This film is available to view online here at the Imperial War Museum website. 

 Note you can book a request online with the Imperial War Museum to view this film whilst visiting the museum.


ID Number:
IWM 842

Item Name: BRITAIN'S BIRTHRIGHT [Main]


Production Date: 1924

Production Country:
GB


Production Company:
New Era Film
British Instructional Films

The goodwill tour of the Royal Navy's special service squadron around the world, November 1923 to September 1924.

The squadron's tour takes in the principal ports of the Empire. At each port the ships of the squadron are thrown open to the locals. Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick L Field has his flag on board «HMS Hood». The second battle cruiser in the squadron is «HMS Repulse». The remaining ships in the squadron are the light cruisers «HMS Delhi», «HMS Dauntless», «HMS Dragon» and «HMS Danae» under Rear-Admiral the Honourable Sir Hubert G Brand. Brand and his light cruisers are rarely seen in the film.

An animated map shows the movement of the squadron between ports, and day-to-day scenes on board the ships are shown during the film.

(Reel 1) Shots of the «Hood» with Field on board, the «Repulse» and the «Delhi» are all shown.

On 27th November at dawn the «Hood» leaves Portsmouth harbour and joins the rest of the squadron in the Atlantic. On 8th December the squadron docks at Freetown, Sierra Leone. The locals look over the «Hood» and the sailors inspect the market-places. On 14th December the squadron sails again. The crossing the line ceremony is shown with "King Neptune".

(Reel 2) The squadron carries on to Table Bay. The Lord Mayor of Cape Town welcomes Field to the city. The flower market and memorial to Cecil Rhodes are shown. The squadron continues up the coast to Durban, where the officers meet Zulu chiefs and watch a war dance, and on to Zanzibar, reached on 12th January 1924. The Sultan, Seyyid Khalifa Bin Harub, comes on board. In Zanzibar itself the squadron's marines and sailors march past the watching crowds. Officers relax by riding camels. The squadron sails on, reaching Trincomalee, Ceylon, on 27th January. There is no ceremony, instead the locals wash the sailors' laundry.

(Reel 3) On to Penang, where Chinese schoolgirls come on board the «Hood», and to Singapore, showing the city. On the way to Australia the ships practise torpedo fire and gunnery. On 27th February they enter Fremantle harbour. The marines and sailors march through Perth. Some of the local aborigines are shown. The squadron continues around Cape Leeuwin and across the Great Australian Bight, through rough weather, and reaches Adelaide, with its parks, before going on to Melbourne on 17th March. There the Governor General, the Right Honourable Lord Forster, inspects the marines on board the «Hood» and crowds of people visit the ships.

(Reel 4) The visit to Hobart, capital of Tasmania, is briefly shown. The squadron goes on to Sydney, where Australian soldiers lead the marines and sailors, as well as members of the Veterans Association of New South Wales, past the saluting base, on which are Field, Brand, Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair (the Governor of New South Wales) and the Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce. News cameramen record the event. The light cruiser «HMAS Australia», scrapped under the 1922 Washington Naval Treaties, is scuttled at sea while the ships of the British squadron watch in salute, along with «HMAS Melbourne», «HMAS Sydney» and «HMAS Adelaide». (Although rarely seen on the film, the «Adelaide» accompanies the squadron on its tour back to Britain.) The ships continue on to New Zealand, reaching Wellington on 24th April, where the Governor General, Viscount Jellicoe, is received on board. On the following day, ANZAC day, the crews lay wreaths at the cenotaph. Mount Cook and the hot springs of Lake Rotorua are shown, as is a Maori village and its inhabitants. Having left New Zealand, the squadron on 17th May continues on to Suva, capital of Fiji, where the men watch tribal rituals, drink Kava and eat sugar cane.

(continuing onto Reel 5). The ships cross the International Date Line on 27th May, and shortly afterward call briefly at Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands. At sea the ships practise gunnery again. On 21st June they put into Victoria harbour on Vancouver Island, the capital of British Columbia. A dance is held for the locals on board the «Hood». Logging in the forests is shown. The squadron sails on to Vancouver city where the ships are reprovisioned and the sailors take shore leave in the mountains. A sailor plays with a baby black bear. 5th July the squadron sails again for San Francisco, arriving in the harbour on 7th July, and being met by the British Consul General.

(Reel 6) On leaving San Francisco the four British light cruisers break off to tour the South American ports and do not appear again on the film until its end. The battle cruisers and the «Adelaide» go through the Panama Canal and on to Jamaica, where Field is received in Kingston by a guard of the West Indies Regiment. There are views of the city. On 30th July the voyage continues on to Halifax, Nova Scotia where a children's party and funfair is held on the «Repulse». The ships go up the Saint Lawrence seaway to Quebec, showing the old town, then on to Saint John's in Newfoundland. The marines again perform a march past, and there are scenes of fish curing in the harbour. Rowing races are held between the squadron's boat crews. On 17th September the ships set off across the Atlantic, meeting up with the light cruisers just west of the British Isles. A church service is held on board the «Hood». On 28th September the «Hood», having given three cheers to the «Repulse», follows the «Delhi» into Devonport harbour for the end of the tour.

context: Remarks: considerably better than IWM 843, but probably not good enough to show to people today as entertainment. Contemporaries presumably found the sight of such exotic places more novel. It is also worth remembering, as the film itself points out, that the Zulu who dance for the ships' crews are the sons of the men who fought for Ctetawayo in 1879

Access Conditions: IWM
Black & White/Colour: B&WSilent/Sound: SilentFormat: P 1/35/ANumber of Parts: 6