Bruce Campbell never expected to find some of World War II’s most important radio broadcasts buried in his cluttered basement.
The story starts in 1994, when Campbell and his wife purchased a cabin in Mattituck, New York, a small town about 40 miles from Long Island. The cabin, formerly owned by the vice president of a company that manufactured audio recording equipment, was full of dusty boxes and old tapes that Campbell began clearing out soon after he moved in.
“I ran across this stuff that says, 1944, VJ day, all these different things from the war,” Campbell told The Washington Post. “I put them all in a plastic bag, [thinking] ‘These gotta be something, I’ll look at them another day.’”
Then he promptly forgot all about them.
Years later, Campbell—who now lives in Loxahatchee, Florida—sought the help of a British electrical engineer to figure out what was on the tapes. Campbell was shocked to find out that he was in possession of original D-Day dispatches from radio correspondent George Hicks.
“I’m listening to this, and I feel like I’m standing on the battleship with this guy,” Campbell said. “It made my hair stand up.”
Hicks’s broadcast is often considered one of the “best audio recordings to come out of World War II.” Hicks’s recording is significant because he was one of the few journalists who covered the D-Day invasions in real time [ PDF ].
Earlier this year, Campbell donated the tapes to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. “‘That’s the place’ where the artifacts should be,” Campbell told The Washington Post.
[h/t The Washington Post ]