You might think that with all the books, magazines, newspaper articles plus radio and television documentaries that have been published, that someone would by now be able to tell the authentic story about the beginnings of offshore commercial radio in the British Isles, or even how Radio Caroline came into existence. But the sad fact is, they have not done so to date!
What does exist are lots of people copying what other writers have written and just adding to existing confusion. One of the best sources remains official governmental investigations trying to accomplish the same thing, but because their finding often clashed with the pop version of events that was itself intentionally obfuscated to mislead, the pop writers (such as Rusling), just added fuel to the fire of confusion. Reconciling the incomplete official investigative reports with the pop stories only results in a great big muddle.
There is only one alternative and that is begin anew by analyzing what does exist, and then discarding that which is obviously untrue.
The other question that remains to be answered, is where does this story begin?
Some want to follow the story of broadcasting from ships that takes them back into the beginnings of broadcasting itself, but it is totally unrelated to the question of how and why Radio Caroline was created? So how about identifying one key person, such as Allan James Crawford, and following his biographical trek through time?
Although Allan Crawford did give a number of interviews in later life, he did so from memory, which by then was fuzzy. Another problem with those interviews is that there seems to be certain aspects of his life that Allan Crawford did not want to reveal to the public.
Because he did not publish his memoirs, the next best thing is to turn to his brother-in-law Bernard Harte who did write and publish a book about the history of radio in general (Harte, Bernard. When Radio Was the Cat's Whiskers . Rosenberg Publishing. Kindle Edition); which also includes a recital about his relationship with Allan Crawford. Unfortunately his recital contains "fill" material which he has obviously incorporated from other sources. However, Bernard Harte did relate some aspects of Crawford's life that are informative in a general way.
"Allan was born and raised in the New South Wales city of Newcastle. I first met him at the Crawford family home in the suburb of Merewether when I was courting his sister Jean, soon to be my wife. It was during the war years. .... Allan was then .... employed .... as a sub-accountant." I have redacted Harte's text to the salient points of interest to us.
"Three years later he was flying bombers over Germany. When the war ended, Allan elected to take his discharge in England to enable him to study music at the famous Guildhall. When he was in London he happened to meet Ralph Peer, principal of the US Southern Music Publishing Company. Peer was about to set up an office in Sydney and offered Allan the job of manager, impressing on him the fact that he would have to operate on a shoestring budget, at least for the first year. Allan accepted."
From this we know that Allan Crawford was in London following WWII, and he studied music, met Ralph Peer who offered him the job of opening an office for Southern Music in Australia.
"In the mid-fifties he went overseas on a business trip .... While he was in London the manager there died and Allan landed his job, which went smoothly until Ralph Peer passed away. His widow clashed with Allan—end of story."
Harte tells us why Allan Crawford came back to England and took over the London office of Southern Music, and it may be that Ralph Peer became ill; his wife took over the U.S. headquarters then Crawford fell out with her and left, after which Ralph Peer died. However, the events that then took place in Crawford's life are not properly recorded by Harte, because some basic information is clearly in error.
By December 1999, Allan James Crawford who became afflicted with diabetes, which resulted in the amputation of one leg and confined him to both a wheelchair "and a rather lonely life". Then he lost his other leg and his eyesight and he spent his remaining days in a nursing home bed in Wales. But shortly before he died a person who his brother-in-law met and only identifies as an "Englishman" had befriended Allan Crawford and then stole £20,000 by forging his signature.
".... this very talented man, who bore his illness and disability with fortitude and dignity, left us suddenly as the result of a bout of pneumonia. Before he died he dictated his life story on tape. I’m sure his autobiography will be a bestseller." Unfortunately this recording seems to have disappeared and it has not, as far as we are aware, been published to date.
However, it does appear that Allan James Crawford did leave Peer-Southern in London on August 17, 1959, and that date provides us with the start of a timeline leading into events surrounding the birth of offshore commercial-sponsored radio broadcasting to the British Isles.
The next part of this existing mystery, is to document from all of the conflicting pieces of information currently in circulation, the movements of Allan James Crawford in connection with the birth of British offshore radio. Part of the mystery about this man may become clearer when we follow the end of Radio Caroline South and the disposal of its ship 'Mi Amigo'. Because if we can work backwards in time from known facts, perhaps we can then link them to other facts in evidence that are coated with many bogus interpretations and claims.
If we can establish what is known as fact, then we can discern what is true and what is false about the claims currently in circulation. Having that kind of information as our guide, it should be possible to follow both individual biographies and company records to form a proper timeline of events.
George Hare (left) seems like a good starting point because following the death of Radio Caroline he was working for Phillip Solomon in Dublin who was milking the twin transmitting ships until they gave up the ghost and Wijsmuller called them home to Amsterdam. (http://www.offshoreradio.co.uk/towed1c.htm).
According to George, his boss did not tell him what his ultimate game-plan was, but if anyone thought they were getting the better of Phillip Solomon, he obviously set out to prove that they were wrong. His idea was to pay for airtime in order to plug his record label, and that is what he did. Since there was no formal structure after August 14, 1967 to the entity which called itself Radio Caroline, all Solomon had to do was keep the stations on the air without bothering about the maintenance of the ships themselves, but Wisjmuller was not similarly persuaded, and they eventually pulled the plug.
This is where George Hare leads us to Wijsmuller and the financial structure behind that Dutch entity, or at least the branch of it that connected to both the mv Caroline, and the mv Mi Amigo. That trail leads us to the Republic of Panama.
One person who was always perplexed about the people he worked for was former Marconi engineer George Saunders. He was Chief Engineer on the mv Mi Amigo (Radio Caroline South), and sometimes 'Doctor Fix-It Quick' on the eponymous ship that was home to Radio Caroline North. He was also the stand-in for John Howard Gilman, who, with his secretary Dorothy 'Kitty' Black at her desk in Caroline House, ran more than just the engineering side of things at 6 Chesterfield Gardens.
On January 19, 1966, George Saunders was on board Mi Amigo the night it went aground at Frinton-on-Sea, and then he was approached by agents of the Crown who wanted him to set a propaganda station just outside Ian Smith's self-declared Republic of Rhodesia.
When George Saunders left the employment of the people who had control of engineering side of Radio Caroline South, he asked for a letter of reference, and he received a letter which mystified him for years. Now that mystery has been solved, and tomorrow I will show you the first part of what has been uncovered.
I write the "first part" because what you will learn tomorrow is the tip of a gigantic iceberg of information that has been hidden from view!
We are peeling back the layers of obfuscation and outright lies deliberately spread by people like Ronan O'Rahilly who was but a mere "decoy duck" (as one MP called him.) This story is far, far, far, far bigger than anything to do with pop pirate broadcasting as you will begin to learn right here, and it has several major branches attached to it that have affected millions of people who had no interest in anything to do with offshore broadcasting.