German radio to Britain

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by PsyWar.Org, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Recently I've been researching the German clandestine radio stations and the British renegades who broadcast on them and wrote the scripts.

    The main four stations were the New British Broadcasting Station (NBBS), Workers Challenge, Radio Caledonia and the Christian Peace Movement.

    Some of the transcripts making interesting reading. NBBS was the main station and here's a short excerpt from early September 1940:

    "It is clear that landings must soon be attempted. Dover is already practically German territory. Civilian population has fled, chaos reigns; the only opposition the raiders meet from ground is a little rifle shooting."

    Workers Challenge was aimed at the working classes but seems rather ridiculous.

    Radio Caledonia was mostly a one-man band with the scripts and broadcasts made by Donald Grant, a pre-war Nazi and Scots nationalist. The station was a Scottish separatist station.

    The stations formed part of a department called the Büro Concordia, which was controlled both by the German Foreign Office and Goebbels' propaganda ministry. William Joyce gave overall direction to the radio stations beamed to Britain from their offices inside the Berlin Olympic stadium.

    After the war, Joyce was executed for treason. The other British renegades, a mixture of Nazi-sympathisers and ex-POWs, received prison sentences ranging from ten years to six months. One of those receiving a ten year sentence was a Commando who had fought in North Africa and was subsequently wounded and taken prisoner on Crete. He maintained that he had volunteered to work for the Germans to facilitate an escape attempt. However, he broadcast on NBBS for over a year until escaping from Berlin after D-day, making his way to Belgium to wait out for the liberation. Fraser received the least sentence of six months.

    Any of our veterans ever have the occasional listen to any of the German stations?
    Smudger Jnr and dbf like this.
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    In 1942, whilst waiting to be called up into the Forces, it was the norm for Lord Haw Haw (Wiliam Joyce) to be listened to occasionally on the radio.

    There was nothing clandestine about it, you could hardly avoid him as you tuned in your radio to receive the limited radio stations, and the content of his broadcasts would often be discussed in the local pub in the evenings.

    He was, however, universally despised and his subsequent death sentence for treason was well received.

    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Thanks Ron, interesting to hear that listening was reasonably widespread and openly discussed.

    You're right that the Joyce's, "Germany Calling" broadcasts weren't clandestine as he was on the 'official' German foreign language service.

    The stations I'm referring to above vaguely pretended to be broadcasting inside the UK and run locally by dissident Brits, so are generally termed 'clandestine' or 'freedom' stations. ...Or as the head of MI6 once called them "Free-dumb stations" and he was referring to the British clandestine stations to Europe.

    Reading some of the transcripts of NBBS from the invasion scare period of the summer of 1940, seem like they had potential of putting the wind up some people.
  4. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    My Mother told me that William Joyce caused great mirth during one of his broadcasts, telling the British populace that Germany had sunk HMS Ganges. The shore based training establishment at Shotley, Suffolk.
  5. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I listened to 'Lord Haw Haw' several times. It aroused in me an initial feeling of awe that I was hearing an English-speaking guy broadcasting from the heart of Germany; but his affectation and delivery created immediate resentment and whatever he said treated with ridicule but nevertheless quoted. It was strange propaganda that only a twisted-minded Nazi German could conceive to be effective as a demoralising weapon.

    Joe Brown.
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    William Joyce was always ridiculed by the British population as his nickname Lord Haw -Haw and was the butt of the counter propaganda by the British authorities although little must have been released which was authentic......he made false claims as mentioned because of the misinformation intelligence the Germans were receiving.The Double Cross Committee/Twenty Committee ably managed by John Masterman ensured that the Germans received duff information via our own wireless game with captured German agents and their wireless equipment.

    Off hand, two RAF POW renegades come to mind who collaborated with the Germans,one by the name of Williams,a Welshman broadcast for the Germans.Interestingly enough,the other one was called Joyce who was said to be a nephew of William Joyce...he had won the DFM in a Hampden out of Hemswell and went off the rails in captivity.Neither paid any real penalty but Joyce had his DFM withdrawn.Williams certainly broadcasted for the Germans but I am not sure of Sgt Joyce.

    The Germans had an extensive radio transmission schedule to the British public under their European Service, managed by the Reichsfunk.Broadcasting on the medium and long waves,it transmitted at frequent intervals during the day,viz,0630,1430,1730,1830,2130,2330 and 0030hrs and using the main Deutchlandsender (transmitter) at 0630.Transmitters at Calais,Bremen,Friesland and Luxemburg were used throughout the day.In addition the Germans used these tranmitter sites for short wave transmissions using the DJL,DXJ and DXM transmitters (transenders) for their European Service.

    But the star of the propaganda war came on transmission each night at 2230 hrs when William Joyce presented his "Views on the News".He broadcast on the medium and long wavelengths using the transmitters at Calais,Breslau,Cologne and Luxemburg with short wave transmissions on the DXM transmitter.

    Interesting to note that the German Summer Time was the same as British Double Summer Time which meant at the height of summer,sunset could be after 2300hrs in Britain.

    So the British could listen to the British news via the BBC Home Service at 2100hrs then listen to the lies projected by Lord Haw-Haw....but he had the advantage over the the British on broadcasting information regarding newly captured POW. particularly RAF aircrew.

    Used to listen to German broadcasts as a schoolboy....we had a Philips radio which had a brown bakelite casing ...remember searching on the various wavelengths which had far way places on the illuminated tuner...learned a great deal where these places were on that old set.The Dutch station Hilversum? stands out as does St Pauli which was Hamburg...always keen on Geography...was not until the mid 1950s that my parents got rid of that Philips and I replaced it with a Ferguson radiogram which could pick up Radio Luxemburg, AFN and above all, play records.
    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  7. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Thanks all for sharing your memories of wartime German radio.

