British NCO served with 7/9th Royal Scots Regt in GB and France, 1940-1942; served as sergeant cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit attached to 1st Special Service Bde Commandos and 11th Armoured Division in North West Europe, 1944-1945, including Normandy landings, 6/Jun/1944
REEL 1: Background in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1917-1939: family; father served as photographer with Royal Flying Corps during First World War; employment in father's photographic business; description of plate cameras; attitude to photography as profession; reason for wanting to be newsreel cameraman; interest in writing as career; first use of cine camera; description of Eumig exposure meter; attitude to danger; story of volunteering for RAF, 1939; called up for military service with 7/9th Royal Scots in Dumfries, Scotland, 1/1940; description of making bed and accommodation in barn; attitude to army life and discipline; marriage.
REEL 2 Continues: issued with uniform and kit including Glengarry; story of visit to Newcastle and being mistaken for officer. Aspects of period with 7/9th Royal Scots in GB and France, 1940-1942: basic training in Dumfries, Scotland; transferred to Motor Transport Section and duties as lorry driver and officers' driver; religious beliefs; duties as driver for Major Ritchie; story of hearing Lord Haw-Haw broadcast mentioning 7/9th Royal Scots; morale; composition of 7/9th Royal Scots and relations with English recruits; posted to camp in Yeovil, Somerset; relations with local civilians; memory of local cider; attached to 52nd Lowland Div; reaction to evacuation from Dunkirk, 5/1940; landed at Cherbourg with 52nd Div, 6/1940; duties as officer's driver.
REEL 3 Continues: preparation of defences; daily routine and duties; disabling of officer's Humber Snipe; attacked by German aircraft; destruction of docks by Royal Engineers; returned to GB and disembarked at Southampton; posted to camp in Ipswich and slept in trenches; posted to London; impressed civilian vehicles converted for use by MT Section; story of driving Austin van back to Norfolk and air raid; memories of returning infantry from France; posted to Peterhead, Scotland; promoted lance-corporal; attitude to being seconded to intelligence section; story of divisional exercise and returning to MT Section; duties as motorcycle instructor and driving Bren gun carrier; story of joining Army Film and Photographic Unit in London, 1942; tests.
REEL 4 Continues: posted to Pinewood film studios, Buckinghamshire. Aspects of period as film cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit in GB, 1942-1944: informality of Army Film and Photographic Unit compared to regular army; opinion of Captain Leslie Evans and CO Major Hugh Stewart; organisational structure of Army Film and Photographic Unit; opinion of accommodation and living conditions; question of division between still and cine photographers; reason for choosing to train as cine cameraman.
REEL 5 Continues: comparison of Eyemo and DeVry cameras; description of making carrying handle for camera; modification of cameras; relations with female employees; use of Army Film and Photographic Unit personnel from North Africa as instructors; opinion of Hugh Stewart and innovative ideas; opinion of German cameramen and equipment; question of using fake scenes.
REEL 6 Continues: formation of 'Chet's Circus' and attitude to use of reconstructions of battle scenes; question of developing combat camera; opinion of Vinton Normandy camera; structure of Army Film and Photographic Unit and role of units. Aspects of operations as cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit in North West Europe, 1944: story of filming German troops from church tower near River Meuse, Holland, 1944; description of Bell and Howell camera; duties as frontline cameraman and relations with troops; benefit of wearing commando Green Beret; use of scout car.
REEL 7 Continues: use of jeep for transport; description of filming tanks in action; attitude to fear; memories of filming during Operation Goodwood, 7/1944; access to map truck; problem of German booby traps; story of seeing own material held by IWM after war; question of keeping dope sheets; smoked pipe during action; opinion of food and living conditions; relations with tanks crews; opinion of Leslie Evans and reaction to death of friend Norman Clegg; attitude to being involved in operations.
REEL 8 Continues: Aspects of period as cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit in GB, 1942-1944: training at Pinewood Studios; question of working in pairs; writing stories and filming mock attacks and tactical exercises; close-ups of maps and watches; cutting in camera; amusing story of filming robbery in post office; question of gaining experience as cameraman; various memories of other Army Film and Photographic Unit personnel; process of being selected to cover D-Day landings, 6/1944; role of Hugh Stewart in Army Film and Photographic Unit; description of drill training with Scots Guards at Chelsea Barracks and battle training with Irish Guards at Lingfield Barracks; promoted sergeant; pay.
