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Living History Group

Army Film & Photographic Unit

afpu pic

All cine film was shot using 35mm black and white mute stock, to which sound effects and commentary could be added later for documentary or newsreel purposes. The rolls were predominantly 100 foot long lasting around 1 minute 20 seconds running at 24 frames per second. Films were changed in daylight shade or darkroom changing bags.


Ian Grant in his book ‘Cameramen at War’ recounted loading film on

D Day as follows:


















The De Vry cine camera was affectionately named the “Sardine Can” or “Lunch Box” because of its box like utilitarian appearance. Equipped with three interchangeable lenses with a bayonet fitting, the DeVry was powered by a clockwork motor which required winding after about 40 feet of film.


Therefore, careful monitoring of the motor and remaining film was required to avoid the thing stopping or running out of film before events had been captured.


“He was a fully trained battle cameraman and, with the noise of a fire-fight crackling in the woods ahead and growing louder by the moment, he knew exactly what to do.”

Dun 01

“The beach was under my feet and I had to cover it fast, but now I had to change film. A quick look up the beach and I saw some troops sheltering behind an AVRE tank and I made it in nothing flat. The three men crouched there were from the East Yorks and they had been in this maelstrom for nearly 45 minutes. They watched with no little amazement as I unslung my camera, took an empty tin from my haversack, opened the light-proof door, pulled the exposed roll of film out and hastily threaded in a new one, blowing sharply at the gate in case there was sand, then snapping the door closed. Hastily judging the light conditions I made a slight aperture adjustment, then backed off from the cover of the AVRE, started the camera running and…….."

All pictures copyright of Gary Hughes & Jeff Ball unless otherwise stated

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