Goodbye from British Pathé

Friends and loyal followers,

It has been terrific sharing our collection with you over the last five years. We do hope you’ve enjoyed these blog posts (if you haven’t, we can only apologise) and that you’ll follow us to our new home. Our blog is leaving WordPress and will now be hosted on the main British Pathé website. You’ll find our favourite past blog posts up there too. And, just like with WordPress, you can enter your email address to continue getting new posts sent straight to your inbox.

Click here to visit the new British Pathé blog.

Do let us know what you think of the new blog and the sort of posts you want to read. You can get in touch by emailing info@britishpathe.com, leaving a comment beneath this post, or connecting with us via Facebook Twitter.

Our very best wishes,

British Pathé

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British Pathé is considered to be the finest newsreel archive in the world and is a treasure trove of 85,000 films unrivalled in their historical and cultural significance. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage from around the globe of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, science and culture. The entire archive is available to view online for free via the British Pathé website and YouTube channel.

Churchill: A Life on Film

24 January 2015 marks 50 years since the death of a man who dominated 20th century politics like no other – British Prime Minister and international statesman Sir Winston Churchill. Throughout his life, British Pathé’s cameras provided the world with a unique, visual insight into his character. The company documented his career from the Sidney Street Siege in 1911 to his state funeral and has archive of many of his speeches. In 2002, Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time.

In honour of this anniversary, British Pathé has curated a definitive, visual archive of his career entitled Churchill: A Life on Film. We have organised this content by topic and event and have presented it on a single navigable page for the first time. Click here to begin exploring.

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Invented in World War One

In two new videos from Indy (our man in cyberspace), British Pathé presents some inventions that were rather surprisingly developed for the First World War – all of which we still use today! View the videos below.

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Britain Joins WW2

75 years ago this month: On 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. This collection of vintage films from the British Pathé archive shows the preparations being made for war. The selection also includes a speech by President Roosevelt on his hope that the United States will not get involved.

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KING’S WAR SPEECH (1939)

 

Sound only material (no picture). A speech by King George VI on the outbreak of World War II. He talks about trying to find peace but that it is necessary to fight now that war has come. He calls on his people at home and across the seas to stand calm, firm and united. The National Anthem ends the broadcast.

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THIS COUNTRY IS AT WAR – MR CHAMBERLAIN 03/09/39 (1939)

 

Footage of preparations being made in Britain as a result of the outbreak of war. Various shots of Spitfires and Hurricanes in flight and of the fleet sailing. This newsreel was released in cinemas in Britain on 11th September 1939. Britain and France had declared war 8 days earlier. 

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WAR! (1939)

 

Footage of children being evacuated at the outbreak of the Second World War and European countries preparing to repel the Nazis. Also released in cinemas on 11th September 1939.

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PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT TALKS ABOUT THE WAR (1939)

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives a speech on America’s neutrality in the conflict across the Atlantic, declaring his hatred for war but stating that he cannot ask all Americans to stay neutral, for even neutrals cannot close their conscience. As with the above newsreels, this was released in cinemas on 11th September 1939.

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75 years since WW2 began

September 2014 marks 75 years since the beginning of the Second World War, triggered by the invasion of the sovereign territory of Poland by the forces of Nazi Germany, in collaboration with the Soviet Union and Slovakia. Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany in response.

This episode of the series A Day That Shook the World, a BBC / British Pathé co-production narrated by John Humphrys, briefly summarises the invasion.

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The Liberation of Paris

70 years ago this month: On 25th August 1944, the Battle for Paris was over and the city was free of its German occupiers. There are some excellent films in the archive showing the victory celebrations, the Allied advance through France, and life in Paris during the occupation, including footage of the French resistance.

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IT HAPPENED IN PARIS (1944)

 

Pathé Gazette cameraman Gaston Madru conceals a camera and films the streets of Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942. The footage he captured was shown to the public after the liberation of the city in this newsreel, released in cinemas on 18th September 1944.

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MEN OF THE MAQUIS (1944)

 

The story of the underground army of France with an exclusive personal narrative by the French actress Francoise Rosay. Released in cinemas on 10th April 1944.

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THE MAQUIS STRIKE (1944)

 

This film shows the French resistance uprising against a crumbling German occupation.

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FRENCH DOCTOR SPEAKS (1944)

 

A French doctor talks abut role of doctors during the German occupation. He talks about the treatment of Germans, problems with the Gestapo and medical progress in England and America. He speaks in English.

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GESTAPO TORTURE CHAMBER (1944)

 

French officials examine a Gestapo torture chamber and find chilling evidence of past tortures.

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PARIS DELIVERED (1944)

 

Dramatic scenes as allied troops liberate the city of Paris. The cameraman was Kenneth Gordon and the newsreel features an official broadcaster of the French delegation in London who gives his personal viewpoint of the liberation. Released in cinemas on 31st August 1944.

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COLLABORATOR’S HAIR CUT (1945)

 

This silent footage shows what was in store for Nazi collaborators after the liberation of France. French women have their heads shaved by the Maquis as punishment for cooperating with the German occupiers.

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WW1: How It All Began

In this YouTube video, historian and broadcaster Dan Snow was challenged to answer the question “How did WW1 start?” – and to do so in only two minutes. See how he got on…

Today, 4 August 2014, marks the centenary of Britain’s entry into the First World War and the escalation of a horrific conflict which would last more than four years and cost the lives of millions worldwide.

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The Great War on YouTube

World War One changed everything. Through films in the British Pathé collection, we can see back into the past and remember the sacrifices of those who fought or suffered and look at the consequences of that terrible conflict. For the centenary commemorations, we have launched a new YouTube channel dedicated to archive footage from 1914 to 1918. There are also versions of the channel in German, Polish and Turkish. The channel trailers are viewable below.

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THE GREAT WAR

Every Thursday, our correspondent Indy will present a new video, constructing the ultimate history of that conflict, charting the course of the First World War from beginning to end

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DER ERSTE WELTKRIEG

Der Erste Weltkrieg veränderte alles. Vor genau 100 Jahren brach er aus. Das gibt uns den Anlass einen Blick in die Vergangenheit zu werfen und uns zu erinnern, was zu der schrecklichen Zeit passierte. ABONNIERT jetzt den Kanal DER ERSTE WELTKRIEG, um mit Christoph in die Vergangenheit zu reisen. Er zeigt euch jeden Donnerstag die Geschichte des Ersten Weltkrieges: Vom Anfang bis zum Ende. Zusammen folgen wir der Geschichte des Krieges in Echtzeit, Woche für Woche. Sodass wir im November 2018 die komplette Geschichte des Ersten Weltkriegs rekonstruiert haben werden.

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HISTORIA WOJNY NIEZNANEJ

Pierwsza Wojna Światowa zmieniła wszystko. Dziś – dokładnie 100 lat od jej wybuchu – przyglądamy się dziejom tego straszliwego konfliktu, śledząc jego losy tydzień po tygodniu.

Zapraszamy do subskrybowania naszego kanału ‘Historia Wojny Nieznanej’ którego prowadzący – Marek Kamiński – w każdy czwartek zabierze Was w podróż w przeszłość, prezentując historię tego przełomowego w dziejach nowoczesnej Europy konfliktu. Na Waszych oczach powstanie najbardziej kompleksowe kalendarium Pierwszej Wojny Światowej tworzone w czasie rzeczywistym – od lipca 2014 aż do listopada 2018.

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BIRINCI DÜNYA SAVAŞI

100 yıl önce Birinci Dünya Savaşı başladı ve her şeyi bütünüyle değiştirdi. Geçmişe bir yolculuk yapıp o korkunç zamanlarda neler olduğunu hatırlamamız için birçok neden var. BİRİNCİ DÜNYA SAVAŞI kanalımıza şimdi abone olun ve sunucumuz Hatice ile tarihe tanıklık edin. Hatice her Perşembe sizlere 1. Dünya Savaşı ile ilgili yeni şeyler gösterecek. Hep beraber savaşı en başından itibaren gün gün takip edeceğiz. 2018 Kasım’ında da Birinci Dünya Savaşı’nda tüm yaşananları tamamlamış olacağız.

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Versailles

This month marks 95 years since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. British Pathé has footage of the delegates at the conference and of some of the repercussions of the treaty. There is also this later newsreel covering the lead-up to the Second World War: “The tragedy of 1938 was born in 1919 at Versailles”.

Some of the key films in the British Pathé archive are viewable below.

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1. TREATY OF VERSAILLES – PART ONE (1919)

The first two films in this collection, “Treaty of Versailles Part One” and “Part Two”, feature multiple newsreels related to the negotiations and signing of the treaty strung together across two reels.

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2. TREATY OF VERSAILLES – PART TWO (1919)

The first two films in this collection, “Treaty of Versailles Part One” and “Part Two”, feature multiple newsreels related to the negotiations and signing of the treaty strung together across two reels.

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3. FRENCH TROOPS OCCUPY FRANKFURT (1920)

Full title reads: “FRENCH EAGLES ACROSS THE RHINE. First pictures of the French occupation of Frankfort [sic].” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 19th April 1920.

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4. GERMAN FLOATING DOCK (1920)

Full title reads: “ENORMOUS GERMAN FLOATING DOCK. 720 feet long with lifting capacity of 40,000 tons surrendered under Peace Treaty – arrives.” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 13th September 1920.

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5. GRAVEYARD OF GERMANY’S AIR AMBITIONS (1920)

Full title reads: “The GRAVEYARD OF GERMANY’S AIR AMBITIONS. Immense numbers of machines and engines are being destroyed under terms of Peace Treaty”. A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 25th November 1920.

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6. THE BULLION PLANE (1925)

Full title reads: “The bullion ‘plane. 3 engined Junker monoplane arrives with cargo of bonds worth £10,000,000 consigned to Bank of England under Dawes Reparation Scheme. Croydon Aerodrome.” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 29th August 1925.

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7. 12 YEARS AFTER VERSAILLES (1931)

Full title reads: “Germany. 12 Years After Versailles. Giant fortress of Kustrin which protects Berlin on East – one of the last now left in Germany – destroyed under terms of Peace Treaty.” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 10th August 1931.

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British Pathé presents: WW1 – The Definitive Collection

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August 2014 marks one hundred years since the start of World War One. To commemorate this landmark occasion, British Pathé has launched a definitive collection of WW1 films.

British Pathé holds one of the finest and most comprehensive First World War film archives in the world. There’s footage of trench warfare, zeppelin raids, battleships at sea, U-boats, protests, wartime propaganda, and countless other interesting subjects.

The collection has been organised by topic, event and protagonist, and for the first time presented on a single navigable page.

You can explore the collection here.

A sample image of the newly-created collection, organised by topic.
A sample image of the newly-created collection, organised by topic.

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Holocaust Memorial Day

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“Germany’s crimes are no longer hidden from sight. At last the eyes of the world are opened. We believe it our duty to screen these pictures as a warning to future generations…” – Pathé News, 30 April 1945.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on 27th January every year.

This British Pathé newsreel from 1945 was screened in the cinemas at the time. It exposed to the British public the true horrors of some of the atrocities that had been taking place in concentration camps.

View Film (distressing): ATROCITIES

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The Railway Man

“The Railway Man” is a new feature film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. It follows the true story of Eric Lomax, a POW forced to build the Thai/Burma railway during WW2. British Pathé has coverage of that railway and of other events from the life of Firth’s character.

There is a film from 1945 of the railway itself, known as the “Railway of Death”, which was not used in any newsreels, and is sadly silent, but is nevertheless interesting to watch (the film can be viewed here). Lomax was forced to build the railway after leaving Changi Prison, for which there is also footage in the archive. The reel, from the liberation of the prison in 1945, can be found in this collection.

