The War Years: 1939-1945

A visit to Creully by Chris Owen

Collecting and restoring old BBC equipment can, like working for the BBC, sometimes take you to places which would otherwise remain simply names in the history books; the summer of 2004 was no exception. In the run-up to the D-Day commemorations, I'd been asked by BBC Live Events if I could provide some WW2 vintage Outside Broadcast equipment and a 'Midget' portable recorder from my collection in order to illustrate the type of equipment which would have been used by BBC War Correspondents following the D-Day landings. (See the earlier page for pictures of the Midget Recorders.)

And so, on May 21st I and a car load of equipment set sail for Normandy to meet up with a BBC film crew and war correspondent Rageh Omaar.

On Saturday the 22nd following a morning spent 'filming' on Arromanches beach with the 'Midget' recorder, we travelled inland to the small village of Creully. This is where, in the days following the D-Day landings, the BBC set up an extemporised studio and Radio Link in a tower of the castle.

This view shows the approach to Creully from the West. The castle with its two towers can be seen on the left of the photo. Situated on high ground and with the benefit of easily accessible towers, it's easy to see why the BBC

engineers would have been quick to take advantage of this location. A Radio link was established here to enable reports to be 'beamed' directly back to receiving stations on the south coast of England. The room which was occupied by the BBC is in the rather Gothic looking tower to the extreme right of the castle. The field to the right of the photo is where troops and the BBC reporters and engineers set up camp.

This second photo shows the front entrance to the castle. Flags of the Allied Nations fly from every available pole.

This is the view along the castle rampart to the entrance of the room used by BBC engineers as a studio. A route trodden by the many war correspondents and
engineers who broadcast from this studio. To the left of the door is a plaque proudly declaring "Studio BBC". It rather curiously gives the dates as June 6th to July 21st 1944 - although it is very unlikely that the BBC actually arrived at the studio on June 6th.

Two views of the 'BBC room'. The equipment on the table is a US Army field transmitter / receiver. The walls of the studio are lined with historic documents and photographs detailing the work of the many correspondents who broadcast from this site during the BBC's occupation.


Sixty years on and Rageh Omaar, who has reported later wars for the BBC, gets to grips with the Midget disc recorder in the dunes near Arromanches.

It's thanks to the generosity of many retired BBC colleagues who've donated items to my collection over the years that made it possible to play a tiny part in the BBC's D-Day commemorations. My grateful thanks to them. - Chris Owen.