HAMNET Report 11 November 2018

Today, I would like to share with you a sobering report of the stupidity of mankind.

Writing in New Times, Al Fonzi says:

A hundred years ago today, November 11, the cataclysmic “Great War” (the “war to end all wars,” aka, The First World War or World War I) came to a close as the warring powers signed an armistice at 5 a.m. However, the armistice would not take effect until 11 a.m., which meant life or death for thousands of soldiers. (A formal peace treaty, the Treaty of Versaille, would not be signed until June 28, 1919.)

Until another even greater war occurred barely 20 years later, the First World War was likely the bloodiest war in human history. The slaughter took place on an industrial scale never before experienced by humanity. Unfortunately, many generals were tied to the past and failed to recognize the revolutionary effect technology was to play during war in the 20th century.

WWI introduced not just the field telephone but wireless radio communications that outpaced the ability of any “runner” or military aide’s ability to send or receive messages from a commander to subordinates. It also introduced not only the airplane, but its use as “flying artillery” capable of bombing or strafing enemy positions far to the rear of front lines. It also introduced the use of poison gas, tanks, and the submarine. Most importantly for war on land, it introduced the machine gun, which was, next to rapid-firing artillery, the greatest innovation for killing on the battlefield. When integrated into defensive or offensive operations, the effect of these weapons was decisive on the battlefield.

World War I began in the first week of August 1914 and, by the end of October 1914, more than 325,000 combatants from all sides had been killed in action with three times that number wounded. Instead of a war of manoeuvring, vast armies with hundreds of divisions of troops (an average division consists of 10,000 to 15,000 men) had been mobilized, bogged down in a 600-mile-long trench system across western and central Europe and fed into a grinder that crushed men’s souls. The generals failed to learn and insisted that old tactics need not change, just urge the men forward. Disaster upon disaster became names associated with needless loss of life, such as Gallipoli, the 1915 amphibious invasion of the Dardanelle’s (300,000 casualties); the Somme in July 1916, where the British Army lost 60,000 men in a single morning between 8 and 11 a.m.; and Verdun in 1916, where virtually every French division served at one time or another and the souls of more than 600,000 French and German soldiers were lost. On the Russian front, casualties mounted into the millions as the Russian Czar’s generals herded Russian peasants into murderous machine-gun fire without regard for common sense, let alone strategy. On the southern front, Italian generals employed brutal discipline against their own troops, who were fighting Austrian troops in the Alps, hauling disassembled cannons up sheer mountain cliffs to create avalanches to bury their Austrian counterparts.

The war was truly global, with 200,000 Vietnamese troops providing battalions to the French on the Western Front and colonial troops fighting on behalf of their colonial masters in East Africa and the Arabian Desert. A Vietnamese soldier of note with the French on the Western Front was the future Ho Chi Minh, who led his people to drive out the French from his homeland in Indochina and would later wage a 10-year war against America and South Vietnam.

America mobilized for war in 1917, but also fought a hidden enemy in the form of the 1918 influenza epidemic, a pandemic that eventually killed more than 200 million people worldwide. American troops were especially susceptible. Of the 116,000 American fatalities in WWI, 53,513 were battle deaths but 63,195 succumbed to disease, mostly influenza. It was so virulent that a soldier could show symptoms at 6 p.m. and be dead before 6 a.m. the next morning. At Fort Devens in Massachusetts, soldiers in training died at the rate of 100 per day during the pandemic’s peak. The German Army was also affected; their March 1918 offensive ground to a halt when they exhausted their reserve divisions, which had been decimated by influenza, allowing the Allies to regain the initiative and launch a counter-offensive.

Although the armistice was signed at 5 a.m. on Nov. 11, no order was given to cease combat operations before it was to take effect at 11 a.m. As a result, for the next six hours, every gun on the Western Front continued to fire, (literally millions of rounds) as hundreds of thousands of soldiers continued to fight and “go over the top” in last-minute offensives ordered by the military high command.

Remember the sacrifices made by those soldiers of the Great War and all the ones that followed, this Remembrance Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, at the many memorials throughout the country.

On a much happier note, HAMNET Western Cape has already been approached to assist at the 2019 edition of the 99er Cycle Tour out of Durbanville on February the 9th. Arrangements are already in an advanced state amongst the organisers, and HAMNET will be drawn into the meetings in January 2019.

Then the most beautiful marathon in all the world, the Two Oceans Marathon takes place over Easter Weekend next year, and the race date is Saturday the 20th April. The organisation for that one starts before the previous race has been run, so you can rest assured that everything has already been taken into account for that one.

