15th March 1944 – On this day the Second Battle of Cassino opened. The town of Cassino was on a mountain to the east of the Monastery which had already been flattened. Paul Wyand and Martin Gray were determined to get to the front to get a good view of the assault. In the car they carried their American tent colleagues plus a third who had joined them for the ride. He was Sherman “Monty” Montrose of United Press.
As they left the main highway to take a back road, they were stopped by an American colonel. He said that that road was under continual German observation and that they had been firing at any movement they saw on it. Read more
April 6th 1944 – Movietone had been commissioned, in December 1943, to make a short film for the Empire Division of the Ministry of Information on “The Life of Princess Elizabeth”. Little or nothing had been done since receiving the commission probably due to the inability of the officials at The Palace to organize things. Any thought of getting the film ready for the Princess’s birthday had to be dismissed because her birthday was now less than two weeks away and not a single foot had been shot. Read more
I thought that I might compare what some Movietone people were doing on and after D-Day in various locations. So, this is the month of June 1944 as seen by Movietone. Read more
February 14th 1944 – cameraman Paul Wyand and soundman Martin Gray were still in the region of Cassino. At the beginning of the month the advanced headquarters had moved up to Presenzano which was about a twenty-minute ride from the front line. Here they were based. While on base, they would have slept in tented accommodation and eaten with the officers. The army serviced their camera car and provided its fuel. They had to do their own sewing and ironing, if they could find an iron and an ironing board. While away from the base, they fed themselves from rations provided. Often, they had to forage for food. Read more
Gerald Fountaine Sanger was a co-founder of British Movietone News. He was Executive Editor from 1929 to 1954 and on the board of directors until his retirement in 1964.
He was born in 1898 and was educated first at a preparatory school then to Shrewsbury School, a public school, and finally to Oxford University. Read more
At the end of each year Movietone would produce a review of the year’s main stories. This served two purposes. The first was to provide its audiences with a reminder of the main events of the year and the second the pre-production of the issue allowed the staff to take extra leave at Christmas. Read more
Schlachtschiff Bismarck, pride of the Kriegsmarine, was a state-of-the-art warship.
Together with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen the ship was based in Norway. On May 21st 1941, the two warships set off for the Atlantic where they were to attack Allied merchant ships. It was called Operation Rheinubung. The Admiralty, made aware of the Germans’ departure, alerted its squadrons at sea that Bismarck was making for the North Atlantic. Read more
27th September 1939 – The newsreels had been asking the Ministry of Information to allow them to film the embarkation of the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) to France. They had been stalled at every turn. Then the Ministry of Information issued them with 3,000 feet of film on the embarkation. But, the material was badly dated and worse still, the newsreels guessed that the story had been shot by the G.P.O. (General Post Office) Film Unit. Read more
D-Day and the invasion of Europe, the Second Front, was expected at any time.
21st May 1944 – Gerald Sanger, Movietone’s Editor, was Orderly Officer at Battalion H.Q. of the Home Guard. He was asked “How would you cover the Invasion if it were left to you ?“. The question had been posed by Sir Gordon Craig, Movietone’s General Manager, and the response was to be submitted to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). Read more
Movietone cameraman Paul Wyand and soundman Martin Gray moved on to Lüneburg Heath. Luneberg had been captured by Montgomery’s forces on April 18th 1945, and was now the headquarters of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
Paul had met him in Italy where Monty had refused to allow Paul to use his sound camera, but here it seemed that Monty wanted to say a few words and have them recorded. Read more