World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

The BBC in WW2
From Wikipedia
The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station which broadcast from 1939 until 1967.

Between the 1920s and the outbreak of the Second World War, the BBC had developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme and the BBC Regional Programme. As the name of the latter suggests, as well as a "basic" service programmed from London, the Regional Programme included a large measure of additional, alternative or rescheduled programming originating in six regions. Although the programmes attracting the greatest number of listeners tended to appear on the National, the two services were not streamed – that is, they did not attempt to appeal to different audiences; instead, they appealed to a single audience but provided a choice of programming.

Broadcasting House - photo by Bill Ross

World War II
On 1 September 1939, the BBC merged the National and the Regional Programmes into one national service from London. The reasons given for this included the need to prevent enemy aircraft from using differentiated output from the Regional Programme's transmitters as navigational beacons. To this end, the former "regional" transmitters were synchronised in chains on (initially) two frequencies, 668 and 767 kHz, with an additional chain of low powered transmitters (known as "Group H") on 1474 kHz appearing later. Under this arrangement "regional" broadcasting in its pre-war form was no longer feasible; however, much of the programming on the new service was gradually decentralised to the former "regional" studios (because of the risks from enemy attack/bombing/invasion in London) and broadcast nationally.

The new service was named the Home Service, which was also the internal designation at the BBC for domestic radio broadcasting (the organisation had also had Television Service and Overseas Service departments).

On 29 July 1945, the BBC resumed its previous regional structure and began "streaming" its radio services. Following the wartime success of the Forces and General Forces Programmes, light entertainment was transferred to the new BBC Light Programme, whilst 'heavier' programming – news, drama and talks – remained on the now-regionalised Home Service.
However, popular light programming from the former national Home Service – such as ITMA – remained on the new Home Service; similarly, some speech programming of the type pioneered by the Forces Programmes – the newly-launched Woman's Hour being very much in this mould – remained on the new Light Programme.

The Home Service had seven regions.
London and South East England was served by the "basic Home Service", which was not considered a region by the BBC and acted as the sustaining service for the other regions.
A shortage of frequencies meant that the Northern Ireland Regional Home Service was treated as part of the North Regional Home Service, as the Northern Ireland service used the same frequency as a North service booster. The Northern Ireland service was separated from the North region on 7 January 1963.
Bomb Explodes during news broadcast by Bruce Balfrage
from the BBC Story

Bomb - Bruce Balfrage edited.MP3

The Criterion Theatre in London became the base for the BBC's Empire Entertainments Unit. As well as working here,  the staff  ate and slept, sleeping on makeshift beds as broadcasts were actually going out from the theatre stage.  The Radio Theatre became a dormitory, wherein a curtain was used to separat the male and female sleeping quarters.

The London blitz began on 7 September 1940, and some time after,  Broadcasting House took its first hit. A delayed action bomb crashed through a window on the 7th floor, and came to rest two floors below  in the music library. About 45 minutes  later, it exploded, killing seven people. Bruce Belfrage was reading the news at the time, and his microphone picked up the sound of the blast. Bruce,  covered in dust and soot, nevertheless, read on.


A month later, Adderley Park transmitter in Birmingham was destroyed, and staff in nearby a shelter were killed. Two weeks later a landmine exploded outside Broadcasting House, causing more damage. And on 10 May 1941, the worst night of the Blitz, bombs destroyed all the buildings on the eastern side of the Broadcasting House island site, killing a member of staff. The Queens Hall, venue of the Proms, was hit and destroyed the same night, claiming further lives including one member of staff, while across London the BBC's Maida Vale studios took a direct hit.


Thorough preparations were made for Bristol to become the centre of operations if broadcasting from London became impossible. There were plans to build an emergency base in a disused railway tunnel. Areas of the tunnel would serve as dressing rooms, studios, control rooms, and a canteen, storing three months food supplies. The tunnel was declared structurally sound after being tested by the entire BBC symphony orchestra (100 instrumentalists) at full blast.