WWII: Dunkirk Evacuation | How the 'little ships' helped rescue the Allied troops

GHQ Bulletins

The BBC informs the Ministry of Information about its preliminary Dunkirk news reports.

BBC ARCHIVE DOCUMENT 1940

[Page 1 of 3]

BBC Internal Circulation Memo
Subject: GHQ BULLETINS

28th May, 1940.

From: D.P.P.

To: Mr. Wellington
Ministry of Information

Here is a note about the position to date: two bulletins only have been radiated, the first one on Monday, May 20th and the second on Wednesday, May 22nd, both timed 6.30-6.35 in the Programme for the Forces.

The first was read by Stubbs from France and recorded here for subsequent transmission. The second Stubbs brought over with him and read from Broadcasting House. The service was started at short notice at the request of the Army authorities. When I last spoke to Stubbs he told me that there was no intention of continuing with the bulletins on the present basis although he thought the army people were putting forward a new proposal which he now realises will have to be discussed with you.

I have arranged that in the event of a bulletin being suddenly sent to us it will not be radiated until it has been cleared by your people.

I attach the script of the second bulletin which you may care to see.

Stubbs' contact with the War Office has been Captain Butler of M.I.7.

[Illegible signature]

GDA/EPT.

[Handwritten] Mr Andrew Stewart

Will you try to discover from MI7 what the G.H.Q. bulletins are and which Army authorities have asked that they be broadcast! There seems to be every possibility of "G.H.Q. bulletins" conflicting with War Office and M. of D. bulletin.

LW/ 29/5

1 DMI/I.C.2

2 [Illegible] read over or show MS to MI7A.

[Document ends]

[Page 2 of 3]

[Handwritten Note]

Stewart Broadcasting - DH.
1. 20th May (Record)
2. 22nd May, 1940 (Script)

[Typed Script]

B.E.F. News Bulletin

With unflagging fury, by night and day, by air and land, and from the sea the greatest battle in history continues.

In its essentials the situation is little changed. The Germans have staked everything on their gambler's throw. Regardless of loss, they are striking in a series of parallel assaults in an attempt to cut off the northern sector of the Allied line. Indifferent to loss of life, to loss of machinery, to loss of equipment; indifferent to the rapid exhaustion of their limited resources, particularly in petrol, they are striking forward in their desperate attempt to reach the sea. On the north and in the south the allies have held them off. In the centre at the one point where the Germans have broken through, the Allies are counter-attacking fiercely on the flanks, battling to cut off the salient of that advance; to isolate it, to cut its lines of communication, to deprive it of its supplies.

By night and day the fight continues; not only in the actual battle areas but miles behind where diving aeroplanes machine-gun the forming columns; where night after night railheads, ammunition centres, troop headquarters are bombed unceasingly through the long moonlit hours.


[Page 3 of 3]

There is no pause, no breathing space. It would be impossible, even if it were prudent, to give any definite statement as to the actual position. There is no actual position, no definite front line. This war is not like the last. It must not be pictured in terms of the last war. This battle is not being fought at the pace of the infantryman marching his three miles an hour, but at the pace of the fastest moving vehicle that man's ingenuity can devise. Today there is no fixed line. There is not even a single front. There are a dozen isolated fronts. A dozen different battles are being fought. Rumour follows upon rumour. Frequently Germans are reported to have been seen in a town thought to be many miles behind our lines. But the presence of one mechanised unit in such a village does not mean that the German line of attack runs through it. Far from it. There is no fixed line. This is open warfare. These advanced units are cavalry patrols. That and no more than that. As often as not they are lost patrols.

It is impossible to draft any fixed position. There is no fixed position; there is no fixed line.

By night and day, ceaselessly, relentlessly, with unabated energy, with unabated courage, the Allied forces are hitting back against their enemy. The situation is serious still, but it is not desperate. We are in the field, and we are hitting hard, blow for blow, and bomb for bomb.