Also included is coverage of the war in Singapore during 1942, for it was after that country’s surrender that Lomax was captured by the Japanese.

“The Railway Man”, based on Lomax’s autobiographical account, is released in the UK today.

Click here for British Pathé’s collection of films related to “The Railway Man”.

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Lest We Forget

Remembrance Sunday will shortly be upon us. The British Pathé archive is rich in footage from twentieth century conflicts. We share some select films in the collections listed below.

The First World War

British Pathé holds one of the finest and most comprehensive First World War archives in the world. You will find chilling shots of young troops huddled in their trenches, wearing gas masks, and going “over the top”, as well as battleships at sea, and aerial warfare. There is also footage of shell shock victims at Seal Hayne military hospital in Devon.

The above link is just a selection and you can find more than 2,000 relevant films by searching on our site.

WW1

The Second World War

The archives of World War Two material filmed by British Pathé are wide-ranging. Pathé cameramen went with the troops all around the world as well as documenting the destruction at home. Footage details warfare on land, at sea, and in the air.

A general Second World War Collection can be found here – just a selection of the 4,000 films available.

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Korean War

The Korean War is often referred to as “The Forgotten War”. Two and a half million people lost their lives in this conflict, including many British soldiers. Our Korean War Collection (just a selection) can be found here, or you can search our website for what you need.

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Remembrance

As well as contemporary coverage of various remembrance events and religious services. A catalogue of our Remembrance Day footage can be found here, or you can search our website for more specific films. A particularly interesting one details the work of the Royal British Legion, and visits the factory in Richmond in which war veterans make poppies.

REMEMBRANCE

Remembrance Sunday is on 10th November. Remembrance Day is on 11th November.

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The Munich Pact – 75 Years

September 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the Munich Agreement attempted to halt Europe’s march to war. British Pathé has a great deal of footage relevant to this anniversary. Click the links below to take a look.

Chamberlain at Berchtesgaden 

Two films are included in this WorkSpace featuring Chamberlain heading off to Berchtesgaden to meet with Hitler to discuss the fate of Czechoslovakia.

Chamberlain’s Second Trip to Meet Hitler

Chamberlain returns from his second visit to Germany.

Munich Agreement

These six vintage newsreels cover the Sudeten crisis as it was at the end of September, Chamberlain leaving for Munich, the Munich conference itself, and the signing of the Agreement by Germany, Italy, France and Britain. There’s also a brief biography of Neville Chamberlain from October 1938, celebrating him as “Man of the Hour”.

Chamberlain signs the Munich Agreement.
Chamberlain signs the Munich Agreement.

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Tensions Over Gibraltar

Citizens of The Rock take to the streets to campaign during the referendum over the sovereignty of Gibraltar in 1967.
Citizens of The Rock take to the streets to campaign during the referendum over the sovereignty of Gibraltar in 1967.

British Pathé has footage related to the tensions between Spain and Britain over the sovereignty of The Rock. Most interestingly, there’s a clip on Spain clamping down on people crossing the border into Gibraltar. There’s also footage of the Queen visiting in 1954, despite Spanish objections, plus films covering the 1967 referendum.

Find all the clips via this link.

The archive also contains interesting material from the Falklands, in the news again recently as reports circulate that Argentina and Spain may join forces in opposing British overseas territorial claims at the United Nations. Negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands began in 1966 after a UN resolution the year before forced Britain to the table. For many years a succession of foreign secretaries attempted to promote the virtues of Argentine sovereignty, encouraging the Falklanders to submit. The reactions of the islanders to the opening of negotiations are plainly to be seen in this film.

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Our Falkland Islands collection includes coverage of the 1982 war.

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British Pathé Picks: July 2013

Here are some things in the archive that may be of interest to you over the next few weeks. Click on the links to take a look.

2013 British Open   (18 July)

The 142nd Open Championship takes place this month in Scotland. British Pathé’s coverage of past events can be seen on our website via this link.

Wiley Post Flies Solo   (22 July)

80 years: Wiley Post was the first to fly solo around the world. British Pathé has two newsreels covering the historic flight in this collection.

Bombing of Hamburg   (24 July)

It is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hamburg in Operation Gomorrah. Shots of the RAF and USAF raids and the devastation wrought can be found here.

Korean War Truce  (27 July)

60 years: The signing of the truce in 1953 was covered by Pathé News and the original newsreel can be viewed here. The archive also has additional material from the Korean War, including combat footage. Here’s a selection.

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British Pathe: A Witness To Terrorism, 1919-1972

Terrorism is nothing new. As early as 1885 the first bomb exploded on the London Underground. Even before then, terrorist groups had made their respective marks – the People’s Retribution in Russia, the Jacobins in France, Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Plot, the Scarii Zealots of Judea. The list is endless, the victims countless, the motives diverse.

Though the British Pathé archive is limited to the years 1895-1979, there is an overwhelming collection of material related to terrorist attacks. This post, along with our new gallery, presents just a few examples from that period, using images taken from contemporary newsreel footage.

Click the stills to view the original film.

New York, USA (1919)

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Probably the earliest film in the archive concerning an act of terrorism, the footage from which this image is taken features just one of a series of bombings during 1919 carried out in many American cities by anarchists aiming to bring down the “tyrannical institutions” of the State.

It is not clear from British Pathé’s records exactly what this image shows, but it is possibly the ruined home of Judge Charles C. Nott, Jr. on 151 East 66 Street, which was a target of the terrorists. Although Nott was unhurt, one night watchman, who had seen a suspicious package left on Nott’s doorstep and had gone over to investigate, was killed when it went off in his hands.

As well as in New York, bombs were detonated in seven other cities and thirty-six letter bombs were posted, though many were intercepted before they could explode.

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New York, USA (1920)

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The same anarchists were allegedly behind this 1920 attack on Wall Street, the financial heart of the United States of America, though no group actually claimed responsibility and the perpetrators were never caught. In this case, explosives were hidden in a wagon which exploded at lunchtime on 16th September, killing 38 people along with the horse that was pulling the deadly vehicle. A further 143 were injured.

Footage shows the confused aftermath of the bombing, the police presence, and some of the bodies of the victims laid out on the pavement. Evidence of the blast can still be seen on some of the buildings today.

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Liverpool, UK (1920)

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Later that same year, England was also targeted, this time by Irish republicans, in the midst of the Irish War of Independence.

This image is taken from a newsreel announcing “Sinn Fein outrages” in which “agents” of the group set warehouses alight across Liverpool and the suburb of Bootle – 27 fires in all. Police officers were shot during the incident, along with a young passer-by named Daniel Ward. Five men were arrested.

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New York, USA (1927)

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On 6th August 1927, two bombs detonated in the New York City subway. This image reveals some of the damage done, along with workmen hurriedly repairing a station.

The attack was again the work of anarchists. It was carried out in retaliation for the trial of the Italian anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti who were executed later that month in Boston.

At least one person died in the bombing, with others wounded.

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Germany (1931)

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Political agitators blew up this train travelling from Berlin to Frankfurt in early August 1931. Newsreel footage shows the derailed carriages and the damage done to the tracks by the bomb blast.

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London, UK (1939)

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This image is from just one of many terrorist attacks in London during 1939 carried out by the Irish Republican Army, or IRA. Investigators comb through the rubble looking for evidence after an explosion at the Central Electricity Board building in Southwark. A pedestrian was killed.

Leicester Square and Tottenham Court tube stations, shops in Piccadilly, an aqueduct, and Hammersmith bridge were also subsequently targeted. All were documented by Pathé News and relevant films can be found in this collection. Not covered by British Pathé were additional incidents at various banks, King’s Cross and Victoria station. Seamus O’Donovan, who had drawn up the attack plans, later noted that the bombing campaign “brought nothing but harm to Ireland and the IRA.”

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Rehovot, Palestine (1947)

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Another railway bomb, this time in Palestine – one of numerous attacks by Jewish militants during 1947. The aims of the “Irgun”, the group responsible for the attacks, were to force the British to withdraw from Palestine (where they had been stationed since defeating the Ottoman Empire during the First World War) and to bring about the creation of an independent Jewish state. On 14th May 1948, David Ben-Gurion would declare the establishment of the state of Israel. Britain officially recognised the new nation on 28th April 1950.

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Simpang Tiga, Malaysia (1947)

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A devastated rubber factory caused by terrorist occupation in the small town of Simpang Tiga. Footage shows locals walking through the debris.Throughout the 1940s, Malaysia was troubled by violence as communist groups sought to expel the British from the Malayan peninsular.

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Jaffa, Palestine (1948)

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Another attack by the “Irgun”, this time in the town of Jaffa, on 4th January 1948. The headquarters of the Arab National Committee and several surrounding buildings were destroyed.

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New York Nabs the “Mad Bomber”, USA (1957)

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In this image, George Metesky stands smiling behind bars after his arrest by New York police. Metesky had been responsible for twenty-two explosions in the early 1940s and throughout the 1950s at public places in New York City, such as libraries and cinemas. He planted a further eleven which never went off. His motive was anger. After an industrial accident left him injured and without a job, he sought revenge on both the company he had worked for (Consolidated Edison) and the public at large.

Known as the “Mad Bomber”, Metesky was never tried for his crimes and was committed to a mental hospital. Eventually released in 1973, he died in 1994 at the age of 90.

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Algiers, Algeria (1962)

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On 20th April 1962, three plastic explosives were detonated in the capital of Algeria. Luckily, no one was killed. The attack was the work of Organisation de l’armée secrète (or OAS). This French terrorist organisation hoped to stop Algeria from becoming an independent nation, free from French colonial rule, which the Algerian National Movement had been fighting for since 1954. The OAS failed, and that same year the Algerian War came to an end with a new People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria entering the international arena.This silent, unedited and unused footage features devastated buildings and burnt out cars, probably in front of the Algiers Rectorate of the University.

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Zarka, Kingdom of Jordan (1971)

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This image is from the Dawson’s Field hijackings by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in September 1971. In the incident, five planes were hijacked and forced to Dawson’s Field, an airstrip in Zarka, Jordan. Amazingly, not one of the 310 hostages were killed. They were released in exchange for four PFLP members – three serving sentences in Switzerland and one in British custody.

The plane featured in this still is British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Flight 775. It is taken from raw, unedited and silent footage in the British Pathé archive. In the film, Swissair and BOAC planes land in Beirut before being forced to take off again for Dawson’s Field by the hijackers while police and security officials watch helplessly nearby.

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Belfast, UK (1972)

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This telling still of a burning bus derives from a film in the British Pathé archive entitled “IRA Outrages In Northern Ireland”. Although there is no paperwork accompanying the film that can accurately date and identify the three seemingly separate events depicted in it, one of our Facebook followers provided some helpful information. This image specifically is probably from the Bloody Friday attack on the Ulsterbus depot on Oxford Street during the afternoon of 21st July 1972. A total of twenty-two explosions across Belfast caused carnage that day. Nine people were killed.

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After 1972

The British Pathé archive ends in 1979. However, the series A Day That Shook The World, co-produced with the BBC, covers important world events up to the year 2006. It therefore includes additional acts of terror not originally filmed by the Pathé cameramen. The relevant episodes can be viewed by clicking on the links below:

British SAS storm Iranian Embassy in London (1980)

IRA attack on British Government (1984)

Lockerbie Pan-Am jet explosion (1988)

Oklahoma terrorist attack (1995)

World Trade Center (2001)

Beslan School Siege (2004)

London bombings (2005)

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View the Twenty Acts of Terror Gallery on the British Pathé website. Additional films can be found by searching the archive database.

