Thursday, March 4, 2021

Paraset instruction manual discovery

  Last month a e-mail arrived from someone that a interest in the paraset instruction manual I have from PA0DR Dirk. According to him it is the only known paraset manual. Probabely included in a package with a paraset for the resistance. Normally parasets were dropped with skilled radio operators that didn't need a manual. Inside the manual, that was typed by Dirk on his own writing paper, there was something that looks like the original manual typed on very thin folded rice paper. The ink was already fading on that paper en parts are unreadable. That's why Dirk probabely made his own copy. Since this manual seems to be so rare I had the study it closer, was it a original WW2 document? Who typed this on rice paper, and why did this person use the name paracette instead of paraset? Was it a paraset that came through the french resistance, as most of the paraset were dropped in France. No, that couldn't be as all radios in this area were smuggled via the Swedish route. I wrote Gerard PA3BCB, who gave me all the memorabilia. He told me that in at time of the war english was not yet such a common language as today. The use of french words was more common at that time and so it could be that paraset degenerated to paracette. Why the rice paper? Well it is light, easy to burn, eat or at least easily to get rid of since it was a very interesting document for the enemy. Why on earth did Dirk keep it anyway? Probabely because he realized this was interesting for his hamradio hobby after the war? I can't imagine he kept it for historical reasons.....

However, I discovered something else....


Something was written on the paper. 2 times a number 5.2441,"TLK de JCB" and "Toen onze mop een mopje was". Was Dirk testing a pencil? Why did he write this on this manual? I let my wife read this to confirm what was written there. It then occurs to me that it could be some kind of code for the resistance to hide something. "Toen onze mop een mopje was" is the first sentence of a child poem which was made in 1865, very well known in the Netherlands. I began searching for the sentence on the internet and quickly it was revealed it is indeed a kind of code used particular by the dutch resistance to communicate with the english. If you like to know how it was used, you can find a description here:

https://www.cryptomuseum.com/crypto/od/poem/index.htm

Through that article I was again pointed to the report from Ton van Schendel who was the chief marconist from the dutch resistance OD (Orde Dienst). I did read the article in the past but sometimes you don't remember details that later seem to be important.

" "JOOP" (Rustema) onderhield in zijn kwaliteit van "VBO" het contact met "PRINS" en bracht aan den laatsten alle te coderen en te decoderen telegrammen. De hoeveelheid werd soms "PRINS" te machtig en daarom verzocht hij af en toe "JOOP" hem te willen assisteren. Het gevolg hiervan was, dat we al spoedig in het bezit waren van het versje, dat bij de omzetting moest worden gebezigd: "Toen onze mop een mopje was enz enz". Er ontbrak nu alleen nog het geheime getal en ik verzocht "JOOP" hier zoo mogelijk achter te komen. Na dagen zijn kans te hebben afgewacht, gelukte het tenslotte "JOOP" dit getal te bemachtigen. "

Translated: 

"JOOP" (Dirk Rustema) maintained contact with "PRINS" (Harm Koning) in his quality of "VBO" (Liaison officer) and brought all the telegrams to be coded and decoded to the latter. The quantity was sometimes too powerful for "PRINS" and so he occasionally requested "JOOP" to assist him. As a result, we soon obtained the poem that was to be used in the conversion: "Toen onze mop een mopje was, etc., etc.". Now only the secret number was missing and I asked "JOOP" to find out if possible. After days of waiting for his chance, "JOOP" finally managed to get this number.

According to the cryptomuseum website this secret number would consist of 5 numbers. 52441 could be that number?? It is written on the paper with pencil and not with ink, like it was written before or after he wrote "Toen onze mop een mopje was". What left is the "TLK de JCB" sign. They didn't use this to contact england since that call would be "HLD de OZX". Gerard initially thinks "TLK" stands for "Telegrafie Leraar Koning" (telegraphy teacher Koning), but "JCB"?? If anyone has a idea about this please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Now I was asking myself why did Dirk need a instruction for the paraset since the transmitters they used were probabely no parasets. But Ton van Schendel wrote in his own story that they definitely had a paraset in use that traveled through the country to transmit from about 20 different locations.

"Het gevolg hiervan was, dat wij nu altijd de zend-ontvanger van Engeland (Paraset) door het land moesten meesjouwen, met de gevaren daaraan verbonden. Aangezien evenwel een vrouw in dat opzicht minder kwetsbaar bleek dan een man, hebben wij meerdere malen in die kritieke maandenvan de bereidwilligheid van eenige echtegenooten gebruik moeten maken."

Translated:

As a result, we now always had to carry England's transceiver (Paraset) through the country, with all the dangers involved. However, since a woman proved less vulnerable than a man in that regard, we have had to take advantage of the willingness of some partners several times during those critical months.

I'm certain that Dirk did use a paraset at home at some time...did he get the instruction from this paraset because Ton didn't need it anymore? Or did he....well....take it without permission because it is a interesting document?

