For the first eight months after England declared war on Germany, the country did not seem to take the war seriously. There were the requisite rehearsals in case of a bombing, but the country remained quiet. That is, until Germany defeated France in May 1940.

During the next couple of months, Hitler began to formulate his plan for invading Britain. By August, the Luftwaffe was bombing airfields in southern England and getting stiff resistance from the Royal Air Force. England had also been quietly developing a new weapon called RADAR which helped to give them an advance warning.

During this time until the beginning of the bombing of London known as the London blitz, residents of the city would hear regular air raid sirens and sometimes took shelter. But parts of London simply were not taking the war seriously.

London After Dark

Around this time, the BBC and the Columbia Broadcasting System began a series of programs which took listeners on a sort of "sound-seeing tour" of London during this pseudo blitz. A BBC announcer would introduce various reporters who were stationed in places around London in which listeners could hear what life was like at this time. The program was directed to audiences in the United States and with the help of CBS European Events Director, Edward R. Murrow, provided what Londoners were going through.

The broadcast included here was titled Life in a blackout in the capital of Great Britain. The announcer describes the forthcoming broadcast: "During the next half hour, you will be in various parts of London a city which had three airraid alarms today...accounts of work, yes, and at play in this great city of a nation at war."

This broadcast is from August 24, 1940 and includes reporters Edward Murrow, Bob Bowman (CBC), Raymond Glendenning, Larry LeSuer, Eric Severied, Vincent Sheehan, Michael Standing, Vincent von Thomas, and J.B. Priestly.

Reference: Time Magazine, Monday, September 2, 1940

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© 2004 James F. Widner. all rights reserved.
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