Christmas In Wartime - Britain In 1940

A special shortwave broadcast from the BBC World Service on Christmas 1940, featuring interviews with people living in bomb shelters, fire fighters and The King's Christmas Message.

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Nothing like Christmas in wartime to put a perspective on things. This one, from 1940 was new and strange for the time. London had been going through the Blitz throughout 1940 and a goodly part of London was either destroyed or badly damaged. People who got the worst of it landed in these underground shelters. They were home to them for a very long time and there were usually hundreds of people crammed into them.

Since the BBC pioneered the concept of "on-the-spot" coverage of news and events, documentaries and special programs like this were commonplace, even during the war and it gave the rest of the world an opportunity to hear, almost first hand, what it was like for a country to withstand the devastation of war and somehow find some reason to celebrate.

This broadcast comes early on Christmas Day 1940. It ends with the King's Christmas Message.

So if you were curious what Christmas was like seventy years ago, pretend you're hearing this for the first time.

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