August 31, 1939 – As the inevitability of war seemed persistent, negotiations were still taking place in an eleventh hour hope to change that. Certain precautions were being set up, preparations for war, whenever it came, if it came, were falling into place.The armed forces were being called up, plans for the evacuation of Children from London and other industrial centers was being planned, even hospital patients were being prepped for a move to safer areas. Fears this could be a replay of 1914 – comparisons to that war were being expressed, as older brothers reminded younger brothers what The Great War entailed. Comparisons, even down to Italy not taking part in any invasion of Poland, just as it had refused to take part in key operations in the previous war, and in fact wound up fighting on the side of the allies. Italy instead, suggested to Hitler that the issue over Poland be contained in a land-for-people swap, as had been tried before
But there was an aura of calm, maybe the collective holding of breath, around London. Life tried to continue as normal as possible, even as news of hostilities on the border between Germany and Poland were flaring up drew cautious glances that any of these skirmishes might lead to “the big one”.
So the decision between peace and War hung by a thread, and it became the stuff of commentators and speculation. One such broadcast was by Mutual correspondent John Steele, who filed this report by Shortwave to New York for broadcast to the U.S. – it’s followed by the Home Service of the BBC (Shortwave) giving the latest news as of 7:00 pm.
That was a small sample of what happened on this last day of August in 1939, as reported by Mutual and The BBC.