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Title:THE GERMAN RETREAT TO ST QUENTIN [Main Title]
Film Number:IWM 121
Summary: The British pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, Western Front, March 1917.
Description: I. (Reel 1) Craters left by the Germans in order to hinder pursuit and the flooding from the Omignon River at Caulaincourt. The wrecked sugar factory at Jeancourt. A battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment resting. A mounted patrol coming to a village, possibly 1/1st Surrey Yeomanry at Vermand. Officers inspect the wreckage of an Albatros DIII, no 2234/16, north of St Quentin. (This aircraft was shot down on April 8, 1917 by Lieutenant A de Laage de Meux in his Nieuport Scout of Esc N124; the pilot, Lieutenant d R Roaland Nauck of Jasta 6, was killed and 2234 was given the British "capture number" G21). Scenes of wreckage and German prisoners being gathered. (Reel 2) A cyclist and mounted patrol at Roisel. A detachment of pontoon wagons moves out of Etreillers.
II. The film is broken here by events on 15 May. King Albert of Belgium and Prince Alexander of Teck visit Fourth Army headquarters at Villers Carbonnel. A day later, with Generals Sir Henry Rawlinson and Sir Hubert Gough, they visit Pozières and Mouquet Farm, and inspect an Australian guard of honour led by Lieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood. On 15 May the King and the Prince inspect 2nd Guards Brigade at Curlu, and are met by its corps commander, Lieutenant-General the Earl of Cavan.
III. The film continues again with patrols of British and Indian Cavalry of 4th Cavalry Division entering another village, possibly Vraignes. The Cavalry patrols bring in German prisoners. (Reel 3) More soldiers, including a Highland Light Infantry battalion, are ordered forward. Men of the Leicestershire Regiment hold a trench. A comic acted sequence of British soldiers holding a position wearing gasmasks. The men play cards, and two officers discover that they cannot smoke in the masks. British and French soldiers rest in the fortified quarry at Le Verguier. A battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment holds a trench near Saint Quentin. The film ends with troops in silhouette marching along a road near Arras.
Production Details: War Office Cinema Committee (Production sponsor)
Topical Film Company (Production company)
Jury, William F (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations: Albert I, King of Belgium (person)
Alexander, Prince of Teck (person)
Rawlinson, Henry Seymour (person)
Gough, Hubert de la Poer (person)
Birdwood, William Riddell (person)
Cavan, Frederick (Lord) (person)
British Army, Army 4 (regiment/service)
British Army, Australian Imperial Force (regiment/service)
Australian Army, Australian Imperial Force (regiment/service)
British Army, Div, Guards (regiment/service)
British Army, Bde, Guards, 2 (regiment/service)
British Army, Yeomanry, Surrey (?) (regiment/service)
British Army, cyclists (regiment/service)
British Army, Leicestershire Regiment (regiment/service)
British Army, Div, Cavalry, 4 (regiment/service)
Indian Army, Div, Cavalry, 1 (regiment/service)
British Army, Highland Light Infantry (regiment/service)
British Army, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (regiment/service)
French Army, [infantry] (regiment/service)
Keywords: aircraft, German - combat: Albatros DIII & [captured] & [wrecked] (object name)
demolition, German - denial (object name)
equipment, British - personal: gasmask (small box respirator) (object name)
operations, British military - sortie (object name)
prisoners of war, German - movement (object name)
propaganda, British - inflammatory: [+] (object name)
destruction, French: flood (object name)
transport, British military - animal: pontoon bridge wagon (object name)
recreation, British military - casual (object name)
Omignon (River), France (geography)
Caulaincourt, Aisne, France (geography)
Jeancourt, Aisne, France (geography)
Vermand, Aisne, France (geography)
Roisel, Somme, France (geography)
Villers-Carbonnel, Somme, France (geography)
Vraignes, Somme, France (geography)
Pozières, Somme, France (geography)
Mouquet Farm, Somme, France (geography)
Saint-Quentin, Aisne, France (geography)
Étreillers, Aisne, France (geography)
Arras, Pas-de-Calais, France (geography)
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: 3
Footage: 2703 ft; Running time: 46 mins
Notes: Date: the release date given is for the appearance of the film overseas. It would have appeared in Britain before this.
Summary: information on the Albatros crash taken from The Jasta Pilots by Norman Franks, Frank Bailey, and Rick Duiven.
Remarks: the captions are violent in tone compared to the usual British practice. However, this is a well-made, well-captioned, extremely interesting and imaginative propaganda film. It is marred by the scenes of King Albert, obviously added as a makeweight. Unfortunately, from comparison with the photographs taken, most of the scenes were probably filmed about a month after the German retreat and do not depict the actual British pursuit.