- Title: ISLAND BASES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN: ISLE OF MAHÉ, ADDU ATOLL AND DIEGO GARCIA [Allocated Title]
- Film Number: ABY 139
- Other titles: ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
- Summary: Mute unedited RAF record film of island bases - Isle of Mahé (Seychelles), Addu Atoll (Maldives), and Diego Garcia (Chagos Archipelago).
- Description: Reel 1: (Diego Garcia) Aerial view of a ship at sea and of an island in the Indian Ocean, probably Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago. Two men operate a fuel pump; a pipe leads out to a moored Short Sunderland flying boat. A bullock grazes by the foot of a palm tree. An airman puts a rope around its neck and sits on the back of a lorry. The lorry drives slowly away and the bullock walks behind. Airmen in a small motor launch removing debris from a lagoon. A Sunderland makes a spectacular low pass before landing and taxiing. The Sunderland is a Mk V, serial PP157 'S'. Reel 2: (Diego Garcia) The Sunderland is towed to a mooring buoy. A 'Creole Saga Dance' by the light of a bonfire. A tropical forest; a palm tree has grown into a helical shape. A local man husks a pile of coconuts using a sharp wooden stake. Scenic shots of the beach and sea. An Englishman's grave (apparently dating from 1884 when two competing shipping lines operated coaling stations on the island) with a small statuette. More beach scenes. Seagulls wheeling overhead. A team of blindfolded donkeys pull a bar driving a mill. Coconut oil drips from the mill into a bucket. The RAF HQ building. Reel 3: (Diego Garcia) A number of British men carrying spades and pick axes walk along a beach. A local man carries a barrel. The British men board a small sailing boat from a jetty. Views from the boat and of the local men operating it. The boat returns to shore. At the RAF HQ building mail is distributed. A sign names various offices including the 'Cypher Room' and the 'HQ Egg Production Board'. The men seen earlier with spades and picks. Sunderland 'C' at its moorings. Aerial view of an attol, probably Diego Garcia. Reel 4: (Diego Garcia) Two naked local infants playing in the sea; a number of other local people are nearby, some attending to their boats. A beached RAF motor launch. A beached Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) marked NSB 17. A beached Consolidated Catalina GR Mk IIA flying boat (serial VA718 'K') apparently damaged and abandoned. In heavy rain an airman leaves his billet to exchange a bowl full of rain water for an empty one, rain water being apparently the only source of fresh water on the island. A farm complex with several large metal racks for drying chopped coconuts, a stage in the production of copra. Local women shovel pieces of coconuts onto baskets before carrying them away. An airman, presumably of the base's Meteorological Section, checks the instruments at a small weather station. He pours rainwater from a can into a measuring cylinder. He measures clouds using a nephoscope. Reel 5: (Maldives) Interior shots from onboard a Catalina in flight. A navigator uses an astrocompass. Cloudscapes and the sea below. A public relations officer uses a typewriter. Aerial landscape views, probably of Addu Atoll, in the Maldives island group. Three sailors and two airmen go for a swim in the sea. A radio mast; camera tilts down to the base. Some kind of food is placed in a small improvised oven. A sailor leaves one palm-thatched hut and walks a short distance to another. He sits down at a radio set and operates a Morse key. Local men working the ground near one of the huts. (This location apparently called Police Point). Local people on the beach. Reel 6: (Seychelles) View of a large hill on the Seychelles isle of Mahé; camera tilts down to show men standing on a bridge watching activities at a water mill. Local people at work; a water wheel drives machinery for the production of coir, or coconut fibre, used in rope, sacking and matting. A radio mast under construction. British other ranks on a beach. Local men. A bullock drives a mill. British servicemen carrying their baggage through a forest. A small portable generator is manhandled into a hut. Locals carrying luggage. British servicemen on a beach. British other ranks walking along a main road in town before entering the colonnaded Carnegie Hall. A number of officers being served tea by British women in civilian dress. At a jetty a number of servicemen and civilians (including a number of female nurses) board a motor launch. Onboard an RAF seaplane tender; the vessel circles