During that period of time, between September of 1939 and May of 1940, known as The Phony War. Preparations were being made in anticipation of another long series of trench battles – just as it was in World War 1 only 21 years earlier. Both the French and the Germans had what they swore were impregnable defenses; the Germans had The Siegfried Line and the French had The Maginot Line – miles of elaborate defenses, highlighted by imposing walls and a labyrinth of tunnels leading to machine gun turrets. Both sides were convinced an enemy could never cross those lines. That was all before the concept of Blitzkrieg and the nature of war changed forever.
But in November of 1939, preparations were still underway for a trench war. The British Army Expeditionary Force was landing in France – and this broadcast report from Mutual Broadcasting’s Arthur Mann, describes the atmosphere and the sheer magnitude of supplying the British troops with needed essentials – all the preparation that had been going into just getting the troops on French soil. Just how much fuel was needed to maintain supply lines and just how much food was needed to keep the average soldier fed. It was also interesting to note how much preparation was being made in the event of gas attacks – and how large stores of food was now in cans as a precaution against contamination. It was also anticipated that, come the rainy season, much of the mechanized force would be rendered useless, owing to mud – as had been the case in World War 1. And so the transportation was to be supplemented by horses and mules. The Mules, it was assumed, would be supplied by the U.S. – as of this broadcast, there were no horse and mule detachments in France. That was the status of the Phony War as observed in November.
An interesting broadcast of conditions and preparations during the early days of World War 2 – and how dramatically it would change by November of 1940.
Here is that broadcast by Arthur Mann of Mutual Broadcasting from London – November 5, 1939.