Fighting On Film: Yangtse Incident (1957)

In this week’s episode we join Richard Todd and crew besieged on China’s Yangtse River as we examine 1957’s Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst. Based on real events during the Chinese Civil War the film, directed by Michael Anderson, calls on a strong cast including William Hartnell, Akim Tamiroff, Donald Houston, Ian Bannen and a young Bernard Cribbins.

The episode is also available on all other podcast platforms, you can find them here.

Here are some stills from the film:

If you enjoy the podcast then please check out our Patreon here. Be sure to follow Fighting On Film on Twitter @FightingOnFilm, on Facebook and don’t forget to check out www.fightingonfilm.com.

Thanks for listening!

B.A.T. Gun – The Battalion Anti-Tank Gun

In this video we dive into another item from the TAB Reference Collection. An article taken from a 1955 edition of the Illustrated London News which looks at the British Army’s newest anti-tank weapon – The B.A.T Gun! The L2 B.A.T Gun was a recoilless rifle developed to replace the heavier 17pdr Anti-Tank guns then in service. The B.A.T and its successors remained in service throughout the Cold War.

Today we would consider the illustration an ‘infographic’, it was drawn up with the Ministry of Defence’s assistance by Illustrated London News‘ special artist George Horace Davis who had illustrated hundreds of similar articles including one for the PIAT.

The article, titled ‘Britain’s Latest and Most Powerful Anti-Tank Weapon’, explains not juse the operation of the new gun but also provides some data on weight and comparisons of the new 120mm HESH ammunition with that of previous conventional anti-tank weapons. Check out our video on the 2pdr anti-tank gun and the 6pdr anti-tank gun.

We have many more videos on important and interesting primary source materials in the works. If you enjoy our work please consider supporting us via Patreon for just a $1. Find out more here.

Check out videos on items from our reference collection here.

L21A1 .50 Calibre Machine Gun – 1960s Illustrated Spares List

We’re back with another video looking at an item from the TAB reference collection – an illustrated spare parts list for the L21A1. L21A1 is the British designation for the American Browning M2 .50 cal (12.7×99mm) machine gun. A past owner has written ‘Ranging’ on the cover, perhaps suggesting this booklet specifically covered the guns used by the UK’s Royal Armoured Corps in its Centurion and Chieftain tanks.

We have many more videos on important and interesting primary source materials in the works. If you enjoy our work please consider supporting us via Patreon for just a $1. Find out more here.

Check out videos on items from our reference collection here.

Fighting On Film: Strategic Air Command (1955)

Don your flight suits and climb into the cockpit with us this wee as we discuss Strategic Air Command (1955). A film that blends beautiful aerial cinematography, awe inspiring aviation engineering and blatant Cold War propaganda. We’re joined by David Schroeder the host of the Cold War Channel to discuss this early Cold War classic which gives us a window into the objectives and operations of the USAF’s nuclear bomber arm – the Strategic Air Command.

The episode is also available on all other podcast platforms, you can find them here.

Here’s some stills from the film:

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @FightingOnFilm and check out www.fightingonfilm.com

Thanks for listening!

Shoot To Live

‘Shoot to Live’ is a British Army marksmanship training pamphlet published in the late 1970s and early 1980s

Shoot To Live cover (Matthew Moss)

‘Shoot to kill’ had long been a British Army slogan, appearing in numerous training films and pamphlets. One training film from the 1970s, which features in our video, can be watched here.

A 1944 British Army manual – ‘Shoot to Kill’ (source)

But in the late 70s and early 80s a new introductory pamphlet on marksmanship filed the old slogan on its head. In the video above we take a look inside an original copy of ‘Shoot To Live’.

Below are some pages from the booklet:

Shoot To Live section on compensating for wind (Matthew Moss)
One of the more humorous illustrations from Shoot To Live, showing the loading of a magazine (Matthew Moss)
Shoot To Live’s section on proper sight alignment (Matthew Moss)

The ‘Shoot To Live’ manual is now part of our reference collection and we were able to bring this video/article thanks to the support of our Patrons. We have many more videos on important and interesting primary source materials in the works. If you enjoy our work please consider supporting us via Patreon for just a $1. Find out more here.

Fighting On Film: The War Game (1966)

This week we tackle a truly harrowing film. Arguably director Peter Watkins’ finest work, 1966’s ‘The War Game’. An anti-nuclear war film that takes Watkins’ pseudo-documentary style to its pinnacle to tell the story of what a Britain during a nuclear war might look like. Suppressed by the BBC and government the film still won an Oscar. We are joined by author and host of the Atomic Hobo podcast, Julie McDowall to discuss this very important film.  

The episode is also available on all other podcast platforms, you can find them here.

Here’s some stills from the films:

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @FightingOnFilm and check out www.fightingonfilm.com

Thanks for listening!

Unpacking 60 Years of Military History

Today we have a bit of an interesting unpacking/unwrapping video. I’ve saved up a few parcels with some new additions to the TAB reference collection and I thought I’d bring you along for the ride. The manuals we’ll be taking a look at span about 60 years of British Army doctrine and weapons. The materials range from a Hotchkiss machine gun manual from 1917 to an AFV identification handbook from the late 60s. There’s some quite interesting and rare stuff here including a 1951 provisional manual for the 3.5in rocket launcher.

