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Title:BAKU - THE OCCUPATION BY 'DUNSTERFORCE' 17TH AUGUST TO 14TH SEPTEMBER 1918 [Allocated Title]
Film Number:IWM 73
Summary: The occupation by the British 'Dunsterforce' expedition of Baku in southern Russia, August-September 1918.
Description: (Reel 1) Russian, or possibly Armenian, soldiers assisted by British troops to fire a 76.2mm Russian field gun. A wounded soldier on a stretcher is loaded into a lorry. A group of Armenian soldiers, one of whom is very young, grouped with a British soldier round a 4-inch Russian howitzer. British troops marching through Baku, possibly 7th Battalion, the North Staffordshire Regiment on 17 August. A Russian light gun being fired from a railway flatcar. A panorama of the town, with a British soldier semaphoring and men in Russian Army uniform at rest. A British camp, showing Armenians firing Russian 152mm howitzers under instruction. A British doctor gives local recruits a medical inspection. Local women collect new clothing. A column of civilian refugees, many mounted on asses, moving through the mountains. The exterior of the mosque at Baku, and the light gun firing from the railway flatcar, interspersed with more of the refugee column. Recruits at Baku being taught drill interspersed with views of the mosque. (Note that some of the 'British' drill instructors may be Australians.) Refugees board a ship at the quayside. Its name, written in Cyrillic characters, is given as SAGA on the bow, with HAMED-AGA written across below the bridge. The oil wells at Binagadi near Baku. More of the refugees, possibly Armenians who had fled across the Assadabad Pass to Baku. (Reel 2) Russian troops, in uniform, drilling and posing in the main square at Baku. More scenes of the 152mm howitzers firing. A squad of local recruits being inspected by the British and taught how to march in step by an Australian officer. The refugee train still moving through the mountains. At a military camp a British soldier bangs an alarm and the Armenian troops come rushing out and form up. Horses are lifted on board one of the ships using a sling. Irregular troops gather round their leader.
Production Details: Ministry of Information (Production sponsor)
International Film Service (Production company)
Varges, Ariel L (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations: British Army, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force (regiment/service)
British Army, Dunsterforce (regiment/service)
British Army, Staffordshire Regiment, North, 7th Battalion (regiment/service)
Imperial Russian Army (regiment/service)
Armenian organisation & [Baku defence force] (regiment/service)
Baku defence force (regiment/service)
Keywords: training, British military (object name)
training, Russian military (object name)
training, Armenian military (object name)
weapons, Russian - gun: 76.2mm field gun (object name)
casualties, Russian wounded - battlefield (object name)
weapons, Russian - gun: 4-inch howitzer (object name)
weapons, Russian - gun: light (railway mounted) (object name)
communications, British military - direct: semaphore (object name)
weapons, Russian - gun: 152mm howitzer (object name)
medical, British military - preventative (object name)
recruitment, Russian military (object name)
refugees, Russian - movement (object name)
refugees, Armenian - movement (object name)
buildings, Russian - religious: mosque (object name)
ships, Russian civilian - refugee: Saga (object name)
industry, Russian - primary: [+] (object name)
intervention, British/Russian, governmental (object name)
Russia & Baku, Azerbaijan (geography)
Russia & Binagadi, Azerbaijan <oil wells> (geography)
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 2
Footage: 1345 ft; Running time: 23 mins
Notes: Summary: 'Dunsterforce' was assembled from volunteer specialists in the forces of the British Empire to train and organise a local defence force at Baku against possible German or Bolshevik Russian attack on the oilfields nearby. Dunsterville's own account does not mention a cameraman. The Australian War Records Section papers confirm that Varges took the film, but photograph Q 24909 shows Dunsterville himself holding a still camera and it is possible that other still photographs were taken by officers of the expedition rather than by Varges.
Remarks: this film has every appearance of being genuine, and as such is absolutely priceless as a historical record of a very little-known event. It is noteworthy that, in contrast to the attitudes of 1914, although this was a highly secret mission a film camera and still cameras were taken along deliberately to record it for posterity.
Series continuity: there is no film held as IWM 74