Did you know that kriegie radios were kept away even from most POWs?

Listening to a jury-rigged radio in Episode 8 of Masters of the Air
(Image: Apple Studios)

Several scenes in Masters of the Air, the new series about the 100th Bomb Group, features radios secretly used by American "kriegies" (prisoners of war, from the German expression Kriegsgefangener) to listen to the BBC and other stations. In the last scene of Episode 8, we see Major Gale Cleven listen to a broadcast while the rest of the barrack inhabitants sit nearby or lie on their bunks, listening to the news. This, however, seems to be an embellishment for the sake of dramatization, as listening to the radio would have been much more secretive.

Usually, very few POWs were allowed by the X Committee, the group of officers responsible for escape plans and attempts, to listen to the radio directly. The listener would lie in his bunk with a sheet pulled over his head while using the radio. The news was then written down and actually censored by the X Committee before distribution to the general kriegie population, as it was shared on a need-to-know basis. The written, censored version was taken to each block, read out loud, and finally swallowed by the reader to prevent discovery by the Germans.

A real-life foxhole radio, similar to the one seen in Episode 8
(Photo: Popular Science Publishing Co.)

On an only partially related note, the radio used in Episode 8 seems to be "foxhole radio," a primitive unpowered crystal radio receiver. These radios were not originally invented by POWs. As far as can be determined, they first came into use during the Battle of Anzio. (Read our earlier article) American soldiers wanted to listen to the news, but the position of traditional powered radios could be detected by the Germans, necessitating the invention of an unpowered, jury-rigged one.

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The Medals of Honor of different branches of the U.S. armed forces
(Photo: public domain)

On the occasion of the upcoming National Medal of Honor Day, we are offering all our available tours with a discount of $600 if you book and pay in full by March 25, 2024. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it cannot be combined with other special promotions. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, please contact our travel consultants at info@beachesofnormandy.com or by calling our toll-free number: +1 855-473-1999.

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