The Commonwealth Contest or BERU, the longest running DX contest in amateur radio, promotes contacts between stations in the Commonwealth and Mandated Territories. A more relaxed contest environment gives the opportunity to work some choice DX.
The challenge of amateur radio contests has endured from the earliest days of radio communication...
The competitive side of amateur radio has always been the spur to improve knowledge of receivers, transmitters, antennas and propagation as well as the quality and efficiency of communication skills.
The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) created the British Empire Radio Union (BERU) in the late 1920s to support radio amateurs in the Empire. In 1930 a New Zealand radio amateur suggested that a week should be set aside as an 'Empire Radio Week' and that this should be held in February 1931. This was the first BERU Contest. The contest proved to be very popular and has been held annually since then. It became known as the Commonwealth Contest in 1973. The 2013 contest will be the 76th.
In 1937 someone caught the sense of anticipation just before BERU starts. Zero hour approaches, watches are synchronised, cigarettes stored in, pencils sharpened. The DX bands resemble a country village in their quietude and then - the storm breaks. Dah Dit Dit Dit Dah; Dah Dit Dit Dit; Dit ; Dit Dah Dit; Dit Dit Dah echoes across the world, amateurs in foriegn countries hastily examine their atlases for a clue as to the whereabouts of the mystic country BERU - discovering, if they are lucky, that such a place really does exist
If we are a G and have contest experience we exercise patience and listen for the elusive Test calls from remote zones, if we are new to the game then its ten chances to one that we shall make the mistake of crashing out a Test call which will almost certainly be abortive. Experience has taught those of us who have operated in previous BERU contests that it pays to answer DX rather than initiate Test calls. (T&R Bulletin, 1937).More background history here on the archive CD.