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Secret Operations
The Propaganda War

Places > Woburn > Second World War

In his book 'The Black Game' Ellic Howe describes many of the propaganda activities that took place in the Woburn area during World War II. Howe worked as an expert forger of propaganda, which drew on his expertise in printing before the outbreak of war.

A number of different types of propaganda were employed to effect the morale of the German troops and disrupt their will to carry on. The two main forms were leaflet drops and radio broadcasts.

In 1939 a secret Department for Propaganda (known as Department Electra House) relocated from London to Woburn Abbey, occupying the stable wing and the riding school. Sir Campbell Stuart, the head of Department Electra House, and one or two of his close associates were accommodated at Paris House, a French half timbered building in the grounds of the Abbey (now a restaurant). None of the staff were allowed to give their address to anyone or say what they were doing. Outgoing letters were all sent to London for mailing. At this time the Department's main activity was the production of leaflets for the RAF to drop over Germany.

After 1942 many of the staff returned to London leaving a smaller number of people working on the broadcasting activities.

The broadcasting work was largely undertaken by a secret department set up by Winston Churchill in 1941 called the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) to replace the previous propaganda organisations. Many of the scriptwriters and broadcasters were accommodated in the Woburn area. The broadcasts were then transmitted from radio stations in Milton Bryant, Potsgrove and Wavendon. These were known as 'black propaganda' because they never indicated their British origin and sought to give the impression that they were broadcasting from inside Germany or elsewhere in Europe. The propaganda team was led by Denis Sefton Delmer, a former correspondent of the Daily Express newspaper and Berlin correspondent.


Further Reading - Websites

Related Items on the Virtual Library

The Propaganda War by Bedfordshire Libraries , 2006

Page last updated: 4th February 2014