This film is held by the BFI (ID: 21304).


Colonial troops in England for the Victory Parade on 8 June 1946.

Colonial troops arrive in Britain for the Victory Parade. First, 'officers and men of the great West African Frontier Force' arrive at Liverpool on the liner Mauretania. The men are shown laughing and performing for the camera. Further ships arrive 'with men and women from every country of the Empire', including Mauritius, Seychelles, Aden and 'all the colonial territories from East or Central Africa'. This includes the men of the regimental band of the King's African Rifles, who walk past the camera. Further colonial troops arrive at Portsmouth from Fiji and Tonga, followed by those from Gibraltar, Cyprus, Malta GC and Palestine. The newly arrived soldiers of the 81st West African Division then play drums and dance. Representatives from Borneo, Hong Kong, and Malaya arrive on the Orontes. Included in the party is a group from Sarawak, who 'had fought against the Japanese throughout their long and cruel occupation of the country'. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, C.H. Hall MP and Arthur Creech Jones MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, visit the colonial troops at their camp, before a selection of colonial troops attend a tea party at the Colonial Office, at which the Prime Minister Clement Atlee is also present.

The troops then take a tour of London - viewing the Victoria Memorial, Buckingham Palace, talking to a policeman, crossing Westminster Bridge and seeing Big Ben - before attending the Epsom Derby. The troops mingle with the crowds as Airborne wins in the presence of the Royal Family. Next, the King's African Rifles Band play to crowds in Edinburgh - 'among them some of their fellow countrymen who are studying at the University' - before the film shows the troops relaxing at the camp and preparing for the parade. The parade begins with the Royal procession. Intercut with shots of Churchill and Atlee, the film shows the 'wonderful array of mechanical devices' used within the war, and then shows the men and women of the Dominions. Representatives from India and Burma parade, followed by 'people from the colonial Empire' led by the African contingent 'in honour of their grand fighting record'. A lengthy sequence shows troops from each country walking past the King: troops of Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Gambia and the band of the King's African Rifles. Further troops follow from Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Zanzibar and Somaliland, and then from Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malaya and the West Indies. Then come Fiji, Mauritius, Malay Islands, Palestine, the Seychelles, Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland and finally in the 'place of honour at the rear came the indomitable island of Malta GC'. The parade continues with members of the Royal Navy, the Civil Defence forces, and women from the nursing services. The film concludes with the national anthem as the King salutes.



As Wendy Webster noted, several film versions were made of the Victory Parade on 8 June 1946 – including films by Castleton-Knight Productions, Chelsea Colour Films, and British Movietone News – and the BBC reopened its television service with a two-hour broadcast of the ceremony (Webster, 2005, 59). However, the Colonial Film Unit’s production differs in catering exclusively for overseas audiences.

In an editorial in September 1946 Colonial Cinema commented that ‘all the reports we have received from overseas about Victory Parade confirm the opinion of those who saw it in London before its distribution. Colonial audiences were delighted to see their compatriots so well covered, and there are calls for many additional copies for wider showing’. The editorial suggested that ‘the film will remain a valuable documentary of the historic parade’ and added that ‘there is little doubt that supplementary films dealing in more detail with the activities of the contingents in each area will prove equally popular’ (Colonial Cinema, September 1946, 47).

Under the title ‘Victory March’, these additional films comprised of four films made for East Africa, West Africa, the Middle East and the Far East and were intended to ‘give the maximum possible coverage to the contingents from the territories’. Colonial Cinema noted though that it was not possible ‘to give as much as one would like to any particular territory’ because of ‘the technical exigencies of cutting … so if the coverage should seem meagre in some respects, it is not by design, but because circumstances prevent it being as full as we should like’ (Colonial Cinema, September 1946, 68). 

Victory Parade was exhibited throughout Africa, and on occasion in unusual exhibition sites. For example, Colonial Cinema mentions the ‘film of the London Victory Parade gaining great applause’ when put on in the prisons of Freetown, Sierra Leone (Colonial Cinema, September 1947, 64).

