Unedited and uncensored (?) newsreel rushes showing the first Australian troops to be dispatched overseas in the Second World War disembarking at El-Qantara, Egypt, before being sent by rail to Palestine.
Part I. On the Suez Canal at El Qantara, Australian troops in slouch hats and carrying their kitbags and SMLE Mk III rifles make their way in single file along a floating jetty as they disembark from a door on one of the lower passenger decks on the starboard side of the large Canadian Pacific ocean liner «RMS Empress of Japan»; the first men who pass the camera consist of Sergeants and Corporals; the names 'Van Noot, E M' and 'K Reese' can be read stencilled onto two kit bags. A long line of the Australians passes through one of the exits at the docks where an Egyptian police officer armed with a revolver in a holster and a British Army sentry are seen on guard duty. Some of the names and soldier's serial numbers on the kitbags carried by the men leaving the dock are legible, for example 'Howards, J VX 3857', 'Strong', 'Kerr VX 3862' and (possibly) 'Harley' carried by the Sergeant who brings up the rear. They indicate that these volunteers came from the state of Victoria.
Part II. A distant view of smoke emerging from the funnels of three ship in the Suez Canal at Ismailiya (?); the two ships on the left and the right of the freighter in the middle are probably P & O passenger liners («SS Orion», «SS Otranto» or «SS Orford»). Carefully composed shots showing «RMS Empress of Japan» steaming very slowly up the Suez Canal towards the camera as the sky begin to darken, using as foreground an Egyptian wearing a fez, a section of the canal bank and an Egyptian Army Sergeant. Scenes filmed at the foot of the ship's gangway show Australian troops disembarking and making their way to dry land along the floating jetty; some names and soldiers' numbers stencilled onto the kit bags can be read, for example 'Webber, K NX 3757', 'NX 1288', [Lance-Corporal] McColl NX 3128' , 'Smith, W. E. [Lance-Corporal] NX 3622', 'J Peck VX 8534' and 'VX 6261'. They show that these men came from New South Wales.
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.