a moored Catalina (Mk IB serial FP227 'E'). The Catalina taxis before taking off. View of the harbour (probably Port Victoria). A transport ship at anchor in the bay. Reel 7: (Seychelles) A small lighthouse with windsock. A swimming pool with radio mast in the background. Two naval officers leave a building. A wireless operator at work. A lorry passes along a road before stopping and a number of men dismount. Men swimming in the sea and playing with a ball in the water at Beau Vallon bay. A local fishermen attends to his nets. Two local people digging in the sand at the water's edge (cockle picking?). Two British men with a dog under a palm tree. A church (likely the Cascade Church) on Mahé. Three young local boys. Scenic shots. Men relaxing outside their billet. Interior footage in an Operations Room., three men seated at a table. The main street in Victoria with a diminutive clock tower styled after Big Ben. Three airmen visit a shop and examine the shopkeeper's wares (apparently handicrafts made from polished coconut shell). A Catalina comes in to land in the harbour. The pilot, apparently playing up for the camera, adopts a high angle of attack just before touch down and stalls onto the surface of the water. The Catalina rears several times before settling. The crew are brought ashore by a launch. Men coming ashore at the harbour. A sign reads ' RAF personnel are forbidden to bathe in this harbour'. Interior Operations Room; a man chalks information onto a blackboard. The crew of the Catalina arrive and are debriefed. Scenes from the high street in Victoria; one building is marked 'Paradis de Dames'. People leaving church; the congregation clearly includes both local people and British servicemen and other European civilians. All are wearing their 'Sunday best'. Palm trees and tortoises.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1945
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: Air Ministry, Directorate of Public Relations (Production sponsor) Royal Air Force Film Production Unit (Production company) Hughes, H R (Production individual)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Royal Air Force, 230 Squadron (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, 28 Advanced Flying Boat Base (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, 29 Advanced Flying Boat Base (regiment/service)
- Keywords: Indian Ocean (geography) Diego Garcia (geography) Seychelles (geography) Gan Island, Addu Atoll, Maldives (geography) Indian Ocean 1939-1945, Second World War (event)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 7 Footage: 5205; Running time: 58 mins
- HD Media:Yes
- Notes: Diego Garcia was the site of No. 29 Advanced Flying Boat Base, and Addu Attol the base of No. 28, both charged with maritime patrol and anti-submarine operations in the Indian Ocean. The wrecked Catalina seen in Reel 4 was ripped from its moorings by a typhoon in September 1944. Life on these Indian Ocean outposts was extensively documented by RAF photographers. See related items below. The construction of an RAF strategic airstrip on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, also in the Indian Ocean, can be seen in the film referenced below. Date somewhat ambiguous. Dopesheets are dated September 1945, presumably the date this film was received and processed at No.3 RAF Film Production Unit's HQ in Calcutta. However, a date seen on an Ops Room blackboard suggests January 1945. Further, given the oceanic distances between the Seychelles, Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago, this film must have been shot over a fairly lengthy period of time.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
ABY 113 (BUILDING A STRATEGIC RAF JUNGLE AIRFIELD ON THE COCOS ISLANDS [Allocated Title]) ABY 191 (CIVILIAN EVACUATION, RAF REGIMENT PATROLS AND KEITH PARK IN BATAVIA [Allocated Title]) JFU 362 ('T FOR TOMMY' CRASHES: 230 SQUADRON SUNDERLAND AT KUANTAN [Allocated Title]) JFU 363 (KUANTAN, MALAYA: DELIVERY OF RICE BY SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT [Allocated Title]) CF 619 (ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE FAR EAST, 1941-1945) CF 620 (ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE FAR EAST, 1941-1945) CF 628 (ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE FAR EAST, 1941-1945) CF 632 (ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE FAR EAST, 1941-1945) CF 651 (ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE FAR EAST, 1941-1945) CF 657 (AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: SHORT S.25 SUNDERLAND.)