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Imphal and Kohima

The British people have voted for their “greatest battle” in a poll conducted by the National Army Museum. The combined victories at Imphal and Kohima against the Japanese in the Second World War are now taken to be the “Greatest British Battle” in history, winning more than half of the votes cast. The runner up was D-Day, with 25 per cent of the vote. A full list of the contenders can be found here, in an article for The Daily Telegraph. For each of these engagements, the British Pathé archive has some relevant films that should be of interest.

Imphal and Kohima

“Invasion Scenes Far East” is a newsreel item showing British troops advancing towards Imphal in India. “Japs Trapped At Imphal” follows Indian infantry of 5th and 7th Indian divisions as they advance through the Hills of Manipur, past the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers, to trap the enemy.  Finally, “Driving Out The Japs” follows Lord Louis Mountbatten inspecting Indian soldiers and British men of the 14th Army at Imphal and Kohima. You can find all three films in this collection.

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D-Day

There’s an extensive collection of films from the Normandy landings during WW2 in the British Pathé archive. Click here for a selection. A more general Second World War Collection can be found here.

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Unknown Yom Kippur War films

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The British Pathé archive holds nearly 90,000 individual clips. Most of the descriptions you’ll see on the website were taken from handwritten notes, composed either by the cameramen at the time of filming or by former archivists decades ago. The notes were all fed into a computer database at the beginning of the new millennium. Some amendments were made at that time, and steadily since, but there is still much work to be done.

Due to the sheer number of films in the collection, there are a great many that our staff members will never have seen and perhaps never will. This means that we need the help of the public to ensure that the information displayed is accurate. We’ve been fortunate to receive a great many emails over the last few years with some really terrific and helpful corrections to the descriptions, but the volume of them means that we just can’t keep up with all of the necessary changes. In fact, we currently have a backlog of about five thousand!

We therefore launched a comment facility when our new website went live and we’ve just updated the system to make things easier for you. It allows any registered user to leave a comment beneath a clip (to register, just click “join” in the top right-hand corner – It takes a couple of seconds and is completely free of charge). We’re able to monitor all of the comments made, so eventually we’ll be able to correct the descriptions based on what you’ve shared – and, in the meantime, at least all of that information will be available for viewers in the comments section.

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Our new comments box

We want your help identifying dates, locations, people and events throughout the entire archive. But, just to get you going, we’re making a specific request for information about these films from the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

British Pathé only has a few clips from that conflict and we’re unclear about many of the details. If you know the dates, locations, types of tank and armoured vehicle, information about the troops, etc., do please leave a comment beneath the relevant clip.

We are very keen to make our archive as informative and comprehensive as possible. The details that you provide will be of use to future generations of historians, researchers, programme-makers, and members of the general public. Thank you for your help!

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For British Pathé’s collection of Yom Kippur material, click here.

For an interview with Moshe Dayan from around the same time, click here.

HMS Belfast: 75 Years

This weekend, HMS Belfast, the famous ship which has inhabited the Thames since 1971 as a museum, will celebrate the 75th anniversary of her launch. The Royal Navy cruiser was launched on 17th March 1938 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland. British Pathé has footage of the occasion in its archive, which can be viewed here. The launch can be found mid-way through the clip, which begins as an item about Mrs Chamberlain opening a new airport (though due to the fact that some footage has gone missing, the clip doesn’t feature Mrs Chamberlain at all!)

HMS Belfast is launched on 17th March 1938. Click the still to watch the British Pathé footage.

As well as the launch, there are some additional films in which HMS Belfast makes an appearance. The most substantial is an item about Royal Navy cadets taking the ship to Gibraltar. The 1963 newsreel, “Cadets Try Sea Life“, features some nice shots of HMS Belfast and the cadets lined up on her deck for her departure from Portsmouth.

There are two other films of note: “Tanganyika Independent“, about the celebrations for the independence of Tanganyika (later Tanzania) in 1961, shows HMS Belfast lit up at night in the harbour. “Royal Navy Ships“, filmed some time in the 1940s, shows some crew members messing around with an HMS Belfast lifebuoy.

HMS Belfast sets off for Gibraltar in a 1963 film. Click the still to view.

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There are also four items from the 1970s which show HMS Belfast on the Thames. You can find the films in this collection. British Pathé stopped releasing newsreels in February 1970 (see our History of British Pathé), and so much of the material in the archive from that decade is silent, unedited, and never released. This HMS Belfast footage is a good example, but the films are an enjoyable watch due to some beautiful aerial views of London and the River Thames.

HMS Belfast on the Thames during the 1970s. View our collection of clips for the famous ship by clicking on the still.

HMS Belfast saw action in the Second World War, beginning with the arctic convoys. She also took part in the Battle of North Cape and the Normandy landings. Later, she was used in the Korean War. In the 1970s she became a museum ship and has been visited by scores of tourists and history-lovers ever since. It’s worth a visit if you’ve never been.

View British Pathé’s HMS Belfast collection here.

View additional HMS Belfast stills on our Pinterest page.

The Korean War Truce

North Korea has terminated any peace agreements made during the Korean War.

The signing of the original truce in 1953 was covered by Pathé News and the newsreel can be viewed here. The archive also has additional material from the Korean War, including combat footage. You can find a selection in this collection.

The conflict is often referred to as “The Forgotten War”, but as many as two and a half million civilians lost their lives during the fighting, as well as many British soldiers.

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www.britishpathe.com

80 years since the Reichstag Fire

On 27th Feb 1933, Berlin’s Reichstag building was destroyed. A newsreel covers the aftermath and there is footage of the ruined building. Click here to see the collection, or click the stills below for the individual films.

The fire meant more than damage to an impressive structure – it was an immensely important event in the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Adolf Hitler was able to use the event to obtain emergency powers, which he used to suppress opposition to Nazi rule. By the end of March, Hitler was a dictator and Germany’s struggling democracy was finally dead.

The gutted interior. Click the still to view the film.
The gutted interior. Click the still to view the film.
"Berlin. Martial law in Germany, follows burning of the Reichstag on eve of fateful General Election." Click the still to view the newsreel.
“Berlin. Martial law in Germany, follows burning of the Reichstag on eve of fateful General Election.” Click the still to view the newsreel.
A French Pathé News film compares the interior of the building before and after the fire. Click the still to view the contemporary newsreel.
A French Pathé News film compares the interior of the building before and after the fire. Click the still to view the contemporary newsreel.

For British Pathé’s collection of films on the Reichstag fire, click here.

Arctic Convoy and Bomber Command Veterans Get Medals

It has been in the news that, after many years of campaigning, Arctic Convoy and Bomer Command veterans will receive medals for their service during the Second World War.

There can be no doubt that the 250,000 men who will be receiving these medals in less than two weeks time showed courage and served their country with distinction during those perilous years.

Visit our Bomber Command collection.

Visit our Arctic Convoy collection.

Convoy to Russia (1942)
Convoy to Russia (1942)

www.britishpathe.com

Artificial Limbs of WW1

The British Government has announced that all wounded veterans will get the most advanced artificial limbs. This involves increasing funding by £6.5 million. A report by The Daily Telegraph, including an interview with Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, can be found here.

This film from the British Pathé archive shows artificial limbs of the past. In the footage, First World War amputees practice with their new prosthetics.

Click the still to view the film.
Click the still to view the film.

Two additional related clips of interest are:

An Efficient Substitute  (1916) – A veteran who has had an amputation has an artificial leg fitted.

Making Artificial Limbs (1914) – Various shots of artificial limbs being made in a primitive outdoor workshop.

Ypres – 1925 film

Watch the film here.

In 1925, with the cooperation of the War Office, British Instructional Films set out to make a dramatic, feature-length reconstruction of the five Ypres battles in which 1.7 million soldiers lost their lives.

Directed by William Summers, the result is a silent classic. Unlike the famous 1916 documentary The Battle of the Somme, the Ypres footage is entirely “faked” and the film shares some of Somme‘s propagandist approach. Regardless, the film is no less fascinating as an artistic endeavour of its time and it features some stunning images. A degree of authenticity is provided by real soldiers taking part and by the filming having taken place in the actual Ypres trenches.

The documentary, called simply “Ypres”, can be viewed in its entirety on the British Pathé website, via this link. Some of the footage is quite dark and you might need to adjust the settings on your monitor, but it is well worth a watch.

William Summers also directed the film Nelson (1926), starring Cedric Hardwicke. The silent motion picture, also made for British Instructional Films, can be viewed here.

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For the film and related footage, click here.

British Pathé Picks: 14th – 31st January 2013

Here’s our selection of British Pathé footage that relates to anniversaries coming up in the next two weeks. Click the links below to take a look! You can also keep up to date with aniversaries by following our dedicated Pinterest board.

Churchill and Roosevelt at Casablanca 

(14 January)

70 years ago, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met at Casablanca to discuss the war effort. A 1943 newsreel covers the event. View it here.

Churchill and Roosevelt. Click the still to view the film.
Churchill and Roosevelt. Click the still to view the film.

David Lloyd George Born  

(17 January)

It will have been 150 years since the birth of David Lloyd George on 17th January 1863. Lloyd George, Prime Minister during the First World War, features in a great many British Pathé newsreels. Explore them here.

Lloyd George in 1922.
Lloyd George in 1922.

Danny Kaye  

(18 January)

Another birthday for January is that of American comedian Danny Kaye, born 100 years ago on 18th January 1913. There is some excellent footage of Kaye in the archive, particularly of his 1948 Royal Command Performance act and rehearsals. Watch them here.

Danny Kaye rehearses for a performance.
Danny Kaye rehearses for a performance.

85 years since the death of Earl Haig

(29 January)

Footage of the First World War general and of his funeral can be found here.

Funeral procession for Douglas Haig.
Funeral procession for Douglas Haig.

British Membership of the EU  

(29 January)

50 years ago, Charles de Gaulle famously said “non” to Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community. Click here to view the 1963 newsreel.

Topical! The US declared last week that they wanted Britain at the heart of the EU.
Topical! The US declared last week that they wanted Britain at the heart of the EU.

Hitler Becomes Chancellor  

(30 January)

80th Anniversary: On 30th January 1933, von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany. The newsreel, “Hitler Assumes Bismarck’s Mantle”, can be viewed here.

Hitler celebrates his victory.
Hitler celebrates his victory.

In other news

Spitfires in Burma

Excavations in Burma may have unearthed spitfires that have been buried there. British Pathé has a wealth of footage related to spitfires, just a selection of which can be seen here.

www.britishpathe.com

150 Years of the Tube

British Pathé celebrates 150 years of the Tube.

London Underground, known colloquially as “the Tube”, is the oldest subway system in the world. Since the first service was launched 150 years ago, on 10th January 1863, it has carried an unbelievable number of passengers (now over 1 billion a year!) beneath the streets of The Big Smoke. By the time British Pathé was producing newsreels in the 1910s, there were already a number of different lines, which probably explains why so little footage of the Underground features in the archive until the Second World War, when its use as air raid shelters presumably made it newsworthy again. Indeed, prior to 1939, British Pathé often seemed more interested in the subways of other countries than in its own.

Eros is dismantled during the construction of the Piccadilly tube stations in 1925.
Eros is dismantled during the construction of the Piccadilly tube stations in 1925. Click the still to view the film.
Tube travel in 1946. Click the still to view "new" carriages contrasted with the old ones.
Tube travel in 1946. Click the still to view “new” carriages contrasted with the old ones.

British Pathé was mainly concerned with new construction. As early as 1925 the company released a newsreel on the removal of the statue of Eros necessitated by the building of a new Piccadilly station and the next year the creation of the world’s largest tube line – from Edgware to Hendon – also earned newsreel coverage (view it here). Following the war, Transport Minister Alfred Barnes could be seen in a newsreel from 1946 opening a 4-mile extension of the Underground to Stratford (which would prove vital for the 2012 Summer Olympics). The work cost £3.5 million, employing 2000 – “sizeable figures for 9 minutes travel”. In the film, we get glimpses of tube journeys in the 1940s, including some nice interior shots of the carriages. The next year, Barnes opened another extension in Essex on the Central Line and in the film documenting it, the cameras travel through the new stations from Wanstead to Gants Hill.

