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Title:THE CAIRO BAGHDAD SERVICE AIRMAIL [Main Title]
Film Number:IWM 878
Summary: Incomplete film on the RAF airmail service between Cairo and Baghdad, 1921-1926.
Description: (Reel 1) The film compares the old ways of the desert with modern technology by starting with an Arab camel train coming to rest at an oasis. At dawn the riders wake with prayers and resume their journey. (All acted.) A bugler rouses the RAF camp at Heliopolis at dawn, the flag is raised and the airmen practise drill on the parade ground. The captions explain that the mail arrives by sea, but the final stage now takes an 11 hour flight instead of a 15 day sea trip. Two Vickers Vernon aircraft of 45 Squadron RAF are wheeled out and their controls are checked. (Both have individual identifying symbols painted on the underside of the lower wing inboard of the roundel. In one case the 'Solomon's Seal' or Star of David, in the other the left-handed swastika. These are more clearly visible later in flight.) An RAF truck arrives with the mail for the flight. This is taken on board and the planes fuelled up from petrol cans. The crews board their planes, which take off. A crude map shows the route. The aerial view as the planes overfly Cairo is shown. A third Vernon, the camera plane, takes off. The planes fly across the desert, coming in for their one refuelling stop at Amman. (Reel 2) The radio operator in the camera plane signals that the machines are en route to Baghdad. The message is received by the operator on the ground. At this point the film loses coherence and starts to break up into unrelated scenes, pull-backs, out-takes and brief repeats of some scenes. The Arabs in the desert again. The planes being taken out of the hangars again. British soldiers on the march beside the Suez Canal. More of the map. The wireless operator. The take-off from Heliopolis again. The planes on the ground at Amman. The map again. The planes in flight. The map again. A view (irised) of Baghdad from the air. The camera plane's view of its own landing. A final 'romantic' shot of the camel train walking into the setting sun.