French translation / Traduction en français

DAVID (Ian) NEWMAN's Letters

(translated in english with Google tools - sorry for the mistakes !)  ; - )

David Newman announcer (1) on Radio Normandy

(1) "speaker" is the usually word in french

> On May 28th, 2007 > Le 28 mai 2007


Having stumbled across the website of Radio Normandy, I was very interested to read all information on this station as well as articles in "Le Progres de Fécamp" and "Le Courrier Cauchois" of November 18th, 2006 memorialising 80 years of Radio Normandy.


I was English "presenter" for programmes transmitted towards England, having started in 1936 in Fécamp, in studios at the rear of the Benedictine (distillery liquor). During the programming in English, there was still a French presenter and si I knew well Mr Becasse, Mr Briand, Mr Nicolas and others. At the end of English programmes at noon, we went to the Café Thiers on the Place of this name (today Place du General de Gaulle) and then lunch at the Hotel Canchy and Lion d'or. Later, I lived in the Hotel de la Mer on the beach next to the casino.


With the new transmitter of Louvetot, all the studios were transferred to the castle of Caudebec-en-Caux (now City Hall). English studios located in the park. The studios existed long after the war before being demolished for build the Museum of Navy. I lived in front of the ferry with a magnificent view over the Seine and the mascaret (the bore). I returned to England towards in late 1939 after the declaration of war.


I visited these two cities of my youth several times after the war. Both monuments which I have so much appreciated, were were still there - the church and the House of the Templars. On the occasion of my last visit, I met a gentleman Mister Lecoeur in Yvetot. He had amassed a large equipment of receivers and many other devices. He told me that some members of the family LeGrand (fonder of Radio Normandy) came to see him occasionally.


I'll go to see the Normandy again and soon!

David Newman



> On June 12th, 2007 > Le 12 juin 2007


Hello Jean-Claude,


Here is a brief summary of the operation of radio broadcasts in English from Radio Normandy.
First it should be note that most programmes were recorded in studios in London of International Broadcasting Company. Then there were short programmes with ads advertising "spots" read by ourselves and finally programmes without advertising which was called "Sustainers", that is to say to sustain the attention of the listener, trying or hoping to sell the space to an interested advertiser.

The broadcast hours of (english) programme were from 8.00 AM to midday and from 14.00 to 18.00 in the afternoon, with at midnight, a last programme of one hour and of two hours, on Saturday and Sunday.

There were however some "live" programmes notably in particular at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1937 which took place every day and which was broadcast in Fécamp (with John Sullivan); a physical fitness program with both artists residing in Fécamp, transmitted three times per week early in the morning and one program coming from Le Havre and Rouen (in the daytime of the Veteran's Day - on November 11th). In Caudebec, we had a duet of cowboys with their traditional songs, accompanied by guitar, and finally an orchestra of music popular in the Castle park.

The recordings that we receive [from London], were sent to Paris and then be shipped to Fécamp.

With regards to the artists and presenters in your interesting list [see page "The Staff" of the site] are known to me the most, if not reputation or personal knowledge; however these artists recorded their programs in the studios of IBC [in London]. The presenters that I knew were colleagues such as Sullivan, Plomley, Davies, Gee and others. There were quite a few changes. The signing of this message is in fat Ian Newman : > "David" is the real first name. But "Ian" was used on the air), Tom Newman and Roger Olivier are unknown to me.

To end, the President of our organisation's name was Captain Leonard Plugge of whose biography (1) released this year. It was a quite extraordinary man.

Well I hope I provided the information you request.
Best wishes !

David Newman


 We asked to David some additional questions :

Hi David,

A big thank you for all the valuable information on Radio Normandy.
The French, who listened to the broadcasts in English did not understand, of course, but much appreciated good music and bands that were broadcast. In reading your last message, we see that there were many programs in English. During other hours, it is assumed that the transmitter remains on for French-language programming?

> Jean-Claude

I return to resume your last message a few comments about the programmes of Radio Normandy. Indeed, the transmitter remained in operation, without programming in English and there was equivalence (english and french broadcasts) in hours between the two transmissions.
Early in Fécamp, programs were captured in southern England. Later, with the entry into service of Louvetot, range had become more important. In London, a department of statistics deals with research on how many listeners following the programs. We could not find that as the number of letters received at the station.


JC: On a clear day, the waves went so wonderfully well, we could believe that the broadcast of a show recorded in England seemed to be live, while in the studio, you were only one person to ensure the art. In this regard, was there a technician with you, to assist you ? Or did you do all the technique yourself?

DN: We did have an English technician who was on the staff. He was responsible for films and for their projection as the movies. These films were also recorded in England [only the soundtrack was used on the movie]. We helped from time to time and did work the devices. We ourselves were responsible for the settlement program during our period of service - microphone, volume control, etc, during transmission.


