Monday, November 12, 2012

Radio Press News Service

This item was discovered in my fathers attic. We have no idea how it got there. It's clearly dated to August 28th 1947. The masthead image is dated to May 20th 1947 indicating "The Life Line" had been in publication for at least a few months. Above the news it read "RADIO PRESS NEWS"  but when I saw the words "USS Lejune" wrapped around the life preserver I knew what it was.

The ship was a US Navy troop transport. Originally the German cargo ship, Windhuk, it was seized by Brazil in 1942. The Germans sabotaged the ship and it was subsequently towed to Rio de Janeiro for repairs. They sold it to the US who took it to Norfolk in 1943 for to be refitted as a troop carrier.  It went into service in June of 1944. It only made 10 transatlantic trips during WWII, but it continued in service afterward. In 1946 it got another overhaul in Norfolk. Between October of 1946 and August 1st 1947, it made 4 trips to Asia then sailed to New York where it arrived August 29th. This paper was distributed the day before that. It made it's last voyage on October 1947 for Bremer, Washington where it was decommissioned in 1948.

The document has two parts. the first page is dedicated to instructing Navy personnel on navigating New York City and local Navy bus lines, presumably to visit New York City. It notes the location of Hotel Dixie because there was a bus terminal downstairs in that era. The rest of the paper is US and World news from the radio press News. In was a daily broadcast for US military ships consisting of four pages of news front and back closing with a bit of sports news. Most guys probably just flipped it over for that section. There were copies of this on most ships so long as 8.5" x 11" sheets were in adequate supply.

In WWII a whole network of Press Wireless stations were built to disseminate news to the troops.Regular service was established June 14th 1944, a week after D-day. The first broadcasts were from a 400 watt set rigged up from a mobile truck in Normandy. Later that year another station was set up on a truck in Holland. These received broadcasts from Long Island, NY. A semi-permanent station was built on Leyte Island in the Philippines in November of 1944 receiving signals from Los Angeles. Another mobile station rolled into Manila with General MacArthur in February of 1945. More here. War correspondents also used the network to send home reports. Many more stations followed. The history of the network is incomplete but it's clear it continued operating for several years after the end of WWII. The June 1945 issue of Popular Mechanics has a decent history of the start of the network through 1945, but the rest of the story remains uncertain.