Victory Parade shows the camps at which approximately 18,000 troops were housed (The Times, 6 April 1946, 4). Areas of Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and Kensington Gardens were all closed to the public in the weeks leading up the parade, with a number of dignitaries visiting the camps – including the King and the Royal Family who visited Kensington Gardens two days before the parade. The colonial contingent at the parade was expected to be ‘more than 1,400 strong’ and The Times subsequently reported on their involvement within the parade (The Times, 3 May 1946, 3). ‘Hundreds of men and women from the Colonial Empire followed’, the paper reported, ‘their khaki and the swing of their arms the symbols of their common allegiance and discipline. Every type of crown government was represented, many stages of civilization and independence, years of training, education and example’ (The Times, 10 May, 9).

Contemporary reports emphasised the camaraderie amongst the troops and this was also noted by one of the African soldiers who wrote about his visit to London for the parade. T.K. Impahim, from the Gold Coast, suggested that his experiences in London shaped his attitude towards his own country. ‘I had stayed in England and I had experienced the treatment the English people gives us in our own country and over here. There was tremendous difference’. Impahim argued that in England ‘I was on equal terms with my fellow soldiers… and when I came back to my own country to be discriminated against by this very white man, it was very annoying’. These experiences, he suggested, encouraged him to ‘join together and fight for independence because if we get our independence, we will be in a position to change so many things’ (Israel, 1987, 167).



Victory Parade is not only a celebration of a united imperial effort during the war, but also a call for continued imperial co-operation in peace. This is evident in the film’s final lines, as the commentator promotes this continued unity – ‘the men and women of the Commonwealth march side by side in victory as they toiled together in war’ – and states that ‘united in the mother country, they look forward to their common progress in calmer days to come’.

The film presents London and ‘the mother country’ as ‘the heart of the Empire’ and, as with a number of Colonial Film Unit productions, such as An African in London (1941) or Nurse Ademola (1943), it depicts Africans within London, and thus within ‘the heart of the Empire’. The troops are welcomed into British culture, for example attending a tea party, and when Africans perform in Edinburgh, they do so not only to an applauding British audience, but also to a few Africans ‘who are studying at the University’. This highlights not only the recognition and appreciation of the British for Africa, but also, in the depiction of African students, shows the development and establishment of Africans within British life. The film clearly encourages the overseas audiences to identify with their fellow countrymen on screen, in particular by showing the arrival by ship of each representative in England and their activities in camp and away from the public parade.

However, the earlier quote from T.K. Impahim, a Gold Coast soldier attending the parade, suggests that the victory parade, while bringing together disparate groups within the Empire, paradoxically served to highlight the inequality experienced within the colonies. This may also be true of the film itself, which depicts a vision of the Empire which may be far removed from the experiences of many watching the film. The film clearly sought to promote a message of unity and camaraderie across races – the countries ‘fought united for the common good’ and ‘realised anew the loyalty that binds them in unity together’. It uses repeated images of the Royal family to represent Britain, and emphasises the acceptance of the colonial troops within this image. At the Derby, attended by the Royals, the commentary explains that ‘of course, the colonial visitors were invited to go along’. The troops also attend parties with the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Prime Minister. Yet, for those viewing this idealised representation in their own countries, the film may rather emphasise the inequalities they experience at home. Thus while the film’s message may be one of unity, its representation of this ideal may conversely encourage its audiences to seek change at home.

Finally, a comparison with one of the other film records of the parade indicates the extent to which this film was tailored to its overseas audience. For example, the British Movietone News version focuses extensively on the dignitaries, shows the ‘pride of place’ assumed by the Americans, highlights that the ‘biggest cheer’ came for ‘our own’ men and offers only the briefest of mentions of the colonial troops: ‘then from the Empire, men from India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa’. In this film made for British audiences, the colonial troops are barely a footnote. Thus, while there are numerous versions of the victory parade, the Colonial Film Unit production differs both in catering specifically for overseas audiences and in emphasising the experience of the colonial troops in England.

Tom Rice (September 2008)


Works Cited

Colonial Cinema, September 1946.

Colonial Cinema, September 1947.

Israel, Adrienne M., ‘Measuring the War Experience: Ghanaian Soldiers in World War II’, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1, March 1987, 159-168.

‘Park Camps for V Day Troops’, The Times, 6 April 1946, 4.

‘Victory Day Plans’, The Times, 3 May 1946, 3.

'Victory Celebrations: Special Supplement’, The Times, 10 May 1946, 9.

‘Victory Parade’, accessed at the National Archives, INF 6/44.

Webster, Wendy, Englishness and Empire 1939 – 1965 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).




Technical Data

Running Time:
21 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
1905 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain
Production Company
Colonial Film Unit