Lord Haw-Haw, William Joyce, became a figure of fascination and hate in World War Two. Lord Haw-Haw’s voice was heard on German radio especially during the dark days of the Blitz when the fighting spirit of Great Britain was put to the test.
Haw-Haw started off his broadcasts with “Germany calling, Germany calling”. This was the call sign of a Hamburg radio station which broadcast nightly news bulletins in English to the British people. The voice of the speaker belonged to William Joyce – nick-named Lord Haw-Haw by the “Daily Express”. In fact, possibly as many as three men were Lord Haw-Haw with Joyce being the most infamous. Another radio commentator was a former army officer called Norman Baillie-Stewart. However, Joyce is the name most frequently associated with the “Germany calling” nightly bulletins.
Joyce was Irish by blood, American by birth and carried a British passport. He had belonged the Oswald Mosely’s British Fascist Party – a political party in Britain that attempted to copy the Nazi Party in Germany.
Joyce’s broadcasts were anti-Semitic and poked fun at the British war leader Winston Churchill. It is thought that on average six million people listened to Joyce each broadcast. Many found the broadcasts so absurd that they were seen as a way of relieving the tedium of life in Britain during the war.
However, Joyce’s broadcasts also provided the British public with information which had been censored at home. On one occasion, Joyce asked the British public to question the Admiralty over the aircraft carrier “Ark Royal”. In fact, nothing had happened to the “Ark Royal” but the seeds of doubt had been sown.
Other stories were told by Joyce to unnerve the British public. He told the listeners things happening in Britain which he could only have known about through the German’s spy machine established in Britain. This also helped to unsettle the British public even if most of what he said was nonsense. Joyce was also credited with saying things in his broadcasts which he clearly did not say – such was his reputation at the time.
At the end of the war, Joyce was arrested by British Military Police, taken to London where he was tried and found guilty of treason. He was hanged in 1946.