2015 Photographers at War

Report by Jim Strom

Stuart Clark left Leeds College of Art and took up work as a graphics artist photographing the war effort during World War II. He joined the army and was sent to Pinewood Studios for a ‘trade test’ in order to take up a position in the newly formed Army Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU).

The AFPU was set up in 1941 to record military events in which the British and Commonwealth armies were involved. All the cameramen were selected from the ranks of the army and trained at Pinewood.

Stuart had brought along one of the cameras used – a 120 Super Ikonta still camera, which he passed around for examination. Also a film camera was used by the Unit – a Devry cine camera – the film only lasted for just over a minute! Sounds effects and commentary were added afterwards.

Stuart showed a series of images that gave a very good insight into the issues that the cameramen faced as well as illustrating many of the photographic achievements of the Unit.

As the war developed, different units were established:
No 1 Unit – based in Cairo – North African campaign;
No 2 Unit – Tunisia, Sicily and Italy;
No 9 Unit – Burma and Far East campaign.

The AFPU recorded events at the Normandy landings in June 1944 and the cameramen were amongst the first waves ashore. They also recorded events at the discovery of the Belsen concentration camp.

All photographs and film are now archived by the Imperial War Museum.

Stuart finished the evening with a short film that traced the development and work of the AFPU.

A very interesting and informative talk given with first-hand experience of photography in the midst of a war.

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