[Document ends]

ABOUT THE BBC ARCHIVE
The BBC Archive - sharing pictures, documents and programmes from the last 75 years of the BBC's broadcasting history. To find out more, visit:
www.bbc.co.uk/archive

Document Type | Internal Memo

28 May 1940

Document version

Writtenin

1940

Synopsis

The BBC's Director of Programme Planning, Godfrey Adams, writes to the Ministry of Information about the Corporation's news broadcasts on Dunkirk, and includes a copy of the script of the second bulletin. It is then confirmed that the BBC will not transmit any further reports without the Ministry of Information's consent. Both bulletins referenced are by Bernard Stubbs. The handwritten note from 'LW' (Lindsay Wellington), addressed to Andrew Stewart, suggests that the British Army, the War Office and the Ministry of Defence have conflicting views about what can be broadcast.

Did you know?

Andrew Stewart was one of two BBC officials who had been seconded to the Radio Relations Division at the Ministry of Information. He and his colleague insisted on knowing the names of broadcasters and musicians in advance, which caused delays in production. Outside broadcasts were further hindered by censorship. MI7 was the British Military Intelligence Section 7, which dealt with censorship and propaganda.

Contributors

Godfrey Adams
Writer
Recipient
Referenced

Associated subjects

More like this...

Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Churchill's First Broadcast as PM

BROADCAST 1940
2 MINUTES

Winston Churchill makes his first prime ministerial broadcast.

Boats used in the Dunkirk evacuation.

News | An appeal for boating skills

BROADCAST 1940
25 SECONDS

An appeal for Dunkirk recruits on behalf of the government.

Allied soldiers disembark from ship.

News | Dunkirk Evacuation

RECORDED 1940
4 MINUTES

Bernard Stubbs reports on the returning troops.

Rt Hon Anthony Eden.

Broadcast to the Nation by the Rt Hon Anthony Eden

RECORDED 1940
8 MINUTES

Rt Hon Anthony Eden recounts the events of the 'battle for the ports'.

Hurricane Fighter.

News | RAF fighter planes dispatched to Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1940
1 MINUTE

Ed Murrow reports on his visit to a fighter airfield.

A British soldier during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Dunkirk Evacuation | BEF Experiences

RECORDED 1940
10 MINUTES

Four members of the BEF describe their retreat to Calais and Dunkirk.

House of Commons interior.

News | Ed Murrow Sees Churchill in the Commons Giving News of Dunkirk

RECORDED 1940
1 MINUTE

Reporter Ed Murrow hears Churchill's speech in the Commons.

JB Priestley.

Postscripts | JB Priestley

BROADCAST 1940
3 MINUTES

JB Priestley pays homage to the small boats of Dunkirk.

BBC Microphone, 1942.

News Postscript | Minister of Shipping Ronald Cross

RECORDED 1940
6 MINUTES

The shipping minister recounts the past few days at Dunkirk.

British and French troops queue on Dunkirk beach for boats

Charles Martin Describes Dunkirk

RECORDED 1940
47 SECONDS

A Pathe news cameraman describes Dunkirk.

The launching of a Margate lifeboat, 1942.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective | Margate Lifeboats

RECORDED 1950
1 MINUTE

The role of Margate's lifeboats in the Dunkirk evacuation.

The crew of a Thames tugboat, 5 June 1940.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective | Thames Tugboats

RECORDED 1950
2 MINUTES

A Thames tugboat master describes how he helped with the Dunkirk operation.

A bystander waves to those on board the 'Royal Daffodil'.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective | The Royal Daffodil

RECORDED 1950
1 MINUTE

The captain of the Royal Daffodil recounts being bombed.

Lightoller's boat, 'Sundowner'.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective | CH Lightoller

RECORDED 1950
5 MINUTES

Commander Lightoller is interviewed by Charles Gardner.

The coastal operations room, located underneath Dover Castle.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective

BROADCAST 1950
29 MINUTES

Memories of Dunkirk by those who were there.

Ships carrying members of the BEF leaving Dunkirk.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective | HMS Malcolm

BROADCAST 1950
5 MINUTES

A member of the crew aboard HMS Malcolm recounts the evacuation at Dunkirk.

