Absolutely Hilarious Broadcast from the BBC in 1938 Known as “the Fleet’s Lit Up”

At the present moment, the whole fleet is lit up. When I say ‘lit up’, I mean lit up by fairy lamps.

Certainly the commentator was. This still infamous BBC broadcast is known as “the Fleet’s Lit Up.” Seems that naval commentator Thomas Woodrooffe, a Lt. Commander retired from the Royal Navy, went aboard HMS Nelson on the May 20th, 1937. Once darkness fell, his task was to describe the illumination of the several hundred warships assembled for the Coronation Fleet Review for BBC listeners. (The original broadcast does not include the music that the Youtube video plays in the background.)

This traditional event, was held to celebrate the coronation of George VI. Woodrooffe’s reference to the “New York” is to the battleship USS New York, sent to represent the United States. Ironically, the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee represented Nazi Germany.

Woodrooffe, who had once served about the RN battleship HMS Nelson, made the mistake of going aboard the ship in the afternoon and spending three or four hours with his former shipmates in the wardroom having drinks, presumably gin. Lots of gin. By the time Woodrooffe went on the air he was completely “lit up”, smashed, knee-walking drunk.

[Source: Wikipedia.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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