Transport General | 1950 | Sound | Colour
Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern expedition 1950's
Land rovers on a trek across Europe and desert of Syria, India, Stilwell road to burma. Trucks across a river and rickety bridges. Road to Mandalay. Into Thailand and arrival in singapore, Malaya
The epic journey started with a crossing of the English Channel by Bristol Freighter aircraft which is shown taking off. Brief montages follow of the vehicles proceeding along German Autobahns, Greek roads and even on desert roads in Iraq where they travel alongside and enormous bus in a cloud of dust to reach Baghdad.
The real problems start after crossing the border into India. The main dangers centred upon the crossing of rivers and gorges and the Ganges crossing (2:37) on a fragile looking wooden raft is well filmed. The Stillwell Road, constructed during the 2nd World War on the command of General Stillwell, was used for the journey from India into Burma. The road, mainly through jungle, is shown as having deteriorated very badly with bridges, made of logs, having become rotten and extremely unsafe. Barriers across the road had been erected by local tribes to deter cattle thieves and these are removed ( 3:39). The crossing of one of the creaking wooden bridges is shown in detail ( 3:54). Rivers had frequently to be forded using tree trunks to give a firm base for the car wheels (4:23). A lot of courage had to be shown by the drivers.
At a long disused air base the jungle had so overgrown the roads that compass bearing were used to decide where the road should be (5:10). Ferries were used where possible but sometimes they were unable to handle the land Rovers and so wide but shallow rivers are shown being crossed by fording them ---- and it was not always successful. After one car was swamped the other managed to tow it through the three feet of water --- and the use of the electric winches was frequently called upon ( 6:48 and 5:53).
The road approaching Mandalay is shown as a spectacular mountain pass with impossible climbs and dozens of hairpin bends to be overcome (7:40-8:08). The roads in Burma were made more dangerous by bandits and an escort of troops of the Burmese Army was given (8:33). The army vehicle broke down and the Land Rovers pressed on alone to face a most precarious ferry crossing on a strange vessel that appeared to be pulled by a cable across the river (9:24).
The journey through Thailand remained difficult with a wooden bridge seeming to have two narrow tree trunks for the wheels and nothing but a big drop between the wheels (10:30- 10:50).
The roads finally improved with the entry into Malaya and the road through jungle to Singapore led to a triumphal entry into the city with a police motor cycle escort (11:51). A well earned champagne reception greeted the heroes of a truly epic journey. We are told that the vehicles had suffered no ill effects throughout their 18000 miles journey when they were inspected after return to the United Kingdom
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