translation / Traduction en français
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!
> On June 12th, 2007 > Le 12 juin 2007
Here is a brief summary
of the operation of radio broadcasts in English from Radio Normandy.
asked to David some additional questions
I return to
resume your last message a few comments about the programmes of Radio
Indeed, the transmitter remained in operation, without programming in
English and there was equivalence (english and french broadcasts) in hours between the
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?
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!
How did Frenchmen perceive you as British men during
those years and what did they say when they found out that you were
the radio every day?
Did they understand the work you do?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(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,
(...) 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,
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).
Attached to all this so that you may interested here is some notes on some staff members of the IBC:
Sullivan worked for the overseas
service of BBC.
And other colleagues, no news, perhaps later if possible !
Roy Plomley during a recording of a broadcast for Radio Normandy
On February 21st,
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.
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?
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
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
He married one of French secretaries who worked at ground floor
in our building, shortly before our transfer to
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).
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
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.
French studios in Fecamp, British studios on the opposite side of the street. The van, what is became it ?
About the French
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
The one who had been on duty the day before resumed work the
following day afternoon.
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?
We were not at all like the modern DJs.
It was confined to a few remarks before playing a disc and that was
Besides we were kept by the length of the programme.
We introduced a series of discs with sometimes
announcements of advertising read also by us.
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 ?
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 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!