WWII: Outbreak | Britain on the brink of World War II
CHANNEL | Radio 4
FIRST BROADCAST | 21 June 1974
DURATION | 9 minutes 12 seconds
William Forrest was a newspaper journalist staying in Warsaw when Germany invaded. He was one of the few to meet the significant people and witness the historic events surrounding the outbreak of the war. From observing the build-up of troops on the border to enduring heavy bombing raids, this account shows what it was like to be in Poland as war began.
John F Kennedy was in Warsaw in the summer of 1939 as part of a European tour and William Forrest encountered him at the US Embassy there. Kennedy's Harvard University thesis on Britain's involvement in the Munich Agreement was based on research carried out during this tour and was later published as a book titled 'Why England Slept' (1940). Its foreword by Henry R Luce warned the USA about the dangers of not being prepared for war.
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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