May 28, 2010

(Harbinger of very dark days ahead)

On May 27th 1940 the situation in Europe took a decided turn for the worst when Belgium, unable to resist the German invasion, surrendered and stranded some one million French and British troops, now surrounded by German forces.

The news came in the middle of the night in the U.S. - 3 a.m. in New York as Premier Paul Reynaud addressed the French people, telling them of the grave situation they were now faced with.

Bob Trout (CBS News): “At this moment the Allied armies in Belgium are reported to be in grave peril as Germany strikes with tremendous force to surround them completely. Spokesmen in Berlin are saying now that one million Allied troops in Belgium are completely cut off and the great battle of Flanders will be over in a few days.”

The Premier's speech was barely audible, as was Edward R. Murrow's report from London, owing to shortwave transmission as the only way at the time to receive news reports from overseas. But the gravity of the situation was immediately apparent. At the time it wasn't known if the trapped armies would escape, if this was a prelude to a full-on invasion of Britain or if the German armies would turn and go south and head to Paris.

I included the complete report as well as the organ music break just before the wrap-up. I don't know if it's possible to suspend knowing how the war eventually would end, but try and imagine you're hearing this for the first time as it's actually happening.

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