Modelmaker - Crown Film Unit and Pinewood Studios - orginal graphic copyright

crown film unit

During World War 2, the Ministry of Information in Britain took over the GPO Film Unit, and renamed it the Crown Film Unit. They made larger-scale documentaries and feature-length films, the latter being of the dramatised type with Servicemen and women playing themselves. "Target for Tonight" (Harry Watt, 1942) was one of the first commercially-successful documentaries. It illustrated processes, in this case how an RAF night-time bombing raid over Germany was actually carried out, AND showed real people.

  • Target for Tonight won a special Academy Award for best documentary
  • the film featured an RAF Wellington bomber attacking an oil storage depot in Kiel, Germany
  • the film was shot at RAF Mildenhall in 1941 with Wellington Mk.Ic, (possibly from 149 Squadron) and Avro Ansons, and a Wellington fuselage in the studio
  • filming also took place at High Wycombe in the real Bomber Command headquarters with the real head of B.C., Sir R. Peirse
  • S/L Pickard, who appears in the film, later died in the famed Mosquito attack on Amiens prison
  • in the Cinematheque Belgique Survey of 1952, director Elia Kazan listed Target for Tonight in his top ten favourite films
  • the film is approximately fifty minutes long

Crown followed this up with feature-length films such as "Coastal Command" and "Western Approaches" (Pat Jackson, 1944). We know that my grandfather worked on "Target for Tonight" and are fairly sure he worked on "Western Approaches", a colour documentary about a British merchant vessel torpedoed by a U-Boat. The film was shot in dangerous conditions akin to those shown in the film.

Squadron Leader Charles Pickard in a scene from Target for Tonight
Squadron Leader Charles 'Pick' Pickard, the pilot of the bomber "F for Freddie" from "Target for Tonight"
(many thanks to Charles Pickard's granddaughter
for this information)

Scene from Target for Tonight
Another scene from Target for Tonight,
showing the ops board

Journey Together crew photoHowever, the picture shown at left (88 Kb, JPEG) is a crew photograph from "Journey Together" (Flight. Lt. John Boulting, 1945). My grandfather can be seen on the back row, sixth from left. The RAF Film Unit was part of the Crown Film Unit. "Journey Together" was a feature film made in semi-documentary style. It follows three aspiring pilots, played by Richard Attenborough, Jack Watling and David Tomlinson, through training in Britain, America and Canada. Most of the cast were in active service with the RAF at the time (including Sebastian Shaw, who played Anakin Skywalker in the original Star Wars films).

Some useful links:

- Military Aviation Movie List
- Target for Tonight on DVD from &
- BFI Crown Film Unit page

Ministry of Food - Infestation Division

The set of photos shown below appears to be a model set of shops and offices, shown from a number of different angles. The photos are stamped on the rear with "MINISTRY OF FOOD, INFESTATION DIVISION, 58-62 HIGH HOLBORN, LONDON, W.C.1". They also have handwritten pencil letters D, F, H, J and K. According to the National Archives, in 1942 most infestation functions were transferred to the Infestation Division of the Ministry of Food. During the war the Ministry of Food was itself responsible for the control of infestation within its food buffer depots, while local authorities retained responsibility elsewhere. In September 1947 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries resumed all responsibility for infestation control, taking over the Infestation Division from the Ministry of Food as the Infestation Control Division (although the same site also states 1949 as a handover date). This appears to put these photos within the period 1942 to 1949.

According to "Propaganda and mass persuasion" (Nicholas John Cull, David Holbrook Culbert, David Welch), the Ministry of Food was one of the largest spenders on publicity during the second world war. It issued many leaflets, press advertisements and short films, explaining rationing and providing advice on recipes and making supplies last longer. It is possible that the model below was created for one of the short documentary films. Research continues as to the specifics. Click on the images to see the large versions.

Model set - Ministry of Food Infestation Division Model set - Ministry of Food Infestation Division Model set - Ministry of Food Infestation Division
Model set - Ministry of Food Infestation Division Model set - Ministry of Food Infestation Division