MEN EMBARKING ON CHRISTMAS LEAVE [Allocated Title]
Unedited newsreel rushes showing Army and Royal Air Force personnel serving with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who have been allowed to spend Christmas leave in the United Kingdom embarking at Boulogne on the cross-Channel ferry SS Biarritz.
Part I. Close ups and general views of cheerful-looking British soldiers in steel helmets on board the cross-Channel ferry and standing by the ship's railings along the whole length of her upper deck on the port side as she pulls away from the quay. All the men seen here are wearing life jackets.
Part II. British soldiers serving with units in the BEF, including the Royal Artillery, jostle each other as they pose for the camera on a harbour quay. A line of men in full service marching order, greatcoats and with their SMLE Mk III rifles heads along a quay and, filmed from a dockside crane, have their travel documents checked by Military Policemen and movement officers at the entrance to the gangway before being let onto the vessel one by one. More men lugging suitcases and kitbags make their way to the embarkation point. Two middle aged French women selling apples (?) chat to several men serving with the Army and the Royal Air Force. Three RAF servicemen pose for the camera with seasonal sprigs of mistletoe. Two Army Sergeants buy apples from one of the Frenchwomen on the quayside. Close ups of Army and RAF servicemen as they pass the camera on the ferry's gangway after their travel documents have been checked. Two Military Policemen are seen on duty at the gangway entrance. Embarkation passes are collected in a Post Office sack once they have been handed in. A movements officer wearing an arm band marked 'Embarkation' is seen in charge at the gangway [the film is running fast at this point]. Large numbers of British servicemen in Full Service Marching Order are seen arriving at the quay and using the gangway to board SS Biarritz. On board the ship, more men embark whilst three RAF non-commissioned officers seated on one of the ship's deck benches stare at the camera with hard expressions.
Over two million American servicemen passed through Britain during the Second World War. In 1944, at the height of activity, up to half a million were based there with the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Their job was to man and maintain the vast fleets of aircraft needed to attack German cities and industry.