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Papers of Douglas E Ritchie and Noel Newsome

Reference Code: GBR/0014/NERI

Scope and Contents

Papers relating to their work in European Service of the BBC during World War II.


  • Creation: 1939 - 1962


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers once they are opened must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Noel Newsome was Editor of European News (ENE) of the BBC and Douglas Ritchie Assistant News Editor (AENE) until late 1941 when the European service was reorganised by the Controller Ivonne Kirkpatrick C(ES) and Newsome became Director of European Broadcasts (D.Eur.B) and Ritchie his assistant (A.D.Eur.B).

Their career outlines are as follows:

Noel Francis Newsome was born in December 1906 in Pill St George, Somerset. He was educated at Oundle School and won an exhibition to Magdalen College, Oxford. He joined the navy in 1920 and then worked at the "Bristol Times and Mirror" before moving to the "Bristol Evening Times" in 1930. In 1932 he helped to launch the "Bristol Evening Post", where he was Foreign Editor until December 1932, and then joined the "Daily Telegraph" as a sub-editor/leader writer.

In 1934 he was appointed Assistant Editor of the "Malay Mail" in Kuala Lumpur and also made Malayan Correspondent of the "Daily Mail". In November 1935 he returned to the "Telegraph" as a foreign news sub-editor. By the end of 1936 he was in charge of their foreign news pages. In September 1939 Newsome was appointed to the BBC as Assistant, Overseas News, and in December was made European News Editor, in charge of the Central News Desk.

From spring 1941 he broadcast several times a week for over three years as part of the news service in English to Europe: talks that were translated into other languages and heard all over Europe. His second wife edited a volume of his talks: ‘The Man in the Street’ Talks to Europe (1945).

Newsome was appointed to the new post of director of European broadcasts in December 1941. He continued his daily directives and weekly notes, and his daily news conferences, managing to retain a considerable degree of independence from the Government's political warfare executive (PWE), based at Woburn Abbey, which was supposed to guide the policy of the BBC European service. In October 1944 he was seconded as Chief of the Radio Section of the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force.

He resigned from the BBC in May 1945 and unsuccessfully contested the seat of Penrith and Cockermouth in the General Election, as the Liberal candidate. In December 1945, he was appointed as the first Director of Recruitment at the Ministry of Fuel and Power, joining the National Coal Board in September 1947 as head of their Public Relations Department, and from May 1948 he worked at Harry Ferguson Ltd, tractor manufacturer, as their public relations officer.

Newsome died in May 1976.

Ritchie was born in 1905 and educated at the City of London School. He farmed in Orange Free Trade State, Transvaal and Cape Province, South Africa. He subsequently joined the staff of "Rand Daily Mail" and "Johannesburg Sunday Times" as reporter; and was special correspondent for "Rand Daily Mail", "Cape Times", "Natal Mercury" and other South African newspapers. In 1935 he joined the Editorial staff of the " Daily Telegraph".

In 1939 he joined the BBC's European Service, serving as Assistant Director BBC European Broadcasts from 1941-44, and was organiser of BBC's "V Campaign (first broadcast as "Colonel Britton" in 1941). From 1944-46 he was the Director of the BBC's European News Department, before being seconded to British Information Services, New York, as Director of Press and Radio Division from 1946-49. Subsequently he was General Overseas Services Organiser, BBC, 1949-50, and their Head of Publicity, 1950-56.

He died in December 1967.


30 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge and the National Register of Archives, London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were deposited at the Archives Centre in 1985 by Dr Michael Stenton of Clare Hall. They had been passed to him through the respective families


This collection level (fonds) description and catalogue was prepared by Andrew Riley in June 2005. Biographical information was obtained from "Who's Who 1897-1996" (A and C Black) and from the papers

2005-06-24 14:15:26+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087