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Movietone at War: Movietone and the Christmas break

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

The Emirates in 1976 – Abu Dhabi from the air

This article follows on from the previous article: The Emirates in 1976 – The Bedouin family.

Back in Abu Dhabi, we were given the chance to get a flight in a helicopter. We took the chance.  Early in the morning, we attended the helicopter base where we were introduced to our Pakistani pilot.  We had him for three hours and we made the most of it. Read more

Movietone at War: The search for Information

When I started to write about Movietone at War I intended to write several separate articles. These were to be around fifteen hundred words each.   I started to write and research at the same time.   I gathered more and more information.  The discovery of events associated with the subject were most interesting.  I continued to write realising that what I was writing was more than an article.  I soon had a word count over 6,000.
Before long I had reached 25,000.   As I write today, the score is 125,000. Read more

The Emirates in 1976 – The Bedouin family

This article follows on from the previous article: The Emirates in 1976 – A “time bomb” and a Bedouin village

The day after we had filmed the distribution of food rations at Al Kaznah, we followed the rice ration into the desert.  We drove about ten miles into the wilderness to a small camp .   We got stuck in the sand several times, but now, we knew how to get out of it.  (Which is more than our driver did). Read more

Movietone at War: The sinking of the Bismarck

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

The Emirates in 1976 – A “time bomb” and a Bedouin village

This article follows on from the previous article: The Emirates in 1976 – Sheik Khalifa Rest House and Al Ain

We were given the opportunity to film inside an oil refinery in Abu Dhabi. This sequence would be used in the U.A.E. film and I went to film it for director David Rea who had not yet arrived from England. Read more

Movietone at War: when news stories were hard to come by

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

The Emirates in 1976 – Sheik Khalifa Rest House and Al Ain

This article follows on from the previous article: The Emirates in 1976 – Dining out

On the road to Al Ain, about eighty miles from Abu Dhabi, was situated the Sheik Khalifa Rest House where we checked in.   Mike Matthews, our camera assistant, and Sid Squires, our sound recordist,  were allocated rooms on the first floor, the top floor. Tony and I were given rooms outside the hotel. In the grounds outside, there was a raised and covered swimming pool. Beneath the pool, placed all around, were rooms with accompanying toilets. Read more

Movietone at War: Assignments for D-Day

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

Soho revisited

Ten years after my first arrival in Soho, which was immediately after the War, the place had fully recovered from its wartime condition.  During the war, many of the restaurants remained open and traded under difficult conditions.  Some could not open twice a day due to lack of foodstuffs.

I have always been interested in the history of where I am working or living.   Several times a week, I would go wandering through Soho.  Sometimes I would play games, like walking down one street and then turning into whatever sidestreet comes next.  Sometimes this can result in finding yourself where you started.  I would walk the streets of Soho without stepping outside in order to get from one side to the other.  I have walked every street and alley at some time or another. Read more