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AFRS China - Burma - India

"I was so young. I had no idea what I was doing there. I didn't understand why the Marines were there. I was just looking to have a good time. I played on all the sports teams that I could try out for. And I ended up also working for the Armed Forces Radio Service in Tsingtao [XABU 1580 AM]. I guess our mission was to guard whatever interest the US had in that town. Exactly what that was, I had no idea."
Actor Gene Hackman in an excerpt from an interview published in 'Naval History' magazine. © US Naval Institute

Almost 50 American Forces Radio Service stations are known to have been on the air from 'The Forgotten Theater' of WWII operations ranging from China to India.

This is the most exhaustive list of these broadcasters since published. It includes AFRS stations in Beijing [Peking as it was then known], Shanghai, and many other parts of China and Burma, and Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka [at the time known as India and Ceylon].

Very little is known about most of these stations. If you or your relatives have ever been involved with any of them, or you have memorabilia, photos, images, memorabilia, recordings or any other items relating to them, please contact us and help us tell the stories of these long forgotten stations that graced the airwaves some 60 years ago.

There are probably still some stations and locations missing from this list. If you have any information about them, or more information about any of those listed, you can help us. We especially want to know the names of the personnel who served at them, and details of any visits made by USO entertainers and the broadcasts that resulted.

Era: The Dark Days 1940-1954

image of XMAG Nanking QSL Letter 1947

'Listener confirmation letter from XMAG Nanking, December 1947.
© Alex Allan Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation


Ref Location Call Sign Year on air Frequency
1 Chanyi XNAC 1945 1510 AM
2 Chengtu XJOY 1945 1450 AM
3 Chengtu XGOX
4 Chungking XGOA 1944
5 Chungking XGOY 1944
6 Chungking KJAM 1945 1500 AM
7 Chungking XUSF 1945 1365 AM
8 Kunming XNEW 1944 620 AM
9 Kunming XPRA 1944 690 AM
10 Kweilin XGOE 1944
11 Kweiyang XWRA 1945 1000 AM
12 Liangshan XEAN 1945 1580 AM
13 Luhsien XREC 1945 1600 AM
14 Luliang XJAX 1945 1270 AM
15 Nanking XMAG 1945 1540 AM
16 Nanking XMAG 1945 4275 SW
17 Nanking XMAG 1947 7340 SW
18 Pehtaiho KRAY 1945
19 Peishiya XWOB
20 Peking XONE 1945 1480 AM
21 Peking XRAY 1947 8890 SW
22 Shanghai XMHA
23 Tientsin XBOR 1946 1500 AM
24 Tsingtao KABV
25 Tsingtao XABU 1946 1580 AM
26 Tunnanyi XEAW 1945 1225 AM
27 Yangkai XROL 1945 1270 AM

India, Burma, Ceylon

"The war in the China-Burma-India theater [CBI] never got the publicity that the fighting in Europe and the Pacific got. Mostly today what is remembered is the airlift over 'The Hump' to supply the Chinese with essential war materials using rickety C-46s and C-47s.

image of Engineer Eskil Holt working at VU2ZY New Delhi

Engineer Eskil Holt working at VU2ZY New Delhi.
© Adrian Peterson Collection

People remember the Ledo Road, scraped through hundreds of miles of jungle and mountains from Ledo in Northern India, across Northern Burma to Myitkyina where supplies could be moved forward to Kunming in China.

