The story of Britain during World War II, retold from a uniquely vivid and personal perspective using rarely seen home movies.
Rediscovered and shown together for the first time, old cine films are interwoven with testimony from both members of the film-makers’ families and those who lived through the war to give a first-hand account of life during conflict.
From footage shot by a Middlesborough dentist, who witnessed the rise of Nazism on a family holiday to the continent in 1939, to the images of the evacuation of Dunkirk secretly recorded by a young naval officer, the films show momentous events through the eyes of the ordinary people caught up in them.
Part 1: Early Years
The progress of the first half of the war is told through a series of films that include fascinating footage of the Home Guard in training in the village of Thornton in Yorkshire, moving images and accounts of the devastation of Sheffield during the Blitz, and the astonishing moment a doctor in Kent turned his camera skywards to film the Battle of Britain from his garden.
The toll the war took on servicemen is revealed through poignant depictions of the RAF’s Coastal Command 502 Squadron’s participation in the Battle for the Atlantic. Meanwhile, images of the home front adapting to war as civilians recorded their changing life at home and at work are a striking reminder of Britain in a different era. With much of the footage in colour, the past leaps to life with immediacy and reveals how world events impacted on the individual.
Part 2: Last Years
The story of the last years of World War II, and its immediate aftermath, told through a series of films shot by both civilians and members of the armed forces. They include fascinating footage of Warship Week fundraising events at home, digging for victory, life in the Lincolnshire town of Louth and a first-hand account by an SIS covert operations agent on active duty in the field.
This second episode includes the British breakthrough at El Alamein, revealed by a sergeant who filmed the guns pounding the German positions, and the most complete film of a Bomber Command squadron in action, made by a serviceman stationed at a Lincolnshire base.
Footage shot secretly by islander Olive Thompson offers a unique insight into life under German occupation, while a guard with an interest in home movie-making captured the daily routine of German prisoners of war in POW Camp 633 (Boughton Camp, New Ollerton, Nottinghamshire).
These lost films are a striking reminder of Britain in a different era. With much of the footage in colour, the past leaps to life with immediacy and reveals how world events impacted on the individual at home as well as in action.