Thursday, July 11, 2019

PA0DR - adventures 1953-1991 - the untold stories

Dirk's shack 1986
I wrote about PA0DR before. You can read the stories here:

PA0DR - adventures 1937-1953 - War
PA0DR - follow up surprises

Well, in the first part you probabely got to know Dirk PA0DR a little. My idea to write about this extraordinairy radioamateur  was born when I saw his QSL card somewhere on facebook I believe. Just a half year ago discussing PA0DR at the local club meeting I discovered Dirk was a member of our local club as well and some of the older members did know him. It was even known that there has been a interview published in the VERON Electron magazine from 1986, this interview was done by the chairman and founder of our VERON Hunsingo division PA2DTA Dick and Geert PA2GKS. Some stories were told but there were so many I couldn't remember them all. So the writing and asking begun and slowly a story was formed for my blog. However I will try to only tell stories related to his profession and amateurradio, we don't have to know about his personal life and it I guess it would not be allowed by privacy laws.

PA2DTA Dick remembered Dirk well. Before the Hunsingo division separation from V2G division in Groningen he attended V2G but refused to pay a one guilder fee for membership. Dirk always had a firm opinion about VERON bussiness.  He supported the idea to separate from V2G and so he went to the Hunsingo division club evening after that happened. As always in costume with tie and with a hat on his head like probabely all men did before 1960. Dirk was also very old fashion about amateurradio, actually he was a "big shot" guy spending a lot of money for his big and very nice station. In his eyes someone was only a real radioamateur when he knew CW. Since he was a well known station in our country he sometimes interfered in QSOs since he had a very strong opinion about things. He was a very strict man not only in religion but also in other things and the hobby, when he had a opinion about something you could not persuade him the think different. That, of course, left him also with some trouble sometimes.

As written before Dirk was fire brigade commander from the Middelstum village. PA0SE Dick (SK) told that Dirk visited him once in Leiderdorp with the fire brigade truck since it should "run" in. Dick and Dirk probabely knew each other well since Dirk contacted Dick a lot with technical questions since he was the technical guy from the VERON and from all people he should know!

Dirk's house, according to the interview, was formally built as transmitting station. Actually it was like that since Dirk could not get a building permit for a "normal" house at that location. I met the guy who is living in the house now and he confirms he still has a construction drawing from the "transmitting station". And so it had a radioroom with a real fine built station as you can see on the photo at the top of this post. He didn't want to have a small box on a table or a windowsill. He wanted to have a real station that was recognizable and impressive. Even when other HAMs with XYL visiting him most time the women liked his station asking their husband if they could build it like that so it could be in the living room. To the sideline I have to write that Dirk was generally known for liking woman ;-)

Source: F.Tuitman, Fraamklap

Discussing Dirk with an customer from Middelstum village this guy (age 92) remembered Dirk and his son Roelf well. He remembered Dirk was his electrician when he was a farmer. In the cold winter of 1963 the mains transformer near his farm was not working since snow was blown into the housing. Since he got potatoes in storage that should be protected from the cold he needed electricity for the forced air diesel heaters to warm the storage. He decided to go with a sledge together with his wife over the land to the village. There he asked Dirk for help and after they got a nice cup of coffee he returned with a small generator to provide emergency electricity.

Another story heard was that Dirk, when he wanted to be alone and find a quiet place, climbed into the crow's nest in his mast to sit there and read a book. This is confirmed by PA3BCB Gerard who met Dirk for the first time in 1968. This mast was at the house from the photo above but in the nearby village Middelstum. Gerard found a 1970 picture from those masts and I can publish them here. Look at the height of the crowsnest! We found some seventies photos from his masts on the internet and luckely I got permission to use them on this blog. Writing about permission....Dirk told Gerard some time that he smuggled 2 AR-88 receivers from Germany under a pile of tennis gear to avoid problems with the customs...

Photos published with permission. Original photos from the Loppersum township collection

It seems the delta directional antenna was removed a few years later as you can see on these photos from the mid seventies. Look at the size of the mast on the right (first photo) it might been 40m long... Second photo is made from the church tower. If you look closely you can see the wire dipole that went from the tower to the mast. (Click on the photo to view a more detailed one).

Roelf and Jan climbing a mast in 1986
So, things connect to me and my current job when I heard the local bicycle shop owner did work for both Dirk and later Roelf. This guy, Jan, was a mechanic at my job before he bought his shop. Actually my colleague and me are his successors. Anyway, discussed Dirk with Jan and found out he had a lot of stories to tell. Many too personal to write about. But though a few anecdotes were interesting. For instance there were days that Dirk closed his shop/business with the statement on the door he was writing bills. Probabely at the same time listening to his radio ;-). From PA3BNT Marten I heard that Dirk did dug many tubes from his basement to all corners of his garden just to have a possebility to get coax to any new antenna towers and experiments, I asked Jan to confirm that and he agreed that even now the tubes are probabely still there. Jan remembers when at work he was sometimes send to Dirk by Roelf to just mow the grass or help mounting antennas in the huge masts near the house.

