While airmen were training at the various airfields in Buckinghamshire, such as Cheddington and Westcott, they were sent on night leafleting missions across Europe. Propaganda leaflets were dropped from aeroplanes, telling people that Britain and the Allies would win the war and urging them not to cooperate with the Germans. It was good training for bombing raids.
Radio broadcasts were sent to Germany and the continent to undermine morale amongst the enemy and promote resistance by occupied countries. The Czech government in exile had three radio stations Radio Nazdar, Nova Evrope and radio Bradlo, recorded at Wavendon Towers in Milton Keynes and broadcast from Gawcott near Buckingham and Potsgrove near Woburn.
General Charles De Gaulle of France also broadcast radio speeches to France from his temporary home on the Ashridge Estate to urge the French to resist the Germans and not collaborate with them.
The film star Clark Gable was a Captain in the USAAF and broadcast from Bovingdon airfield to America to urge people to buy War Bonds, which would help raise money for the war effort.
During President Benĕs’ exile at the Abbey, Aston Abbots a lime tree was planted to mark 25 years of Czechoslovak independence. This event was filmed. The Czechoslovak officers and soldiers gave speeches and paraded. Representatives from the village were invited and treated to refreshments in the platoon mess. The lime tree is still there. A new one was planted by the Czech ambassador and the Slovak deputy ambassador on the green in Aston Abbots in 2005 on the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On Sunday 14th June 1942, Czechoslovak troops paraded in Aylesbury’s Market Square for a United Nations ceremony that was broadcast on the BBC.
There were several film studios making films during the war years. Pinewood Studios is the most famous and is still in use. It was built in 1936. Pinewood was requisitioned during World War II for use by the Crown Film Unit, the Army Film and Photographic Unit, RAF Film Unit, the Polish Air Force Film Unit, the Royal Mint and as offices for Lloyds of London, and for food storage. The Crown Film Unit shot many classic wartime documentaries at the studios including 'Desert Victory', 'Fires Were Started', 'Listen to Britain', 'Coastal Command' and 'Western Approaches'.
Desert Victory’s tagline was: “The full-length feature story of the rout of Rommel in Africa by the British 8th Army... with the most thrilling scenes ever taken under fire!” It was about the British Army driving the Germans and Italians out of North Africa. Fires Were Started was a film about firemen’s work in London during the Blitz.
Pinewood took over Denham studios in 1939. 'In Which We Serve' (1942),'The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp' (1943), and 'Brief Encounter' (1945) were all filmed at Denham Studios during the Second World War.
In Which We Serve is the story of British Navy Destroyer HMS Torrin, told in flashback by the surviving crewmembers as they await rescue in the Mediterranean, the ship having been sunk during a battle. It was an optimistic view of the Royal Navy at war because, in 1942, victory over Germany was still uncertain. With that in mind, it boosted the morale of those who saw it.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was another wartime propaganda film. It shows how war had changed between the First and Second World Wars and that gentlemanly conduct was not going to work against the Nazis. Winston Churchill tried to have the film banned because of its sympathetic portrayal of a German officer.
- Why do you think the Czechoslovak president decided to plant the lime tree?
- Why do you think being broadcast on the radio and television would be good for the Czechoslovak government in exile?
- Look for photographs on Buckinghamshire Photographs website to find pictures of parades during the Second World War. Where were they and when did they happen? Who took part?
- How did the films made in Buckinghamshire in the 1940s keep morale up?
Go back to find out more about Buckinghamshire in the Wars.