This film is part of Free
Battle South of Arras
You can virtually hear the explosions and smell the smoke in this rare close-up of a WWI battlefield.
For much of World War One, images of actual fighting were rare, and any that were created were used in official propaganda films like this one. A particularly graphic example of the genre, it indicates the level of British resilience in one of the later battles of the War. Explosions rain down on the battlefield from all sides, making JB McDowell’s courageous camerawork all the more noteworthy.
By the time these extraordinary pictures were captured, the Topical Budget newsreel had come under the control of the government’s War Office. This film was released late in the summer of 1918 – over a year after the Battle of Arras - at a time when Allied victory was looking increasingly assured. But there is so much tragedy in the final scene, when cavalry take a direct hit from shellfire.