Remarkably the first day of the 16 DLI's fighting at Sedjenane, on February 27th 1943, was filmed by two Army Film Unit cameramen, Sgt R P G Meyer and Sgt H M Wilson MM. I discovered this footage by chance at the Imperial War Museum in 1998 during a failed attempt to trace German film of 16 DLI Prisoners of War (my father once told me that his party of POWs was filmed either at Ferryville or Naples by an Axis cameramen).

The film of the Sedjenane fighting is unremarkable for anyone who does not have a direct interest in the 16th DLI: it's simply a sequence of shots of lines of infantry as they calmly walk through the Sedjenane Valley and advance towards some very large hills in the distance. They walk past the camera, some close enough to be recognisable, and then, as they advance in extended order, the camera abruptly switches off.

B Company 16 DLI veteran Tom Turnbull has seen the footage is sure that it was his company which was filmed. Indeed, he remembers as they advanced that morning, one of his platoon mates shouted out: 'Hey, there's a bloke over there taking pictures!'

At some future stage I hope to get permission to place frame enlargement stills from this footage on the website. However, just as fascinating are the detailed 'dope sheet' filming reports that accompany the footage Incredibly detailed, they further confirm the timeline of events outlined by my father, Jack Southworth MM of No 1 Commando and by Major Harry Craggs MC of the 70th Field Regiment RA.

The initial confusion with the French troops and exact sequence of the DLI attacks on the first day of the Battle are documented in meticulous detail in the three relevant 'dope sheets' which are transcribed on the following pages.

Also included in this section is a brief introduction to the work and methods of the Army Film Unit. For more on this subject see the excellent book Cameramen at War by Ian Grant (Patrick Stephens 1980).

No 2 Army Film and Photo Section in 1943, the Eyewitness Memories of Sgt R P G Meyer

Sgt H M Wilson MM’s ‘dope sheet’ report on filming the fighting of 27/2/43

Sgt R P G Meyer’s ‘dope sheet’ report on filming the fighting of 27/2/43

Sgt H M Wilson MM’s ‘dope sheet’ report on the filming of casualties on 2/3/43

THE ARMY FILM AND PHOTO UNIT AT SEDJENANE

NEXT

HOME