WWII: Dunkirk Evacuation | How the 'little ships' helped rescue the Allied troops
BBC Internal Circulating Memo
Subject: MINISTRY OF INFORMATION INSTRUCTIONS
To: A.C.(P) [crossed out and initialled]
4th June, 1940
I understand that both general directives and ad hoc directions on military and political matters now reach the Corporation through C(H), through whom they are circulated to C (O) and C (P).
Don't you think it would be a good thing if any of the Programme Directors in our Division who have devolved censorship powers and who do topical stuff could have copies of these as soon as possible? For example, the situation has changed almost from day to day about interviews with the B.E.F. I wanted to put a returned corporal into our Current Affairs programme tomorrow; both you and C(P) were inaccessible [at the time of asking - handwritten note in margin] and I therefore referred to A.C.(H) who had no reason at the time to discourage the idea. I learned almost by accident from him yesterday, however, that since I had spoken to him an order had come through that we must not select our own B.E.F. speakers. Since then there has been a further order that service personnel who appear in the programme, with the necessary permission of the appropriate authorities, must speak 'straight' and not take part in a broadcast interview. If we had gone ahead with the proposed programme for tomorrow the script would of course have been referred and the project squashed, but meanwhile work would have been done for nothing.
I suggest, therefore, that when the divisional note from C (H) to Talks or News goes out, D.F.D., D.R.B., D.V. and I should be sent copies direct.
[signed] Mary Somerville
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Document Type | Internal Memo
04 June 1940
Senior broadcaster Mary Somerville highlights how poor communication between BBC departments about censorship is causing headaches. Information given to controllers isn't being passed on efficiently to programmers and, consequently, programme makers aren't able to keep up with the pace of change. This also shows how the government's views about censorship were in flux. In this example, Somerville outlines how plans to interview returning BEF troops had to be changed twice and then shelved altogether on the day before broadcast.
Mary Somerville's career at the BBC spanned 30 years, 18 of which she dedicated to schools broadcasting, which she had helped to pioneer.
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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