Monthly meetings are held at The Harlington, Fleet: 11.00 - 12.15, with the Function Room available for socialising from 09.45.
Current Covid restriction require that face coverings/masks are worn within the venue. Please do not attend if you have tested positive, are awaiting the result of a PCR test or have Covid like symptoms.
Due to other restrictions we will not, until further notice, be able to provide the usual tea and coffee. However, you will be welcome to bring your own, to enjoy as you socialise in the Function Room. We will provide the biscuits!
As usual, the Visits Team will be at their table outside the Hall, to provide information on our visits and outings, and to take bookings where appropriate.
Wednesday 19 January. 11.00 am.
The Story of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. A talk by Alan Grace.
Alan Grace is a popular speaker at our monthly meetings. Today he will be talking about the history of the British Forces Broadcasting Service, and about his life as a programme maker, living with British armed services around the World.
In 1957 Alan was a national serviceman in the RAF who started working as an announcer and sports producer with the then British Forces Network in Cologne. Over four decades he experienced life in the trouble spots where British forces were involved, from Palestine to Afghanistan, and where radio, and later, television services were provided for service personnel.
Wherever the British Forces are serving, BFBS provides them with a link with Home.
During World War 2, the British War Office was persuaded that our troops would benefit from a radio service providing entertainment and links with Home. The service began life in Algeria in 1943. There was no money, no equipment and no staff. They first broadcast from a former harem and the first requested record was the famous wartime song, Lily Marlene.
The early broadcasters operated in difficult circumstances; the equipment was primitive and on one occasion in North Africa they had to use cactus thorns instead of steel needles to play the records.
Truck mounted mobile stations followed troops through the Italian campaign, then further into Europe. Fixed sites were based in locations ranging from the Musikhalle in Hamburg, an old cow shed in Cyprus, tents in the Canal Zone to shipping containers in Afghanistan.
People of a certain age may remember listening to Two-Way Family Favourites on the wireless on Sunday mornings. It was on the BBC Light Programme and carried messages and music requests too and from service people in Germany and their families in UK. The German end was run by BFBS and the programme was presented for a while by Jean Metcalfe and Cliff Michelmore. Occasionally a Three-Way edition was broadcast, linking forces in Germany and another location, often Cyprus, with UK.
Ultimately 104 radio stations were set up from Aden to Zeltweg in Austria. These days BFBS operates 22 radio stations around the world, and 5 television channels.
Speakers on a variety of interesting topics have been arranged for the monthly meetings in January to June 2022 and details will be shown here as each date approaches.