REEL 9 Continues: end of course at Pinewood, 1943; recreational activities and social life; private showings of feature films; story of filming secret tanks and 'Hobart's Funnies' on Isle of Wight; 3/1944; amount of material intended for public release; question of restrictions on type of subjects to be filmed; assigned to No 1 Special Service Bde Commandos prior to Normandy landings, 5/1944; introduced to Lord Lovat and given Green Beret; briefings on D-Day operations; story of American servicemen and question of security; weather conditions; story of chaplain committing suicide; description of kit and camera equipment and problem of weight.
REEL 10 Continues: protection of film stock and camera; issued with .38 Webley revolver; weight of equipment; embarkation at Southampton, 5/Jun/1944; amount of film stock; instructed to complete dope sheets; filmed departing troops and ships; description of voyage to France; Aspects of operations as cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit in North West Europe, 1944-1945: problem of smell of diesel fumes and seasickness; story of going out on deck; issued with security pass signed by Eisenhower; description of filming fleet and aircraft with D-Day markings; instructed to keep both eyes open while filming; question of sound recording; disembarked from landing craft with commandos of No 1 Special Service Bde; description of scene on beach.
REEL 11 Continues: method of reloading film; changing bags; attitude to using still camera; problem of winding up camera; mobility of cameramen and question of being captured; organisation of cameramen with advancing troops; description of leaving beach; reason for hostile reception from some French civilians; memories of Lord Lovat blowing hunting horn and Piper Millan playing bagpipes; stayed with commandos until D+2; problem of running out of film; reason for cameraman George Laws returning to GB; casualties in Army Film and Photographic Unit.
REEL 12 Continues: meeting with Captain Leslie Evans and cameraman Norman Clegg; meeting with Hugh Stuart at HQ; organisation of No 5 section Army Film and Photographic Unit; story of death of cameraman Norman Clegg; opinion of section commander Captain Evans and question of disobeying orders; various memories of other officers; No 5 section Army Film and Photographic Unit personnel and duties; arrival of sound section.
REEL 13 Continues: transportation; attitude to Public Relations section; memories of cameramen George Laws and Peter Norris; allocation of Army Film and Photographic Unit units; story of filming liberation of Antwerp; attitude to Germans and question of fraternisation with German civilians; description of filming in Belsen concentration camp, 17/Apr/1945.
REEL 14 Continues: attitude of local German civilians to Belsen concentration camp; question of Army Film and Photographic Unit filming in concentration camps; various memories of post-war career as cameraman in war zones; opinion of German army; description of advance through Germany and problem of civilian resistance; relations with German civilians; story of filming liberation of Copenhagen, Denmark.
REEL 15 Continues: returned to base in Hamburg following end of war, 5/1945; daily life and recreational activities; memories of journalist Ian Struthers; involvement in black market activities; reason for turning down commission and serving in Far East; attitude to remaining in army; membership of ACTT union, 1944.
REEL 16 Continues: Aspects of post-war life and employment as film cameraman: demobilised; story of obtaining employment as assistant cameraman with documentary film company Modern Age; description of work in Sudan; problem of storing film stock; wages and expenses; comments on J Arthur Rank; subjects of documentaries; living and working conditions in Sudan; accommodation; description of film made in Sudan; employment with Esso film unit and nature of work; attitude to working in studios on feature films.
REEL 17 Continues: story of working as focus puller on feature film; roles of other members of film crew; description of studio cameras; comparison of Newman Sinclair documentary camera and Army Film and Photographic Unit camera; reloading film; opinion of Arriflex cameras; employment as documentary cameraman in Greece for US government, 1953; relations with Greeks; story of joining ITN as news cameraman; expense account; changed to sound camera and nature of assignments; various memories of ITN reporters.
REEL 18 Continues: opinion of news reporters; role of cameraman in film crew; political beliefs; description of various assignments in Cyprus, Egypt and Tunisia; description of sound camera; question of co-operating with other film crews; role of news stringers.
REEL 19 Continues: role of ACTT union; developments in film technology; summary of career as freelance cameraman after leaving ITN, 1962; story of filming death of Donald Campbell on Coniston Water, 1967. Reflections on period of service with Army Film Unit.