Recording of nightingale singing during the war

On May 19, 1942, the BBC was recording an outside broadcast of nightingales singing as almost 200 RAF bombers flew overhear on a bombing raid to Germany.

I heard this recording about 15 years ago on Remembrance Days and I still find it the most powerful and poignant juxtaposition of nature and war.


Birds were talking. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, “Poo-tee-weet?

Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse-Five)

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I was thinking about this recording this morning both from a literary perspective and a personal one. My dad was a WWII vet who served in the Pacific Theater (Marine), and while he rarely spoke about combat (which, given the islands he was on, must’ve been awful), he would talk about how beautiful places like Samoa were. He brought back a lovely collection of shells that I used to marvel over as a child. I imagine walking some of those beaches in quieter moments, collecting shells along the shore, and staring out over the waves must’ve provided him some peace and hope in a really terrible time. So, thank you for the recording.


I’ve read a lot of books on the Second World War. Some authors described the impact that watching animals, listening to birds’ singing and just observing nature had on them during intervals between fighting. They were simply overwhelmed by the calmness, beauty and serenity among the surrounding carnage.


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