top slice of main logo

Fred M. Link


Frank A. Gunther


1917-1919 The Great War

This bring us up to the period of the Great War in 1917, when the activities of the club had to be suspended, due to the fact that all the members who were of age enlisted in one branch of the service or another. The following extract from the minutes of the directors' meeting of October 6th, 1917, gives an idea of the policies pursued by the club during this period.


Question of administration of Club's affairs during existence of extraordinary situation created by the War discussed. A letter from Director T. Johnson, Jr., at present in the service of the Radio Division at Washington and unable to attend, was read. In view of the fact that all but three of the directors (Godley, Pacent and Styles) are now doing military or naval duty, Mr. Johnson's suggestion that Mr. Styles be assigned, pro tem., the duties and powers of the officers and directors engaged in such service and therefore unable conveniently to execute them themselves, was approved. It was the sense of discussion which followed that the arrangement be further approved and ratified by the membership, the situation to be briefly explained to them on the postal card notice of the next meeting, requesting each member to be present thereat to state his approval, or if unable to attend to signify his approval in writing to the Corresponding Secretary. In view of the impossibility of carrying out to the letter the terms of the Constitution and By-Laws and of getting proper representation of membership votes under the present war conditions, it was also the opinion of the directors that, for the duration of the war, the present personnel of the Board and of the Club's officers should be retained intact, the matter also to be called to the attention of the members for their approval in the notice of the next meeting.

The war records of those members who enlisted have been chronicled elsewhere, and would make too lengthy a proposition for this article. It suffices to say, that practically all were officers in Radio capacities and in charge of important operations, such as: radio aircraft, radio schools, laboratories, field service, etc. Notably, E. H. Armstrong, while with the allied forces in France, in 1918, invented the Superheterodyne receiver which was used in the intelligence service at the front, and as we all know, has since become the universal circuit for broadcast reception.

After the Armistice had been signed and things began to assume a more normal appearance, the club activities were again resumed. The first meeting of the board of directors was held at Keen's Chop House on October 13th, 1919.

Radio Club Banquet, 1919
Radio Club Banquet given in honor of Howard Armstrong at Hotel Ansonia, 1919.

In 1919 the first successful flight across the Atlantic was made by the U. S. Navy, from Halifax to Portugal. Three planes were used and of course radio was a very important part of the equipment and the operators had to be of sterling worth. Lieutenant Harry Sadenwater, a Radio Club member, was chosen to operate the set on the NC1. Unfortunately this ship was forced to the water within twenty miles of the Azores and it was due to the valiant efforts of Lieutenant Sadenwater that the storm-tossed crew were finally rescued by a destroyer which responded to his calls after some fifteen hours of grueling work.

Crew of the NC1
Trans-Atlantic flight 1919.
Crew of the NC1, Harry Sadenwater, third from right.

Now that all war restrictions had been lifted, the amateur came into his own once more, and bent to the work of reconstruction with vim. Old poles and antennas were once more erected and transmitters revamped. To be sure things were not like the good old days, for the Department of Commerce regulations had to be rigidly adhered to, but with new developments and experience gained during the war, amateur communication became even bigger and better. The advent of the tube transmitters opened the field of radio telephony and a good many of the erstwhile telegraph hams were already embracing this new development. Three of the club members, Ernest Amy whose call was 2VK, Harry Sadenwater, 2PZ, and George Burghard, 2SS, maintained very reliable telephone communication across the city using exceedingly low power on 200 meters. In fact on several occasions these stations were picked up at a distance of 50 miles. Regular musical programs were transmitted through the medium of a phonograph, and this constituted the first real amateur radio broadcasting with tubes.