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Western Europe 1939-1945: Invasion

How worried was Britain about invasion 1940-41?

Information to be broadcast by the BBC if German forces landed in London

Catalogue ref: INF 1/882

Public instructions from BBC in case of invasion; INF 1/882 Public instructions from BBC in case of invasion; INF 1/882

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What is this source?

This is information to be broadcast over the radio by the BBC in case of invasion. The Ministry of Information had also printed leaflets giving advice on how to cope in such a situation.

What’s the background to this source?

In May 1940 German forces drove British armies out of France. France surrendered on June 21st 1940. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler expected Britain to ask for peace terms soon after this but to his surprise British Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused. As a result, Hitler ordered his commanders to prepare for an invasion of Britain. The threat of invasion hung over Britain for some time.


Historians are divided about whether a German invasion could ever have succeeded. In the end, it never happened but this source gives some indication that the British government seriously considered that there might be an invasion.

It’s worth knowing that...

One of the biggest concerns of the government, especially of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was the threat of paratroopers. These were used for the first time by German forces in 1939 and 1940. In many areas they proved to be extremely effective, especially in the invasion of France in 1940. The document reflects these concerns.


Churchill was so struck by the use of paratroopers in 1940 that he immediately ordered the British Armed Forces to train some. The first training camp was at Ringway Airfield in Cheshire. Today this is Manchester International Airport.

What level of alert should Britain be on?

  1. List the main concerns of the government in case of invasion.
  2. What was the role of the BBC?
  3. How concerned the government was about invasion?
  4. How well organised was the government?
  5. What level of alert would you put Britain on as a result of studying this evidence?

Record your answer in your threat level table you can always change your mind as you study other sources.