RAEM 1957 Arctic
Operator: Ernst Krenkel


This is the back of the 1957 card.


This is the back of the RAEM Ernst Krenkel card from 1964, 65, and 66.


Alex Rekach UA3DQ, Ernst Krenkel RAEM

The following is info from G4AYO:

As I am sure you are aware RAEM was the callsign of the Chelyuskin which sank in the Arctic on February 13 1934. RAEM later became Ernst Krenkel's own amateur band callsign. When I heard Krenkel in 1968 he was signing RAEM/mm - on board the Professor Zubov on its way to Russia's Antarctic base.

In 1937 Krenkel was the radio operator of the first North Pole station -
UPOL. The attached TEXT file is an account by Krenkel of his radio activities
on the drifting ice of UPOL. You will see that Krenkel only had QSOs with
just over 60 stations!

The QSL shown on your site (and several others) is that of RAEM (but of course also featuring UPOL which Krenkel was also famous for). Krenkel had a separate QSL for UPOL which is obviously extremely rare in view of that fact that he only made 60 QSOs! I have never seen this QSL on the internet.

Radio station "UPOL"
Our small three-valve receiver was designed for telegraphic work. Nevertheless we understood broadcasting stations perfectly on it. The loud-speaker rarely worked, the output was insufficient. Our tent was therefore equipped with radio. Each of us had his own pair of earphones. One could at will get into one's sleeping bag with headphones, cover up one's head and listen in the warm to the latest news from the Big Land.

In the light of summer time, the audibility of even such powerful broadcasting stations, as Moscow, was weak. We only now and then heard the Comintern (Communist International). Then, at the end of August, audibility began to improve. With the approaching polar darkness we had excellent and positive reception of Moscow at any time.

It could be said with confidence that for these nine months we were the most conscientious radio listeners of the Soviet Union. In the middle of twelfth night, even with three minutes to go, the receiver was still switched on, tuned in, and we four, with bated breath, sat and waited, for our news from Moscow.

We were very well informed about all events at home and abroad. With the collective of radio workers, especially with managers of Moscow broadcasting centre, we established very warm friendly relations. We sent them all sorts of questions, secured special concerts, and asked to be given the chance to talk with our wives and children in front of a microphone in Moscow. All these requests they carried out promptly and thoroughly.

Besides Moscow, we had the opportunity to listen to most European stations. High-powered stations could be received regularly each day. During particularly favourable conditions the airwaves literally swarmed with broadcasting stations. Even at the Pole the difficulty was to tune in and separate these many stations.

It was interesting to observe the "pranks" of the air. One day a telephone working quite low-powered stations of the Rostov State farm was heard perfectly. Some evenings stations such as Vladivostok and Budapest prevented me working Rudolf Island. Sometimes at 4-5 o'clock in the morning Moscow time a whole number of American stations was heard, but audibility was fairly weak.

For the facilitation of astronomical observations we used a microphone. Fedorov, outside the tent with his theodolite, dictated his readings into the microphone, and one of us, sitting with headphones in the tent, listened for Fedorov's report and wrote down in the tent the reading and time according to the chronometer.

One day I decided to make good use of this microphone and inserted it directly into the antenna. Rudolf Island heard us. It is true, badly, the modulation was quite weak, but everything was heard. I did not consider it possible to delve into the sealed transmitter. In our condition it would have been a crime to experiment with the working of the equipment. However I was sorry that the transmitter was not telegraph-telephone. It is a pity that my optimism with regard to the conditions for spreading radio waves in the Arctic did not spread as far as the mainland.

Rudolf Island worked us all the time on 800 metres, using a transmitter at 30 watts. Although it was a telegraph-telephone transmitter, it never occurred to either of us to try telephone transmission to Rudolf Island. Only after my attempt with unsuitable facilities did Rudolf Island set its telephone working and we heard it extremely well. It was a new source of joy.

In autumn aircraft from Moscow delivered newspapers, letters and even gramophone records to Rudolf Island - talking letters from friends and relatives. Letters were transmitted to us by telephone and gave us many joyful minutes.

A special job in my work was contacting radio amateurs on short-waves. Leaving Moscow, I promised radio amateurs of the Soviet Union to actively maintain communications with them. It was not my fault that I was unable to fulfil the promise in a way that I would have liked.

