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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict

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The sound of sirens

City dwellers throughout Britain were on constant standby for the sound of the air-raid siren. German attacks from the air were calculated to undermine national morale while destroying lives, vital services and industries.

In these audio clips, those who endured repeated enemy bombing recall the raids and people's differing reactions to them, ranging from panic to fatalism.

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State of war, 2939: The British public listened to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, on BBC radio, announcing war with Germany. News archive of Chamberlain's historic broadcast, with recollections of how people dealt with the terror of air raids
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The Blitz - London under fire: Listen to the men and women who worked as fire officers during the London Blitz.
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Siren warning: Cities around Britain came under attack from German bombers. In March 1941 a devastating air-raid flattened the city of Plymouth. For this midwife, sheltering with a woman in labour, it was a terrifying experience when the children's ward was directly hit.
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Women in wartime: Emergency teams, which fought to limit the damage caused to buildings and servces by bombing, included women. They spent hours fighting the raging fires and managed to save St Paul's cathedral from the flames.
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The Blitz in Coventry: Friday, 14 November 1940 is a date many Coventry people will never forget. That evening, a bombing raid left the city on fire and flattened entire streets. This man remembers his family's panic when, after the all-clear, they couldn't find his father.
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Air-raids and blackouts: World War Two brought air-raids and blackouts which were a challenge to people's ability to cope.
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V1 and V2 rockets: In this mixture of news archive and memories, various interviewees remember the V1 and V2 rockets bombs, a bombing campaign that started a week after D-Day.
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VE Day celebrations: Churchill joins in the elation following the announcement of peace. The BBC's newsman comments on the 'Great Man's' outfit.

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