Eventually, the 'network' in the CBI, which was never an actual network in that the stations all operated independently, served such unlikely locations as [see list]. Captain Lee Black was the theater radio officer, and it's doubtful he ever learned to spell all the places under his supervision."
Trent Christman in 'Brass Button Broadcasters'

Ref Location Region Call Sign Year on air Frequency
28 Agra [North West Province] VU2ZW 1944 1355 AM
29 Bangalore [Mysore] VU2ZP 1944 1305 AM
30 Bhamo [North East Burma] USAF/AFRS 1944 1390 AM
31 Calcutta [West Bengal] VU2ZU 1944 1395 AM
32 Calcutta [West Bengal] VU2ZZ 1945 14983 SW
33 Chabua [Assam] VU2ZV 1943 1305 AM
34 Gaya [West Central Bihar] VU2ZQ 1944 1355 AM
35 Jorhat [Assam] VU2ZR 1944 1340 AM
36 Kandy [Ceylon] AFRS 1944 1355 AM
37 Karachi [Sind] VU2ZX 1944 1330 AM
38 Lalmahirmat [East Bengal] VU2ZK 1944 1330 AM
39 Ledo [Assam] VU2ZN 1944 1330 AM
40 Misamari [Assam] VU2ZS 1944 1330 AM
41 Myitkyina [North East Burma] USAF/AFRS 1944 1305 AM
42 New Delhi [Territory] VU2ZY 1944 1305 AM
43 Ramgarh [East Bengal] VU2ZT 1944 1330 AM
44 Shingbwiyang [North East Burma] USAF/AFRS 1944 1390 AM
45 Tezgaon [Dacca, East Bengal] VU2ZJ 1944 1305 AM
46 Tezpur [Assam] AFRS 1944

"The station in Myitkyina called itself 'The Half Way House' because it was exactly half way around the world from Hollywood headquarters. It was on the Irrawaddy River, on the other side of which is China. It was built under emergency conditions to solve a major morale problem following the battle of Myitkyina in which Allied forces suffered fifty per cent casualties.
image of Army Forces Radio Station Myitkyina

Sitting outside the studio of 'Your Army Forces Radio Station Myitkyina' are [L to R] Technician Bud Sawyer, Station Manager Charles Purnell, Engineer Max Fink and CO Al Davis. The dog is named 'Spam' and did the opening bark every morning for 'Dog House News'.
© AFRTS in 'Brass Button Broadcasters'

Among the listeners in the area were the famed 'Merrill's Marauders', the 'Mars Task Force' and the 'Flying Tigers'. General's 'Vinegar Joe' Stillwell and Dan I Sultan were there along with Flying Tiger Chief, Colonel Claire Chennault.

Allied forces were also listeners including the First Chinese Army under General Chiang Kai Shek and British, Australian and Gurkha troops under General Lord Mountbatten."

Trent Christman in 'Brass Button Broadcasters'

During 2017 we received a letter from Marilyn Knowlden after reading our information about XMAG. As a former child star, she had married an Army officer, and then, owing to her radio & acting background, was able to get a job as an announcer on XMAG in Nanking. She was Marilyn Goates, new wife of Richard Goates, at the time.

Marilyn wrote:

I love this article because it relates to both me and my first husband, Richard Goates! In 1947 I was the voice of XMAG Nanking!

I auditioned for the job by taking a bucket seat flight from Shanghai. My newly-wed lieutenant husband had been transferred to Nanking, where there were no quarters for dependents! Sergeant Leisure was in charge of the station, and in the evening I was the only one on the microphone, and with assistance of my Chinese engineer, I played transcriptions sent from the US of Lux Radio Theatre, the Hit Parade etc. Plus once a week, I had a program called "Nocturne" where I played classical music with my own commentary. I did receive a fan mail from a State Department employee in Hong Kong who said she liked my programs best of all.

As to my husband, he was a part of Merrill's Marauders. He was only 18 years old when he joined, but eventually received a field promotion to Lieutenant when all his superior officers were killed off! In 1946 he returned to the States and we were married after a brief courtship as he wanted me to share the Chinese part of his life with him. So off I went to China!

For more on my life, read "Little Girl in Big Pictures" where there is more discussion of these years in post war China. (By the way, on you can download a "sample" of the Kindle edition and read the first five chapters for free!)

As to my present life, I am almost 91 years old, and happily living in Southern California with many WONDERFUL memories of that time. Thank you for preserving a record of early radio!


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