London Calling Europe began

6 July 1941

Image: The Rt Hon Sir Stafford Cripps broadcasting in London Calling Europe. The clip features the ident and theme, followed by a statement by the Miner’s International, read by Ivor Barnard.

London Calling Europe was first broadcast on 6 July 1941. The English language broadcasts were part of the radio propaganda and information war directed towards occupied Europe. English was widely understood on the continent and by broadcasting to a wide area it was hoped to evade some of the jamming that plagued the many BBC language services. The service was set up by the Director of European Broadcasts, NF Newsome, who broadcast himself, as 'The Man in the Street'.

London Calling Europe always began with the familiar announcement "this is London calling", which was followed by the stirring 'Trumpet Voluntary' by Purcell. The opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony were used as linking music – tying in with the V for Victory passive resistance campaign. As 'The Man in the Street', Newsome attempted to give a sense of what ordinary British citizens were thinking. Talks that could not find space on the individual language services often found their way into London Calling Europe.

London Calling Europe was one of many programmes broadcast by the BBC to occupied Europe. After the end of the war Europeans testified to the role the BBC played in providing accurate information and keeping up morale, in thousands of letters sent to Bush House.

World War 2 and the BBC