John Crabbe, G3WFM, 18th October 2018

| October 18, 2018
John Crabbe, G3WFM, receiving the RSGB Founders’ Trophy in 2008.

John Crabbe, G3WFM, receiving the RSGB Founders’ Trophy in 2008.

John Crabbe, G3WFM, passed away in the early hours of Thursday 18 October 2018 at the age of 87, after having been unwell for some time. For many years John volunteered for the RSGB at Potters Bar, working as archivist/historian, RSGB National Amateur Radio Museum curator, and manager of the RSGB shack. A very active amateur in his own right too, right to the end, he had diverse interests ranging from HF DX up to satellites, microwaves and amateur television. In 2008 John was awarded the prestigious Founders’ Trophy for his many years’ distinguished service to the RSGB.

A fuller obituary will be published in due course. If you have any reminiscences or further information about John, please send them to us via

We understand that John’s funeral will be at Enfield Crematorium on Monday 29th October at noon. All those who knew him well are welcome to attend.

Marc Litchman, G0TOC, wrote the following for the Loughton and Epping Forest Amateur Radio Society Newsletter, and we are grateful for his permission to reproduce a (lightly edited) version of it here:

I first met John Crabbe G3WFM in July 1997 during an RSGB open day, but got to know him much better when I started visiting the RSGB QSL bureau at Lambda House to deposit and collect cards for myself and for other LEFARS members. John’s wife, Marjorie, was employed part-time in the bureau and John could be found in his workshop, working on one of many concurrent restoration projects or in the National Amateur Radio Library, attending to visitors, or in the GB3RS shack with visiting guest operators, or showing groups or individuals around the National Amateur Radio Museum. John was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the museum and over the years had curated a wide and varied display of some very early, rare and historically important Marconi items as well as First and Second World War military wireless and collections of British amateur radio equipment as well as assorted radio related kit and components, a great deal of which was held by the RSGB on permanent loan or donated to the museum by the families of SKs. John was interested in wireless from an early age and his time as a national serviceman in the RAF provided a formal training in radio and electronics. An enthusiast in every sense, John could cite the source of virtually every piece of kit on display and if asked to, would provide a detailed explanation of its workings and component parts.

John eventually became well known to a small number of LEFARS members who used to attend Potters Bar with me to help sort QSL cards, or to operate the GB3RS station. And, in March and April of 2008, a number of club members volunteered to help John pack up the museum, library and shack in preparation for it to all go into storage when the RSGB left Potters Bar to move to Bedford. That was a particularly difficult time for John, as all his efforts and work over many years was simply swept under the carpet by the RSGB’s management of that time and, having been a witness to John’s good work, his shoddy treatment certainly left me feeling bitter and there are still a great many unanswered questions about what ultimately happened to most of the collections and items in the museum…

In early 2008, shortly after receiving the RSGB’s Founders Trophy (for outstanding service to the Society), the LEFARS committee unanimously agreed to bestow John with honorary lifetime membership. Accompanied by his long-time friend Dick Whittering, G3URA (now SV9RPE), John and Marjorie were regular attendees at several LEFARS New Year’s lunches. In July 2009, John gave a talk and demonstration of his “B2” spy set, at All Saints House. The talk also presented us with the highest attendance at any club meeting up to that date – there literally was standing room only! John kindly donated his B2 to LEFARS a few years ago and it is now presented at various events as part of the club’s historic wireless display. John also penned a three-part article called “What Did You Do in the Cold War Daddy?” for the LEFARS Newsletter, recounting his time as national serviceman. The complete article is available in a single PDF on the website and is well worth a read.

John was a gentleman radio amateur, who never had a bad word to say about anyone and will certainly be missed by all who knew him.

Tribute by Marc Litchman, G0TOC
for LEFARS Newsletter, reproduced here with permission


A fuller tribute to John, including several pictures, is on the LEFARS website.

Category: Silent Keys