Normally we expect man portable radios to use a long pole aerial in order to get the radio signal they need to operate. Whilst modern aerials can be very short, in World War II a long aerial was essential to get even the most modest of signal, especially in valleys or urban areas. A long pole aerial was not always practical- it made the radio operator an obvious target and could get tangled on trees and overhanging vegetation. An alternative was the trailing aerial which was a long length of wire that could trail along behind the radio operator and despite its lack of height, the long length of wire allowed a reasonable radio signal to be sent and received. These aerials were usually 25 feet in length and were issued wound onto a wooden spool that was carried in the radio haversack alongside more conventional sectional pole aerials:
The wire is covered in black plastic coating and the designation of this aerial is stencilled onto the spool, here it is a 25ft Aerial No3:
The opposite end of the spool has the stores code, here ZA26801:
I have been unable to get a positive ID on exactly which radio this aerial would have been used with, although I have been told it was for the WS38 MkIII set so it is currently with that radio in my collection until I hear otherwise.
Whilst modern aerials can be very short….
The reason why is that frequencies used are much higher, resulting in a much shorter wavelength.
WS38, WS19 etc work in the range of eg 2-7 MHz, so with wavelength of about 80 or a bit shorter.
That is why – and to this day, it is a physical reason- these wires were that long.
It’s a little suspicious that there appear to be three different 25-ft “ground” aerials, and likewise three 45-ft versions, for Wireless Sets 18, 38 and 78, all of which cover the same frequency range. There’s some detail in the back of Wireless for the Warrior Volume 2 (under Wire Aerials – Appendix 3-6) but the ZA stores codes look slightly off.
ZA.0227 is the 25-ft No.1 for WS8, 18 & 68
ZA.? is the 25-ft No.2 supposedly for the WS78
ZA.26800 is the Aerial, 4-ft, No.2 for the WS38 Mk.3 and WS62, etc.
ZA.26801 is your 25-ft No.2 which might be for the WS78 (The 4-ft No.1 is listed for WS78!)
ZA.11016 is the 45-ft No.1 for the WS21
ZA.26206 is the 45-ft No.2 for the WS38 Mk.I & Mk.II
ZA.26774 is the 45-ft No.3 for the WS38 Mk.3