World War Two was the first conflict to make widespread use of radio communications. The sets were still primitive, being heavy and valve operated, but marked a major turning point in the development of modern warfare. The most common man portable short distance radio in use by the British Army was the WS38 Mk II set, with over 100,00 produced by the end of WW2:The training manual described the WS38 set as:
The No 38 Set is a light weight portable sender and receiver designed for short range R/T working. The frequency band covered is approximately 7.3 Mc/s to 8.8 Mc/s obtained in a single range on a calibrated tuning control common to both sender and receiver. Sender and receiver are automatically adjusted to the same frequency thereby simplifying netting.
The set is carried on the left breast next to the respirator and the supporting sling is secured to the webbing equipment by means of a brace hook and ring secures the set at the lower end.
This radio has a tin box housing the working parts, which gave it a range of between one and two miles depending on terrain and atmospheric conditions, with a number of dials on the top: These include a socket for an aerial:The main tuning dial:Ana a switch turning the radio on and allowing it to send or receive:A painted panel gives details of the Set type:Whilst an individual serial number is painted on a small plate riveted to the top:Inside are a number of valves:And other early electronics:A cable runs from the set to a plug that connects separate junction box which attaches the set to the battery, headphones and microphone:The set-up is shown on this contemporary diagram:These sets are seen being carried by a dedicated signaller in contemporary photographs, such as this photograph from War illustrated in 1944:I am very pleased to have added this set to my collection, but it does offer me a whole new area of collecting and many of the accessories for the WS38 set are rare and/or expensive so like many of my projects, purchasing the extra bits is a case of seeing what comes up rather than an active hunt for parts regardless of price.