1941, Winston Churchill demanded that a propaganda war should be
properly waged against the Nazis and an organisation called the
Political Warfare Executive was set up, which ran many of their
operations from places in Beds, Herts and Bucks.
defectors and prisoners of war were taken to the Sugar Loaf pub
in Dunstable, and then put into cars with blacked out windows.
now do we know that they were dispersed to villages across Bedfordshire
and Buckinghamshire, to fight their hidden war.
One of the most amazing stories is the part played by the small
village of Milton Bryan in Bedfordshire.
the edge of the Woburn Estate, a top secret state-of-the-art radio
station was built to record 'black propaganda' radio shows.
by the former Express Correspondent, Sefton Delmer, a multi-national
team pretended to be Germans, and fooled the enemy into thinking
they were listening to real German radio stations.
programmes encouraged German soldiers to surrender, gave false and
misleading instructions to civilians, and played music that the
Nazi regime frowned upon.
well as the main aim of turning the German people against the Nazis
and demoralising enemy soldiers, Milton Bryan also played the latest
German hits, and had the latest news from Germany which had been
intercepted at Bletchley Park.
were made to the German Army across Europe, to U-boat crews in the
Atlantic, and also directly into Germany itself.
trick was to wait until official German radio stations had gone
off air during air raids, then Milton Bryan would broadcast on the
same frequencies, so the Germans thought they were still listening
to the real station.
work of Milton Bryan was so convincing that Goebbels, the Nazi head
of propaganda, complained about how well they did their job.
radio station at Milton Bryan stood derelict for many years after
the Second World War, but the main building, guard house, air raid
bunker, and some of the living quarters still exist. There are still
bars on the windows where German prisoners of war used to broadcast,
and the remains of the blackout screens still hang over the windows.
building is now being gradually renovated by the Ampthill and Woburn
District Scouts, who use the surrounding land as a campsite. One
of the old Nissen huts has been turned into a canteen, and the other
into a toilet block. The side of the main building now has a climbing
wall for abseiling!
the work of Milton Bryan remained a secret for many years, the techniques
the station pioneered are still being used today.
the recent Iraq war, US propaganda experts used modern technology
to block official Iraqi government radio stations, and broadcast
their own programmes of their own.
to their broadcasts
Now for the first time since the Second World War, you can hear
extracts from the the very last day of broadcasting from Milton
Bryan on 30 August 1945, the day that Hitler committed suicide,
and the day that Ravensbruck Concentration Camp was liberated by
the Red Army.
audio clips come from Kurzwellesender Atlantik (Radio Programmes
aimed at German U-boat crews operating in the Atlantic Ocean) and
Soldatensender West (Radio Programmes aimed at German soldiers and
civillians in Mainland Europe)
out more about:
Bryan, and the secret war waged in the Three Counties
Delmer, the man who made the radio shows
propaganda and the work of Milton Bryan.
out more about the Secret War that was fought around
can find more stories like this and add your own on the People's
22-Apr-2004 13:28:59 BST
I too shall miss this very intersting broadcast. The subject
matter is sure to be of interest to a wider audiance. Could
this be repeated in some form or another on the evening regional
spear, kingston surrey
22-Apr-2004 11:14:16 BST
interesting and I look forward to hearing the programme.As a
"radio amateur" (callsign G4BXM) and member of the Vintage and
~Military Amateur Radio Society"(VMARS) I have researched this
subject and its connection with "Aspidistra" and have often
wondered why it has never featured on mainstream TV for example,although
I am sure Felix Delmer has things to say on that subject.Good
Connolly, Kilkeel, Co. Down
21-Apr-2004 20:18:23 BST
interesting, pity the broadcast is regional and I will be unable
to hear it here in N. Ireland to learn more about this aspect
of wartime work. I have a special interest in this area as my
late father was a naval Y service officer stationed at the Beaumanor
radio intercept station.
Beds, Herts and Bucks replies:
For anybody who cannot receive BBC Three Counties Radio, we will be
adding audio clips of all the interviews from the broadcast to this
page later on this afternoon.