Tom Appleby: Radio Ham was a founder of Norfolk group

Tom Appleby: Radio Ham was a founder of Norfolk group

A radio ham and retired GP, Dr Tom Appleby, who was a founder of the North Norfolk Amateur Radio Group more than 20 years ago, has died aged 89.

One of the longest-serving radio operators with a distinctive call sign, G3RZ, he was a 'secret listener' during the early part of the second world war.

As a medical student, he spent three evenings a week listening to the German services. The retired family doctor, then living at Bodham, near Holt, told the EDP in early 1991. 'It was very difficult to explain myself, people thought I was leading a double life,' added.

Although most of the Morse code messages were unintelligible and the work was often boring in the extreme, it helped the intelligence services in the days before the listening centre at GCHG Cheltenham was set up.


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One message, which was picked up and passed to codebreakers at Bletchley Park, warned of enemy action by U-Boats in the South Atlantic and led to the Queen Mary being diverted on a crossing from South America to Australia.

Dr Appleby, who was a general practitioner in Sheffield, retired to Norfolk, where he helped to form the group, which is now based at the Muckleburgh Collection military museum. Later, he had also been a medical assessor for the Benefits Agency, which was responsible for administering payments for claimants.

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The radio equipment of the type, used in the second world war, has been restored including a spy transmitter-receiver of the type given to SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents flown into enemy territory during the war. A fellow founder member and former chairman of the group, Len Nash, of Stiffkey, posted a final message to his old friend, 73s (cheers) and QRT (closing down) with his personal call sign, G0DSN and GB2SMC (for the Muckleburgh Collection).

Tom Appleby leaves two sons, John and David. A funeral has taken place on Cyprus, where he has lived for several years.

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