A Call to Action-A Time of War
With the attack on Pearl Harbor all Ham Radio Operators rushed to aid the nation. Even before that fateful day, YLs had become involved with defense work. They taught code and theory along with their Red Cross work and worked in defense plants.
The YLs were living up to their YLRL slogan of QRV–I am ready. They were ready to participate in serving the War Department. Dot Knapp, W2MIY, was the only AARS woman Radio Aide while Viola Grossman W2JZX, served with the Signal Corps. Other areas YLRL members served in included the Army and they received AARS instruction in cryptography.
After reading an article by Anita Bein W8TAY, titled “YLRL QRV”, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: “I have read with interest the story of the work carried on by the Young Ladies Radio League, and I applaud your sincerity and enthusiasm.
“At a time when all of us must be alert to defend the institutions we cherish, the work of the League is an inspiration, and I am sure will prove of inestimable value should the need for active defense arise.”
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Congress issued the same order to cease all amateur radio operations that it had issued in World War I. Civilian transmitters were silenced until after the war.
YLs volunteered their service and their training was considered specialized due to their being ham radio operators. While many women learned factory work to become “Rosie the Riveter”, YLRL members often became WIRES¬–Women in Radio and Electric Service.
YLs instructed all branches of the service in radio work in classes that had doubled and tripled in size since before the war. Women were sought after for many positions because of their radio experience. They received Signal Corps training as radio operators, technicians and repairmen as well as instrument repairmen.
After the War
The Young Ladies Radio League stayed banded together through World War II and by 1950, they added a new contest for both YLs and OMs to participate. The YL-OM Contest has the YLs call the OMs and the OMs, the YLs.
The contest was one way for many OMs to find YLs on the air in order to work towards earning the YLRL version of Worked All States certificate, YL-Worked all States. Other certificates included working one YL on each continent (YL-WAC) and YL Century Club (YLCC) for working 100 different YLs (same YL with a different call-sign doesn’t count).
In 1958, Louisa Sando, W5RZJ, wrote the book CQ-YL, chronicling the start of YLRL and many of the YL firsts in Amateur Radio. It has been revised twice since then and the current YLRL officers and members plan to revise it again to bring it up to the current date.