- Title: TAILS UP FRANCE [Main Title]
- Film Number: IWM 648
- Other titles: THE LIFE OF AN RAF OFFICER IN FRANCE [Alternative Title]
- Summary: RAF film of how novice pilots complete their combat training in France and go on to fly operational patrols, summer 1918.
- Description: (Reel 1) The film stresses that it shows normal RAF life and has not deliberately selected its scenes. It begins with a training camp for pilots in France. New pilots arrive and are brought from the station by 3-ton lorry with their kit. After a medical check-up and induction they queue to be issued with Lewis and Vickers machine guns for their combat training, and practise pistol shooting. They train in a flight-simulator on rails, enabling them to shoot at deflection targets. They learn on a dummy aircraft how to regulate interrupter gear. Finally on 19th August they are given their postings. (None of the postings matches the squadrons shown.) As they wait to leave they are sold newspapers. At Bertangles aerodrome between May and July the men relax before a patrol. The Wing adjutant phones orders to the commander of 84 Squadron, Major W S Douglas, and the flight commanders assemble the squadron. The squadron SE5a fighters stand wing-to-wing ready for take-off. (Reel 2) The base fitters strip machine guns and load the ammunition into a Sopwith 2F1 Camel of 209 Squadron. The Camels are bombed up. A flight of Sopwith 5F1 Dolphins of 23 Squadron starts out on patrol. 84 Squadron also takes off with the camera following the SE5as into the air (probably in a Bristol F2B Fighter of 48 Squadron) as they stunt fly around it. (Reel 3) The SE5as return to base. Two captured German aircraft, both intact, are displayed for the camera at the base: a DFW Aviatik CV and a Fokker DVII. RAF groundcrew also inspect the burnt out remains of another DVII and a Gotha GV with two "unexploded bombs" (fake) nearby. The crew of a Bristol Fighter of 48 Squadron report for debriefing by the base Intelligence officer. Fitters repair damage to the Dolphins, some hit by anti-aircraft fire which has torn their fabric. A wounded pilot is taken away by ambulance. Two training exercises in air cooperation. One has troops advancing through a smokescreen (no aircraft visible). The other has Cavalry charging against sacking targets with Camels flying overhead to "clear up machine gun nests" for the advance. This is presented as a genuine attack with German prisoners being brought in. "Are they downhearted? Ask them !" They are counted into a holding cage and sent on by rail. The aircraft return to Bertangles against the dusk sky. (Reel 4) The airmen relax by playing baseball and "bumble-puppy" (a ball game). A bull-terrier squadron mascot. Airmen and fitters of 209 Squadron pose beside their Camels. An SE5a engine is tested on a rig. A Camel has its engine tested. "The brigadier" (?) drives off. A chaplain conducts an open air service. Men socialise and play snooker in the Church Army tent. The barber's tent has a sign "Closed Sunday I Don't Think. Barber Abe Pilfold Hebrew". Two officers go off on leave, "where this sort of thing" (an RAF wedding) "has been known to happen". A final shot of the RAF flag.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM (IWM 648)
- Featured Period: 1914-1918
- Production Date: 1918
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: Royal Air Force (Production sponsor)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Douglas, William Sholto (person) British Army (regiment/service) British Army, cavalry (regiment/service) Royal Navy, Royal Naval Air Service & Sqdn 9 (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, Sqdn 209 (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, Sqdn 84 (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, Sqdn 23 (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, Sqdn 48 (regiment/service) Church Army (regiment/service)
- Keywords: training, British air - combat: [+] (object name) equipment, British air - training: flight simulator (object name) buildings, French - commercial: railway station (object name) medical, British air - preventative (object name) weapons, British - smallarm (mounted): Vickers machine gun (object name) weapons, British - smallarm (mounted): Lewis machine gun (object name) journalism and record, British - press: newspaper & [-] (object name) buildings, British - military (object name) animals, mammals: dog (mascot) (object name) communications, British air - wire (object name) society, British air - sustenance (object name) operations, British air - sortie (object name) operations, British air - preparation (object name) operations, British air - return (object name) operations, British air - maintenance (object name) aircraft, British - combat: Sopwith Camel (object name) aircraft, British - combat: Royal Aircraft Establishment SE5a (object name) aircraft, British - combat: Sopwith Dolphin (object name) aircraft, British - combat: Bristol F2B Fighter (object name) aircraft, German - combat: Aviatik CV & [captured] (object name) aircraft, German - combat: Fokker DVII & [captured] (object name) aircraft, German - combat: Fokker DVII & [captured] & [wrecked] (object name) aircraft, German - combat: Gotha GV & [captured] & [wrecked] (object name) aircraft, British - combat: Sopwith Dolphin & [damaged] (object name) weapons, German air - bomb: [unexploded] (object name) weapons, British air - bomb: 20-pound (object name) weapons, British air - bomb: 32-pound (object name) intelligence, military, British - interrogation (object name) medical, British air - emergency (object name) combat [simulated], British (object name) combat [simulated], British - cavalry (object name) combat [simulated], British air - ground attack (object name) training, British air - specialist: cooperation (object name) prisoners of war, German - movement (object name) prisoners of war, German - custody (object name) recreation, British air - sport: baseball (object name) recreation, British air - casual (object name) religion, Christianity - military, British (object name) recreation, British air - sport: snooker (object name) society, British air - hygiene (object name) recreation, British air - leave (object name) society, British military - romance (object name) 01/3(4-15).9 (event) France (geography) Bertangles, Somme, France (geography) Race (concept) half-light (concept) camera (concept)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent Soundtrack language: None Title language: English Subtitle language: English
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 4 Footage: 3107 ft; Running time: 51 mins
- Notes: Title: this is taken from the shotsheet. The alternative title is part of the first intertitle Production: the tone of the film makes it more likely to have been an RAF production for internal use than an official film Remarks: light and jokey, occasionally heavy-handed. The complete film holds up well and interest seldom flags despite the lack of 'action' shots. The simulated 'combat' would not fool the most uncritical audience, but the training exercise itself is very interesting.
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