Of course with a low power transceiver you need a good antenna. Actually I'm surprised they didn't use magnetic loops. Although it could be that nobody knew they could work so well and they are very portable. It could be the knowledge wasn't there or there was simply nothing around to build one. It is interesting to read how they solved the antenna challenges:

In die dagen was het antenne vraagstuk een groot probleem, overal moesten immers de antennes worden afgebroken en zonder antenne kan je nu eenmaal niet met Engeland werken. Het ging niet overal zoo eenvoudig als bij Rustema in Middelstum, die bij onzen komst eenvoudig een bamboestok met een willekeurig eind draad er aan in zijn tuin pootte waarop het prima ging. Het centrum en het Westland vroegen daarentegen om een heel goede antenne. Bij boerderijen was dat niet zoo moeilijk, de bliksemafleider werd eenvoudig onderbroken en we hadden een goede antenne en aarde ter onzer beschikking. In Joure, waar de boerderij een dergelijke installatie niet bezat, werd keurig en onzichtbaar een draad langs de gevel van het huis gelegd; in een hoog gebouw, zooals dat van de CJMV in Den Haag voldeed ook heel goed een antenne van een halve golflengte, gespannen tussen de balken op den zolder. Minder gemakkelijk ging het bij woonhuizen in het centrum en midden in het land. Het was dikwijls tobben, doch we hebben er ons kunnen doorslaan.

Translated:

In those days the antenna issue was a big problem, after all the antennas had to be dismantled everywhere and without an antenna you simply cannot work with England. It was not as easy everywhere as with Rustema in Middelstum, who upon our arrival simply planted a bamboo stick with a random length wire in his garden where it worked fine. The center and Westland of the country, on the other hand, demanded a very good antenna. At farms this was not so difficult, the lightning rod was simply interrupted and we had a good antenna and earth at our disposal. In Joure, where the farm did not have such an installation, a wire was neatly and invisibly laid along the facade of the house; in a high-rise building, such as that of the CJMV in The Hague, an antenna of half a wavelength, stretched between the beams in the attic, also worked very well. It was less easy for houses in the center and the middle of the country. It was often worrying, but we managed to get through it.

Then another passage made clear that there were possible other parasets around. It could be that the paracette instruction was among one of these:

Eenige tijd later deelde Engeland aan den Chef O.D. en aan "ZWAANTJE" mede dat er twee volledige apparaten onderweg waren "ETON III" en "ETON IV" en dat deze uitsluitend voor den O.D. bestemd waren. Deze apparaten hebben wij uit Delfzijl ontvangen. Waar elk toestel onder meer beschikte over vier kristallen, konden we nu bij onze uitzendingen steeds van een andere frequentie gebruik maken.

Translated: 

Some time later England communicated to the Chief O.D. and to "ZWAANTJE" that two complete devices were underway "ETON III" and "ETON IV" and that these were exclusively for the O.D. were intended. We received these devices from Delfzijl. Where each device had, among other things, four crystals, we could now always use a different frequency for our broadcasts.

I've seen some pictures from complete parasets, all with 4 crystals. So my guess is that those "ETON" devices were actually parasets. I'm not shure though, just a wild guess...till now I cannot find anything about these transceivers on the internet.

Ton made a special notice about something that happened during transmissions from Dirk his house:

Zoo herinner ik mij ook een uitzending bij Rustema in Middelstum. Het ging, zooals steeds bij "JOOP" prachtig, doch midden in het laatste vrij groote bericht stegen plotseling groote rookwolken uit de het plaatspanning apparaat op. De transformator stond op het punt te verbranden. Het gelukte ons evenwel, door steeds na enkele geseinde groepen, de zender even uit te schakelen, de uitzending tot een goed einde te brengen, al konden wij het plaatspanning apparaat wel voor goed afschrijven. De operator aan de overzijde zal wel niet begrepen hebben, wat er bij ons aan de hand was.

Translated:

I also remember a broadcast at Rustema in Middelstum. It went beautifully, as always with "JOOP", but in the middle of the last fairly large message suddenly large clouds of smoke rose from the power supply device. The transformer was about to burn. However, by always switching off the transmitter after a few groups, we succeeded in completing the broadcast, although we were able to write off the power supply device for good. The operator on the other side may not have understood what was going on with us.

So, what do you think. Do I have a original WW2 document that belongs in a museum? Or is it made after the war? I believe there is no other paraset instruction known, this is one of a kind, very special. Did the british secret intelligence had someone that wrote this instruction or did someone else? Since english was not a common language at that time it is probabely certain that it is written by an english person...


Any comments are welcome!


Reading material (not always in english, but can be translated with google):

https://www.weggum.com/Verslag_A.S.M._van_Schendel.html

https://pe4bas.blogspot.com/2019/03/pa0dr-adventures-1953-1991-untold.html

4 comments:

  1. Quite an interesting bit of history you have there Bas!

    As is often the case so many years after WW2, finds like these often raise more questions...and those who can answer them definitively are (mostly) now gone. You should speak to the curator of a museum.

    You might also contact the man behind this site:
    https://www.cryptomuseum.com/contact/index.htm

    I forget his name & callsign but he is a Dutch ham. Maybe he could point you in the right direction to gain more info.

    Keep us posted with what you find out!

    73,
    John AE5X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see now that the poem code you mention goes to the same website.
      And "Chief Marconist" - I like that title!

      Delete
  2. Good idea John, may be he could reveal the "TLK de JCB" mystery. When I searched for the particular sentence of the poem that was written on the sheet the first found site was the crypto museum site. Actually I did read the story from Ton van Schendel before but since I was concentrated on the history from PA0DR I probabely did read over it. 73, Bas

    ReplyDelete
  3. I know about that site because I was looking for Enigma-related info and saw that he has a kit for sale that looks interesting. When he sent me the price I quickly decided against it! Lots of good info though, and links to other Enigma-relaed info.

    ReplyDelete

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