Francis A. Murphy

Francis A. Murphy was in the Radio group, 512th Squadron.

He happened to be in a British radio room when the Lady Be Good was lost.  The following is his recollection:

I kept a diary - kind of a sketchy one - and of course I had no idea what we were listening to. I was up in Ishmalia and they sent George Parnell - he was in my radio group - and myself to Alexandria, Egypt to attend British radio school. We got over there and found out that they used a different set of signals. They used Q signals instead of Z signals and it was to late to train all the radio operators with British procedure because we were in a British war, so George and I got 3 recruits and we took a mobile radio unit and left Cairo the day after El Alamain and headed across the desert. We moved up as the Squadrons moved up but we weren't with the squadrons, we were on our own. We were attached to British unit - the 247 RAF wing. We were in their vicinity although we were independent the ten of us. No officers - I was a S/ Sgt. and George was a T/Sgt. The rest of them were all Privates. We had a couple of mechanics and the rest of us were operators. George was a mechanic. Our job was to stay on the air 24 hours a day and send position signals to Malta and to monitor distress signals from American planes. Whatever planes were up there - they were given a frequency - if they couldn't get with their home base this was an alternate frequency. Looking back to the diary - of course I didn't know the Lady Be Good had gone down or anything until after I was out of the service - but looking back on that night I picked up a faint SOS that got clearer and clearer and then getting fainter and fainter.

We put it together - you know there is a dead reckoning if you're familiar with radio - if you're dead center on each side of the range you can't hear anything - and what I surmise the SOS came from an American plane. There were no-call letters of anything given - all I got was SOS. I figured it was coming toward us - passed over us and then continued right on into the desert. That’s how I pieced it together.

From the story I read about the Lady Be Good. So I went to the British. communication which we did because we didn't have any other personnel and they took it from there. Within a day or two we packed up, and moved to another location. All I did was report it to the British.

Q. How long were these messages from the beginning to when it· faded?

I would say anywhere from around: 10 minutes - we picked it up faintly from the time it started coming in - and I left the receiver with someone else when I went over to the British to tell them about it - it might have been even longer than that. No way of telling what altitude it would have come from.

Q. Could you tell what direction it would be from you?

Well - all our planes were usually flying over in Europe. We used Malta as a bouncing even if we were communicating back to Cairo from Benghazi or wherever we were - we'd go through Malta because communication over the sand was terrible. So we bounced it over the water - Mediterranean and then back. I just had it fixed in my mind that the signal that I was receiving was either from Europe over the water or it could have been from anywhere - but there is no way of knowing.

No word communication just an SOS - it sounded very feeble - the code was poor quality - it was labored.