In the 1950s and 60s, there were interesting innovations in tube travel, with new trains, “travolators” and automatic ticket barriers. But the development which caught British Pathé’s attention the most was the building of the Victoria Line. The “first pictures” of this were released in 1964, construction reached the half-way mark in 1965, and new tube trains were given a test run in 1968. The first stage was opened later that year, before work on stage 2 commenced.

The Victoria Line under construction during the 1960s. Click the still to view a film celebrating the work reaching the half-way point.
The Victoria Line under construction during the 1960s. Click the still to view a film celebrating the work reaching the half-way point.
The Queen at the controls of the new automated tube trains that travel on the Victoria Line. Click the still to view the film.
The Queen at the controls of the new automated tube trains that travel on the Victoria Line. Click the still to view the film.

The opening ceremony for Stage 3 of the Victoria Line involved the Queen not only operating the vehicle from the driver’s cabin but taking her second-ever journey in a tube carriage. The newsreel, “Queen Opens New Victoria Line (1969)”, can be viewed here.

The Queen rides in a tube carriage during the opening ceremony of the Victoria Line's stage 3 in 1969. Click the still to view the film.
The Queen rides in a tube carriage during the opening ceremony of the Victoria Line’s stage 3 in 1969. Click the still to view the film.
A look at "Fluffies" who clean the Tube at night (1944). Click the still to view the film.
A look at “Fluffies” who clean the Tube at night (1944). Click the still to view the film.

Aside from construction work, British Pathé was preoccupied with the work of cleaning and maintaining the tunnels and stations. In 1944, we took an “exclusive” look at women war workers, known as “fluffies” or “fluffers”, who cleaned the Underground every night. An interesting reveal is the extraordinary amount of fluff created by people’s clothing during just one day. Other features on tube cleaners followed, such as on the “Rubber Man” Leonard Ware, who was responsible for erasing graffiti (the cinemagazine names “the moustache” as the most common form of it). We don’t know what was cut from this clip, but the graffiti certainly seems rather mild – and it’s all in pencil! If only Tube staff today were so lucky. You can see the light-hearted 1947 film here. There are also films from 1949 and 1950 documenting cleaning work after hours.

British Pathé always liked to show things it believed to be unknown or unusual, so as well as “fluffies”, the company had a look at less mundane uses for the Tube. These included the Post Office’s own underground railway, the telephone exchange within an unused Tube tunnel and, of course, as air raid shelters during the Blitz.

Aldwych Station is used as an air raid shelter during the Blitz. Click the still to view the film.
Aldwych Station is used as an air raid shelter during the Blitz. Click the still to view the film.
"From now on that man can do his worst. London's tube railways are safe." Watertight doors are added to tube tunnels to protect them from air raids in 1939.
“From now on that man can do his worst. London’s tube railways are safe.” Watertight doors are added to tube tunnels to protect them from air raids in 1939. Click the still to view the film.

British Pathé also documented some of the tragedies which occurred on London Underground during its long history. In 1939, a terrorist attack forced two damaged stations, Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road, to be shut temporarily. Only two days after the maiden service on the Stratford extension discussed above, two people were killed when a train collided with a second, thankfully empty, carriage. Any footage of the aftermath is currently missing, but the newsreel announcing the incident is here. 1953 saw another tube crash near Stratford in which 8 adults and 1 child were killed, with 49 others injured. The newsreel shows the damaged interiors of the carriages, as well as rescue workers bringing out the dead. Luckily, the fire on the unfinished Victoria Line in 1966 claimed no lives. And while the British Pathé footage ends with the Victoria Line in 1969, apart from a few silent clips from the 1970s, an episode of A Day That Shook The World documents the horrific events of the July 2005 London bombings. An interesting look at safety on the Underground is provided by a film from 1955 showing new recruits in training, which involved miniature railways and mock-ups of various safety devices.

Finally, British Pathé’s extensive collection of strike footage also includes the 1962 Tube Strike, which made people realise “how London depends on the Underground”.

And indeed it does. This 150th anniversary is one worth celebrating.

For British Pathé’s collection of clips on London Underground, click here.

90,000 Historical Newsreels For Use in Your History Lessons

The British Pathé Education service has been nominated for a 2013 BETT Award for its digital resource available to British schools and academies. For any of you who are interested, here’s a bit of information about the subscription.

Teaching History Ad

You can also watch a demo of the subscription in action below:

If this is of interest to you or your school, you can find out more information here and get in touch with us.

Review of the Year 2012 – A Pathé Tradition

From 1922 to 1969, British Pathé produced lengthy round-ups of the year’s news stories that collected together the most dramatic images and covered the most important events. Not confined to British politics, these reviews act as a whirlwind tour of the world at the time in which they were made, chronicling everything from war to royal christenings, technological innovations to key sports matches as they go. You can view the entire Review of the Yearcollection here or choose from the list at the bottom of this page.

Now, in that tradition, we take a look at the last 12 months in a review of 2012. Here are some highlights (one for each month) of this tremendous year for which the British Pathé archive holds some relevant footage:

January

Our review of 2012 begins with something that happened many years before, for January marked an important anniversary. 90 years ago, on 3rd January 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Egyptian pharoah Tutankhamun. British Pathé has footage of Carter outside his discovery, as well as coverage of the treasures found within. Click here to explore the collection.

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun. Click the still to view the collection.
Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun. Click the still to view the collection.

February

It feels just like yesterday but it was in fact back in February that we all came out in celebration for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. There was a royal river pageant (a gallery of previous royal barges can be found here), a concert, a Royal Tour of the country, and street parties across the nation.

British Pathé’s celebration of the life of Elizabeth II can be found here. Beginning with the Queen as a young girl with her grandmother, it features her marriage, her coronation, the royal tours, select royal visits within Britain, and the home life of the Royal Family. The collection concludes with footage of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Click the still to view the film.
The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Click the still to view the film.

March

In March, the economic situation in the UK looked no better. Unemployment reached its highest figure (2.67 million) since 1995, though it was still not as high as in 1984. The ups and downs of unemployment can be traced via newsreels in the British Pathé archive. Click here to explore.

10,000 workers demonstrate in Trafalgar Square - 2,500 similar demonstrations were held in other parts of country - on Unemployment Sunday in 1923. Click the still to see our archive of unemployment-related clips.
10,000 workers demonstrate in Trafalgar Square – 2,500 similar demonstrations were held in other parts of country – on Unemployment Sunday in 1923. Click the still to see our archive of unemployment-related clips.

April

The Cutty Sark re-opened to visitors after a dreadful fire. But in April we also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the loss of Titanic. The British Pathé archive contains not only footage of the legendary liner herself, but also of her great sister ships Olympic and Britannic, both of which had accidents of their own. You can explore our centenary collection or read about the footage in the blog post, Titanic and the Other Two.

Click the still to visit our Titanic Centenary Collection.
Click the still to visit our Titanic Centenary Collection.

May

Yet another important anniversary, this time of Amelia Earhart’s crossing of the Atlantic 80 years prior. Interestingly, an expedition was launched in 2012 in an attempt to discover her remains. We wrote a blog post about it that included links to various clips featuring that amazing personality.

Click the still to read about The Hunt of Amelia Earhart.
Click the still to read about The Hunt for Amelia Earhart.

June

On 14th June 1982, the Falkland’s War came to an end, with Britain having reclaimed sovereignty over the islands following an Argentine invasion. June 2012, therefore, marked 30 years since the conclusion of the conflict. We wrote about it in our blog post When the Falklands Were Forgotten, and you can view relevant footage in this collection.

Click the still to view footage of the Falkland Islands and the 1982 war.
Click the still to view footage of the Falkland Islands and the 1982 war.

July

One cannot think of 2012 without thinking of the Olympics. British Pathé has footage of many Olympic Games, including the two other London years, 1908 and 1948. We also digitised 300 Olympics clips, making them available on the website for the very first time. You can read about them here.

Click to view 15 still images from what is now considered to be the first of the modern Olympic Games.
Click to view 15 still images from what is now considered to be the first of the modern Olympic Games.

August

One of the highlights of 2012 was the Paralympic Games, which began at the end of August and were also held in London. The Paralympics started life in the British village of Stoke Mandeville and the Ninth Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games (1960) are now known as the first Summer Paralympics. British Pathé’s collection of material on the Stoke Mandeville Games can be viewed here.

Click this still to visit our gallery, "Paralympics: Pictorial History".
Click this still to visit our gallery, “Paralympics: Pictorial History”.

September

Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democrats to run for re-election. He went on to win the 2012 Presidential Election and became the only Democrat to have won the popular vote twice since Franklin Roosevelt. You can see some clips from Roosevelt’s three presidential election wins here.

President Roosevelt takes the oath for his second term. Click the still to view films covering his three presidential election wins.
President Roosevelt takes the oath for his second term. Click the still to view films covering his three presidential election wins.

October

A YouTube sensation! Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier, leaping from a balloon 24 miles above the ground.

In 1960, balloonist Captain Joseph W Kittinger made the then-highest ascent and longest jump. Click the still to view the film.
In 1960, balloonist Captain Joseph W Kittinger made the then-highest ascent and longest jump. Click the still to view the film.

November

It was the Queen and Prince Philip’s 65th (blue sapphire) Wedding Anniversary in November, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Windsor Castle fire in what was the Queen’s “annus horribilis“. You can watch footage of the fire and A Day That Shook The World episodes on the British Royal Family in Crisis and the separation of Charles and Diana, or view the the announcement of the Queen’s engagement and the coverage of her wedding.

The Wedding Day in 1947. Click the still to view the film.
The Wedding Day in 1947. Click the still to view the film.

December

In the final month of 2012, the world received the news that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William were expecting their first child. We took a guess at possible baby names in this gallery. You can also vote in our poll here.

This still shows the Queen holding baby Prince Andrew. Click to visit our Royal Baby Names gallery.
This still shows the Queen holding baby Prince Andrew. Click to visit our Royal Baby Names gallery.

Have we missed something important for which the British Pathé archive has relevant material? Leave us a comment. You can also search our Ten Most Popular Clips of 2012 and visit our tumblr and Pinterest pages which were launched this year.

We hope you enjoyed 2012 as much as we did. Here’s to 2013!

Watch a previous “Review of the Year” by selecting from the list below:

Episode Title Date
1 Look Back On 1922 1922
2 Section From Review Of 1923 1923
3 1925 Reviewed ( Reel 1 Of 3) 1926
4 1925 Reviewed (Reel 2 Of 3) 1926
5 1925 Reviewed (Reel 3 Of 3) 1926
6 Review Of 1934 1934
7 Review Of The Year 1935 1935
8 Review Of The Year 1936 1936
9 Review Of The Year 1938
10 Review Of The Year – 1939 1939
11 Review Of The Year 1940 1940
12 Review Of The Year 1941 1941
13 Review Of The Year – 1943 1943
14 Review Of The Year 1946 1946
15 Looking Back – On 1947 1947
16 1948 A Year Of Great Decision (Aka Review Of The Year ) 1948
17 Akc Review Of 1949 1949
18 Review Of The Year 1950 Record A 1950
19 Review Of The Year 1950 Record B 1950
20 Pathe News Reviews 1951 1951
21 The Crowning Year 1953
22 Pathe News Reviews 1954 – A Year Of Endeavour 1954
23 Review Of The Year 1955
24 Pathe News Reviews 1956 – Year Of Turmoil 1956
25 Reviews 1957 (Aka Review Of The Year – 1957) 1957
26 Review Of 1958 1958
27 Review Of The Year 1959 1959
28 Review Of 1960 1960
29 Review Of 1961 1961
30 Review Of 1962 1962
31 Review Of 1963 1963
32 Review Of 1964 1964
33 A Year Of Achievements – Technicolor 1966
34 Review Of The Year 1967
35 Review Of The Sixties 1970

British Pathé Picks: Christmas 2012

As we mentioned in late November, we’re now doing a regular blog post pointing out events or anniversaries coming up that the archive holds some relevant footage for. So here are our picks over the next two weeks, encompassing the Christmas period…

Queen Opens New London Airport Terminal 

(16 December)

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In 1955, British Pathé covered the Queen and Prince Philip arriving at London Airport to open new buildings. Watch the newsreel by clicking here.

