WWII: Outbreak | Britain on the brink of World War II
Document Type | Transcript
03 September 1939
This document is the script of Neville Chamberlain's broadcast to the nation on 3 September 1939, stating that Britain had declared war on Germany. It was broadcast on BBC radio from Downing Street at 11.15am, shortly after Germany failed to agree to withdraw its troops from Poland. In his speech, Chamberlain reiterates his attempts to gain a peaceful solution and counters Hitler's claims that Poland had rejected a settlement. Finally, he offers encouragement to the British people in defending their country for a just cause. Listen to the recording of this speech Britain Declares War on Germany.
Neville Chamberlain was born on 18 March 1869 to a Unitarian family who instilled in him a strong sense of duty and morality. His main preoccupation was with social reform, addressing poverty and the quality of life of ordinary people, from eradicating slums to providing schools and hospitals. He became Prime Minister in May 1937, but resigned in May 1940 after many unsuccessful attempts to avert another 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.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.