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During WW2 the Director General of Posts and Telegraphs made available Observation Centres across Australia for the monitoring of various frequency bands. These Observation Centre were fully manned by the Post Office with qualified Radio Operators who carried out radio surveillance work. These qualified radio operators formed what was known as the 1 Australian Discrimination Unit.

The men in the Unit were basically telegraphists who had an interest in radio and were professional Morse men employed by the PMG. Some of them may have had a marine background or came from OTC. They intercepted illicit transmissions and were responsible for preventing merchant shipping from being attacked by the Japanese off the coast of Australia.

Observations Centres for the Radio Security Organisation were located in the following locations:-

Stuart Brown's father was a member of 1 Australian Discrimination Unit at the Sydney Observation Centre in a suburban house in Telegraph Road, Pymble, Sydney, where he tracked a Japanese subversive who was using a Seventh Day Adventists radio station in Newcastle to transmit his messages. 

On 30 August 1945, Mr. W. B. Simpson, the Director General of Security wrote a letter to The Secretary, The Department of Defence in Canberra to enquire about the ongoing role of Radio Security. Mr. Wilson expressed the opinion that the need for the Radio Security Organisation no longer existed in its present form and that perhaps it should be disbanded. At that time the 1 Australian Discrimination Unit was attached in Canberra with a War Establishment comprising 1 Officer, 1 Warrant Officer and 8 Ordinary Ranks. Mr. Wilson proposed that the unit be returned to the appropriate Headquarters (Signal Officer-in-Chief Branch) for disposal.

Mr. Wilson went on to say "If it should be decided that the Radio Security Organization is to discontinue, then it will be no longer necessary to retain these Observation Centres." 

Whilst making this recommendation he also said "I should point out that Majors Ogilvy and Hill (of the Radio Security Organisation) on their return from the United Kingdom (in Nov 1944) reported that the U.K. Authorities propose continuing Radio Security in the post war years and suggested that Australia might retain some form of Radio Security Organization. The Defence Committee might desire to consider this aspect, but I very much doubt whether the cost of such an organization would be accepted by the Government in time of peace. I would appreciate your further advice".

The Join Planning Committee (JPC 73) considered the above recommendations. This Joint Planning Committee meeting comprised:-

Captain H.J. Buchanan, D.S.O., Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff
Brigadier A.W. Wardell, M.C., Representing Brigadier General Staff
Air Commodore F.M. Bladin, C.B.E., Deputy Chief of the Air Staff

The Committee agreed that the Radio Security Organisation should be disbanded forthwith. The Joint Planning Committee considered that Radio Security was clearly an integral and vital part of Intelligence work, and in fact, that it fell into place as one of the group of tasks which formed what was known as Signal Intelligence. 

It was the opinion of the Joint Planning Committee that planning for Radio Security should commence at an early date to ensure that it could be quickly organised in Australia whenever circumstances required, but it considered that such planning must be part of planning for a Signal Intelligence Organisation.

The findings of the Joint Planning Committee were then considered by the Defence Committee. In a letter from H. D. Preston, Joint Secretary Defence Committee dated 30 October 1945, they endorsed the recommendation of the Joint Planning Committee that the present Radio Security Organisation should be closed down immediately. They recommended however that the question of Radio Security should receive consideration in connection with the future organisation of Joint Intelligence services which the Defence Committee understood was then under review. 



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This page first produced 5 February 2005

This page last updated 16 January 2020