WWII: Outbreak | Britain on the brink of World War II
Document Type | Report
This document is an extract from the BBC's 'War Book', which was compiled to detail the Corporation's operational requirements in the event of war. The focus here is on how the BBC will continue to broadcast while facing attack from air raids. Plans are outlined for relocation of staff to Wood Norton in Worcestershire or other sites in the event of an air raid. There is reference to 'Document C', the policy document that outlined the regulations under which the BBC would operate during wartime. 'Document C' was 22 pages long and contained detailed instructions for each department on what to do in the event of air raids or loss of specific transmitters.
As early as 1933, the BBC's first Director General, John Reith, made reference to the possibility of war in his diary, noting that senior civil servant Sir Maurice Hankey had told him: 'The government should have taken some steps to prepare the country for what they would have to do in the event of air raids.' A year later, Reith assembled a committee to deal with questions of defence, including air raids and civil disturbances.
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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