September 4, 1939 – As the news sank in that Europe was now in a state of War, reports of the first sinking of a British Merchant ship were reported. The SS. Athena, carrying some 1400 passengers had been torpedoed by a German U-boat 200 miles West of The Hebrides. No other details, word of casualties or how many had been saved had been issued. Meanwhile, air-raid warnings were sounded early this morning throughout London as well as the parts of the Midlands and Northeasters counties – the warnings began sounding at 2:30 in the morning, and by 4:15 the all-clear had been sounded.
In other news, the War cabinet had been set up and was announced in London earlier this morning. It consisted of 9 members, with Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister, and Winston Churchill, First Lord of The Admiralty. There were other appointments, including that of Anthony Eden, who was to become Dominion Secretary.
A recording of the announcement of War by the King from the previous day, was re-broadcast during this news summary. After the rebroadcast, the news continues with a summary of what was going on up to this point. Several points along the Polish-German corridor were under attack from Germany and East Prussia. The Polish communique stated that Polish troops had recaptured two cities and the Polish troops were holding their ground. To the south, it was reported that Polish troops had crossed the German frontier and were fighting on German territory. The Polish reports went on to describe attacks by German planes and the Polish Ambassador to Britain told reporters that German planes had dropped gas bombs on some Polish towns, including the town of Lodz. Further reports said 5 German planes had been brought down during the raids.
And that was how the war was shaping up, this September 4, 1939 as it was reported by the Home Service of the BBC.