Frobisher Bay - Radio CZF

Frobisher Bay radio, call sign CZF, was a seasonal station  which operated from Frobisher Bay and provided  communications with American military ships in the north in support of Operation Sea Lift. It was not part of NRS Frobisher Bay CFI (SUPRAD) although CZF's operators used some of CFI's quarters for the duration of their stay. The operators who manned this temporary station were drafted from Albro Lake Naval Radio Station (CFH) , Halifax .

George Fraser confirms operation in 1961 and 1962 since he was stationed there. He remembers that "The Sparkers came up each summer from May to October in order to provide communications for the Northern Sea Lift. We did not work any Canadian icebreakers. For the two seasons I was there, they operated in the back room which had been designed and provided for the operators  Operators were billeted in the old SUPRAD quarters and messed with the rest of us at the U.S. Airbase Mess Hall. I believe 1961 was their first year and I have no idea if they (the Sparkers) were there after 1962  but I'm sure they were. I never knew of any females that worked comms for the Sea Lift in the early sixties. There were only five to seven  females as I recall in all of Frobisher when I was there, and they were are all taken

A lot of those ships in the Sea Lift were US flagged and serviced all of the Eastern Arctic, even Thule if I recall.  Those that came into Frobisher Bay had to be of a special flat bottomed type so that they could sit on the ocean floor when the tide went out. Local Frobisher vehicles, belonging to the beer and liquour store, Hudson Bay, DOT and the American Administration base would drive out to the docks and fill up with their orders. Many of these vessels called at Quebec City and Montreal to take on cargo and sail up to Frobisher Bay. Some of them were manned by Canadian crews. A large number of Quebec stevedores came with them and worked ashore during the Sea Lift.  Our Mountie friends had lots of trouble with a lot of the young French lads who seem to favour some of the underage Eskimo girls. At least our radio operators knew that to go near a native in those days, regardless of age, you were drafted out quickly and charged with "Fraternizing" with a native."

U.S. Coast Guard ships also worked  station CZF besides Canadian ships in the area on radiotelegraph along with a radioteletype circuit to Halifax CFH using Racal receivers and Model 28 teletype machines. CZF radiomen used the same mess as the Radioman Special ratings operating station CFI but their place of operation was in a separate area. USCGS WESTWIND with call sign NLKL was one American ship they worked a lot.

Information is limited at this time, however this station operated with nine members in 1961 and the following staff in 1962:

C2RM4 Jack Fehr (deceased)
LSRM2 Lorne Girvan
LSRM2 Ron (Knobby) Clark
ABRM1 Jim Guilford
ABRM1 Rod Bird
ABRM1 Doug Alexander

It was reported that Doug Alexander had brought his bag pipes with him to Frobisher Bay and had his 15 minutes of fame when he was apprehended in a restricted area of SAC,  inebriated and playing his bagpipes!

CZF personnel ate in the SAC cafeteria  and did our duty free drinking in the SAC Junior Rates Mess.

George Fraser provides this Salty Dip about supply operations in Frobisher Bay. "We had a Canada Customs agent in Frobisher who was from Scarborough Ontario and knew very little about tides. One of his jobs was to go out to the supply ships and clear them through customs. He had a jeep and drove out while the tide was out Parked next to the ship,  he went about his work and enjoyed the company of the Captain and had lunch with him. When it came time for him to leave, the tide had come in and he went to the ladder to his jeep it of course, was no where to be seen. The tide came in and buried his jeep. He used to come to our mess for the movies and we drove him crazy after that incident by teasing him. His name was Peter McGown, a great fellow".

The November 1961 issue of Crowsnest magazine carried this short piece on the the MSTS operation.

RADIO STATION WINS PRAISE

"The officers and men of Albro Lake Naval Radio Station at Dartmouth N.S. have received the plaudits of the Military Sea Transportation Service of the USN for their assistance in maintaining radio communications with MSTS ships during this year's Arctic re-supply season. Messages of thanks were sent to Albro Lake by Rear-Admiral Harry Hull, USN, who was in charge of the operation, and Vice-Admiral Roy A. Gano, USN, head of MSTS. Admiral Gano said the dependable communications provided by Albro Lake personnel had materially contributed to the success of the 1961 MSTS Arctic operations".


If anyone can provide any additional details for this story, please contact: jerry.proc@sympatico.ca



Contributors and References:

1)  George Fraser  <caperfca (at) sympatico.ca >
2)  Spud Roscoe VE1BC,  <spudroscoe(at)eastlink.ca>
3) Jim Guilford VE1JG  <jimguilford (at) gmail.com>
4) Ray White <legerwhite(at)gmail.com>

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