WWII: Outbreak | Britain on the brink of World War II
Document Type | Magazine
04 September 1939
This is number 831a, the emergency edition of the 'Radio Times' issued on 4 September, which listed a revised programme schedule suitable for wartime. It featured a lead article by editor Maurice Gorham explaining how, despite the war, like the broadcasting industry, the 'Radio Times' would carry on. Read the prewar version of the Radio Times front page.
Image courtesy of 'The Radio Times' Magazine.
The editor was faced with the task of managing the revised edition, which was to become available once Britain was at war, in accordance with the BBC's 'War Book' policy. This was quite an arduous task, since war had yet to be declared and the editor did not want to adopt an alarmist tone. The listings were based on the schedules put together by the programme planner, who (for the time being at least) could not work in advance. The new schedule contained hourly news broadcasts, while music, consisting of gramophone records or the BBC's own theatre organist, Sandy MacPherson, filled the gaps.
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.