Footage from the home front by Rosie Newman

Britain at War is a remarkable 99 minute film, filmed and edited by amateur camerawoman Rosie Newman, capturing diverse scenes from the British home front during the Second World War. It is shot on vibrant Kodachrome, containing a wealth of sequences including the devastation caused by the Blitz on London, Spitfires at RAF Digby and scenes on board destroyer HMS Berkeley. Curator Jane Fish introduces us to this film.

The film is called Britain at War and it was created between 1941 and 1946 by a remarkable camerawoman called Rosie Newman. She was an amateur camera woman but I probably wouldn't call her an amateur; she was very professional in her filmmaking. She started making films in 1928 and continued in the 1930s filming her travels and during the war she continued filming, feeling it was her contribution to the war effort. She made this amazing film - it's about 99 minutes long, it's mostly colour, and it recalls all aspects of the home front that she was able to film.

Amateur filmmaking was very popular in the late 20s and 30s; it was the latest amusing hobby. There were lots of cine clubs for amateur filmmakers but Rosie Newman worked independently and as far as we're aware she wasn't a member of any of these clubs. 

Rosie Newman made the film herself; she filmed the material and edited and captioned it and she also presented it to groups of friends and the public in many different society venues, including the ballroom at the Dorchester. Her chauffeur would  actually run the film on a projector and she would sit by playing music on a dual turntable gramophone, so the film was never shown silent.

One of my favorite sequences is a sequence which is entitled with her caption 'Blitz Windows - A New Style' which shows the windows in London's West End and includes a lovely shot of her reflected in one of the shop windows. 

The film reveals a really remarkable camerawoman and her experience during the Second World War, filming not only her own location in London but also capturing some very interesting aspects of the Second World War, including Lumberjacks from British Honduras from work in Scotland; Spitfires flying out for RAF Digby; and also she managed to get on board HMS Berkeley outside of Portsmouth when it was on patrol, which is unheard of for a female camerawoman. 

Thank you for watching and I hope you enjoyed learning more about Rosie Newman and her filmmaking. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover more about IWM's fascinating collections, thank you.

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