Battle of Britain Broadcaster: Charles Gardner, Radio Pioneer & WWII Pilot

Battle of Britain Broadcaster: Charles Gardner, Radio Pioneer & WWII Pilot

by Robert Gardner MBE

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Overview

In 1936 Charles Gardner joined the BBC as a sub-editor in its news department. Shortly afterwards, he was joined by Richard Dimbleby and together they became the very first BBC news correspondents. They covered everything from shipwrecks to fires, floods to air raid precautions and, in Garner’s’ case, new aircraft. Their exploits became legendary and they laid down the first principles of news broadcasting – of integrity and impartiality – still followed today.

With the outbreak of war Charles Gardner became one of the first BBC war correspondents and was posted to France to cover the RAF’s AASF (Advanced Air Strike Force). He made numerous broadcasts interviewing many fighter pilots after engagements with the Germans and recalling stories of raids, bomb attacks and eventually the Blitzkrieg when they all were evacuated from France. When he got home he wrote a book AASF which was one of the first books on the Second World War to be published.

In late 1940 he was commissioned in the RAF as a pilot and flew Catalina flying boats of Coastal Command. After support missions over the Atlantic protecting supply convoys from America, his squadron was deployed to Ceylon which was under threat from the Japanese navy. Gardner was at the controls when he was the first to sight the Japanese fleet and report back its position.

Gardner was later recruited by Lord Mountbatten, to help report the exploits of the British 14th Army in Burma. He both broadcast and filed countless reports of their astonishing bravery in beating the Japanese in jungle conditions and monsoon weather.

After the war, Gardner became the BBC air correspondent from 1946-1953. As such, he became known as ‘The Voice of the Air,’ witnessing and recording the greatest days in British aviation history.

But Perhaps he will best be remembered for his 1940 eyewitness account of an air battle over the English Channel when German dive bombers unsuccessfully attacked a British convoy but were driven off by RAF fighters. At the time it caused a national controversy. Some complained about his commentary ‘being like a football match,’ and not an air battle where men’s lives were at stake. That broadcast is still played frequently today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781526746870
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 11/13/2019
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

ROBERT GARDNER worked as a journalist for four years before moving into public relations with the British Aircraft Corporation becoming Head of Publicity and later Vice President of British Aerospace and BAE Systems.

Robert Gardner, who is now retired, was appointed MBE in 2001.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

A Message from Richard Dimbleby viii

Introduction ix

Chapter 1 Dog Fight Over the Channel 1

Chapter 2 Beginnings 7

Chapter 3 Dimbleby and Gardner 17

Chapter 4 Threat of War 29

Chapter 5 Off to War 37

Chapter 6 'Cobber' Kain and Pilots' Tales 51

Chapter 7 Visits, a Row and His Own Studio 57

Chapter 8 Blitzkrieg 69

Chapter 9 Sedan and the Last Days of France 81

Chapter 10 Blitzkrieg to Dunkirk 91

Chapter 11 A Controversy that Gripped the Nation 99

Chapter 12 Joining Up 105

Chapter 13 Life in the RAF 111

Chapter 14 Flying in the Battle of the Atlantic 119

Chapter 15 'The Most Dangerous Moment' 127

Chapter 16 End of 'Ops' - Broadcasting Begins 139

Chapter 17 The Forgotten Army 147

Chapter 18 Air Power and the Imphal Campaign 157

Chapter 19 The 'Rear Echelon' and Victory in Sight 163

Chapter 20 Build-up for Invasion of Japan 177

Chapter 21 Reflection on the Burma Campaign 185

Chapter 22 A Royal Secret 191

Chapter 23 The 'Voice of the Air' 197

Notes 199

Sources 205

Index 209

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