On Saturday evening, 31st October 2015, members of the RE community of wireless operators, radio operators and signallers and their partners held a party at the King Charles Hotel in Gillingham to pay tribute to Dave Ferigan (aka “Dave F” – G3ZYV).
Recently surviving cancer and in his late seventies, in his life Dave gave 17 years service to the Royal Engineers as a civilian instructor, teaching radio operators.
This time was spent developing and teaching communications training at the signals wing in Chattenden Barracks, near Rochester in Kent. The period covered the latter part of the cold war, the Falklands campaign and others when the army were substantial in numbers. Subsequently training for military radio communications and electronic warfare was at its peak. The first battlefield computers started to appear and Clansman radio was reasonably new and mostly serviceable.
His wife Pam and son Sean, will tell you this was a pivotal time in Dave’s life, his service continued right up until shortly after the signal training wing re-located to Minley in Hampshire – where it is now the Command Support Branch of the Royal Engineers.
Status – Legend
Being the only civilian instructor at “the wing”, Dave earned the utmost respect from everyone; fellow military trade instructors, students and military staff, so much so that he became something of a legend. He managed to achieve this status with just about every level of the command structure, with both the TA and regular soldiers who passed through the wing. The course photo below, one of several hundred of Dave, shows him with a B1 Signals course circa 1987.
Dave developed and participated in many of the training exercises – spending a lot of his time either on the roof of the building or in the “den” where he taught students and staff the art of building and testing antennas and running the exercises. Versatile, he was equally at home teaching any of the subjects in the trade syllabus, but back in the eighties and nineties, he was also solely responsible for teaching the morse code right up until it went out of service. The number of students leaving the wing with passes in this difficult subject shows Dave’s exceptional patience and teaching ability.
(Ed. – What I find inspirational about Dave is his quiet, good humoured, determined and infectious brand of teaching. As many of his close friends and colleagues will tell you he is a social character who keeps an open door for anyone who wants to share in his exploits and antics.) Plus he has this amazing head for heights.
Dave made sure that when the wing moved from Chattenden, all of the facilities were improved or recreated on arrival, negotiating and creating an impressive array of antennas and classroom facilities. Without his expertise the messaging systems of the period used by the corps would have been less effective; Dave’s whole communications philosophy is to get the message through, securely by whatever means available. A great knowledge of electronics and improvised communications skills underpins this and Dave presents this as an art form.
One day because of the state of the M25 Dave decided commuting from Gillingham to Minley was no longer worthwhile and retired to a life of fishing in the English Channel. This “working retirement” lasted for fourteen years. These days he spends his time on the amateur radio bands. He still passes his skills on to the local radio club and with his family at home in Gillingham, he regularly receives members of the RE community.
Pictures: Sean Ferrigan, Branch Archive
Editors note: If you want to add anything to this article especially captions for the photographs or stories about Dave F – Please use the comments fields below.
PSK 31. In other news, several members of the branch are gearing up for PSK31 Operation using a variety of hardware and Software. Schedules are taking place on 7040 Khz and 3580 Khz between 7 and 7:30 pm local time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (If nothing heard on 40m band revert to 80m at 7:10.)
A variety of hardware solutions are being built ranging from; Clansman based stations interfaced through the Audio Socket. Analogue radio fully interfaced via the computer and sound card interfaces, to fully software defined solutions with minimal analogue hardware.
A number of tests have been carried out with some minor success but nothing conclusive as yet.
PSK 31 Software:
Further information about this exploit is contained in previous bulletins.
73 de Stu