James Bruce Smith (Jim Smith to everyone who knew him or knew of him) joined the RAF in 1946 and trained in radio communications. In 1948 he was sent to Singapore and then on to Car Nicobar in the Indian Ocean with the RAF Signals Detachment. It was here that he became interested in Amateur Radio and operated the call CAR from there. On return to Singapore he held the call VS1BQ and his interest in the hobby became ingrained. Not only in making contacts around the world, but also the technical side of it. Thus he became one of the pioneers in the technology of SSB during his time in Germany where served 1952-1957, holding the call DL2TH.
On his return to England he worked as a civilian radio instructor at RAF, Locking. Still spending time on his hobby, his English call was G3HSR. The early 60’s saw him working in Saudi Arabia where he was a project manager at Dharan International Airport.
In 1968 Jim went back to Singapore where he was employed in writing a 10 part electronics course for the Singapore Armed Forces Technical Defence.
By 1975 Jim gained a position with the Civil Aviation Authority in Papua New Guinea where he worked several years as a radio inspector. He was also engaged in Amateur Radio, using the call P29JS. He taught many a would-be amateur radio enthusiast and was President of the PNG amateur Radio Society. During his time in PNG, Jim undertook a couple of DXpeditions to other islands. In 1980, he visited Norfolk Island and operated as VK9NS. Later in the year, he made a permanent move to Norfolk Island where he met and married Kirsti, VK9NL, a former ship's radio officer from Norway who had settled on Norfolk Island in 1963.
Of the many DXpeditions Jim undertook in the following years, the major one was the DXpedition to Heard Island in 1983, operating VKØJS with Kirsti operating VKØNL. Kirsti wrote the riviting book Heard Island Osyssey, an account of the Heard Island DXpedition and the harrowing experience of getting back from Heard Island on a ship that should never had left port.
Jim started up the very successful amateur radio DX club HIDXA which became the mainstay of every DXpedition that followed. Jim and Kirsti both operated from Howland Island in 1988 and from Willis Island in 1992 with Jim making several other DXpeditions to various Islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. At home Jim also ran a popular DX net, attracting check-ins from all over the world.
In 1989 Kirsti travelled to Svalbard and so with Heard Island in 1983, she can truly say that she has operated from both the far south and the far north! Later she also wrote QRV, A DXer's Life for Me, a collection of essays written over several years during the 1980's and 1990's, and includes stories about Howland Island, Murmansk, Svalbard, Sarawak, Japan and Willis Island.
Jim was elected to the CQ Magazine's Hall of Fame in 1986. Apart from his many DXpeditions, he also worked tirelessly to have amateur radio introduced legally in both Bhutan and Bangladesh, helping both governments with writing the necessary legislation.
Jim wrote his book The Old Timer: 60 years in Amateur Radio 1947-2007, published in 2008, only months before his death in February 2009.