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Title:SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE TESTING OF EXPLOSIVE AND INCENDIARY DEVICES FOR SABOTAGE [Allocated Title]
Film Number:MGH 4325
Other titles:MAJOR C V CLARKE COLLECTION [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: Tests of various types of explosive devices and methods of attaching charges to cars: these take place at Brickendonbury House in Hertfordshire ("Station XVII").
Description: I. In a woodland area a Sergeant places a case containing three incendiary devices on the ground. The explosion and smoke are seen. A circular plastic explosive (PE) charge is put on a steel plate. An improvised charge with a time pencil fuse is attached to a fuel tank from a vehicle. The charge detonates, spreading burning fuel over the surroundings.
II. In woodland an improvised clam charge consisting of PE, time pencil and magnets is shown. The charge is placed on the back of a motor car and then removed. As the car moves off a man in civilian clothes perches briefly on the rear bumper to place a device underneath and then gets off. The man then removes the device. A civilian emerges from concealment, crawls to the back of the stationary car and attaches a device from his pocket to the rear before crawling back to cover. Lance Corporal Ralph Cowan, in battle dress, emerges from the woods to place a device under the rear bumper of the car as it moves along a track. The device is retrieved.
III. A Royal Artillery Sergeant standing in front of piles of wooden crates marked "Octopus" puts a time pencil fuse into a Mills grenade which he then places on the side of a crate. He holds up the fuse and grenade for the camera.
IV. In the woodland area (as in I) the film shows a fuse attached to a felled tree being lit with some difficulty. The fuse burns and an explosion splits the tree. A group of men (six civilians, and officer and a soldier) lay charges and light fuses before retiring to safety. The charges detonate one by one. A soldier fixes a gelignite charge to a post. A cordtex fuse stretches from the post to two charges attached to a section of railway track. A soldier lying on the ground fires a rifle at the gelignite in order to set off the fuse leading to the other charges. The charges explode and the resulting shattered pieces of track are collected.
V. A soldier holds a limpet mine with time pencil and magnets for the camera. A man in Free French naval (?) uniform holds a limpet and then places it on a steel plate leaning against a tree. He lights the fuse and retires. The plate is shown with a hole in it.
Technical Details: Format: 16mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 158 ft; Running time: 7 mins (at 16 fps)
Notes: Part of collection of film shot by or for Major C V Clarke, MC while on staff of Special Operations Executive (SOE) Technical Research and Development Station (Station XVII, Brickendonbury House in Hertfordshire), showing trials of various sabotage devices for use against Germans in Occupied Europe during the Second World War.
Production date: deduced from pp 12-15 of typescript Reminiscences by Lance Corporal Cowan acquired by Department of Documents (9/2006) from his widow, who identified him in the film.