    Was there any talk or memories of the other stations, not featuring Joyce/Lord Haw-Haw, like Workers Challenge or the New British Broadcasting Station? Could Radio Caledonia struck a cord in Scotland for instance?

    Or was it case that there was little or no conscientiousness of these stations at all?
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    Didn't even know of these other stations. :)

    I takes experts like you to tell us about them and thus expand our knowledge of those fascinatiing and mind-blowing times.

  9. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  10. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey


    Many thanks. That's the tricky thing to gauge, whether any sizeable number of people even knew of these stations existence, let alone whether they ever bothered to listen or were taken in by the ruse of being a 'British anti-war underground'.


    There are a couple of MI5 files on Raymond Davies Hughes:

    "Davies HUGHES, alias John BAKER, George BECKER, Raymond SHARPLES: an RAF Warrant Officer, he was shot down over Germany and imprisoned. He aided the enemy in various ways including broadcasting propaganda. In 1945 he was court martialled, sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and reduced to the ranks."
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Thanks David for the correction.I have it noted in my Chorley but did not refer to it.

    The case surrounding Joyce was revealed by those who served at Hemswell at the time.It is recorded in an edition of the Association's Lincoln Imp magazine,the private published magazine for members...will look through them and refresh myself with the the article.
    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  12. The Incomer

    The Incomer Junior Member

    My family certainly listened to a German propaganda station in 1944/45.My brother who was several years older than me, and a Sergeant in the 1st Battalion K.R.R.C. was posted missing in early October 1944 in Italy. A classmate of mine gave me the wavelength of a German station which ended its propaganda broadcast each evening with a list of dead,wounded and prisoner airmen & soldiers. We listened each evening and in early February 1945 a card was read out from him saying he was well,not wounded,not in hospital and was in Stalag V11a.So after 4 months we knew he was alive.Having last seen him in August 1940 he appeared on our doorstep exactly a week after VE Day.


    P.S. In the late evening of the day that we heard the broadcast,a Special Constable knocked on our door to tell us in case we hadn't heard.Apparently the P.C.'s at the station (Wembley) listened regularly as one of them also had a missing relative.We also received letters from a nurse and two other people,So quite a few people listened but with little attention given to the propaganda part.

    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  13. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Thanks LD, that's a very interesting recollection.

    Can you PM me your brother's name? I'll look out for him as I read through the transcripts of broadcasts.

  14. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Following on from LD's post above, German propaganda leaflets were also dropped by V1 flying bombs of Britain containing reproductions of letters written by British Prisoners of War. The Police did investigate to see whether the letters were genuine or not and whether the next of kin had received either the letter or a copy of the leaflet.

  15. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Incidentally,David,working my way through the Hemswell Association "The Ermine Link" copies for the Joyce reference...unfortunately they are not indexed.I inadvertently referred to them as the Lincoln Imp magazine and not as privately published,The Ermine Link.
  16. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Just read VI POW POST. My eye was at once drawn to the letter to Mrs J. W. Coulthard as I served when first commissioned for a few months in an Holding Company commanded by a Captain J. W. Coulthard in 9th KOSB. It was The Royal Scots Company in the Holding Battalion.

    Do you know anything of his background? Was he taken prisoner at Arnhem, as I believe many of the 9th KOSB opted to served with the 7th KOSB which was a glider borne unit that fought at Arnhem? I have read of former colleagues who served with Captain Coulthard being killed in that action.

    He was a fine chap and supportive of his newly-fledged Second Lieutenants. Remember he was reading Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and had only been able two get two volumes of a three-volume set and I bought his two volumes so he could buy an omnibus edition so he could complete the story!

    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  17. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Amazing Joe. I'm currently away from home for a few days but will check up in my files to see if the police investigated this particular letter. Also will follow him up to see he completed a liberation questionnaire which will hopefully confirm it's the same man.

    If memory serves in most cases, the names and adresses were correct but the letters themselves were said to be fabrications.

  18. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    William Joyce......Lord Haw Haw........ how the DT reported his capture on 29 May 1945 near to Flensburg on the Danish border.

    I think that the British officer that wounded Joyce in the thigh was a German Jew who had fled the Nazis and eventually had joined the British Army and then was the cuff I think he went under the name of Thomas...I may be incorrect with the adopted name.

    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  19. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    OP, several of the better "Sealion Summer" histories do indeed mention the psi war ops aspect of these clandestine stations, particularly Fleming, He's worth a read on them. They were indeed intended during 1940 to disturb the population at large, to "big up" the prospect of the damage that would be done in the event of invasion etc.. Each had a slightly different "feel" to them - the NBBS for example was, for most of the summer, intended to masquerade as an official UK govt. service, dispensing "good" information about what to do in the event of an to dispose of your family's dead bodies, for example....!....advice that was intended to make people distinctly uncomfortable about upcoming events!

    (EDIT:.....the idea being to foster the idea in the public mind that law and order would break down, disease would be rife, no one would be around - or even care! - about clearing casualties etc....hence the "good advice" being doled out by the supposed "authorities" - I.E. trying to make people believe that the government didn't give a sh1t about them, so better to make peace, eh? ;) )
    PsyWar.Org likes this.
  20. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I must comment that this is a most interesting thread to read.

    Thanks to all for their Input so far.


Share This Page