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55 years ago today – Operation Crowflight Film ABV2

Terry Gallacher

On the 15th December 1960, 55 years ago today, the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Melbourne (ABV2) premiered the film “Operation Crowflight” as part of it’s People programme.

My father Terence Gallacher was the director of the film, in 2010 he wrote three articles on the making, production and reaction to the film, in the interview below he ends by saying, “I was very proud of working on that film and very proud to have been working with the people who worked with me on it, terrific team.”

The team consisted of Gerald Lyons, presenter and producer, cameraman Kirby Rickard, assistant cameraman Keith Taylor and Don Calder on sound.  In post production the film was edited by Nandor Janes and the sound laid down by Dennis Wahren.

Gerald Lyons

Gerald Lyons

The production and reaction are described by Terry in three articles:

Operation Crowflight Part One
Operation Crowflight Part Two
Operation Crowflight – ABV2 15th December 1960

In his programme “This Wonderful World” Dr John Grierson described this production when it was broadcast on ITV in November 1962:

“A U2 landed in Britain the other day and I was astonished to hear that they wouldn’t let the cameras look at it. I had the impression the camera wraps were taken off the U2 a couple of years ago. Anyway I thought it was worth while digging out that record and here from Australia is a picture they made, then, of the U2 – with, as you will see, the fullest co-operation of the American Strategical Airforce. The U2, of course, has been in the news over and over again and it is obviously a splendid achievement in the matter of flying higher than high – and there’s a thing about its wide wide wings that takes us back to the soaring visions of Leonardo. But I am presenting this account of the U2 with another notion. These Australians have always been great news-reel reporters. I always think of the Germans as the greatest, the Americans second but certainly the Australians third. Just have a look at this for a piece of news-reel reporting. The story yes but also the heart of the story and no pains spared to make a job of it. I know we are very good at this sort of thing ourselves, both on ITV and BBC, but if the news boys are listening to me, let me tell them that this item was completed from beginning to end in nine hours. That’s what I call first rate reporting. The reporter was Gerald Lyons and the director Terry Gallacher and my complements to both of them.”

(Ref no. Grierson Archive, G8. 28. 13)  This statement was kindly provided to me by Karl Magee from the Grierson Archive at Sterling University.

In 2011, Terry recorded a three and a half hour interview for the NFSA Oral History Programme, Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive on his time arriving in Australia in 1956 and the start of television and his experiences, they are of course all documented here on this website.

To mark the 55th anniverary of the broadcast of this film, here is a part of the interview where Terry describes the making of the Operation Crowflight film and the reaction to it.

The next couple of years will mark the 60th Anniversary of television in Australia, I hope thanks to Terry’s memories of his experiences of his time, as well as those of his colleagues at ABV2 as well as GTV9, that they are remembered, they were among the pioneers of Australian television.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2015.  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.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Never tire of hearing this story, so many achievements out of one documentary no wonder it was so highly acclaimed, such a talent, such a talented team. ‘What? a whole day to film 3 aircraft!’ – a remarkable read but very good to hear Terry tell it again.

    December 15, 2015
  2. Donna #

    This is great thank you. I’m an Australian adoptee who’s father was USAF & looks like here with Crowflight in 1964 so this is great for me.

    October 22, 2019

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