Segments in this Video

Making or Breaking (03:28)


Though the BBC was beginning to win the war of words against foreign opponents, the trust of the British people had not yet been won by 1943, over three years after the beginning of the war in 1939. The BBC endeavored to become a vital public service, but was still considered a suspicious threat to politicians and the military. In January 1943, Richard Dimbleby became the first BBC correspondent assigned to the Royal Air Force.

Hardship and Stars (03:40)

Approaching Berlin, searchlights illuminated the sky, and fire bombs were dropped over the German capital, according to Richard Dimbleby's report from an aircraft. Both Richard and his listeners were undergoing a new experience. Entertainers necessary to keep the BBC engaging were evacuated to Bangor, Wales from London to prevent a bomb from taking them off of the air.

Role of Music (02:29)

The entertainers put on more and more programs to appease popular demand, some performers engaging in ten shows a week with little to no rehearsal. Music was a more controversial subject with BBC top dogs John Reith and Basil Nicholis and their austere opinions regarding the purpose of music.

Never Apologize, Never Explain (02:44)

Dance music was problematic for the BBC, because dancing was a trend regarded by ministers as a cheerful and innocent pleasure able to engage the masses, but Reith and Nicholis disapproved. Jonathan Dimbleby presents some of the varying musical selections that BBC's czars would and would not allow.

Influx of Americans (03:01)

By 1942, Britain endured a flood of United States military personnel and by 1943, at least 30,000 occupied South Devon, creating a U.S. dormitory in Slapton. One radio was issued per 100 U.S. troops, but they reportedly considered the British radio programs and news "lousy." The American Forces Network was the solution, but it too became an issue for the controlling cultural czars of the BBC when British listeners began to tune in to the AFN instead of the usual British channels.

Ironic Rivalry (02:12)

Performing on the American Forces Network were stars including Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Count Basie, and other American household names. AFN quickly became BBC's rival, as five million young British listeners changed their loyalties. To remain relevant, BBC had to go with popular opinion.

Justified Criticism (04:14)

In March of 1943, the British Army, accompanied by the BBC, underwent a secret exercise called Spartan where a mock battle against a mock enemy was held at Oxfordshire. Richard Dimbleby led the reporting team knowing that the BBC's performance would either make or break the corporation in the eyes of the British military.

Symbol of Resistance (03:48)

World War II was about more than just the front line reporters for the BBC; it also concerned the men and women stuck in the Nazi-occupied lands, longing to be free. Foreign language services on the BBC grew from seven to 46 networks within a few short years of the war. In the Ministry of Information, a young Belgian refugee called for a unifying symbol, and the 'V' sign was adopted as a silent form of resistance.

Refugees' Messages (03:02)

Colonel Britton promoted the V-for-Victory campaign on air, urging factory workers under German occupation to cut their output. German leaders tried to claim the sign as theirs, but were unsuccessful. Britton's campaign eventually was dropped by BBC, but at least 35 million Nazi-defying listeners already tuned into the BBC.

Subversion and Guerilla Warfare (03:14)

A secret message broadcast on the radio operated as a code for resistors to communicate to another group that a cache of weapons was to be dropped in a field. The special operations mission was entitled Operation Roach and led by a school teacher in July of 1940. Eventually the communication of secret messages by BBC broadcasters got out of hand.

War and the Mighty Midget (03:43)

By summer of 1943, Nazis were no longer believed by the majority of listeners and the BBC had played a powerful role in undermining Nazi credibility. The Allies began to advance on the Third Reich in Rome, Italy. The Allies stormed on the Germans on a beach in Anzio, Italy, with BBC broadcaster Wynford Vaughan-Thomas in accompaniment.

Rome's Liberation (02:26)

On May 18, 1944, four months before the Allies could make the final assault on the German, broadcaster Godfrey Talbot joined the Polish Second Corps for a battle where men fought until death or exhaustion overtook them at the Battle of Monte Cassino. That month, Talbot reported the Allies taking Monte Cassino.

War Report (02:30)

On June 6, 1944, Richard Dimbleby recorded the departure of the Sixth Airborne Division troops as they headed to Normandy. They were the first Allied soldiers to land in occupied France as D-Day loomed. At that point, Dimbleby was one of 17 BBC presenters that made history by accompanying the military into the war.

Front Line Reports (02:16)

D-Day was the first "War Report" episode, communicated to the public by BBC's Alan Melville in 1944. More than 50 reports were sent back to London. Richard Dimbleby also participated in the D-Day articulation.

Allies Advancement (02:50)

Frank Gillard's communication of the battle in Normandy on D-Day described the situation as sickening, the streets coated with bodies of soldiers from both sides. The BBC was broadcasting in over 40 languages. The German audience was estimated to be 15 million people, each of them risking their own lives, as it was considered a crime to tune into other countries' radio stations in Germany.

Charnel House (04:04)

In March 1945, BBC correspondents accompanied the British military in the air and on the ground, and Richard Dimbleby used the Mighty Midget to record his broadcasting directly onto disks from a plane. On the journey to the Port of Hamburg, Dimbleby and his accomplices went to a German prison camp that was being liberated: Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Destruction of Nazism (02:43)

Two weeks after Richard Dimbleby's visit to Bergen-Belsen, the Third Reich finally fell. Churchill reported the unconditional surrender of the German on the airwaves. Richard was the BBC broadcaster present at that moment.

Credits: Into Battle: Episode 2—BBC At War (00:44)

Credits: Into Battle: Episode 2—BBC At War

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Into Battle: Episode 2—BBC At War

Part of the Series : The BBC At War
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



In the second installment of Jonathan Dimbleby’s BBC At War, Dimbleby further explores the use of propaganda as a military weapon and tool of social control in World War II. Through the final years of the war, the BBC Corporation and its presenters were able to prove the BBC’s motive as a source of public service to the British people, sealing its reputation. Colonel Britton’s V-for-Victory campaign and BBC’s coverage of the D-Day bombings are also featured.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL124873

ISBN: 978-1-64023-018-7

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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