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Propaganda programmes had originally been recorded at Whaddon Hall but due to the need for increased accommodation, towards the end of 1940 recording studios were set up at Wavendon Towers, codenamed ‘Simpsons’, from a proximity to a nearby village of that name. The radio transmtting stations were situated at Gawcott and Potsgrove.

When SO1 took over Department Electra House the B.B.C. stayed with the Ministry of Information but since this lacked a German Service, staff from SO1 were seconded to work for it on a part time basis, travelling twice a week from Woburn. The M.of I. considered this to be inadequate and led to much arguments between Duff Cooper and Dalton, the ministers, so much so that in December, 1940, Dalton made a bid for the B.B.C. This was unsuccessful and in the spring of 1941 the M.of I. considered the idea of setting up it’s own German section but again, many rows ensued. As mediator, on May 16th., 1941, Sir John Anderson then persuaded Eden, Dalton and Duff Cooper to work as a triumvirate, having a sub committee to do the actual work. Bracken then amended this agreement, keeping the two committees but with the B.B.C. and S.O.1. to be fused into a new organisation called the Political Warfare Executive.

The Freedom Stations were known as Research Units, since any unwelcome visitors to the houses accommodating the teams were told the occupants were engaged on secret research work. Even tradesmen carrying out routine maintenance work were kept under escort at all times. Each Freedom Station was identified by a letter and a number. The letter denoted the language and the number revealed when it had been started. This system had been originated by the technical staff, ‘for convenience in the preparation of schedules and for
Whaddon Hall
general service purposes’ and although adopted by the broadcast teams, were never meant for that use. Otherwise W for Wop, for the Italian stations, would never have been chosen. Every Research Unit worked separately from each other, being segragated and housed in different accommodation.

Obviously it was essential the de Gaulle (F4) team away from the French Socialist team (F2) but in other cases some exceptions were made. The F4 team had no objection to sharing the same house as the French priest who ran La France Catholique (F3) and he even administered to their spiritual needs in a chapel converted from a bedroom. Another reason for segragating the teams was to prevent unintentional copying of ideas and techniques. Yet sometimes the teams did accidently meet, with disastrous results.

On one occasion the F2 team had just left the building after a recording but were suddenly recalled when some important news broke. Their return coincided with the arrival of a team proclaiming their de Gaullist case in a studio next to the Billiards Room, where the F2 team were listening to a playback, having recorded their programme in an upstairs studio. All the studios were supposed to be soundproof but through the open fireplace of the Billiards Room had a thin back wall and French Socialists heard the opposition in full flow. At once they all resigned.

Each team was accompanied to Simpsons by a censor, who was usually the housemaster or the P.I.D. head of the unit. At Simpsons he was responsible for ensuring that the material recorded tallied with the agreed scripts and as censor he had to sign the final Layout-sheet. Sometimes he delegated this duty to a secretary or British national.

When required, a Research Unit would be able to transmit live from Simpsons but the rule was that permission had to be obtained from the Director Country and Brigadier Parry, who was responsible for the necessary land lines. Also permission was needed from the Director of the Region in which the R.U. was involved. In the summer of 1941 difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of records, due to shipping losses in the Atlantic, meant that for awhile all R.U. broadcasts had to be made live and it was a tribute to the organisational abilities that this was carried out successfully.

The teams were always transported to Simpsons by car and never allowed to go on foot in case they arrived as another R.U. was leaving. The cars were driven by a specially selected team of drivers, chosen both for their integrity and their local knowledge. They were provided with passes to Simpsons by P.I.D. and to the transmitters by Brigadier Parry. The drivers were responsible for carrying the recorded programmes packed in specially made wooden boxes to the transmitters.

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