Brown, John Isaac Godfrey (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 11035
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 180, Number Of Items 6
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British officer served as radio designer with Royal Corps of Signals attached to Inter Services Research Bureau and Special Operations Executive at The Frythe, Welwyn Garden City, GB, 1941-1945; served with 8th Army Signals in Vienna, Austria, 1946

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Finsbury Park, London, GB, 1917-1939: childhood enthusiasm for wireless; employment in wireless business, London; reaction to call-up to Royal Corps of Signals. Aspects of period as officer with Royal Corps of Signals at Catterick Camp, GB, 1940-1941: friendship with Dirk Bogart; being accused of deserting RAF; story of being summoned to see officer P B D H Foot, compulsory transfer as radio designer to War Office. Recollections of period as officer with Royal Corps of Signals Inter Services Research Bureau and Special Operations Executive at The Frythe, Welwyn Garden City, GB, 1941-1945: interview at 55, Broadway with Sqdn Ldr Frank 'Uncle' Pyle, The Frythe, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, July 1941; postal box number in Whitehall for communication with wife; first impressions of 'The Frythe'; first task of building compact transmitter/receiver into briefcase; quality of technical back-up; first reports on problems faced; request to make radio into transmitter; his design of L set; aspects of radio communication department; uses of S phone, small portable radio carried on chest; increase in pressure of work from September 1941. REEL 2 Continues: work of supply liaison officers in commandeering supplies; adaptation of Type 18 set to receiver/transmitter Type A Mark I; design and character of Type B, Mark II; oversized radio sets; first BII set designs and production; use of BII in operations in Mediterranean; preparing BII for quantity production; design of radio set 38 for landings in Europe, 1942; A1 sets; re-engineering of AII to produce AIII; projects in parallel with radio set production, 1942; visit by Brigadier Nicholls, Chief Signals Officer in charge of communications network; problems explained by Brigadier Nicholls. REEL 3 Continues: helping Professor A H Wilson, 4/1943; design of MCR I; designing production test gear for MCR I; idea of Jedburgh teams; problem of adaption of sets to tropical conditions; request to design BIII, late 1943; preoccupation with BIII design; authorities' post war concern that BIII would fall into hands of guerrilla groups. Reel Four: destruction of BIIIs after war; story of use of BII on Kon Tiki expedition; use of BIIs in Far East; problem of global rather than specific demands leading to delays in production; Frythe personnel and technical projects; security at The Frythe; problems of patenting; move to new site of work, Gorehambury, St.Albans, 1944; development of wide band amplifier facilitating agents with larger number of channels. REEL 5 Continues: problems of patenting and attribution of inventions after war; attribution of sets to Dominion provenance; design of jacket-size sets too late for war in Europe; cancellation of supply arrangements after VE Day; transfer to Station 12, Aston Hall, Stevenage after VE Day; destruction of equipment down mine shaft; preservation of records; survival of sets and knowledge after war. Aspects of period as officer with 8th Army Signals in Vienna, Austria, 1946: returning to Royal Signals Corps in Italy, 1/1946; handling of troops awaiting demobilisation in Vienna; arranging communications for British Headquarters in Vienna; Russian interference with British signals; humorous aspects of relations with Russians in occupied Vienna. REEL 6 Continues: Russian procurement of British copper signal wire; clamping down on black market activities in British cipher office in Vienna; black market methods among UNRRA and Control Commission personnel; responsibility for attempting to re-impose discipline in 8th Army, Signals; cultural activities in unit; attitude of Viennese to British and Russian presence; Russian officers' treatment of troops; stealing of tyres for black marketeering.

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