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
March 1942 – British Movieone News cameraman Alec Tozer was accompanied by George Rodger while searching for stories in Burma. George Rodger was the renowned stills photographer of Time Life based in London. They had heard that Rangoon was about to be taken by the Japanese. They wanted to get close enough to film something. They had each been equipped with a Jeep. 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
Vittorio Della Valle was a colleague of mine from 1961 to 1972.
He was born in 1917 in Rome. His father was a cinematographer who had accompanied one of the Italian Airship Expeditions to the North Pole. 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
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
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