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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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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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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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.

150 Years of the F.A.

The winners of the 1914 FA Cup Final, Burnley.
The winners of the 1914 FA Cup Final, Burnley.

Earlier in January, the Football Association kicked off celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary.

The FA was established in 1863 and codified the modern rules of that great English sport. Not too long after, in 1871, the very first FA Cup match was held. Sadly, this was too early to be captured by motion picture cameras and the first FA Cup material photographed by British Pathé seems to be some shots of the winning 1914 Burnley team (they beat Liverpool 1-0). The earliest actual in-game footage, though, appears in the clip “ASTON VILLA WIN English Cup for the sixth time – defeating Huddersfield in Cup Final by a lucky goal after extra time”. The film dates from 1920. Almost all of the Cup Final matches were covered by British Pathé from that date on, until the company finished newsreel production in 1970. A collection of the films can be explored here, in date order.

Blackpool v Bolton, 1953.
Blackpool v Bolton, 1953.

As well as coverage of the FA Cup, the British Pathé archive holds a wealth of other great games and classic football moments. Simply searching for “football” on our website brings up an astonishing 2333 clips – far too many to detail here! But some particularly interesting material can be found via these links:

1966 World Cup Final

That cherished World Cup win for England was filmed in colour and a special 9-minute newsreel summarised the game for cinema audiences. Re-live the match by watching it here.

You can also see a selection of some of our other favourite World Cup films, with a focus on the 1966 matches. Earlier World Cup coverage can be found by filtering these results.

England's 1966 World Cup victory. Click the still to watch coverage of the match.
England’s 1966 World Cup victory. Click the still to watch coverage of the match.

A Football Legend – Pele, Brazil v Sweden, 1958

Brazilian footballer Edison Arantes do Nascimento (or “Pele”) performed so well at the 1958 World Cup Final v Sweden that it was documented in an episode of A Day That Shook The World. Click here to view the episode.

A Great Goal – Helmut Rahn, West Germany v Hungary, 1954

The late Helmut Rahn of Germany scored the winning goal in the 1954 World Cup final. He was playing for West Germany against Hungary. Click here to view the film.

Another Great Goal – Ferenc Puskas, England v Hungary, 1953

The year before, it was the Hungary team which was scoring with exceptional skill. Ferenc Puskas, that legendary player and coach, was playing against England when he scored this terrific goal. Click here to view the film.

Documentary footage on how a football is made

Filmed in 1966. Click here to watch.

Blue Is The Colour

The Chelsea team sing “Blue Is The Colour” in this 1970 film.

Chronicle of Women’s Football

Newsreels from 1918 onwards document the attitudes towards women’s football and illustrate its growing popularity over time. Click here for a collection.

The 1928 FA Cup Final (Blackburn v Huddersfield).
The 1928 FA Cup Final (Blackburn v Huddersfield).

Visit British Pathé’s collection of FA Cup Final coverage, 1920-1970, here.

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Search the archive for more football clips. If you find some worth highlighting, leave us a comment below!