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75 years on: Broadcasting House bombings

Hannah Khalil

Digital Content Producer, About The BBC Blog

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BBC Broadcasting House on Portland Place was damaged by bombs twice in 1940 during the Second World War, 75 years ago. The first time was on 15 October 1940: BH was hit by a 500lb delayed-action high explosive bomb. The BBC switchboard was decimated and the bomb landed in the Music Library on the fifth floor. Seven BBC staff members were killed while trying to move it. The picture above shows the hole in the building's facade made by that first bomb.

At the moment of the blast radio newscaster Bruce Belfrage was reading the nine o'clock news. Listeners heard the distant bomb blast live over the airwaves and Belfrage paused for a moment in the dust covered basment studio before completing the bulletin.

You can listen to a recording of Belfrage recreating that moment 10 years later in 1950 on BBC News website.

On 8 December 1940 a land mine was dropped in Portland Place. A policeman was killed, and adjacent All Souls church, the Langham hotel and Broadcasting House all sustained damage. BH caught fire and among other places Studio 3E was burnt out. The following pictures document that damage:

Broadcasting House west facing wall, showing damage to stonework.

Damage to the sixth floor, room 618 and 619.

The tidy up job begins on the fourth floor, in room 421.

Room 322 on the third floor is completely destroyed.

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