I am deeply saddened to report on the passing of LEFARS honorary life member, John Crabbe G3WFM on 16th October 2018. Some of you will know that, when the RSGB were based in Potters Bar, John was the Society’s librarian, GB3RS shack manager, national amateur radio museum curator and archivist.
I first met John Crabbe G3WFM in July 1997 during an RSGB open day, but got to to know him much better when I started visiting the RSGB QSL bureau at Lambda House to deposit and collect cards for myself and for other LEFARS members. John’s wife, Marjorie, was employed part-time in the bureau and John could be found in his workshop, working on one of many concurrent restoration projects or in the National Amateur Radio Library, attending to visitors, or in the GB3RS shack with visiting guest operators, or showing groups or individuals around the National Amateur Radio Museum.
John was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the museum and over the years had curated a wide and varied display of some very early, rare and historically important Marconi items as well as First and Second World War military wireless and collections of British amateur radio equipment as well as assorted radio related kit and components, a great deal of which was held by he RSGB on permanent loan or donated to the museum by the families of SKs.
John was interested in wireless from an early age and his time as a national serviceman in the RAF provided a formal training in radio and electronics. An enthusiast in every sense, John could cite the source of virtually every piece of kit on display and if asked to, would provide a detailed explanation of its workings and component parts.
John eventually became well known to a small number of LEFARS members who used to attend Potters Bar with me to help sort QSL cards, or to operate the GB3RS station. And, in March and April of 2008, a number of club members volunteered to help John pack-up the museum, library and shack in preparation for it to all go into storage when the RSGB left Potters Bar to move to Bedford. That was a particularly difficult time for John, as all his efforts and work over many years was simply swept under the carpet by the, then RSGB management and having been a witness to John’s good work, his shoddy treatment certainly left me feeling bitter and there are still a great many unanswered questions about what ultimately happened to most of the collections and items in the museum…
In early 2008, shortly after receiving the RSGB’s Founders Trophy (for outstanding service to the Society), the LEFARS committee unanimously agreed to bestow John with honorary lifetime membership. Accompanied by his long-time friend Dick Whittering G3URA (now SV9RPE), John and Marjorie were regular attendees at several LEFARS New Year’s lunches. In July 2009, John gave a talk and demonstration of his “B2” spy set, at All Saints House. The talk also presented us with the highest attendance at any club meeting up to that date – there literally was standing room only! John kindly donated his B2 to LEFARS a few years ago and it is now presented at various events as part of the club’s historic wireless display. John also penned a three-part article called “What Did You Do in the Cold War Daddy?” for the LEFARS Newsletter, recounting his time as national serviceman. The complete article is available in a single PDF on the Publications page of the www.lefars.org.uk website and is well worth a read.
John was a gentleman radio amateur, who never had a bad word to say about anyone and will certainly be missed by all who knew him…
Marc Litchman – G0TOC