War + Military | 1910 | Sound | B/W
Possibly a training film or recruitment film attempting to allay the fears of new or potential soldiers by informing them that science is now a part of the British army (at the time of World War One WW1), accompanied by a wry Cockney commentary.
“Digging is one of the most h’important tactical tasks of the up-to-date fighting man…holes, trenches, dug-outs, mineshafts and ’er… sanitary arrangements.”
A group of about 20 soldiers are digging a deep trench using picks and shovels. They then dig a new narrow trench, working frantically with hats off, in shirtsleeves and waistcoats, overseen by several fully dressed Officers. A different trench with six men shows one man turning a wheel, another handling bits of wood, and one taking a rest, while the others dig vigorously.
“Think how ’andy that’ll be when the wars over, with such inventions bricks and mortar will be things of the past then.”
Next comes a close-up of a Nissen Hut roof, nails being hammered in by three unifomed soldiers, one of whom has an eye patch; we see the construction inside and out, soldiers on the roof, trestles and ladders visible inside. Half a dozen officers stand talking while the men are busy around the two huts.
“…this war is different, this war is scientific,” is illustrated by six soldiers on a sunny field bank, one signals with a flag, there is a Begbie signal lamp and also a long telescope on a tripod, while two men are writing in notebooks and another using a field telephone.
“… keeping that ’ead down,” and we see two soldiers in greatcoats in a trench; one edges past a tree trunk with a field telephone, its long wire trailing behind him and hands it over to the near man who is looking through a trench periscope as he uses the telephone handset. Looking from the other side we see the periscope’s head appearing over layered brushwood on top of the trench.
“Now the offensive side,” shows a barbed wire fence with two soldiers running towards it carrying poles and a cover of thick material which they lay over the wire and run across followed by about a dozen others who were lying on the ground waiting, carrying their rifles; in the background there is a huge barrack-like building.
“… so wire is what you’ve got to learn to handle with confidence, as though it was your Aunt Fanny’s knitting wool…” This phrase is demonstrated by two soldiers wearing gauntlets twisting barbed wire around posts, then placing another thick cover over the fence before lying down on it and grinning at the camera.
“To be even more offensive, grenade throwing,” A soldier in a trench, possibly a major, strikes a grenade on his sleeve, throws it hard and we hear the loud explosion.
“…all the help that science can bring…” Two soldiers close-up in a trench wind up a spring mechanism which catapults an explosive towards a distant building: accompanied by a silly ‘bong’ sound.
“Then gas… all you’ve gotta do is smell it, wet your finger for the wind and slip your mask on yor’ed before it worfts over”: Four soldiers in the foreground trench take off their caps and pull a cloth balaclava type gas mask over their heads. One soldier is shown alone in close-up, pulling on the mask and tucking it carefully into his jacket, “be able to cope with anything then…” and so a cloud of gas or smoke blows across and the men struggle away along the trench in masks, carrying rifles
The film is then cut off abruptly and mystifyingly with “any ’orse riders’ere? Oh well…”
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