JC: When the transmitter of Louvetot closed Sept. 8th, 1939 because of war, it is said that the transmitter of Fécamp resumed a few weeks under the name Radio International Fecamp with IBC (International Broadcasting Company) but without Mr Le Grand (french directeur). Programs were stopped in January 1940. The French troops sabotaged the transmitter on June 10th, 1940, the day before the Germans invasion in Fécamp. Did you participated as a presenter at these special programmes?

DN: Regarding Radio International, I talked to Keith Wallis (1), because these emissions (short) took place after I left Caudebec. Only Roy Plomley was the presenter (...). All history will be revealed in its book!


JC: How did Frenchmen perceive you as British men during those years and what did they say when they found out that you were talking on the radio every day? Did they understand the work you do?
And you, David, did you realize the importance of your work. For Radios Luxembourg and Normandy were the very first British commercial radios. Did you think to do something illegal, the advertising is banned on the BBC, it sure looked like pirates?

DN: There was a whole group of people who knew us in Fecamp of view and knew what we were doing, because the operation of Radio Normandy was very well known in the city and we were friends with a lot of them.
In that time, being constantly rubbing shoulders with english was pretty special for the people but it was still highly regarded by everyone. Later, we were better known as the city [Caudebec] was smaller. We did not feel like pirates but rather as a bit of pioneers who participated in something innovative and unique course, the novelty was an important factor. It must be said that travel abroad before the last war for the English represented a great adventure. I felt the opening of vast horizons with new experiences and impressions, as the departure and the arrival of the fishermen of Fecamp by example.

And the Benedictine! Too bad that everything has been sold and It is a pity that there is no more Legrand linked to this historic institution!


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

(1) Keith Wallis whom David Newman mentions in his narrative, is the biographer of Captain Leonard F. Plugge, the man who established the English programs of Radio Normandy. Keith Wallis has known all the characters mentioned here and remembers many interesting souvenirs of that time in his book. Details on this work are available on our website under "Publications". 


June 26th, 2007,

Hello David,

(...) The English studios were in the park, did that mean that the English presenters were separated from the French? How this happened with the French, is that relations were cordial or each stayed for his/her side? I say this, because I suspect that the styles of presentation should be very different between the English and French. Just compare today's British radio and Franch Radio always very talkative ! 

See you soon David,

> On the July 1st, 2007,


Hello Jean-Claude


Thank you for your message of June 26th. I looked at the site with big interest and am very flattered to be the subject of this page so well written. There is a lot to study in all the documentation that you have met and I congratulate you.


In rereading my comments on the organisation of the English programmes, I see that I did not explain sufficiently the role played by the French presenters with us. Here is the situation that existed:


Among the material we received regularly from London were sheets of future programs containing titles, subject, length, etc. We needed to translate these pages into French and back to the office of Radio Normandy. When programming in English, French presenter came in our cabin to make presentation after the sheet corresponding to the programme. That was the rule as well in Fécamp as in Caudebec. We were in very good terms with everybody and we often had a meal or an aperitif with the one or other one of the presenters after their break period.


To tell you what I am now, first I left Caudebec late September 1939. (An image that has always stuck is that of farmers bringing their horses on the pier the day of war declaration).
I am engaged in the Navy. Having served in the Mediterranean there, I was transferred to England after loss of our vessel and incorporated to the torpedo boats to Dover. After I was discharged I got in touch with the BBC radio and television but I did not pursue this path, prefers a situation which afforded me the opportunity to work in countries foreign.



Attached to all this so that you may interested here is some notes on some staff members of the IBC:


- John Sullivan worked for the overseas service of BBC.
- Roy Plomley became famous for having produced and presented its program "Desert Island Discs" during 25/30 years. The programme still exists with another presenter.
- Tom Ronald joined the BBC as film director of entertainment programs.
- Bob Danvers Walker commented on Pathé News and others programmes.
- Our technician and his wife were interned to La Bourboule... (?)
- Richard Meyer, director-general de l'IBC, has apparently tried to mount a commercial station in the Isle of Man, without success. [Webmaster 's note : David speaks about "Manx Radio" whose range was (is ?) only limited to the Isle of man]
- George Busby, our director in Fécamp and Caudebec, has made films including "The Red Shoes".


And other colleagues, no news, perhaps later if possible !




David Newman


Roy Plomley during a recording of a broadcast for Radio Normandy


> On February 21st, 2008

Hello David,

Did you operate from the studio (colour photo in the castle of Caudebec) or was this one intended only for the French programmes, because you had another studio in the bottom of the park?

DN : In Caudebec, we had our own studios which were in the bottom of park of the castle. They occupied the present site of the Museum of Marine which is seen in the aerial view of the castle of your website. During my last visit I spoke with staff from the Museum reception desk who knew the history of Radio Normandy and studios. I met other persons in town who were well aware of the station and its activities. Among them Mr Lalande (son of the owner of the nice Hotel de la Marine) with whom we shared memories of Mr Le Grand. The latter was visiting the studios from time to time. He was walking at night with his daughters and we met us on the dock. There was a small show from time to time which added to the gaiety of the place. As I lived on the quay there in face of the ferry. I was in the centre of everything.

