History of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka

In 1942 during the World War II, Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon was a military base for allied forces. With the fall of Singapore, Ceylon became more important and the head quarters for the South East Asia Command (SEAC) was operating form this country. Around 1943, with the termination of the war new and discarded radio equipment from various services were freely available in junk shops at Pettah and Panchikawatte. During this time , prospective radio hams and radio enthusiasts started collecting radio parts, as they were extremely cheap. World war II ended around May 1945. The British postal authorities in UK granted permission to UK Amateurs to operate and they were operational four months later. Initially activities were limited to 28-29 MHz and 50-60MHz and the other bands were released later.

In Ceylon radio transmitting licenses were issued in 1946. The Postmaster General at the time was Mr. J.P Appleby and the chief Telecommunications Engineer was Mr. David Lusk. The call sign prefix was VS7. Some of the hams who started operating soon after the licenses were issued were VS7RF Rogie Farquason, VS7PW Tony Wilson, VS7JB Dawsen Burgess, VS7GR Gabrial Rockwood , VS7GW Gorge Wilstshire and VS7ES Emil Savundranayagam. In 1947 VS7EP R.E.H. Perera, VS7BR B.D.Rampala, and many service personnel.

In 1947 there was a flood in Ceylon and upcountry areas were completely cut off from the capital Colombo. The Peradeniya road bridge was under water and Katugastota railway bridge was washed away. During this period the up country hams played a very important task in maintaining communication with Colombo. During this period (DIG) Gabrial Rockwood VS7GR was responsible for attempts to form a Radio Emergency Volunteer Service . VS7EP Erny perera and VS7PS Paul Sollom were working in at Radio Ceylon transmitting station. They had discussed about the formation of the Radio Society with the other hams on the 40m Sunday morning chats. At this stage VS7PS sent a notice for a ham get together. It was called a HAMFEST.

The Hamfest was a great success according to an extract from the 4S7 Journal, October 1963, Written by Jim White 4S7NX. As arranged at the Hamfest, Sunday morning ham news bulletins were started on 40m and hams and prospective hams were regular listeners. Paul Sollom VS7PS read the bulletins. When Paul was not available VS7EP Ernie acted for him. At the end of the bulletin hams joined in the discussions that followed. All hams were very keen and the relations between the hams were very cordial. Every encouragement was given by hams to those prospective hams. In the meantime much effort was made to obtain a place as a club house. There were about 45 hams active at this time. As a result of the hamfest, more enthusiasm was generated by the hams and the would be hams. Some members explored the possibility of obtaining a suitable location for a Radio Society head quarters. At this stage arrangements were made to hold the meetings at St. Thomas’ Preparatory school Steuart place, Kollupitiya. And during this time the first newsletter also was prepared by the Editor John Amaratunga VS7JA.

In 1952 after the independence all the VS7 calls were given the new prefix 4S7, In 1974 Radio Society of Ceylon became the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL).