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28/08/2009

BBC Opens WWII Archive Online

A new online archive collection - dating back to 1939 - has gone onto the Internet.

It is part of the BBC's plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the Second World War.

It includes documents, a new image gallery and 20 rare recordings dating back over the years.

They have been made available online for the first time, giving a unique insight into the how the BBC prepared the country 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 Neville Chamberlain's return after signing the Munich Agreement, 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."

The new Archive collection is one of many ways the BBC is remembering the 70th anniversary of the Second World War.

The corporation is also producing two new BBC One daytime programmes, Land Girls and The Week We Went To War, have already been announced.

The One Show has also been featuring war-related films in its early evening slot, including reuniting three women who flew in behind enemy lines to bring out critically-ill patients.

Also, on BBC Radio 4, Peter Snow presents a Random Edition special focusing on Britain's first day of war in 1939.

Sally Magnusson and genealogist Nick Barrett start the new series of Tracing Your Roots by exploring how to locate and search Second World War archives to discover the fate of soldiers and civilians who, during the course of the war, simply disappeared from their families' lives.

See: bbc.co.uk/archive

(BMcC/GK)

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