L'Hôtel de la Marine à Caudebec-en-Caux


JC: Do you have any personal memories on the French like Mr Roland Violette or Mrs Francine Lemaitre who were important figures. I understand this lady was practically regarded as the director of the radio?

DN: Francine Lemaître was indeed responsible for French programmes and I think that she took the lead after Mr Legrand. I have known the French presenters but less after departure for Caudebec probably they wanted to keep and to reside in their houses or flats in Fécamp. My best friend there was André Bécasse. When he was on duty with me to the show from midnight to 2.00 AM in winter, once the job is done, we went to the Café Thiers where Madam Cauvin served us warm wine. My friend lived with his mother in Veules-les-Roses. He married one of French secretaries who worked at ground floor in our building, shortly before our transfer to Caudebec.

JC: Again David, I thank You sincerely for the time you are willing to answer my questions and I hope it does not bother you.

DN: Your questions do not bother me because years of Radio Normandy I remained very sharp and clear and I often think of it. So feel free to request further information when you want.


JC: When you talk about the Café Thiers, it is in Fécamp you think? and not in Caudebec?

DN: Yes, I should clarify that it was from Fécamp and the Café Thiers was on Thiers's Square (Place of the General de Gaulle and in the corner of the road of the Havre, today rue Charles Leborgne).


JC: When you made programs in Fécamp, where was the precise place ? Was it in the "House of Radio" on the corner of the street Georges Cuvier and the street of Boulogne, (the street which went up to the aerials). Because Mr Les Woodland (article here) said that the English programs were made in a loft above a warehouse of the Benedictine. The warehouses are located a little further up the street G. Cuvier ?

DN : Our studios were indeed street Georges Cuvier, almost across the street of Boulogne. In the site of Radio Normandy, you will see two pictures of the place, the one with an van and one was seen without the van: this last photo shows a part of building which is modern with three windows and curtains. But the entrance is of origin. There is another photo with two ladies who look up (to see where we worked at the time?) The front-door not seems not to have changed.


       The coach street Georges Cuvier

          French studios in Fecamp, British studios on the opposite side of the street. The van, what is became it ?

JC: How a programme was held ? I guess that was necessary to play recorded discs in definite order ?

DN : Our nocturnal programmes made every day from midnight to 1.00 AM except Saturdays and Sundays till 2.00. Back to the night programmes, we worked alone. It was necessary to arrive long before the programme to start everything, to prove the equipment and to be sure that there were discs for the programmes. Then let enter French presenter! For night programmes (as for all programmes) there was always a French presenter but he had not much to do.

JC: Why was he there ? To watch you, because you were too young in front of a microphone ? What was his role? Was there internal regulations to control english programmes ?

About the French presenters. I do not believe I have heard whatever about an idea of (monitoring) surveillance: I think rather than it was purely a matter of routine. Besides we were all happy to have a companion during these programmes in the early hours (of the night) and I was enjoying myself to improve my French! The one who had been on duty the day before resumed work the following day afternoon.

JC: When you ended at 2.00 AM, the transmitter was cut or it was programmes in French that took over?

DN: The transmitter was switched off.


JC: Can you compare your job of these days with that of a DJ (animator) today, introduce songs (on CD) and advertising. I think it was not easy, there must be a lot of handling as there were no technical means of today (cartridges and recorded and the computer which manages all that from now !)

DN : Every programme included a list of discs to be played, accompanied with documents which it was necessary to sign. The presenter was responsible for his service. I remember that it was also necessary to indicate on the forms, the reference to a reproduction rights organization « B-I-E-M » and there was this acronym on the label disc. All these cards were sent to London immediately.


JC: And were you talking often between each disc?

DN : We were not at all like the modern DJs. It was confined to a few remarks before playing a disc and that was all. Besides we were kept by the length of the programme. We introduced a series of discs with sometimes several announcements of advertising read also by us.

JC: Do you remember a sentence that you had to speak into the microphone?

DN: English presenters had no personal sentences. It was announced only "Radio Normandy".


JC: When you spoke into the microphone, do you felt nervous because you were aware that there may be thousands (or millions) of listeners who listened to you ?

DN: I must say that I was nervous only at the beginning of my first programme, but there were always two presenters in studios and it was possible to be replaced from time to time.


JC: How long did a disk before proceeding to the next ?

DN : Most programmes lasted 15 minutes.


JC: When you loked at the photo of a studio (the "red" studio), we see two big bells placed on each side of the panel, what were they used ?

DN : I did not know the red studio. It is possible that one of clocks used to tell time and the other to indicate the length of a program but I do not recall having heard of these chimes. To report the interval between programmes, we used a small xylophone with its hammer. (heard on the homepage!)

red studio   The red studio in Fecamp

For other English programmes of the day, was there another team, because you could not also make the morning show?

DN: I forget to tell you before, there was a programme in English of physical fitness, two or three times a week, conducted by a English couple who wrote music and song accompaniment. Live program from 7.30 in the morning using the big French studio. 


> I hope I have given you the information for which you asked and you soon!