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COMMANDER SOUTH ATLANTIC FORCE AT RECIFE - COMMANDER SOUTH ATLANTIC

29)COMMUNICATIONS


This story really begins with Task Force Twenty Three, with the Memphis as flagship and Lieutenant Commander Porter Lewis as Force Communications Officer aboard the Memphis. When Brazil declared war on Germany in August, 1942, the sip happened to be close to Recife. It at once moved into the harbor, and within a short time the Flag was transferred to the Patoka. Thereafter, for a time, all shore based communications were conducted from this ship, which had the only radio equipment then possessed by the Force. This had to be used, eked out by the aid of local Brazilian telegraph companies. The only radio circuit available was direct to Washington.


The Naval Mission in Rio also had a circuit set up between the Brazilian Capital and Washington, which was made available to the Admiral for relaying messages. General Walsh, the Army Ferry Commander, had some radio equipment in excess of his needs. In November 1942, he agreed to turn this over to the Navy. The equipment was at Ibura Field, to which a special cable was run for controlling it from the Patoka.


In November, ten Communications Officers reported from the United States for duty with the South Atlantic Force. From that time until January, 1943, the Patoka arrangement was used. This now provided direct communications with all ships of the Force at sea, whereas it previously had all had to go through Washington. Next came the question of communications with the Air Base at Natal. For reception there, a plane was kept on the ground every day to serve as a makeshift radio station. Later on a transmitter was installed in a tent. Direct communication now existed with Rio de Janeiro, Natal, Washington, and ships of the Force at sea.


Around the first of the year 1943, Headquarters moved from the Patoka to the new Recife Administration Building, and Communications also made the change soon after. About this time, as a result of the Admiral's visit to Washington in December, 1942, Commander, later Captain, P. R. Kinney, arrived in Recife as Force Communications Officer. Captain Kinney who remained until January, 1944, was a man of both vision and determination. He did much planning for the future and carried out a number of valuable enterprises. Seeing the great need for more facile communications in the South Atlantic, he realized the necessity of installing an extensive network of radio stations.


The next immediate steps were the installation of direct communications with Ipitanga and Belem, as the result of Fleet Air Wing Sixteen's expansion. Lieutenant J. McKinney, became Radio Material Officer. He made a trip to Washington, and while there succeeded in getting enough equipment for the installation of 13 air stations in Brazil. From March to August, 1943, Lieutenant McKinney put in radio equipment at all the Naval Air Bases. The Admiral needed an Administrative Radio Station. The result was Station MKM, set up at Jiquiá, with Lieutenant G. P. McGinnis as Officer-in-Charge. By the second half of 1943, then, the stations and the network had been established throughout Brazil. In the meantime, also, better local communications had come to exist. A good example of progress was the great improvement of the telephone service in the Administration Building, and among the various activities in and around Recife, including lines extended to the ships docked in the harbor.


Toward the end of the year Operations determined to run a continuous sweep of planes from Natal to Ascension. That meant the installation of a separate radio station at Natal with separate circuits set up to contact Ascension. The planes flew over at all daylight hours. There were enough of them, at sufficiently narrow intervals, to see any ship afloat, and when necessary they informed the ships of the Force. The Destroyer or Cruiser, as the case might be, could then arrive in time to intercept the intruder.


In January, 1944, Captain Kinney went to Washington and while there was transferred to other duty. Lieutenant Commander J. A. Loyall, who had been Assistant Communications Officer since the previous September, succeeded him. Lieutenant J. M. Joyner became the new Assistant. Toward the end of 1943, NATS decided to expand in South America, which meant that it had to be provided with a separate communications system. New equipment was ordered and the program got under way. Lieutenant McGinnins went to Washington to work on the matter; to get the necessary information and equipment to help out NATS. This however, came almost under the head of post war planning.


By mid-1944, the Admiral's Administrative Radio Station, MKM, had a circuit to Ascension and Freetown; a high speed one to Washington; another linking Trinidad, Belem, Recife, and Rio; communications with each Naval Air Facility in South America and with every ship in the South Atlantic working out of Recife; as well as with all aircraft in the South Atlantic. Furthermore, through Brazilian coastal radio stations, it had a circuit linking every merchant ship in the South Atlantic. For Communications administrative purposes the theater had to be split into three sections; a northern, managed from Belem, a central, from Recife, and a southern, from Rio.


Hyper War. Commander South Atlantic Force. U.S Naval Administration in WW II.


 

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