F/ M0IDF – Pegasus Bridge Portable Station – 75ème anniversaire du Débarquement
by David Coles M0IDF
On arrival in Normandy after just a couple of hiccups from the newly restored 1942 Bedford on the way, I discovered we had an excellent site for radio in an elevated position right next to Pegasus Bridge. No excuses then. The plan was to focus operating on 80mtrs but also to use 40/20 and 6 mtrs when conditions allowed so I elected for a very long wire and counterpoise in the form of a ww2 180foot long wire, extended to about 150ft, supported on a 10mtr Canadian WW2 mast in the centre and Clansman 5mtr masts at the ends, one of which was topped off with an EGSA kit monopole for 6mtrs. Radio kit comprised a ZC1 Mk1 used with a Wireless Remote Unit E MkII (to boost the audio via the line o/p) and my trusty Yaesu 857 built into an ammo box with ws19 metering for HF LSB and 6mtrs. The ZC1 could be tuned internally but I found I could eke out a fraction more power using a Yaesu FC902 ATU. Three very large car batteries would provide power for the week.
Thanks to the very large aerial working back to the UK with 4 to 5 watts peak AM via the ZC1 worked a treat. It was especially nice to work the local vintage stations on WW2 gear too; Martin and Tony at the Chateux de Creully and Douvres Radar Museum and the Swiss station TM75UTAH at Utah Beach using WW2 US kit. Things really kicked off on LSB. The callsign and location attracted a lot of interest and on the evening of the 6th I had a serious pile up on my hands working back to the UK and around continental Europe, all done with around 50 watts.
In total I worked around 70 stations that night and had the batteries allowed I could have continued all night. On subsequent days I worked many stations including the Royal Signals and RAF ARS nets and chums back in the UK. Mostly 5/9 reports received and given. The most unexpected QSO was a 10 minute chat with a chap on 40mtrs driving around Salzburg running 500 watts into a 2mtr long antenna!
It was also nice to work some local Belgium amateurs on 6mtrs, Doctor Clive Poole on his 351 and of course Martin and Tony at the Douvres Radar Museum. I believe they had quite an audience there whilst doing so.
Aerials were dropped on Friday evening due to high winds and the vehicle packed for departure the following day. Thankfully the Bedford ran like a dream on the homeward leg. It will surely make an excellent vehicle far carting around vintage kit to the various shows I attend and I intend to kit her out with the R107 / WS12 combination at some point soon for a little more QRO.
I was amazed at the interest shown by local visitors in the Bedford and in particular when operating the station. It was not uncommon to have twenty visitors utterly agog at the radio operations recording my every word on their phones. I even received a visit from a film crew which turned into an impromptu Q&A on Amateur Radio. For most it would have been their first experience of Amateur radio I suspect and it was an excellent advert for the hobby. It was nice to be visited too by Radio Amateurs from the UK, Holland, Germany, Belgium, France and Argentina! Plans for radio related continental trips are already being made for next year. More anon
Dave Coles M0IDF