WWII: Dunkirk Evacuation | How the 'little ships' helped rescue the Allied troops
BBC ARCHIVE DOCUMENT 1940
[Page 1 of 3]
BBC Internal Circulation Memo
Subject: GHQ BULLETINS
28th May, 1940.
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.
[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.
2 [Illegible] read over or show MS to MI7A.
[Page 2 of 3]
Stewart Broadcasting - DH.
1. 20th May (Record)
2. 22nd May, 1940 (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.
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:
Document Type | Internal Memo
28 May 1940
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.
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.
Winston Churchill makes his first prime ministerial broadcast.
An appeal for Dunkirk recruits on behalf of the government.
Bernard Stubbs reports on the returning troops.
Rt Hon Anthony Eden recounts the events of the 'battle for the ports'.
Ed Murrow reports on his visit to a fighter airfield.
Four members of the BEF describe their retreat to Calais and Dunkirk.
Reporter Ed Murrow hears Churchill's speech in the Commons.
JB Priestley pays homage to the small boats of Dunkirk.
The shipping minister recounts the past few days at Dunkirk.
A Pathe news cameraman describes Dunkirk.
The role of Margate's lifeboats in the Dunkirk evacuation.
A Thames tugboat master describes how he helped with the Dunkirk operation.
The captain of the Royal Daffodil recounts being bombed.
Commander Lightoller is interviewed by Charles Gardner.
Memories of Dunkirk by those who were there.
A member of the crew aboard HMS Malcolm recounts the evacuation at Dunkirk.
A senior officer's account of Dunkirk.
A former sergeant speaks about his dramatic escape from Dunkirk.
Recollections of those who took part at Dunkirk on shore, in the air and at sea.
Former French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud is interviewed about Dunkirk.
One man relives the darker moments of Dunkirk.
Dunkirk veterans from north-east England remember the evacuation.
Survivors share their memories of the Wormhoudt massacre.
Richard Holmes tells the story of Dunkirk as he walks its beaches and breakwaters.
...Hitler had not halted the Panzers?
A memo from the Assistant Senior News Editor about the Ministry of Information.
The BBC informs the Ministry of Information about its preliminary Dunkirk news reports.
Memo from the BBC to the War Office.
The BBC is held to account by Military Intelligence.
A summary of a telephone conversation between the BBC and MI7.
All broadcasts from officers and men in the army are to be stopped.
Recognition for the part played by the French.
The Ministry of Information sends an urgent message forbidding interviews with servicemen.
The Ministry of Information stops further broadcasts by a general.
The War Office warning about recent news reports.
The Ministry of Information refutes Nazi claims.
A BBC memo highlights censorship communication problems.
Worries about France and instructions from Ministry of Information and the Foreign Office.
The unprecedented demands of broadcasting in wartime continue to cause problems.
The War Office reconfirm their policy on broadcasts by serving officers and men.
A yachtsman tells of his voyage to Dunkirk.
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.