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Despatches from the frontline

On This Day is going to war.

We have added more than 50 new pages reporting key events from World War II, from the outbreak of hostilities in 1939 to VJ day in 1945.

The stories have been written as if they were breaking news, like the rest of the site, and are illustrated with photographs of the conflict. You will also be able to listen to the original wartime BBC news broadcasts.

The broadcasts are radio only – the BBC’s fledging television service was switched off between 1939 and 1945 because of a lack of funds and to allay fears the transmitters would act as beacons for enemy bombers.

The reports have been assembled in collaboration with BBC History’s People’s War website – a project which is capturing and preserving many personal stories of families who lived and fought in World War II.

Wartime censorship

Many of the On This Day pages have links to these stories, so you can read the news report of the Normandy Landings and then go directly to a veteran’s personal testimony of D-Day.

If you or a member of your family would like to add an account you can do this via the People’s War website. You can get help submitting a story at your nearest People’s War centre – find out where this is by calling 08000 150950.

We have reported the events of the war using the knowledge a journalist would have had on the day.

During World War II details of troop movements, battles and casualty figures were often heavily censored and the media was also reluctant to report news which may have damaged morale.

The On This Day stories have been researched using contemporary newspaper articles, historical reference books and BBC reports, but sometimes they reflect the fact that the first information available at that time was often misleading or inaccurate.

When this is the case – for example when original casualty figures were incorrect – we will make this clear in the “In Context” section found on every page, along with other useful background information.

All the stories will also be linked with a new World War II timeline and home page.

We hope you enjoy the latest addition to the On This Day site.

If you want to tell us what you think - or wish to contact us with a witness account of one of the stories - you can use the standard witness form or e-mail us at our usual address:

World War II
0 Spitfire on take-offFull list of On This Day reports from 1939-1945

WW2 People's War >>
0 Stories from the people who lived and fought during World War II

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