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.
It is 100 years since the WW1 hospital ship HMHS Rohilla sank off the coast of Whitby. The passenger steamer was part of the British Indian Steam Navigation Company fleet and was called up for service at the outbreak of the war. It ran aground in stormy seas a short time later with the loss of 83 lives. The British Pathé archive has footage of the sinking and the rescue effort.
Amazingly, Titanic survivor Mary Kezia Roberts was also aboard and survived the disaster. British Pathé also has coverage of Titanic survivors arriving in New York aboard the Carpathia. Titanic’s sister ship Britannic was also a hospital ship during the First World War and sank in 1916.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Sunday is on 10th November. Remembrance Day is on 11th November.
As we approach Remembrance Day, that important 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?
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, a zone dividing the trenches of opposing forces, was heavily bombarded during trench warfare. 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 in 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
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 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 went – and still do today – to helping ex-servicemen and women and their families.
An item in the British Pathé archive details the making of poppies for distribution by the British Legion. It was filmed at the Richmond poppy factory which 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, the servicemen worked 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 full film also details the other stirling work done by the British Legion. It can be viewed by clicking here.
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, not just by those of the past, but by our countrymen and women who still fight for our safety in ongoing conflicts around the world today.
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 foundhere.
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.
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.
Today’s news is full of stories about the Pope’s resignation. After eight years, Benedict XVI will step down due to ill health. He will be the first pope to relinquish the position since Gregory XII in 1415. This was the statement that was released by the Vatican:
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
The British Pathé archive holds a great deal of material related to the papacy and to many of the previous popes who served during the Twentieth Century.
The earliest footage of a pope in the archive dates from 1922. Benedict XV died in this year and newsreels announced his death. His twenty-first century namesake called him a “prophet of peace” for his role in the First World War.
British Pathé filmed the election of Benedict XV’s successor, who served from 1922 until his own death in 1939. During his tenure, he presided over the transformation of Vatican City into a sovereign state. Click here to view a selection of news stories from his reign.
When Paul VI died in 1978, he was succeeded by John Paul I. Sadly, 33 days after his succession, John Paul was discovered dead in his bed. John Paul II replaced him, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years. He died in 2005 and an episode of A Day That Shook The World documents the funeral.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.