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  • Caylie Gnyra

Amateur Radio Club Celebrates D-Day with Special Call Signal


From left, MLA Garth Rowswell joined Sask-Alta Amateur Radio Club members David James, Jim Kuzyk, Len Hyatt, Don Henry, and Greg Shalay (seated) in celebrating the 80th anniversary of D-Day at the Lt. Col. Craig Armoury using a specially designated call signal. Photo Caylie Gynra

The Sask-Alta Radio Club commemorated the 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 by obtaining special permission from the federal government for a special call sign to use over the coming month.

A few minutes after midnight on June 6, 1944, 24 officers and 516 men from the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion jumped from 50 aircraft into Normandy as part of Operation Overlord. They were the first Canadian Forces on the ground in France and the largest amphibious invasion in military history.

To recognize the role radios played in the Second World War and the sacrifice made by 14,000 Canadian troops, the federal Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development has granted temporary permission to the Sask-Alta Radio Club to use the call sign VE6DDAY. The VE stands for Canada, the 6 for Alberta, and the suffix DDAY acknowledges the invasion.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on June 5—to coincide with the midnight anniversary in France’s time zone—and lasting 24 hours, members of the Sask-Alta Radio Club operating out of the Lt. Col. Craig Armoury in Vermilion made contact with radio operators all over the world under this call sign, talking with people from Poland, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, and beyond.

MLA Garth Rowswell arrived at 2 p.m. for a tour of the armoury and a demonstration of the radio’s voice and data modes. Members of the radio club enthusiastically shared about various facets of the hobby, noting that the system they were using was set up to be an emergency radio station and was running on just 100 watts.

The system’s antenna is a Zepp aerial antenna, the same type used on Zeppelin airships. Rather than extending vertically like they would on the airships, Vermilion’s Zepp antenna extends horizontally along the length of the armoury, with the building’s metal roofing amplifying the signals.

Although atmospheric conditions were not ideal for bouncing signals off the ionosphere, the club was pleased to have made 382 contacts—134 voice and 248 digital—with other hobbyists around the world over the course of the 24 hours.

The club had previously obtained special permission for another call sign, VE6RCAF, which was used for the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Following its 24 hours at Vermilion’s Armoury, the D-Day call sign then moved to Lloydminster for use on Saturday, June 8. Throughout the rest of the month, the call sign will be available exclusively for Sask-Alta Radio Club members to use at their home stations.

Later this month, the club will be participating in Field Day, a 24-hour event that showcases the skill of the amateur radio community in simulated emergency situations. Since 1933, the event has brought together amateur ham radio operators across the US and Canada to demonstrate their commitment to public service and emergency preparedness. The Sask-Alta Amateur Radio Club has partnered with Lakeland College’s Emergency Training Centre, where they will be using aerial fire trucks to hold up homemade antennae to transmit radio waves. In essence, the event asks, “Can your amateur radio organization go out for 24 hours on its own to support your community in an emergency?” Members of the club look forward to the event.

For more information on becoming a member, contact the Sask-Alta Radio Club (SARC) through their website at https://saskaltarc.ca/ or on Facebook. They will be offering amateur radio courses this fall. Visit https://www.qrz.com/db/VE6DDAY to learn more about the call sign and the history of D-Day.

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