HAMNET Western Cape has also been approached to assist with the monitoring and reporting of those “magnificent men in their flying machines”, who take part in the President’s Trophy Air Race next year, near Saldanha Airfield between the 2nd and 4th of May.

There will be ten turn points along the 300 nautical mile route, some of which will need to be manned on the 3rd and 4th of May. Duties of the HAMNET ground observers include recording of the times as the aircraft pass the turn points, with directions and approximate heights, and reports back to the control station  over ham frequencies.

About ten operators will be needed to assist, and the organisers are already in communication with HAMNET Western Cape.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

HAMNET Report 4 November 2018

Super Typhoon Yutu, which I mentioned last week having battered the Northern Mariana Islands, reached the Philippines this week, and Greg G0DUB mentions that he had been advised on last Monday by Dani YB2TJV that, to prepare for the effects of Typhoon YUTU in the Philippines, 7.095MHz is now in use by ‘Ham Emergency Radio Operators’ in the Philippines. The changing path of the typhoon had not pinned down the impact area but definitely the Northern and central part of Luzon would be affected. The strength of the wind had abated a bit to 130km/h, but at least 10 million people were threatened by that type of wind, as it crossed the Northern tip of the Philippines, and then veered to North-East along the coast of China. It is due to be between Taiwan and China today

Greg also mentions in another communique that Tilen S56CT reported that ARON in Slovenia were in a state of preparedness because of the bad weather last weekend. Flooding is now striking parts of NE Slovenia along the river Drava and high winds are also expected to cause problems in the Western part of the country.

ARON teams are QRV on DMR network TG 293112, VHF/UHF net-Echolink conference *SLOVENIA*, local repeaters and simplex channels and of course Winlink system. S50ARO monitors 3605 kHz voice as well. The channels are being kept active by sending a few radiograms on the 80 and 60 m band in MFSK32 mode with the content being weather forecasts with warnings.

Meanwhile in Greece nearly 50 earthquakes have struck the country since the 25th of October, with a magnitude just under 5.0 which is where property damage can occur. In Italy we also have flooding affecting Venice, with high water in the centre of town at 1.52m, but also in other parts of Italy, especially in Liguria with a sort of tsunami, and up to 12 people dead. Civil Protection is involved locally and at national level, and the critical situations were flood damage and electricity outages. France had snow and also suffered high winds and rain from Storm Adrian.

Europe has taken a battering, and Winter has hardly started there!

Wilderness Search and Rescue in the Western Cape has noted that Working On Fire (WOF) and other agencies are currently engaged in the containment of the raging wildfire in the mountains between George and Wilderness, and that the area has been closed off for a number of reasons:-

  1. It is very unsafe for members of the public to be in the area. The obvious fire and smoke hazard can be life threatening to any recreational outdoor user.
  2. The area must be clear of all civilians to allow the firefighters to concentrate on their job, which also includes starting secondary fires for the purpose of back burning. Being caught between two or more fire fronts will be a serious concern for the Wildfire Incident Commanders.
  3. The roads have to be free for the emergency vehicles to  use.
  4. It may happen that burning or burnt trees will be falling across roads.
  5. Firefighting aircraft are operating in the area as well.

The area mostly affected is the Outaniqua mountain range above George which is managed by Cape Nature (a signatory of Wilderness Search And Rescue).

WSAR asks the public to please be aware that this area is closed for the following activities until further notice:-

  • hiking
  • trail running
  • mountain biking
  • driving
  • and guest accommodation which may also be affected

Thank you to WSAR for these notes.

Meanwhile, Johan Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, has reported on the intense heat wave and gale-force winds in that part of the Western Cape, which have resulted in the devastating runaway fires, threatening the towns of George and Karatara in the Southern Cape area since October 24. An Amateur Radio Joint Operational Centre (JOC) was established on October 29, and radio amateurs were put on standby when parts of George experienced telephone and power outages in the Knysna area. Several new fires were also reported due to lightning.

At one point, those living in the affected areas were ordered to prepare for evacuation, although that order was later rescinded.

Radio amateurs in the Southern Cape have been asked to make their stations available to support emergency communication, should commercial systems fail. Johan Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, who administers the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), reports that the Amateur Radio JOC is currently active on the AREDN Mossel Bay Mesh Network, Echolink, AllStar, Twitter, and Zello. The Amateur Radio JOC will remain active until all fires are brought under control. The death toll as a result of fires in the Southern Cape area now stands at 8, and more than 800 have been evacuated. Disaster relief operations continue. 

This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR  reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.