I asked PA3ATC Piet, who use to live in Middelstum, if he knew stories about PA0DR. Oh yes, he immidiatly came up with stories. When he was a young guy he always listened to "Papa Alfa Zero Denmark Radio" like Dirk always called himself. According to Piet is was very common that Dirk did make a modulation test with his own radio program playing dutch and/or religious music on the air. Modulation, of course, was always 100%.  Piet also remembers that after he obtained his novice license Dirk was visiting him to tell that a novice license wasn't the real thing, he should obtain a A (full) license as soon as possible.

Unfortunately something sad happened as well. One of Dirk his sons was a licensed radioamateur (PA0DRM, Anco) as well as a radio-officer on a merchant ship. He got cancer and died too young (23 yrs). You can imagine it was hard for Dirk and his family. And I can imagine the sadness you always have in your heart the rest of your life.

I wrote before that I got a lot of memorabilia from PA3BCB, a lot of paperwork. Like a complete manual for a construction crane, probabely with the idea to use it as a rotatable mast. PA1A did years later, building a rotatable mast on a crane base... Dirk might be thinking about the same thing. I don't know if he really acquired the crane though.

Also found was a complete manual for working a paraset. a well known clandistine transceiver for spies in WW2. He probabely worked with one in the war or probabely he had one after the war?
Something I would like to know....the photo on the left is just an example. It is also unknown to me if "Paracette", like Dirk typed in his manual, is the french translation for Paraset?

Well, above the story so far. Personally I find the history of certain HAMradio amateurs very interesting. I always like the stories they can tell how they get involved in this hobby and what their passion within this hobby is. In this case it was special since Dirk was a well known HAM in my area and he used the knowledge from his hobby to save people being in the restistance at the time of WW2. It was a nice surprise to meet people I already knew, but I didn't know they knew Dirk personally before I got involved in the HAMradio hobby.

There is only one thing left to do now. That's contacting his oldest son Roelf who is still living in Germany. He might be able to tell me more unknown stories from his father....
If I get more info and probabely photos I will write another follow up story.

My special thanks for all the information and chats about Dirk goes to PA3BCB Gerard, PA2DTA Dick, PA3ATC Piet, PA2RU Rene (scans interview) and Jan Lietmeijer,

(Permission for photographs: I contacted the chief editor of the "Electron" to get permission to publish the photos for both my blog as well as our local club magazine "Hunsotron". I got permission for the magazine and kindly asked (third time) if permission was also valid for my blog. Unfortunately I never got any answer. But since I am a VERON member I don't think I'm in trouble. If they find it is illigal please let me know.)


  1. Nice story Bas.
    Maybe you could approach PA0U if he has any DR cards in his collection of national historic QSL cards?
    Keep up the good work by preserving this very interesting piece of amateur radio history!
    Regards and 73,

  2. I liked this website I found very good full of news. This blog site will follow. Congratulations, friends, readers.
    Oliveira PU2OLT

  3. Het is weer een prachtig verhaal geworden. Wat een werk moet dat geweest zijn maae zondermeer interessant. Mijn complimenten Bas. 73 Hans, PE1BVQ

    1. Hallo Hans, hier ben ik zeker een half jaar of langer mee bezig geweest. Alle losse verhalen verzamelen, nadenken wat er in kan en wat niet. Foto's verzamelen en mensen (aan)spreken. Het is een leuk onderwerp. Ik heb de man niet gekend maar een hoop mensen hier in de buurt wel. Soms hoor je ook wel andere verhalen, in dit stukje alleen de dingen die met onze hobby te maken hebben. Maar Dirk maakte ook wel een beetje misbruik van zijn verleden als verzetsheld. Hij meende daardoor van alles te kunnen zeggen en een bepaalde mening er op na te houden die iedereen maar moest accepteren. Dat werd niet altijd op prijs gesteld. Maar dit sluit niet uit dat het een bijzonder man was. 73, Bas

  4. interessant jaren geleden is Dirk hier een keer op bezoek geweest.
    Het was een imposante man. Als hij op een afdeling vergadering kwam had meteen alle belangstelling wars van protocollen .
    We wandelen graag in de provincie in dorpen . Middelstum is wel een van de mooiste.
    Jammer dat alles voorbij moet gaan.

    1. Hallo Jaap, bedankt voor je reactie. Ik heb Dirk nooit gekend want ik had toen nog geen licentie. Er zijn een hoop mensen en radioamateurs die hem gekend hebben met leuke verhalen als gevolg. 73, Bas


Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas