Find out how the Droitwich transmitter played a role in helping the Allies win the Second World War.
Today, the transmitter in Droitwich broadcasts BBC radio programmes to the nation, but during the 1940s, it was used to protect the Midlands from air raids and to send vital messages to the French resistance in occupied Europe.
But secret documents released for the first time this year have shown that the Germans were using our own transmitter against us.
The transmitter in Droitwich was one of the handful in Britain capable of broadcasting to radios right across occupied Europe.
Secret messages were sent to the French Resistance using the transmitter, but those inputting the messages like Bridget Searle from the BBC French Service, often didn't know what they actually meant:
"I just typed some of them and heard them going out, I am not entirely sure I realised how important they were.
"They were rather silly messages - 'The rabbit is going down his hole', 'The door should be left open.'
"They didn’t really make much sense. Of course it was after I realised their importance”
These messages gave vital pre-arranged orders to the resistance in France, and although people in Droitwich didn't understand them - they knew their importance.
The gates to the Droitwich Transmitter
So it seems though did the Germans...
Spies in our midst
German intelligence was watching and listening to Droitwich all the way through the war.
Not only were their spies taking photographs, their codebreakers were paying special attention to the secret messages.
Former BBC engineer John Phillips now knows about the covert operations of the enemy:
"During the D-Day landings a photo unit from the RAF found an old airfield and lots of photos of Droitwich transmitting station, but they were not taken from the air, they were taken from the ground….so obviously there was some sort of spy activity, which enabled photos to be taken."
Secret documents recently revealed by the British Security Service show that the Germans also somehow managed to get their own messages broadcast.
Either by placing an agent within the BBC or the security services, or by supplying fake messages, enemy intelligence was also being broadcast from the Droitwich transmitter.
In summer 1944, the Droitwich transmitter played a part in the D-Day landings.
The date of the landings was broadcast in code in part of a poem. Then the day before the 6 June landings, messages were sent to the resistance to carry out acts of sabotage.
The following morning the allies landed on the beaches of Normandy...
In a small way, the Droitwich transmitter had helped towards the overall allied victory.
last updated: 04/12/07
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