Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Releases

BBC Archive remembers the miracle of the 'Little Ships'

  • BBC Archive releases a new online collection honouring the heroes of Dunkirk
  • BBC releases documents revealing government censorship of the Dunkirk story
  • Survivors of one of the darkest moments of WW2 recount the true story of the Dunkirk evacuation

A new online collection from BBC Archive released today commemorates the heroes of Dunkirk and reveals the personal stories behind the event which has become synonymous with the true spirit of British wartime defiance.

Including Churchill's first speech as Prime Minister and the original BBC radio broadcast which asked for men who could operate boats to volunteer for the risky trip across the channel, the collection features original broadcasts which tell the story of Dunkirk as it happened.

Julie Rowbotham, Executive Producer, BBC Archive said: "These archive programmes offer us a glimpse of the trauma of Dunkirk, but also provide us with an account of the many heroic deeds carried out during those few desperate days of the evacuation."

Rarely seen documents from the BBC Archives reveal that BBC news reports on Dunkirk were censored by the government including the revelation that the government insisted that members of the army were not permitted to discuss the evacuation in any BBC broadcasts.

Other highlights include: an interview with Charles Herbert Lightoller, famous as the most senior surviving officer from the Titanic, describing the hazards he faced when he took his yacht to the beaches; a speech from famous writer JB Priestley celebrating the heroism of the little boats; and the television programme What If….? which considers what would have happened had allied troops not been evacuated.

This collection is the latest in a series of archive collection to be released online and which explore the cultural and political developments that shaped the 20th century. WWII – Dunkirk Evacuation is available online at

Notes to Editors

The BBC Archive is one of the largest multimedia archives in the world, held in 27 locations across the UK. As well as close to a million hours of TV and radio programmes it also holds six million still photographs, over four million items of sheet music and over half-a-million documents and records.

The BBC Archive website allows you to explore over 80 years of UK and BBC history. Programmes, documents and images bring the past to life and reveal forgotten stories, available to UK audiences.

For more information, visit:


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