WWII: Dunkirk Evacuation | How the 'little ships' helped rescue the Allied troops
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Sent to DG
31st May, 1940.
I attach an urgent memorandum, and shall be grateful if you will do everything you can to help us with the military authorities. We shall be glad to make special time available, and to send our men with recording vans to various parts of the country on your instructions.
You will understand that the essence of this is speed. We should be beginning these eye-witness stories tonight. If through any technical hitches the thing is held up until, say, Tuesday, it will already be beginning to lose its full effect.
[Handwritten] Yours Sincerely (and hopefully)
[signed] A.P. Ryan
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BROADCASTING AND THE RETURNING B.E.F.
1. The B.B.C. feels that broadcasting can, if allowed by the military authorities, do an important job towards raising home morale. This job consists in bringing to the microphone officers and men just back, and letting them tell their stories.
2. The B.B.C. is anxious to give special time, outside the normal short postscripts in the news periods, and to do it regularly for the next few days.
3. It is suggested that these speakers, without being egotistic or referring to personal exploits, should give simple eye-witness stories of the actions in which they have been engaged. It would make these infinitely more effective if authority were given for the mention of regiments. The speeches by the Prime Minister and Mr. Eden, and official communiques, will no doubt be giving the full narrative of events. The individual speakers should be used against this background, i.e. if the official communiques include reference to this or that episode in the battle, then it would be valuable from the propaganda angle for an officer or man to speak, and to be introduced in such terms as -
"Listeners will have heard of the gallant defence of the Bridge at X by the Somerset Light Infantry. Here is a survivor of that regiment."
4. Up till now this story has - through nobody's fault - been given in the wrong perspective. Day by day while the B.E.F. were fighting what presumably is one of the great defensive actions in military history, the news has been stressing R.A.F. successes. The Air Ministry have themselves said that they would be very glad to take a back seat in favour of the B.E.F. in the immediate future. The effect of men coming home on leave from the B.E.F. and hearing from their families of the accounts of R.A.F. activities, will clearly be unfortunate to home morale unless it is corrected by vivid eye-witness military accounts.
5. It should be emphasized that the need for getting serving officers and men to the microphone is felt to be urgent by the Ministry of Information.
31st May, 1940.
[signed] A.P. Ryan
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Document Type | Internal Memo
31 May 1940
AP Ryan, BBC Controller (Home), urges Major Harrison of the War Office to allow the broadcast of eyewitness accounts of events at Dunkirk from returning officers and men. Accordingly, the Air Ministry is in agreement, as they would like the media spotlight taken off the RAF in favour of the BEF for a while to boost morale.
Working with the Ministry of Information, AP Ryan was made Controller (Home) in May 1940, then Home Adviser in 1941, before becoming Controller (News) in 1942.
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.
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