Local Ham-sters to help mark anniversary

By Geoff Lee

February 21, 2017 12:00 AM

HAMMIN' IT UP Vermilion Ham operator Linden Lundback at call sign VE6LRL helped tell more than 2,000 Ham stations around the world that Canada is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 2017. SUPPLIED LLS PHOTO

100 years later, Vimy Ridge to be remembered

The Battle of Vimy Ridge lives on in the Prairies.
Amateur radio operators from the SaskAlta Radio Club will help to mark the 100th anniversary of one of Canada’s most famous military victories.
On April 9, 1917, four Canadian divisions fighting as a unified force captured the key ridge from the Germans who rebuffed previous attempts by British and French armies.
The SaskAlta club will dial into one of two commemorative Ham radio stations to be set up near the Vimy monument from April 1-9 with the contact call sign, TM100VIMY.
“People like me really want to talk to the Vimy station when it’s set up,” said club president, Don Henry, an instructor at Lakeland College in Vermilion.
Henry was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces reserves with a personal connection to Vimy: his great uncle, Thomas Alban Snelgrove, from Islay,  who joined the 151st Battalion in Vermilion,  was one of 3,598 Canadians killed in the battle.
The commemorative event is being organized by the B.C. based, Vimy Commemorative Station Society that has rallied all of Canada’s 13 Ham call sign areas to tell the Vimy Story.
Last week, it was B.C.‘s turn in the lead-up to the trans Atlantic transmission in April to celebrate a victory seen by some Canadian historians as a nation building moment.
The local Ham club jumped at the chance to represent Saskatchewan and retold the story to nearly 2,000 Ham stations around the world for six days starting on Jan. 22.
“I talked to people from Egypt, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina,” said Henry using the special Saskatchewan call sign VE100VIMT/VE5.”
“Most of our contacts were Americans and Canadians.”
By the time it was Saskatchewan’s turn, news of the event was not as fresh as when the Ham event kicked off in Prince Edward Island in early January.
For those folks who had heard a bit about it already, club member Bill Till said, “All we did was greet each other and exchange names and signal reports like ‘you’re loud and clear’ and it would be over quickly.
“Other people would say ‘just what the heck is all this, what’s this special event all about?’ and we’d tell them as briefly as we could that is was the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge.”
The Vimy Commemorative Station Society thought the iconic battle was a great way to also celebrate Canada’s 150 anniversary in 2017.
The Canadian corps captured the main part
of the Ridge on the first day of combat and completely occupied the entire ground in four days using new tactics derived from the Battle of the Somme.
Members of the SaskAlta club told the story from their own home stations, but got together on a weekend to tap into the club’s VE5RI super station owned by a farming couple southeast of Lloydminster.
“We were able to activate our contest station with huge antennas and huge amplifiers and really kick out some big signals,” said Henry.
“They have more aluminum in the sky than Alcoa does.”
The super station may come in handy to reach the Vimy call sign in April with radiation from sunspots in the forecast that breaks up transmission signals.
“You couldn’t have worse sunspot cycles than we have now,” said Henry.
“We haven’t had good conditions for weeks.”
The clubs’ broadcasts to the world on the Saskatchewan call sign were done in Morse Code, voice and digitally from members’ homes.
“So everybody got a change to work the frequencies they wanted and the schedules they wanted,” said Henry.
Aside from Henry and Till, the participants were Dean Sproull, Len Pryor, Joe Musgrave,  Eric Austin, Jim Kuzyk, Chris Bull, Dwayne Friedrick, Carmen Friedrick, Stan Sewell, Len Hyatt, Linden Lundback and Bill Hicks.

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