WWII: Outbreak | Britain on the brink of World War II
CHANNEL | National Programme
FIRST BROADCAST | 01 September 1939
DURATION | 14 minutes 31 seconds
Newsreader Lionel Marson announces that Germany has invaded Poland and the armed forces in Britain and France have been mobilised in response. Many Polish towns have been bombed and Danzig (Gdansk) has fallen under German control. Translated excerpts from Hitler's proclamation to German citizens are also read out, revealing his objectives and his view of recent negotiations for a settlement. In London preparations for war continue; Queen Elizabeth, consort to HRH King George VI, visits the Women's Voluntary Service, while the evacuation of children gets under way. The bulletin also includes an appeal for all emergency services personnel to report for duty immediately.
Picture shows Lionel Marson, who served in the army.
During the war, BBC news bulletins were heavily relied upon, both at home and in occupied Europe, as a source of accurate information. Newsreaders often started a bulletin by giving their names so that audiences would come to recognise their voices and know it was a genuine BBC broadcast. The announcement about changing wavelengths refers to the fact that domestic broadcasting was going to be restricted to one wavelength only (called the Home Service). Therefore, if one transmitter had to be shut down - to avoid accidentally guiding German bombers to their targets - others would be able to take over.
Chamberlain returns from a meeting with Hitler in Bad Godesberg.
The BBC announces Britain's home defence measures.
Chamberlain broadcasts to the nation after one of his last meetings with Hitler.
Richard Dimbleby is at the scene of Chamberlain's return from Munich.
News extract on one aspect of British home defence measures - gas masks.
An inside report from Czechoslovakia on the German occupation.
Germany proposes a settlement to the Polish problem.
Children from London depart for an unknown destination in the countryside.
'Germany has invaded Poland and has bombed many towns.'
'This country is at war with Germany' announces the Prime Minister.
The King calls for courage and faith in the battle ahead.
The ultimatum to Germany is due to expire at 11.00am.
The Battle of the Atlantic begins as the first British ship is sunk by the Germans.
Teachers and a schoolgirl describe settling down in the country.
Evacuees from Manchester discuss their new lives.
The Foreign Secretary speaks after two months of war.
A message of hope and encouragement to the women of Europe.
How various hospitals in London prepared for war.
Personal memories of the outbreak of World War II.
A reporter remembers Poland in the summer of 1939.
What will the BBC's role be during war?
Precautions to protect staff from air raids.
Plans for variety programmes during wartime.
Defence: the Corporation's plans in the event of war.
Plans for the 'Radio Times' during wartime.
'This department will have to stand by in a period of comparative chaos.'
The front cover of the 'Radio Times' from the pre-war edition.
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's broadcast to the nation.
The front cover of the 'Radio Times' from the wartime revised edition.
Are the headquarters of the BBC in danger from an air attack?
Is there a need to camouflage the headquarters of the BBC?
Remember your gas mask.
A collection of photographs from the BBC archives on the outbreak of World War II.
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