua Battalion consisted of two divisions with 758 officers and other ranks registered. They appeared to be volunteers on a part-time basis and not conscripted.

There were several sentry points on the station, including one at the receiving station, transmitting station, accommodation buildings near the three German built cottages, and the entrance to the radio station.

The soldiers were accommodated separately from the station staff. The radio station staff, of which there were 50-60 at any one time, worked six-hour shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

From one of those who worked there, John Pryde, it is recorded;

“There were five or six listening posts and their job was mainly listening for the Japanese ships or stations which came on the air.

“Some smart guy in the Navy Office in Wellington had cracked the Japanese shipping code. We copied anything that came across the air, we copied it and sent it off to the Navy office, who had their own code.

“They used the Morse code but they had their own lettering; for instance, they had one call-sign which identified submarines and another one aircraft, another for ordinary ships, and we could tell where they were.

“They reckon that one Japanese submarine actually came right up the Auckland Harbour.

“We copied them and I was one of the blokes who shared the job of transmitting the codes and stuff by Murray or Creed to Navy Office in Wellington.”

Thanks to John Pryde, and Alex Glennie.

More stories can be found at the Awarua Communications Museum, Bluff Rd, open Sundays from 1pm to 4pm.

  • Article supplied by Gordon Duston, Awarua Communications Museum