On this day: Queensland Prisoners secret radio revealed

On the 12 November 1945, the day after Remembrance Day, an article appeared in the Telegraph highlighting a fine example of Australian ingenuity.

Remembrance Day is celebrated on the day World War I ended but commemorates all those who died in war. An estimated four million people died during the World War II Japanese occupation of Indonesia, including 30,000 European civilians.


The secret radio

Two Queensland brothers, Ernest and Charles Hildebrandt, built a secret wireless radio receiver which they operated in the camp near Bandoeng in Java which was overran by Japanese soldiers in 1942.

Constructed of parts scrounged from the internment camp where they were held prisoner in Java during the war, the transmitter was built into a Dutch gas-mask container and hidden under a square of concrete measuring 12 by 7 inches.

For the last sixteen months of the war, they secretly shared news from the Australian Broadcasting Service, the British Broadcasting Service, United States and many other stations.


Seventy-four years after her uncles, Ernest and Charles, donated this radio transmitter to Queensland Museum, Pamela Robinson visited the Museum to see the set and to fill in some missing details for our records.

12 November 1945

Explore the Anzac Legacy Gallery

Are you interested in seeing war artefacts that tell the fascinating story of the First World War in Queensland? Visit the Anzac Legacy Gallery on Level 1 of the Museum.