Elvis Drafted into the Army

(20 December)

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55 years ago, the “King”was drafted into the United States Army. British Pathé has footage of Elvis Presley as he began his tour of duty, as well as a newsreel announcing that he had left the army a few years later. Watch them here.

50th Anniversary of Polaris

(21 December)

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In 1962, the United States sold Britain Polaris. British Pathé has footage of Polaris missiles and the demonstrations against them in this collection.

Don Bradman Beats Bodyline

(2 January)

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80th Anniversary: Australia wins the second Test match against England in this 1933 film. Additional footage of Don Bradman can be found here.

Visit www.britishpathe.com for more films.

London: A Tribute

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2012, if we do indeed survive the predicted apocalypse, will be remembered for many things, but without a doubt it will be considered London’s year. The Diamond Jubilee, the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics all centred on the great city and were enormously successful. (Click the links on those events to see related footage in the British Pathé archive, including the 1908 and 1948 London Olympics.) As a tribute to 2012 and to London, we’re sharing with you themed collections of clips from the city’s past, whether heart-warming or chilling. Explore London as a political, musical, theatrical, busy, fun, popular and tragic place. Click the links below to take a look.

The seat of power

A collection of material from big political and ceremonial events that took place in the capital. These include coronations, funerals, cabinet meetings and historic speeches.

The funeral of George VI, London (1952)
The funeral of George VI, London (1952)

London in Wartime

Not only WW2 footage, but also from other 20th century wars – including the Boer War.

Firefighters battle flames during the Blitz, London (1941)
Firefighters battle flames during the Blitz, London (1941)

London tragedies

Freak events, disasters and terrorist attacks in the capital. Also includes clips about London’s amazing emergency services.

Rail crash in London (1957)
Rail crash in London (1957)

The world of London women

Here we see the changing role of women living in London over time. Footage includes the suffragettes, women’s wartime roles and advice on homemaking.

Suffragettes on the march, London (1910s)
Suffragettes on the march, London (1910s)

London at work

Employment in the capital.

Heading off to work in the morning, London (1960)
Heading off to work in the morning, London (1960)

London at leisure

How Londoners spent their free time.

Dancing the night away, London (1925)
Dancing the night away, London (1925)

Musical London

Celebrating the great acts who have played in the capital, from the Rolling Stones and the Beatles to the choir of Westminster Cathedral.

The Dave Clark Five play some of their hits, London (1964)
The Dave Clark Five play some of their hits, London (1964)

Theatrical London

London’s theatres, television studios and film premieres.

Bertram Mills' circus thrills crowds, London (1962)
Bertram Mills’ circus thrills crowds, London (1962)

Fashionable London

Get vintage fashion tips from Londoners of the past.

Models show off some fabulous nylon wigs, London (1963)
Models show off some fabulous nylon swimming caps, London (1963)

Visitors to London

A collection of clips showing famous guests and state visits as well as immigration. Includes THIS IS LONDON, a piece made to advertise London as a tourist destination.

Marilyn Monroe arrives at the airport, London (1956)
Marilyn Monroe arrives at the airport, London (1956)

www.britishpathe.com

British Pathé Spreads Its Wings

This quick message is to tell you about our brand new Social Media pages. Don’t worry, we’re not neglecting the old ones. In fact, we’ve recently updated our WordPress blog page and started a new series of posts summarising the contents of the archive – such as our Animation Archive, War Archive and Undersea Antics – and the history of British Pathé (see Part I of IV here). But we’ve started a new blog as well. Mostly this mirrors our Facebook page, but there are also exclusives too – such as this article on great goals. You’ll find this new blog, hosted by Tumblr, here: http://britishpathe.tumblr.com/

We also recently started a Pinterest page. If you’ve never tried Pinterest, it can be quite a lot of fun. We’ve got plenty of collections dedicated to certain aspects of the archive. You can explore them here: http://pinterest.com/britishpathe/. We’ve only just begun these boards, so they’re not going to blow you away, but follow them now if you don’t want to miss out on our updates!

Our Pinterest boards.
Our Pinterest boards.

We’re delighted with how loyal and active our Social Media supporters have been – and all for what is, essentially, old news! Thank you all. You’ve written so many comments, shared many images and clips, and watched countless videos. Recently we reached 10,000 likes for our Facebook page, and are about to pass the 11,000 mark. Join us there if you haven’t already for daily links to clip collections or films: http://www.facebook.com/britishpathe. Or follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BritishPathe. And don’t forget that we also have a popular YouTube channel.

So take your pick of Social Media platform or follow us on all of them if you like. Let us know what you think and what you’d like from us. If you want to, you can do this anonymously here. And know that we appreciate the interest shown in our archive. It’s fantastic to know that this historic footage is not forgotten.

Visit our Pinterest page here or our tumblr blog here.

British Pathé Picks: Early Dec 2012

Earlier in November we blogged about four upcoming anniversaries which may have been of interest (see here). From now on, we’ll be doing this on a regular basis, pointing out events coming up in the calendar that we have some relevant footage for. So here’s our picks for the next two weeks…

England Win Cricket Test v Australia  (2 December)

80th Anniversary: In 1932 England went to Australia to compete in cricket Test matches which would be known as the “Bodyline Tour”. 2nd December marks the opening day of the first Test, which England won.  Watch the match here.

It has also been announced that a statue of Basil D’Oliveira will be erected at Worcestershire County Cricket Club. See some footage of D’Oliveira in the archive.

Bombing of Naples  (4 December)

70th Anniversary: Days after Winston Churchill announced that Italy would continue to be bombed until they surrendered, the United States Air Force launched its first air raid on Naples. British Pathé has footage of USAF attacks on Naples, released in cinemas in January of 1943, as well as footage of the RAF missions. See the collection here.

The Great London Smog  (5 December)

60th Anniversary: The Great London Smog of 1952. British Pathé holds some excellent footage from back when London was plagued with smog throughout the 1950s. Click here to see the clips.

Irish Free State  (6 December)

90th Anniversary: The Irish Free State was established under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Click here to see British Pathé’s footage of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Visit www.britishpathe.com for more films.

Secret Code Found on Dead Pigeon

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Wife of the First Lord of the Admiralty thanks a War Pigeon – 1944

BBC News reports on 23 November 2012 that a dead pigeon with a secret code attached to its leg has been found in a chimney in Surrey. A red canister was found fastened to the WW2 carrier pigeon and inside the container was a piece of paper containing the code. The cipher was sent off to the intelligence service GCHQ but they have been unable to make sense of what the 27 blocks of code mean and so they have asked the public for help.

Sadly Pathé are unable to help on that front. However, we thought it a good opportunity to pay tribute to these army carrier pigeons who were extensively used as military messengers during WW1 and WW2.  Over 100,000 pigeons served Britain in WWI and over 250,000 served the UK in WW2. These winged warriors were used for their homing ability, rapidity and elevation to carry important information from behind enemy lines.

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WW1 Army Pigeon

The most heroic pigeon during WW1 was Cher Ami. Despite being shot through the breast, Cher Ami still managed to deliver a message in his capsule and in turn saved 200 US soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division’s “Lost Battalion”.

GI Joe was an American hatched pigeon who carried a message through an artillery bombardment in Italy during the Second World War and consequently saved the inhabitants of Calvi Vecchia in Italy and the units of the 56th London division. The village was due to be bombarded by the Allied forces but the message that the British had captured the village, delivered by G.I. Joe, arrived just in time to avoid the bombing. G.I Joe’s tenacity, strength and bravery saved over a thousand lives. He was awarded the Dickin Medal, the Victoria Cross of the feathered world, in 1946. 

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G.I. Joe with his Dickin Medal

34 pigeons were decorated with the Dickin Medal and we have a few of the awards ceremonies within the archive. Watch Paddy and Gustav receive their Dickin Medal. Paddy was an Irish carrier pigeon and received the award having flown 230 miles across the English Channel in 4hrs55mins. He was the fastest pigeon to arrive back in England with news of the D-Day victory.

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Paddy and Gustav with their Dickin medals – 1944

Watch Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret despatch a homing pigeon. 

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Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with a homing pigeon – 1943

Pathé News on the Vietnam War

22nd November marks forty years since the first B52 bomber was shot down in the Vietnam War in 1972. Although we have no coverage of that particular incident, the anniversary has prompted us to search our archive and to take a look at our other footage of that controversial conflict. Here we present a brief summary.

The war was indeed divisive, as these images reveal. They are from the 1968 Vietnam War demonstrations held in Trafalgar Square, London. The clips can be found in this collection: Vietnam demonstrations British Pathé and the BBC also produced a brief summary of the demonstrations for our A Day That Shook The World series. The episode can be viewed here.

As well as the political situation in London, the British Pathé archive also holds combat footage, filmed with the American troops. This material is often forgotten, lost among the overwhelming amount of first and second world war coverage within the archive. Much the same can be said of our Korean War holdings (outlined here).

A B-52 bomber is loaded and takes off from a runway in Vietnam. Click the still to view the film.

The footage is wide-ranging. Included are political discussions and conferences, such as those held in the United Nations, between the different parties; the preparations for battle and the troops in their camps; Bob Hope entertaining the US soldiers; troops on patrol; bombs dropped and rockets being fired; Australian soldiers returning home; and general coverage of Vietnam, such as women working in a field and life in Hanoi.

Possibly also of interest are the A Day That Shook The World episode chronicling the French surrender at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and this broader Vietnam collection. More can be found simply by searching the website (a simple search for “Vietnam” reveals 321 clips!)

A somewhat random selection of stills from the footage provides a taste of what the archive has to offer:

An American ship fires two rockets. Click the still to view the film.
Bombs are dropped from US planes. Click the still to view the film.
Helicopters land.
An injured guerilla is carried off on a stretcher by American forces. Click the still to view the film.
An American fighter takes off from an aircraft carrier. Click the still to view the film.
South Vietnamese troops on patrol. Click the still to view the film.
Nixon prepares to deliver a speech.
A normal day in Hanoi, 1974.

These clips serve as a reminder of that terrible waste of human life – the Vietnam War, 1955-1975.

You can view a selection of British Pathé’s Vietnam combat footage by clicking here or you can explore our broader Vietnam collection

Days That Shook The World – 21st Century Pathé

A few years ago, what was then called “British Pathé News” began a production with the BBC called A Day That Shook The World. Two series were eventually made, the first narrated by John Humphrys, and they are available on our website to view (for free) in our programmes section. The last Pathé newsreel was released in February 1970, so this series and the associated series 20th Century Hall of Fame bring the archive beyond the twentieth century.

Topics covered by the series include September 11th, the Iraq War and the Capture of Saddam Hussein, the collapse of Enron, the Asian Tsunami, and the London Bombings. From this period, the series also covers the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla – not quite an event that “shook the world” but certainly an interesting one.