Lt General Sir Brian Horrocks.

Men in Battle | Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1956
27 MINUTES

A senior officer's account of Dunkirk.

Men wait to be hauled out of the sea during the Dunkirk evacuation.

Dunkirk Evacuation | Sgt John Bridges

RECORDED 1960
21 MINUTES

A former sergeant speaks about his dramatic escape from Dunkirk.

British troops look back at the Dunkirk coast from a steamer.

Dunkirk: Twenty Years After

BROADCAST 1960
59 MINUTES

Recollections of those who took part at Dunkirk on shore, in the air and at sea.

Paul Reynaud.

Dunkirk Revisited

BROADCAST 1965
5 MINUTES

Former French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud is interviewed about Dunkirk.

A wounded soldier on a rowing boat during the Dunkirk evacuation.

Yesterday's Witness | One Man's Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1970
29 MINUTES

One man relives the darker moments of Dunkirk.

Dunkirk war memorial, France.

Dunkirk: Forty Years On

BROADCAST 1980
27 MINUTES

Dunkirk veterans from north-east England remember the evacuation.

Poppies.

Week in Week Out | Last General

BROADCAST 1994
29 MINUTES

Survivors share their memories of the Wormhoudt massacre.

Richard Holmes.

War Walks | Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1997
29 MINUTES

Richard Holmes tells the story of Dunkirk as he walks its beaches and breakwaters.

A Panzer.

Dunkirk | What If...?

BROADCAST 2000
29 MINUTES

...Hitler had not halted the Panzers?

Documents

 An internal memo addressed to BBC news editors.

Submission of Stories to the War Office

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

A memo from the Assistant Senior News Editor about the Ministry of Information.

A memo from the BBC to the MoI.

GHQ Bulletins

WRITTEN 1940
3 Pages

The BBC informs the Ministry of Information about its preliminary Dunkirk news reports.

Memo from the BBC to the war office.

Forces Personnel in Programmes

WRITTEN 1940
2 Pages

Memo from the BBC to the War Office.

A note about how a BBC news report breached a censorship rule.

A Query Regarding a French Eyewitness

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

The BBC is held to account by Military Intelligence.

A summary of a telephone conversation between the BBC and MI7.

Broadcasts by Serving Officers and Men

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

A summary of a telephone conversation between the BBC and MI7.

Memo about the cancellation of all army broadcasts.

Cancellation of Army Officers' and Men's Broadcasts

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

All broadcasts from officers and men in the army are to be stopped.

A message from the Director of Publicity.

Honour French Allied Troops

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

Recognition for the part played by the French.

The Ministry of Information send an urgent message forbidding interviews with servicemen.

Telephone Message from Mr Wellington, Ministry of Information

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

The Ministry of Information sends an urgent message forbidding interviews with servicemen.

A memo from the Ministry of Intelligence.

General MacFarlane's Broadcast

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

The Ministry of Information stops further broadcasts by a general.

A memo about a request from the War Office.

Withdrawal of Reports About Calais and Dunkirk

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

The War Office warning about recent news reports.

A memo about Nazi propaganda.

German High Command Communique

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

The Ministry of Information refutes Nazi claims.

A BBC memo highlights censorship communication problems.

Ministry of Information Instructions

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

A BBC memo highlights censorship communication problems.

Memo with further instructions from the Ministry of Information.

The Prime Minister's Speech

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

Worries about France and instructions from Ministry of Information and the Foreign Office.

A memo from Mary Somerville.

BBC Memo About Communication Difficulties with the War Office

WRITTEN 1940
2 Pages

The unprecedented demands of broadcasting in wartime continue to cause problems.

A memo from Major Harrison.

Policy for Officers and Men Broadcasting

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

The War Office reconfirm their policy on broadcasts by serving officers and men.

'London Calling' article about the Dunkirk evacuation.

London Calling: The 'Curlew' at Dunkirk

WRITTEN 1940
2 Pages

A yachtsman tells of his voyage to Dunkirk.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.