As on many other occasions I was severely limited by the wind and the batteries. At the slightest opportunity I tried to work radio amateurs. But this work always went on only "under wind". Not only accumulators had to be fully charged, but while working radio amateurs there had to be a fresh wind. I worked until the first signs of an abating wind in order to ensure time to restore, with the help of the windmill, the electric power output used up. Only with observance of these conditions could working radio amateurs be permitted.

Nevertheless, since there was only little free time, I "crept" onto the air for meetings with amateur radio short-wave enthusiasts. In August Moscow announced a competition - for the first radio amateur who got in touch with the Pole.

The first of Soviet short-wave enthusiast who established communications with me was the old "enthusiast of the air", Leningrader Saltykov. Only Vedchinkin contacted me from Moscow. I also had contacts with other Leningrad short-wave enthusiasts, with Sverdlovsk and Krasnoyarsk. Before take-off to the Pole I left the editorial staff of the magazine "Radio Front" my personal short-wave receiver, which I asked be passed to the short-wave enthusiast who established the first two-way communications with me. The receiver was awarded to Saltykov.

On the ice we did not have elevators and tramways which usually create deafening interference to the receiver. We had ideal conditions for radio communications. With the help of a small three-valve receiver I managed to make contact with all the world. A Norwegian from Alesund made the first foreign contact with me. Then a circle of acquaintances extended all over the air.

Contacts with radio amateurs usually went on at night time. Doubling as the night watchman of our expedition, I strolled around the tent and the Globe, as my comrades peacefully slept in their sleeping bags.

In a special notebook I precisely recorded the details of communications with those stations with whom I had a "QSO" - two-way communications, I noted the audibility of amateur stations. On separate occasions I managed to get in touch with most of the European States.

Norway, Sweden, England, Iceland, France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and Holland appeared in my log.

The USA, as the country having the greatest number of radio amateur transmitters, stood in first place for the number of contacts with the Pole. The American press was interested in the work of our station. My UPOL callsign had only to appear on the amateur bands and amateurs literally pounced on me with several stations from various parts of the world and different continents simultaneously calling me.

On one occasion successful communication was established, without interruption, with eleven Americans in succession. They passed me from hand to hand. A few friendly words and the person I was speaking to passed me on. Conversations usually dragged on and lasted longer than normal conversations between radio amateurs. After the establishment of communications I was compelled first and foremost to receive enthusiastic outpourings, offers of help in the passing of radio messages, requests for regular communications.

Friends showed up on the Hawaiian islands. I worked one of them several times and he turned into a supporter of our expedition, he was worried - would the ice melt, aren't you afraid?... He was well-informed about our drifting expedition. He reported to us the contents of our reports, only the day before they had been printed in central Moscow newspapers. By his reports we saw how quickly the foreign printing of our radio messages, sent to Pravda and Izvestiya could be reprinted.

I successfully worked Alaska and Canada. The record for distance was communications with stations in South Australia and New Zealand. These stations were almost our antipodes.

Almost all communication, with rare exceptions, was made on 20 metres. Doubtless, this was a fine achievement for a 20-watt transmitter

During the expedition two-way communication was maintained with the following amateur stations:

>From 27 May to 31 July inclusive. (from 89 to 88 North latitude)

LA1M (Norway) F8IS W2CYS (USA New York) PA0AS GI5AJ G6KP G5RI TF3C U1AD (Leningrad) U1AP (USSR, Leningrad) W1EWD (USA Rhode Island) OK1PK ON4BW D3FZI (Germany) U3CY (Moscow) PA0FF UK1CR (USSR, Rudolf Island) D3GKR F8AI PA0GN K6SO (Hawaii) VK5WK VK2DG

>From 1 August to 31 October inclusive (from 88 to 84 North latitude)


>From 1 November to 4 December inclusive (from 84 to 82 North latitude)


Read the Ernst Krenkel RAEM Story by RW3GA!

QSL from the estate of W9ABB / W9HK
Ernst Krenkel story on this page by G4AYO
Ernst Krenkel Story by RW3GA, courtesy of G3ZPF
Photo from Don Chesser W4KVX DX Magazine #106, August 17, 1960
Photo sent to DX Magazine by W4GD