These manuals and this sort of primary material is really important because we can learn how the weapons were actually intended to be used. It’s support from our Patreon supporters that enables us to pick up items like these to share in videos. So if you’d like to support our work, check out the TAB Patreon page here.

A Hill In Korea & the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of The Imjin River

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Imjin River, the Korean War battle perhaps most closely associated with the UK’s involvement in the conflict. Sadly, Korea remains a largely forgotten war and only one film has ever been made about the British Army’s experience 1956’s ‘A Hill In Korea‘. In this video we’ll discuss the battle, the super bazooka and the classic war film!

The film follows a fighting patrol which is cut off behind enemy lines and forced to fight a desperate last stand. The film borrows elements from the battle of Imjin River and the war as a whole. Today it is best known for its strong cast including Stanley Baker, Robert Shaw, Harry Andrews and George Baker and for being Michael Caine’s first film credit. Interestingly, Caine was a veteran of the war, having served with the Royal Fusiliers during his National Service. 

We recently covered the film in an episode of our Fighting On Film podcast and a scene featuring a 3.5in Rocket Launcher stood out. The patrol uses the rocket launcher against a Chinese tank, which appears to be a captured British Cromwell. The film shows the bazooka being assembled and its team moving closer, stating that to be sure of a hit they want to be just 80 yards away. This is comparatively close for a 3.5in rocket launcher, which had an effective range of 300 yards.

The Bazooka team take on the Chinese Cromwell

The 3.5in was a brand new weapon in 1951. It had been developed in the US before the start of the war and facing communist T34/85s it was rolled out to most of the UN ground forces in the theatre (alongside recoilless rifles and smaller M9A1 rocket launchers). Better known as the M20 Super Bazooka in US service urgent operational requirements saw the 3.5in R.L. replace the PIAT as the British infantry’s platoon anti-tank weapon. In the TAB reference collection we are lucky enough to have an original copy of the provisional manual for the 3.5in R.L. which was compiled during the war in 1951.

The anti-tank team who operate the 3.5in R.L. in the film

The film shows the weapon being fired twice, successfully knocking out the tank. It’s perhaps the only depiction of British troops using the 3.5in rocket launcher and certainly one of the better depictions of it in film. We don’t get to see the rocket being loaded but we do see the No.2 attaching the contact wires at the rear of the tube. The first round hits the tank’s hull while the second strikes the track and the tank rolls backwards and explodes! Once the rocket launcher team get back to the main defensive position we even see the No.1 breaking the weapon down into its too parts.

During the battle of Imjin River itself, the bazooka was put to good use by a number of units including the Gloucestershire Regiment, the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Belgian battalion. Using the weapons to knock out Chinese machine gun positions and break up the human wave assaults. During an attack on Gloster positions in the early hours of the 22nd April, Lance-Corporal Joe Farrell recalled how the Glosters blasted Chinese troops using some boulders as cover. After three days desperate fighting the 29th Infantry Brigade had lost almost a quarter of its strength, suffering over 1,000 casualties. The rest managed to fight their way out.

 Royal Northumberland Fusiliers advancing to positions on the Imjin River, April 1951, (IWM)

I felt it was important to discuss the battle on its 70th anniversary as it sadly continues to be largely forgotten. The Glosters and the men of 29th British Independent Infantry Brigade Group fought a very hard battle against massively overwhelming odds, I would definitely urge you to read more about the battle and the war itself. I would also recommend seeking out A Hill In Korea, it is a fascinating film.


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Fighting On Film: The Diary of an Unknown Soldier (1959) & The Forgotten Faces (1960)

This week we look at two of acclaimed British director Peter Watkins’ formative amateur films: The Diary of an Unknown Soldier (1959) & The Forgotten Faces (1960). Perhaps best known for his later 1964 film Culloden and 1965’s ground-breaking nuclear war film The War Game. These two early films are especially fascinating as you can see Watkin’s distinct style develop through them.

The episode is also available on all other podcast platforms, you can find them here.

Here’s some stills from the films:

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @FightingOnFilm

Thanks for listening!

Cold War British Army Threat Recognition Guide

It’s the 1980s and the British Army Of the Rhine is still stationed in West Germany facing down the USSR’s forces. The Cold War has gotten hot and the 3rd Shock Army is approaching your dugout but how do you differentiate a BTR from a BMP? This handy British Army THREAT Recognition Guide booklet gives you everything you need to know about the Soviet armour, infantry and aircraft you’re facing!

Continuing on from our earlier look at a British Army threat Recognition Guide to Iraqi Ground Forces issued during the Gulf War, we dig into the TAB reference collection again and take a look at this Threat Recognition Guide looking at Soviet air and ground forces facing the British Army of the Rhine in the 1980s.

The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) in East Germany throughout the Cold War were an ever present threat to West Germany and NATO. This recognition guide covers all of the USSR’s main battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, as well as artillery systems and some of the close support aircraft which would have accompanied the attacking Soviet forces.

The pages of the recognition guide include photographs, diagrams, basic specs and recognisable features of the various enemy vehicles. It was put together by the Intelligence Directorate of BAOR’s 1 Corps.


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