The BBC Archive is today launching a new online collection dating back to 1939, as part of the Corporation's plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. Documents, a new image gallery and 20 rare recordings dating back over 70 years have been made available online for the first time, giving a unique insight into the how the BBC prepared the country, and itself, for the outbreak of the Second World War.
Never-before-seen internal BBC documents and historic radio broadcasts have been released, including Richard Dimbleby reporting on Chamberlain's return after signing the Munich Agreement, Neville Chamberlain's declaration of war, and King George VI's radio address to the nation.
Surprising recordings which illustrate the reality of war for ordinary people have also been released, including a broadcast reminding people not to try out their gas masks in the oven or behind the exhaust of a motorcar.
Julie Rowbotham, Executive Producer, BBC Archive, said: "This was the first war where the radio was an essential source of news and information and the release of these broadcasts gives us the opportunity to experience first-hand what it was like for those tuning in as the nation went to war in 1939. The BBC archive provides a unique record of recent British contemporary history and this collection shows how important the BBC's role was in keeping the country informed during wartime."
World War II: The Outbreak of War is the latest in a series of online collections released by BBC Archive, which explore the cultural and political developments that shaped the 20th century.
The collection is available from Wednesday 26 August and can be viewed at bbc.co.uk/archive. Unfortunately, the audio is not available to Web users outside the UK.
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