From the latter part of the twentieth century, the series documents the impeachment of President Clinton, the death of Diana, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, Chernobyl, and the Falklands Crisis. Prior to that we are in classic Pathe territory, with episodes succinctly summarising key events using Pathe footage that was captured at the time – the Somme, Hiroshima, Queen Victoria’s funeral, to name but a few. The series therefore acts as a useful entry point into an archive of 90,000 clips to wade through.

Martin Luther King is the subject of an episode. Click the still to watch the film.
The moon landings are covered in an episode. Click the still to view it.

You can view the entire A Day That Shook The World series by clicking http://www.britishpathe.com/programmes/day-that-shook-the-world or selecting the link below that you want:

Episode Title Date
1 Queen   Victorias Funeral 1901
2 The   Wright Brothers First Flight 1903
3 Emily   Davison Throws Herself Under The Kings Derby Horse 1913
4 Battle   Of The Somme 1916
5 Abdication   Of The Tsar Nikolas 1917
6 Irish   Free State Treaty Signed 1921
7 Suzanne   Lenglen Breaks Wimbledon Record 1925
8 Start   Of UK General Strike 1926
9 Charles   Lindbergh Flies The Atlantic Solo 1927
10 American   Golfer Bobby Jones Wins Grand Slam 1930
11 Hitler   Becomes German Chancellor 1933
12 Edward   VIII Abdicates 1936
13 Hindenburg   Airship Crash 1937
14 Hitler   Annexes Austria 1938
15 Germany   Invades Poland 1939
16 Evacuation   Of Dunkirk 1940
17 London   Blitz Begins On Civilian Targets 1940
18 Pearl   Harbour Attacked 1941
19 Battle   Of El Alamein Begins 1942
20 Fall   Of Stalingrad – German Army Surrenders 1943
21 D-Day   Landings 1944
22 Liberation   Of Paris 1944
23 Big   Three Meet At Yalta To Carve Up Post-War World 1945
24 Germans   Surrender To Montgomery 1945
25 VE   Day Celebrations 1945
26 First   Atomic Bomb Test In New Mexico 1945
27 Labours   Landslide Election Win 1945
28 Atomic   Bomb Dropped On Hiroshima 1945
29 India   And Pakistan Gain Independence 1947
30 Berlin   Airlift Begins 1948
31 Maos   Communists Take Over In China 1949
32 Korean   War Starts 1950
33 Britain   Explodes First Atomic Bomb 1952
34 Launch   Of First Nuclear Submarine 1954
35 Roger   Bannister Breaks Four Minute Mile 1954
36 French   Surrender At Dien Bien Phu 1954
37 Le   Mans 24 Race Disaster 1955
38 Khrushchev   Denounces Stalin 1956
39 First   Nuclear Power Station 1956
40 Soviets   Crush Hungarian Revolt 1956
41 Suez   Invasion 1956
42 Manchester   United Players Die In Munich Air Crash 1958
43 Peles   World Cup Final Performance Thrills Crowds 1958
44 First   Hovercraft Run 1959
45 Kennedy   Inauguration 1961
46 Yuri   Gagarin Becomes The First Man In Space 1961
47 Erection   Of The Berlin Wall 1961
48 Cuban   Missile Crisis 1962
49 Martin   Luther King Delivers His “I Have A Dream” Speech 1962
50 Kennedy   Assassinated 1963
51 Beatles   Return From States In Triumph 1964
52 Aberfan   Slag Heap Buries School 1966
53 Donald   Campbell Dies In Bluebird Crash 1967
54 Six-Day   War Begins 1967
55 Grosvenor   Square Anti-Vietnam Riots 1968
56 Paris   Riots – France Comes Close To Revolution 1968
57 Soviets   Put Down Prague Spring 1968
58 Concorde   Flies For First Time 1969
59 Armstrong   Sets Foot On The Moon 1969
60 Bloody   Sunday In Northern Ireland 1972
61 Nixon   First Us President To Resign 1974
62 Ayatollah   Khomeini Returns From Exile 1979
63 Lord   Mountbatten Assassinated By IRA 1979
64 British   Sas Storm Iranian Embassy In London 1980
65 British   Task Force To Sail For Falklands 1982
66 HMS   Sheffield Sunk In Falklands War 1982
67 IRA   Bombs British Cabinet At Brighton 1984
68 Ethiopian   Famine – BBC Reports Spark Huge Response 1984
69 Heysel   Stadium Riots 1985
70 Challenger   Spacecraft Explodes 1986
71 America   Attacks Libya 1986
72 Chernobyl   Disaster 1986
73 Zeebrugge   Ferry Disaster 1987
74 Lockerbie   Pan-Am Jet Explosion 1988
75 Exxon   Valdez- Worlds Worst Oil Spill 1989
76 Hillsborough   Football Stadium Disaster 1989
77 Tiananmen   Square Massacre 1989
78 Berlin   Wall Comes Down 1989
79 Official   End Of The Cold War – Bush/gorbachev Agree To Deal 1989
80 Ceausescu   Overthrown 1989
81 Nelson   Mandela Released 1990
82 Iraq   Invade Kuwait 1990
83 Thatcher   Falls From Power 1990
84 Desert   Storm – Gulf War 1990
85 Soviet   Coup Failed 1991
86 Maastricht   Treaty 1991
87 Los   Angeles Race Riots 1992
88 British   Royal Family In Crisis 1992
89 Windsor   Castle Damaged By Fire 1992
90 The   Prince And Princess Separate 1992
91 Arab   Israeli Peace Agreement 1993
92 Yeltsin   Crushes Political Rebels 1993
93 Bosnian   Crisis 1994
94 Barings   Bank Collapses 1995
95 150   Die In Oklahoma Terrorist Attack 1995
96 Dolly   The Sheep Clone Unveiled 1997
97 Princess   Of Wales Dies In Paris Car Crash 1997
98 Death   Of Mother Teresa 1997
99 Funeral   Of Diana, Princess Of Wales 1997
100 Hurricane   Mitch 1998
101 President   Clintons Impeachment 1998
102 NATO   Bombing Of Chinese Embassy, Belgrade 1999
103 The   Millennium 2000
104 Deciphering   Of The Human Genome 2000
105 Concorde   Crash 2000
106 September   11th 2001
107 Ipod 2001
108 Battle   Of Tora Bora 2001
109 Fall   Of Iraq 2003
110 Saddam   Capture 2003
111 Beslan   School Siege 2004
112 Orange   Revolution (Ukraine) 2004
113 Asian   Tsunami 2004
114 Kyoto   Agreement 2005
115 Pope   John Paul II Dies 2005
116 Charles   And Camilla 2005
117 Super   Jumbo Airbus 2005
118 London   Awarded 2012 Olympics 2005
119 London   Bombings 2005
120 Hurricane   Katrina 2005
121 Israeli   Invasion Of Lebanon 2006
122 Collapse   Of Enron 2006

British Pathé Picks: Nov 2012

Every now and again there are some important anniversaries that are worth blogging about. As it happens, there are four all coming up in the next few days. So here’s some relevant links that may be of interest to you.

Battle of the Somme (18th)

In a few days it will be the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme coming to an end. Our First World War Somme collection contains some very good material.

Key Turning Point in WW2: Operation Uranus  (19th)

On the 19th of this month it will be 70 years since the Soviet Union began Operation Uranus, part of the Battle of Stalingrad. British Pathé’s material on Stalingrad can be found here.

65th Wedding Anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip (20th)

On the 20th November, the royal couple will celebrate their wedding anniversary. British Pathé was there to announce their engagement and to document their wedding.

Interestingly, it is also the anniversary of the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 – it’s been a whole 20 years since the Queen’s “annus horribilis”. We have some episodes of A Day That Shook The World that cover this dreadful year for the royal family. As well as the Windsor Castle Damaged By Fire, there’s the Prince and Princess Separate, and the Royal Family in Crisis.

Tomb of Tutankhamun opened (26th)

On 26th November 1922, the archaeologist Howard Carter entered the tomb of the famous Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. British Pathé has some shots of Carter at the tomb, as well as of the treasures found within. Our Tutankhamun collection can be found here.

Visit www.britishpathe.com for more films.

Pathé’s Hidden Treasures

“That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”

It can be tempting to think of the British Pathé archive as being only of interest to those with a passion for the history of the Twentieth Century. After all, the bulk of the footage comes from around 1914 to 1969 – the earliest clip in the archive is from 1895 (New Blacksmith Shop) with the most recent material contained within a BBC/British Pathé co-production covering the collapse of Enron in 2006 – but there is in fact plenty for those with a preference for other historical periods, or those who have specialist interests, to explore. The Pathé archive isn’t all about the Queen and British politics.

An obvious starting place for those with an interest in history prior to the Twentieth Century, is the archive relating to Ancient Egypt. We have footage of Howard Carter in front of the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as shots of the treasures found within. (Visit our Tutankhamun collection here.)

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun.

But as well as that famous pharoah and his discoverer, our extensive archaeology archive (click here) contains coverage from all parts of the world. You’ll be able to see Tudor and Roman Britain excavations, tour Pompeii, the Middle East, and dive the oceans to explore shipwrecks.

It’s true that none of these clips are necessarily going to help you study these periods (unless you want to look at how they were portrayed in the Twentieth Century), but they are surely of interest. What Egyptologist wouldn’t marvel at seeing Carter at the tomb, or the glistening treasures on display?

There’s also stuff for people who don’t even like history (if such people exist). Here we present just a few ideas for exploring the archive for those with specialist interests.

A still from the series Secrets of Nature.

Fascinated by science, animals, or insects? Try the classic Secrets of Nature – it covers the amazing life-cycles of plants, via some stunning microscope photography, as well as detailing the lives of many species of animals, birds, and insects.

Haven’t travelled enough? Take the cheap option and travel the world through British Pathé’s collection of travelogues. Escape the humdrum of everyday life with these clips (for the most part in colour) of numerous sites – from the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Rome, and Thebes, to the culturally rich capitals of Paris and Moscow, to the childish delights of Disneyland in sunny California.

Like animation? See Jerry the Troublesome Tyke, a classic animated series from the silent era, addictive due to its immense charm and wealth of humour.

What about music? We’ve got the Rolling Stones! Or visit our Beatlemania archive.

The Power of Nature.

Interested in the power of nature? Watch volcanoes explode, the earth shake, and rocks tumble in this collection.

Want to see an eclipse? Look at these: http://www.britishpathe.com/workspaces/show/jhoyle/hgG61kma/thumb

Always wanted to be an astronaut? Rewatch the moon landings or other significant events from the Space Race in our collection.

Or just want to pass the time with some wacky stuff? We’ve got a collection of crazy inventions, or just try searching for something. The still below is from our “Robot Boy” video, which has been popular recently. We found it by accident when looking for something else.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/robot-boy

So search the archive for hidden gems at www.britishpathe.com. There’s 90,000 clips with something for everyone! Thought of some topics we’ve missed? Leave us a comment below. Happy searching!

A World War One Wedding

In the run up to Remembrance Day, the archivists here at British Pathé have been revisiting our old First World War footage. There’s a great deal of it, much of it dramatic and chilling. What has struck us most are the faces of these young soldiers as they sit in the trenches awaiting the order to go “Over the Top”. Sadly, the names of these brave men are unknown to us, as are their ultimate fates.

Which is why we need your help. Much of our valuable World War One footage remains unidentified. We don’t know exactly where and when some of the material was taken. For the sake of posterity, we feel it is essential to catalogue the films and contextualise them.

This year, we’re focusing on one individual.

The above still is taken from a film (view it here) in the archive and is believed to be from the First World War. It shows the marriage of a British officer to his bride.

Who is this person? Did he survive? Where might he be now?

Contact us.

British Pathé has a substantial collection of war footage. Visit our First World War collection.

