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Title:AMMUNITION DUMP EXPLOSION IN SAIGON [Allocated Title]
Film Number:JFU 573
Other titles:BRITISH ARMY OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: Footage of ammunition dump exploding in Saigon, capital of French Indo-China (Vietnam), and of the aftermath.
Description: An Annamite (Vietnamese) civilian family sitting in an alleyway; camera pans down the alley to show other people and a few soldiers are present. Shots showing utter devastation, with areas reduced to rubble, window frames blown out of buildings and scattered ammunition of various sizes. A deserted market stall with debris everywhere. A cow eats abandoned food. A deserted stall with scattered ammunition. Damaged building. A massive cloud of drifting smoke. Shop fronts. Shell lying in the road with damaged shop buildings behind. Rapidly drifting smoke. Distant view of smoke with a secondary explosion; a fireball and smoke can be seen. A mushroom cloud of smoke with smoke trails from ordnance or debris falling to earth. A clear shot of a fireball generating a mushroom cloud.
Production Details: War Office Directorate of Public Relations (Production sponsor)
SEAC Film Unit (Production company)
Povey, P W (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations:
Keywords: Saigon, French Indo-China (geography)
Allied Occupation of French Indo-China, Allied Occupation of South East Asia post-August 1945 (event)
India 1939-1945 (theme)
British Army 1939-1945 (theme)
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 436 ft; Running time: 5 mins
Notes: According to the cameraman's dopesheet this was a French ammunition dump, four miles north from the main town of Saigon, and it devastated an area of 3 square miles. Four large explosions created a pall of smoke and hurled ordnance up to half a mile away. The cameraman gives the casualty figure as 60, with 10 serious, but notes fears of many missing.
A report in The Times, dated 9 April 1946, gives the casualties as 20 killed with 100 unaccounted for. The fire was expected to continue to burn for at least another few days.
Though no cause is given for this explosion, given the atmosphere of the time the possibility of sabotage seems apparent.