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Movietone at War: “Will you kindly leave him alone please ?”

Paul Wyand was Movietone’s chief cameraman.   He was a cameraman, with Movietone, for thirty years and during that time he had more than his fair share of “tales”.

He had filmed every kind of news story that one could imagine.   He worked through the “Pinching” days, when newsreels stole the pictures that other newsreels had paid good money to obtain exclusive rights for.  He had filmed races – The Boat Race – The Derby – The Grand National – Grand Prix and athletics.   He had filmed the events that featured the crowned head of Europe.   He had filmed launches of the great ships of the thirties on Clydeside, in Belfast and at Barrow-in-Furness.   He was overweight for most of his life and was noticeable when he was working.

He tells us a story of an event in early 1939.

In his book “Useless if Delayed” he wrote:

On of my last pre-War jobs was at Birmingham, where the King was to tour the Austin factory, to see the manufacture of aircraft-engines.  I was the only cameraman present, and when I arrived I was handled very roughly by certain officials who were terrified that I might photograph items which were still on the secret list.  Wherever I put my camera I was ordered to dismantle it, and when I went into the sheds where the aircraft engines were tested I was told to get out, and a couple of security men grabbed hold of me to help me on my way.

At that moment a voice said “Will you kindly leave him alone please ? He’s an old friend of mine.”  It was the King, who had remembered me from previous occasions on which I had photographed him.

Austin’s had their revenge.  They allowed me to enter the glass-sided well in which the engines lay, so that I could film the King looking down on them.  While I was there they started up one of the engines, and the wind from the propellers blew into my clothes and inflated them until I more than ever resembled a barrage balloon.  At first the King was quite fascinated, and stared at me fixedly as though waiting for me to take off or explode.  Then he doubled up with laughter.

Fairey Battle, K7650 / 63-M of No. 63 Squadron...

Fairey Battle, K7650 / 63-M of No. 63 Squadron, RAF Benson, November 1939. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story was issued on 2nd March 1939 with the title: “The King and Queen in Birmingham“, Paul filmed King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Neville Chamberlain seeing the construction of Fairey “Battle” Bombers.

Years later Paul would meet again with the King on the front line in Italy in 1944.  He was then the main cameraman on the Royal Tour of South Africa in 1947. Paul Wyand was well known by the Royal Family.

The Movietone At War articles are based on extracts and research for my forthcoming book: “Movietone At War”.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2013.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For other articles about Movietone click here.

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