British NCO and officer served as cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit in France, North Africa, Greece and Crete, 1939-1944
REEL 1: Background in GB, 1911-1939: family; education; early interest in film; story of using magic lantern for projecting film shows at school and incident when film caught fire; preference for still photography and processing own film; story of making pinhole camera; further education at Tonbridge Public School.
REEL 2 Continues: employment as garage mechanic and with Norwich Union Life Assurance. Aspects of employment in film industry in GB: first job as apprentice clapper boy with Gaumont British; description of roles of clapper boy, focus operator, assistant cameraman, camera operator and lighting cameraman; comparison of status of focus and camera operators in GB and US; summary of films worked on during 1930s; membership of ACT trade union; joined Sound City as focus operator.
REEL 3 Continues; description of work on B feature films; opinion of director David Macdonald; further comments on ACT union; moved to MGM British; joined Territorial Army unit 75th Middlesex Searchlight Regt, 6/1939; appointed assistant cameraman to Harry Rignold; amusing story of interview with Captain Verney at War Office; description of Newman Sinclair camera and characteristics; posted to France, 13/Sep/1939; question of anomaly of ranks between cameraman and assistant.
REEL 4 Continues: preference for feature films to actuality. Aspect of operations as cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit in France and GB, 1939-1940: attached to Army Public Relations Unit in Arras; uniform and identification; amusing story of Lt-Col. Templer's car; composition of Public Relations Unit; transport; story of King inspecting cameramen and war correspondents; story of being commissioned and return to GB on sick leave, 2/1940; description of functions of conducting officers, war correspondents and newsreel cameramen; problem of finding suitable subjects to film; question of censorship; story of forming concert party.
REEL 5 Continues: further memories of concert party and sings songs; story of being asked to record 'Too Terribly Secret' for BBC; recites scurrilous jingle about war correspondents; comparison of role of War Office and newsreel cameramen; duties as assistant cameraman to Harry Rignold; question of use of private cine cameras; relations with Army; arrival of Tennyson d'Eyncourt; story of filming Czech forces in GB; posted as War Office cameraman to Army Public Relations Unit in Cairo, 7/1940.
REEL 6 Continues: Recollections of operations as cameraman with Army Film and Photographic Unit in North Africa, Greece and Crete, 1940-1944: arrived in Cairo, 10/1940; memories of other cameramen and photographers; opinion of Colonel Astley; duties as conducting officer and partnership with Ted Jenock; attitude to authenticity and use of staged reconstructions; uniform; description of Eyemo camera; transport; arrival of Brian Langley; various memories of filming Wavell's campaign in desert including surrender of Italian troops.
REEL 7 Continues: amusing stories of incidents at Barda and Tobruk; story of filming Menzies in Cairo; no foreign cameramen in Western Desert; filmed secret tanks; description of filming from Lysander; story of Freddie Bayliss filming during parachute jump; relations between Army Film and Photographic Unit and RAF Film Productions Unit; problem of satisfying War Office requests for dramatic action footage of warfare; use of staged reconstructions in film 'Desert Victory'; story of Randolph Churchill recommending faking aftermath of tanks battles by towing tanks together and using hand grenades.
REEL 8 Continues: role of David Macdonald in selecting footage for 'Desert Victory' and increasing use of reconstructions; description of Super Ikonta, Eyemo, DeVry and German Arriflex cameras; problem of using tripod in action filming; description of camera lenses, gadget box and focusing; problem of dust affecting cameras in desert; attitude of Wavell and Auchinleck to filming; posted to cover Greek campaign; only War Office cameraman in Greece; amusing story of soldier mistaking ruins of Acropolis for bomb damage; various memories of journeys through Greece.
REEL 9 Continues: problem of finding suitable subjects to film; memory of seeing German troops in distance; based in Athens; story of truck overturning and salvaging cameras and film; description of evacuation from Greece; story of smuggling Greek girl to safety; attitude to filming evacuation and fall of Greece; problem of finding subjects to film in Crete; morale; posted back to Alexandria; period in Cyprus; story of evacuation from Cairo to Lebanon.
REEL 10 Continues: posted back to Cairo as Officer in Charge of equipment; repairs to faults on DeVry and Super Ikonta cameras; little contact with sergeant cameramen in Western Desert; transport; memories of Peter Hopkinson; experimental filming of supply drops and runway touchdowns; story of visit to Misr Studios in Cairo; problem of obtaining cotton gloves for editor; contacts between Army, RAF and Royal Navy film units; story of being blown up with Ted Jenock in minefield.
REEL 11 Continues: damage caused to camera after explosion; story of lending battledress to David Macdonald; attitude to filming execution of spies in Aleppo and war casualties; posted back to GB, 2/1944. Aspects of period with Army Film and Photographic Unit in GB, 1944-1945: posted to Pinewood Studios; duties as sports and mess officer and filming second unit material; discipline at Pinewood following incident at party; memories of Boulting Brothers; hobby making model aircraft; demobilised, 1945. Post-war life and employment: assistant cameraman at Denham Studios; worked with Zoltan Korda on 'Cry the Beloved Country' and 'Mogambo'.
REEL 12 Continues: summary of film and television productions worked on; describes alterations to Duxford Airfield; problem of filming from B25; comments on current state of film industry; retirement; opinion of role of Army Film and Photographic Unit in helping post-war careers of cameramen.