The Pathé War Archive

We are now entering into the period leading up to Remembrance Day. We have already blogged this week about the history of poppies and why we wear them (see Poppies: An Illustrated History), but there is plenty more to discuss and explore. Since Pathé’s war archive is extensive, we present here some potential starting points, with links here to key collections that can act as a way in.

The First World War

British Pathé holds one of the finest and most comprehensive First World War archives in the world. You will find chilling shots of young troops huddled in their trenches, wearing gas masks, and going “over the top”, as well as battleships at sea, and aerial warfare. Some collections we have created may be of interest, such as The Somme, the use of War Horses, and the Treaty of Versailles. We even have material of married men protesting against conscription.

A more general First World War Collection can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

The Second World War

The archive of World War Two material filmed by British Pathé is wide-ranging. Pathé cameramen went with the troops all around the world, and documented the destruction at home. Footage details warfare on land, at sea, and in the air. Some collections that may interest you include our D-Day clips, coverage of the Battle of the Atlantic, the dramatic escape from Dunkirk, and the devastation of the Blitz.

A more general Second World War Collection can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

Korean War

The Korean War is often referred to as “The Forgotten War”. Two and a half million people lost their lives in this conflict, including many British soldiers. Our Korean War Collection (just a selection) can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

Remembrance Day is on 11th November.

Poppies: An Illustrated History

As we approach Remembrance Day, that important British anniversary on which we reflect on the great sacrifices of previous generations, it is interesting to look at the history behind its key symbol – the poppy. Why do we wear it, and how did this tradition come about?

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The First World War was an earth-shattering global catastrophe that marked the end of the optimism of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It was this “Great War” which first introduced the use of the red poppy (the Papaver rhoeas) for the purpose of remembrance.

No Man's Land
No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land, a zone dividing the trenches of opposing forces, was heavily bombarded during the conflict. The beautiful scenery and grasslands of France and Belgium were churned into wet mud and desolate wasteland. It was here that many brave men fell after going “Over the top” to meet the flying bullets of enemy guns. And it was also here that, when the fighting had died down, poppies grew and spread in abundance, their blood-red colour providing a strong contrast to the brown muck. One of the most well-known references to this phenomenon comes in the war poem, “In Flanders Fields” by Lt Col John McCrae. One key line is:

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Earl Haig, supporter of the poppy and a founder of the Royal British Legion, visits wounded veterans at a hospital in 1921. Click the still to view the film.

These lines inspired their first use in the United States, where they were adopted by the National American Legion, in 1920. It was not long before the wearing of poppies as a sign of remembrance had spread to the United Kingdom, and it is here and in Commonwealth countries that the practice remains most common. Promoted by Douglas Haig, the poppies were soon widely worn on Remembrance Days. Made and sold by the Royal British Legion, the funds go to helping ex-servicemen and servicewomen and their families.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visits the Richmond factory in 1939 to watch the workers manufacture the poppies that were an important feature of remembrance even before the Second World War. Click the still to view the film.
War veterans make poppies at the Royal British Legion factory in Richmond, 1941. Click the still to view the film.
War veterans make poppies at the Royal British Legion factory in Richmond, 1941. Click the still to view the film.

A film in the British Pathé archive details the making of poppies for distribution by the Royal British Legion. Made at the Richmond poppy factory, established as early as 1922, it has employed disabled ex-servicemen to construct the huge number of poppies needed every year. At the time the newsreel was produced in 1968, the factory had 300 staff and manufactured 13 million poppies per annum. To achieve such a mammoth task, they work all year round. Today, the factory produces as many as 36 million poppies per year, though the number of employees is only a fraction of what it once was.

The still to above shows a workman punching out the poppy shapes from a sheet of linen.
The cut-out shapes of linen are placed together and pressed into a mold.
The stalk is then applied, a thin strip of green fabric wrapped around a metal wire, before…
…the individual poppies are arranged into a wreath.

The full film also details the other stirling work done by the Royal British Legion. It can be viewed by clicking here. This year the charity hopes to raise £42 million.

There’s been some controversy in recent years about the wearing of poppies and their meaning. There are also rival poppies – the white poppy for pacifists, and the purple poppy to remember animal victims of war. But the traditional red poppy is no doubt here to stay, and serves as a reminder of great courage and sacrifice, and also of how lucky we are. But, of course, we cannot forget the men and women who still fight for our safety in ongoing conflicts around the world today.

We will remember them.

Going “over the top”.

British Pathé has a substantial collection of war footage. Search our website www.britishpathe.com.

This was re-published with minor revisions on November 4th 2013 as “Why We Wear Poppies”.

A Golden Age: British Pathé from 1933 to 1958

by James Hoyle, archive co-ordinator for British Pathé

This post is Part III of IV.

For the years 1895 to 1910, see blog post “Pathé Before British Pathé”.

For the years 1910 to 1933, see blog post “Establishing Itself”.

For the years 1958 to 2012, see blog post “Decline and Transformation”.

In 1933, British International Pictures purchased the Pathé newsreel and feature film brand from Warner Brothers-First National. Associated British-Pathé was born, under the umbrella of the Associated British Picture Corporation, and soon the Pathé brand was enjoying something of a golden age in the United Kingdom.

In the 1930s, the newsreel staff became increasingly ambitious, providing audiences not only with quantity (one only needs to see News In a Nutshell to know that audiences were enjoying this regular dose of news enough to warrant 340 episodes of it), but also with variety. Would You Believe It?, for instance, is a little-known gem assorting footage of various unusual things from around the world, such as oddly-named streets, strange animals, and bizarre technological breakthroughs. At the same time, Feminine Pictorialities continued the company’s trend of providing for all audiences that had begun with Eve’s Film Review in the 1920s. This “special selection for the ladies” covered bathing and hat fashions, hairstyles, and women’s sport.

The war years, quite unsurprisingly, produced some of the most dramatic material ever captured on film by a newsreel company, including the astonishing events at Dunkirk and the D-Day Landings. But other notable stories from around this time include the destruction of the Hindenburg (which was unbelievably captured live in 1937), the first majority Labour government, the independence of India and Pakistan, and the 1948 London Olympics.

Following the war, despite having been completely separate companies for two decades, the newsreel companies Associated British-Pathé (UK), Pathé Journal (France), and Pathé News Inc (USA) began a unique partnership. In a move celebrated by President Truman, these organisations began sharing footage and cameramen in order to enable news to be more easily distributed worldwide. Pathé Gazette also rebranded itself – from 1946 until 1970, it would be known simply as Pathé News. One of the major stories from this period was the Korean War, that sometimes criminally-forgotten conflict that claimed an estimated 2.5 million lives.

Newsreel staff at work in 1953.

Associated British-Pathé was also busy producing feature films and commercials, and even expanding into the television market. One such production was Film Fanfare, a charming 1950s film magazine show that presented viewers with footage from recent glamorous premieres as well as featuring in-studio interviews, quizzes, and reviews of what are now classic motion pictures. However, the most impressive example of the television work done  was the company’s involvement in Peter Baylis’s Time To Remember. This epic series touched on all aspects of life in the first half of the Twentieth Century, using the original newsreel footage, and was narrated by celebrated actors, including Sir Michael Redgrave and Sir Ralph Richardson. Its charm was such that in 2010, the BBC re-edited and re-broadcast the series for a modern-day audience, retaining much of the original commentary.

But television posed more of a threat than an opportunity for the company, especially for the newsreel staff. They could release the Queen’s coronation in glorious colour, and even film it in 3D(!), but it was not a live broadcast like that of the BBC coverage. Viewers were increasingly not willing to wait. The newsreel format was also beginning to look tired, with outdated patriotism at odds with the postcolonial attitudes of the British public (particularly during the Suez Crisis). By the end of the 1950s, Pathé News was already struggling to compete. The 1960s would witness a shift in the nature of the company’s output as it tried to survive.

British Pathé is always keen for corrections and additional information about its footage and corporate history. Please email us or leave a comment beneath the relevant clip on the website.

Establishing Itself: British Pathé from 1910 to 1933

by James Hoyle, archive co-ordinator for British Pathé

This post is Part II of IV.

For the years 1895 to 1910, see blog post “Pathé Before British Pathé”.

For the years 1933 to 1958, see blog post “A Golden Age”.

For the years 1958 to 2012, see blog post “Decline and Transformation”.

By the time Charles Pathé opened the UK newsreel arm of his company CGPC (established 1896), the Pathé brand was already influential in the world of film production and distribution, as well as a notable record label. A Westminster distribution office had opened as early as 1902, and Pathé-branded movie theatres were spreading across Western Europe. CGPC had invented the newsreel in 1908 for French audiences, and in 1910 spread this innovation to other markets as well. One result was the UK newsreel office located on Wardour Street which produced its first newsreels under the Pathé Animated Gazette label. (That same year, Pathé News was set up in the United States).

The Pathé Building on Wardour Street, London.

Many of these early newsreels are sadly missing. One of the earliest still within the archive is believed to be the departure of the Terra Nova, Captain Scott’s famous ship that took him to the Antarctic. It was a section of the 87th newsreel package, released in cinemas in December of 1910, and was one of eight stories that included flooding in Worcester and a railway crash in Willesden. Other early footage of note includes the coronation of George V, the RMS Titanic, and the death of suffragette Emily Davison.

The archive also contains an extensive collection of World War One material, much of which remains unidentified. Dates and locations are often unclear. Cataloguing is not helped by a lack of clarity over which events have been captured as they occurred and which are staged (photographers and cameramen were not above posing corpses for a better shot). Regardless, the material remains incredible to view. Though silent, grainy, and black-and-white, the footage is often awesome and sometimes harrowing. The faces of the daring recruits, huddled in their trenches, many about to die, are preserved for posterity. It is a shame that we cannot put a name to them.

Footage from the Western Front … probably.
In this case the faces of the soldiers are hidden by chilling gas masks.

From 1918, CGPC began to be run as two separate divisions, with Pathé-Cinema (films and newsreels) under the control of Charles Pathé, and Pathé Records (music) overseen by brother Émile Pathé. This was the first step towards the eventual splintering of the company that can cause endless headaches for anyone attempting to trace the history of the Pathé brand:

  • The USA Pathé-Cinema arm (including Pathé News) was sold in 1921. It was run by Pathé Exchange and then RKO Radio Pictures, which shut down the film production arm. Warner Brothers purchased the newsreel arm in 1947 before selling it to Studio Films. Pathé News disappeared from cinemas in the 1950s.
  • In 1927, CGPC also sold the UK arm of Pathé-Cinema, which included both the film production office and the newsreel office, to First National, forming First National-Pathé.
  • In 1928 CGPC sold the French and UK arms of Pathé Records to the British Columbia Graphophone Company. The USA arm of Pathé Records was sold the following year to the American Record Corporation. Its assets now lie with Sony.
  • The remaining assets of CGPC (such as the French film production arm, the international cinema chain, and the French Pathé Journal newsreels) were taken over by Bernard Natan to form Pathé-Natan. It changed hands a few times after that before becoming the present-day film company “Pathé”. Pathé Journal continued until 1981. Its newsreel archive now lies with Gaumont-Pathé.

This was the complicated process by which the UK newsreel company became divorced from its overseas parent and sister companies, never to be reunited. Pathé-branded newsreel and film production in the UK was now on its own.

Audiences could watch – and, thanks to the introduction of sound, hear – Albert Sandler playing “Hungarian Dance” by Brahms in this 1930 edition of Pathetone Weekly.

As First National-Pathé, newsreels were released under the name of Pathé Gazette and an internationally-distributed newsreel was produced from Wardour Street – Pathetone Weekly. But the great innovation of this period was, of course, the introduction of sound in 1930. This brought a new immediacy and reality to the footage, despite the limitations of early technology.

