Bombing Berlin

Stephen Evans, the BBC's Berlin correspondent, tells the story of Wynford Vaughan-Thomas's report recorded aboard a Lancaster Bomber during a raid on Berlin.

In 1943, the RAF contacted the BBC with a dramatic offer - they were willing to send a two-man radio crew on a bombing raid over Berlin. The BBC chose Wynford Vaughan-Thomas for the mission. He accepted, knowing he might never return.

So on the night of 3rd September 1943, Vaughan-Thomas recorded for the BBC live from a Lancaster Bomber during a bombing raid over Berlin.

Wynford Vaughan-Thomas's experiences as a wartime reporter were remarkable; he was at Belsen and at the Normandy landings, reporting as it happened. The recording over Berlin shows his remarkable courage, literally under fire, and his description of the bombing and the views from the plane are rich indeed.

Vaughan-Thomas went on to become one of post-war Britain's most prominent media-intellectuals, a regular commentator and journalist, but those hours aboard the plane clearly remained a defining time in his life. Forty years later, interviewed by Parkinson, he called it "the most terrifying eight hours of my life. Berlin burning was like watching somebody throwing jewellery on black velvet - winking rubies, sparkling diamonds all coming up at you."

Stephen Evans puts Wynford Vaughan-Thomas's recordings in context. He looks at the experience on the ground in Berlin that night, reflects on the place of the broadcast in journalistic history, and dips into a lifetime of reflections from Vaughan-Thomas on a night which changed his life for ever.

Featuring Karin Finell, Max Hastings, Roger Moorhouse, Harold Panton, Jean Seaton, Dietmar Seuss and David Vaughan-Thomas.

Producer: Martin Williams.

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58 minutes

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Saturday 08:00

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