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Appendix E - Operation "SILLITOE"
The "Maple Leaf Mailbag" programme on Radio Canada International
hosted by Marc Montgomery
(30 July 2001, 01:07 to 01:13 GMT.  Frequency 13.670 MHz)

Montgomery: ...Now stay tuned because coming up next we speak to Dave Lawrence of Kingston Ontario. He's a founding member of the Wireless Set Number 19 historic military radio group and he'll tell us about an interesting radio anniversary...Dave, it's good to have you with us once again. Welcome to the programme. Lawrence: Hi Marc. Montgomery: This is an important month for people who are interested in military radio. Perhaps you could tell me why that is. Lawrence: Well, it's 60 years ago that a Mr Sydney Sillitoe returned from England and with him he had the plans for the Wireless Set No. 19 that was the general purpose radio used by the Canadian Army during the war. Montgomery: In fact, it was used by most of the Commonwealth armies wasn't it? Lawrence: That's right. It was the general purpose radio used by everybody. Montgomery: And wasn't it even used in some American applications as well? Lawrence: The Sherman tanks that they made for the Lend Lease Program, the ones that were shipped to Russia, most of those had 19 Sets in them and that's why you'll often see both cyrillic and English writing on a 19 Set. Montgomery: So these were darn common radios and darn important radios, I guess, during the second world war! Lawrence: Oh absolutely! There were well over 100,000 of them made just in Canada. Montgomery: So 60 years ago Mr Sillitoe went over to England because the radio was, in fact, designed in England. Correct? Lawrence: That's correct; made by the Pye Radio factory in Cambridge. So, Mr Sillitoe at the time was working for Northern Electric, went over and spent about two months learning how they made them and came back in July of 1941 and by Christmas they were making 19 Sets in Canada. So, the turn-around time from bringing a handfull of drawings to actually having production coming off of the line was just marvellous. Montgomery: I'm just guessing that Mr Sillitoe's trip over was probably kept fairly secret. Lawrence: That's right. Even some of the details were kept from him. He ended up flying, I think it took about 12 hours in a Liberator to get across to England, the plane crash landed in Preswick. So, the trip over was pretty exciting and on the way back the had to come through Lisbon with all his drawings and it took about 30 hours total time to get from England back to Canada. Montgomery: Now what is your particular connection with this event? Lawrence: Well, actually Mr. Sillitoe was involved in another radio design, one for the Air Force, the general purpose radio that the Air Force had, the AT1/AR2. Mr Sillitoe worked on the design team of that. For that project they were working 18 hours a day for months on end, sometimes sleeping in the lab. As it turns out, I have both an AT1/AR2, the Air Force general purpose set, and a Wireless Set No. 19, the two radios that Mr Sillitoe worked on during the war. Montgomery: How did you commemorate this July event of Mr Sillitoe's return to Canada with the 19 Set design? Lawrence: Well, what we did was put together a little commemorative message that I sent from Kingston, using the AT1/AR2, to Chris Bisaillion, VE3CBK, in Ottawa and he received that on a Wireless Set No. 19. So, for that 60th anniversary of Mr Sillitoe's trip to England we took the two radios that he worked on and put them back on the air. Montgomery: What distance are we talking about between Kingston and Ottawa? Lawrence: Oh just a little over 100 Km but that's well beyond the design range that the sets would normally be expected to operate. Montgomery: And what was the message you sent? Lawrence: Well, it's fairly short. It says, "This month marks the 60th anniversary of your return to Canada with the plans for the Wireless Set Number 19. Your work on that set, plus your previous work on the RCAF AT1/AR2, resulted in significant milestones in Canadian military communications history. Rest assured that your contribution to the war effort is not forgotten. This message is being sent from Kingston using an AT1/AR2 and received in Ottawa on a Wireless Set Number 19." Montgomery: You've actually given this message to Mr Sillitoe, who's still alive? Lawrence: That's right. He's a young man of 93, living in Surrey BC at the moment, not in the best of health but he received the message (actually by mail, I sent it to Ottawa and from there it was mailed to Mr Sillitoe). In fact, he has already replied to us. Montgomery: What did he say? Lawrence: Well, it's a very nice letter. He says, "You all do me a great honour commemorating my contribution to the war effort with the design and production of the AT1/AR2 for the RCAF for ferrying Lancasters and Mosquitos across the Atlantic, and the 60th anniversary of my return to Canada with the plans for the Wireless Set Number 19 and subsequent adaptation for production on this continent. Your continuing recognition of my efforts is greatly appreciated, and indeed, a great compliment and surprise to me after 60 years. To me it is now all far away and long ago. Signed Sydney Sillitoe. Montgomery: All right! Well listen, that's a very interesting little project that you embarked upon. If people want to find out more about your group, the 19 Set Group, there is a website where they can get information on that. Perhaps you can tell us what that is. Lawrence: Sure. The website is "". That takes you to the website and I know on the website there are pictures of 19 Sets and the AT1/AR2. We will have the messages that were sent and received, posted on the website in the next couple of days. Montgomery: Well Dave; dot-dot-dot-dash. Lawrence: Well di-di-di-dah-di-dah to you Marc. Take care and good talking to you. Hope your listeners are interested in our project. Montgomery: Good-bye Dave. Lawrence: Bye now. Montgomery: Dave Lawrence is a founding member of the 19 Set Group and you're listening to the "Maple Leaf Mailbag" on Radio Canada International.

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