Sound also allowed newsreels to start including interviews, and one early interviewee was the Editor of the Pathé Gazette himself, upon the occasion of the UK newsreel’s twenty-first anniversary. In the clip, the Editor takes the opportunity to look back on what his company has achieved so far and on the recent history that has been captured by the Pathé cameramen. We may not be able to witness the Norman Conquest or the Great Fire of London, the Editor says, but we can relive history which has been preserved through the magic of newsreels: “One of cinema’s greatest privileges is to be able to bring back the past.” The company had proven its worth.

A title card from a Pathé Super Sound Gazette.

But in 1931, Warner Brothers purchased First National and formed Warner Brothers-First National and the future of the Pathé brand looked uncertain. That is, until 1933, when the golden age of British Pathé really began.

British Pathé is always keen for corrections and additional information about its footage and corporate history. Please email us or leave a comment beneath the relevant clip on the website, www.britishpathe.com.

When the Falklands Were Forgotten

By James Hoyle, Archive Coordinator at British Pathé

Most people had probably never heard of the tensions between Britain and Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands before they were invaded on April 2nd 1982. Many people had probably never heard of the Falkland Islands at all. But history did not pass the Falklands by. Footage in the British Pathé archive details its involvement in the First World War and life on the islands in the 1960s, including the attitudes of the islanders towards Argentina.

The South Atlantic islands known by their inhabitants as the ‘Falklands’ lie 8,000 miles from the British mainland. It was Captain John Strong who first set foot there in 1690 and it was he who named them for Lord Falkland. After this, it gets a little complicated. When the British signed the Treaty of Utrecht, Spanish ownership of the islands was established. Regardless, both the French and the British soon placed settlements there, though the French subsequently handed their territory to Spain in 1767 and the British were evicted. From that point on, Spain held the islands until, in 1820, former Spanish colony Argentina claimed them as their own. But after a disagreement with the United States over sealing rights, the USS Lexington removed the Argentine settlers by force in 1831.  Soon after, the British took their place and have enjoyed sovereignty over the islands ever since, though Argentina has repeatedly requested the islands, which they call the ‘Malvinas’, back.

From that time until 1982, life on the Falklands was a mostly peaceful affair, with the exception of 8 December 1914 when the British and German navies clashed off the coast. The Germans, under Spee, planned to land on the islands to destroy the wireless station and pick up coal supplies, but when they arrived, the British were already there. In the ensuing battle, the Germans lost six of their ships and 1900 men, but the British fleet survived intact, with only 10 dead. This astonishing victory was celebrated in Britain and raised morale. Admiral Sturdee was proclaimed a hero and given a baronetcy in gratitude. Newsreels in the British Pathé archive mark the occasion of the victory, and pay tribute to Admiral Sturdee after his death in 1925. No further vessels or men would be lost over these islands for nearly 60 years.

Despite the short but fierce war fought between Britain and Argentina, outlined in British Pathé’s A Day That Shook The World series, in which Margaret Thatcher’s government successfully reclaimed the islands from Argentine invaders, public knowledge about the Falklands remains limited. A picture of what life was like there prior to the conflict can be seen in the footage taken by Pathé cameramen in the late 1960s.

By 1980, the population of the Falkland Islands was a mere 2000 people and declining. Even today there are only 3000 living there. An aerial view of Stanley, the only town, can be seen in the still above. The most numerous inhabitants by far live in the wild. Along with the sheep and horses that exist in the farms, there is also an abundance of birds and marine life. The most famous of these are undoubtedly the islands’ penguins, which earned their own dedicated British Pathé newsreel, in what might be the only footage that was used from the camera crew’s visit. Other newsreels from the early 1950 show Vancouver’s Stanley Park Zoo and its only collection of King Penguins existing in Canada, a gift from the Governor of the Falkland Islands.

Yet a great portion of the footage filmed by that 1969 camera crew is of the people living on the islands. There are many unknown faces in these silent clips, and it would be fascinating to hear about them and their experiences during the later Argentine invasion. In the clips though, life on the Falklands appears relatively tranquil. Men and women go about their daily routines, working in the sea, loading cargo onto ships, herding sheep, and so on.

We also get a glimpse of the leisure activities engaged in, with families turning out to witness a local game of football.

But an ever-present British warship, the Leander-class H.M.S. Arethusa, is a reminder of the tensions over the islands and its disputed sovereignty. Although to many on the British mainland, the Falklands conflict came as a surprise, the tensions over the issue of sovereignty were felt long before on the islands themselves. The same 1960s footage of the islands contains many glimpses of just how strongly the inhabitants felt more than a decade before the war.

Negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands began in 1966 after a UN resolution the year before forced Britain to the table. For many years a succession of foreign secretaries attempted to promote the virtues of Argentine sovereignty, encouraging the Falklanders to submit. The reactions of the islanders to the opening of negotiations are plainly to be seen in the following stills from the 1969 footage.

Images such as these were captured by the Pathé camera crew in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. In the footage, which seems to have never made it into a finished newsreel or cinemagazine, signs and graffiti revealing the Falkland Islanders’ desire to remain British are ever present.  These displays appear in shop windows and outside houses, placed as stickers in car windows, or painted on the side of buildings or scrawled on the side of a plane.

It would be interesting to know exactly who these signs were meant for. Presumably they are aimed at the Pathé camera crew, or some other visitors rather than at the other islanders.

Sadly, the Argentines soon felt the negotiations were going nowhere and that their unpopular government might be saved by waging war against British colonialism, reclaiming islands they believed to be legally theirs. War ensued and 907 people lost their lives.

During this 30th anniversary year (the war lasted from 2 April to 14 June 1982), it is interesting to look back not just on that terrible conflict, but also on the years leading up to it, and reflect upon what the future may also bring.

For British Pathé’s collection of pre-war Falklands footage and A Day That Shook The World episodes for the British taskforce setting sail and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield, click here.

The History of the Helicopter: Early Helicopter Footage

We recently posted a compilation video of early helicopter footage onto our YouTube channel. The video uses eight different reels from the British Pathé film archive, and there are some others that didn’t make it into the final cut. The history of the helicopter and the quest for vertical flight in the early 20the century is a vast and interesting subject that was very well documented by British Pathé. We have to admit that in selecting footage for the YouTube video we went for a certain aesthetic, choosing images that “looked helicoptery!” when the truth is that there were several plane / helicopter hybrids such as the autogyro that pioneered for some years, as well as related projects such as zeppelin technology and bizarre prototypes for what would eventually become known as the hovercraft.

Here is an embedded version of the video and beneath it is links to the full length versions of each video used with the original Pathé title, dates and the length of the original reel (which you can watch for free by following the link).

And now for the videos used in this compilation:

Aerial Merry Go Round” (1921) – 1 minute 24 seconds

Shots of very large propellers slowly turning, we see an early helicopter taking off in a rather meandering fashion and men diving out of its way!

The Helicopter” (1921) – 1 minute 38 seconds

An early helicopter sporting a giant oblong balloon (as used in the thumbnail for the YouTube video) hovers and sways unsteadily with men rushing about beneath it and directing it along a field.

New Era In Flying” (1922) – 1 minute 22 seconds

Mr. Pescara, a key individual in the history of the helicopter, is seen with one of his first machines. The helicopter is much lighter than previous models and has four rotors.

Vertical Flight Soon” (1923) – 1 minute 14 seconds

Mr. Pescara appears with an improved version of his helicopter. The helicopter’s flight is still a rather higgledy-piggledy affair and the vehicle lands nose first.

Perseverance Rewarded” (1924) – 1 minute 41 seconds

The final video of Mr. Pescara used in the YouTube compilation. We see him in an open cockpit flying in his new and improved helicopter!

Helicopter Demo” (1940) – 1 minute 34 seconds

Various shots of helicopters (possibly Sikorsky helicopters) flying over factory rooftops and in group formations.

U.S. Air Force Tests Helicopter” (1943) – 1 minute 43 seconds

A great clip that didn’t make it into the YouTube edit, this video shows men jumping out of helicopters from a height of several metres, and good close-up shows of a man manoeuvring a helicopter a little bit like an arcade game!

Mass Flight” (1948) – 1 minute 45 seconds

Shots of photographers on the ground filming the helicopter as it takes off. Nine helicopters seen flying in formation and flying over water.

Welsh Airlift” (1949) – 1 minute 51 seconds

A Sikorsky S-51 helicopter is seen hovering over the Welsh hills in Croesor Valley, Festiniog. The YouTube edit uses a clip of the helicopter crashing and pilot Dennis Bryan leaving the vehicle seemingly unharmed before explaining what went wrong.

Helicopter Service For BIF” (1950) – 1 minute 56 seconds

A great clip showing the first ever public helicopter service, like a bus service. We see a sign with information about the service and then footage of people waving the helicopter off into the distance.

For more helicopter clips please do conduct your own search in the British Pathe film archive. We recommend going to the homepage www.britishpathe.com and typing in “helicopter” into the search bar and then selecting the Sort By: Year option.

You can ask us any questions by joining our Facebook page, or by chatting to us on Twitter, or via the contact page on www.britishpathe.com

Pearl Harbor: 70th Anniversary Today

Click to view the fantastic new video on War Archives' YouTube channel

Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on the US naval base Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack conducted by the Japanese that led to America’s entry into World War 2.

Hollywood movies, books, essays and endless documentaries have been made on the topic of Pearl Harbor, a day that Franklin D. Roosevelt announced at the time “will live in infamy”, and still a hotly-debated military subject today.

However, like all history, nothing is better than watching footage of the actual events themselves if possible. In the British Pathé Film Archive we have a copy of the first newsreel to report on Pearl Harbour, and this footage was later used for a British Pathé documentary series entitled A Day That Shook The World.

This morning, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we uploaded these scenes onto our YouTube channel War Archives. Click on the screengrab above to view it now.

Less than a minute’s footage of the actual surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was recorded, and that was by accident by a local doctor trying out his new camera, but remarkably he managed to capture the blowing up of the Arizona – and so this features in our reel. The rest of the footage was recreated by John Ford in Los Angeles at Fox Studios immediately after the attack. The American War Department directed him to recreate the scene so that it could be issued around the world as a key piece of reasoning in why America had declared war on Japan and entered WWII.

Ford’s original feature was called 7th December and ran eighty-three minutes. However the War Department were worried about showing the full-length film because Ford did such a good job of depicting how unprepared the American troops were for such an attack, and were concerned therefore that the movie might damage morale.

Of course, as with all sensational moments in history, ambiguity gave way to conspiracy and some have claimed that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor never actually happened, or worse still, was conducted by American forces, and was used as a mechanism to trigger and kick-start America’s entry into the war.

To add to the confusion many news groups since, including CNN, have confused the recreated scenes for the real thing.

Pearl Harbor was made into a successful Hollywood film 60 years later, starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

www.youtube.com/wararchives

View all 90,000 British Pathé newsreels for free online at: http://www.britishpathe.com

Channel 4 Blitz British Pathé

Looting the wreckages of shattered London homes

The archive footage in Tony Robinson’s latest high-profile history series Blitz Street was taken from the British Pathé archive. The series didn’t receive glowing reviews, with many TV critics doubtful as to whether the program’s makers even achieved their goal. Tony Robinson himself was criticised for being too gleeful about a sensitive subject that still haunts many Britons today. Still, the archive clips of the Blitz are a brilliant slice of history and offer priceless insight into this terrifying war at home. Watch all of the Blitz videos here in the British Pathé archive.

Reviews:

Read Stewart Turner’s review on the Orange TV blog here

Read Brian Viner’s review in the Independent here

Read Nancy Banks-Smith’s review on Guardian.co.uk here