The Pope Visits the Holy Land

THE PAPAL PILGRIMAGE (1964).

It is 50 years since Pope Paul VI became the first pontiff to visit the Holy Land. British Pathé documented his journey in widescreen and Technicolor. The trip was brief, but historic. It took place on 4-5th January 1964. Click here to view the newsreel.

The archive also includes unused material that was not included in the final edit, as well as a black and white version of the film. If you’re interested, you can see those here.

2013 was a big year for the Papacy, with the resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of Francis as the increasingly popular 266th Pope. British Pathé has a substantial collection of footage for past pontiffs:

Benedict XV – died 1922

Pius XI British Pathé filmed the election of Benedict XV’s successor, who served from 1922 until his own death in 1939.

Pius XII – Pope from 1939 until 1958.

John XXIII – Pope from 1958 until 1963.

Paul VI Pope from 1963 until 1978.

View Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land here.

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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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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.