This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: ABY 93).


Reel 1: A carpenter at work among palm trees. An armourer carries a Browning machine gun. Close-up of carpenter. Close-up of armourer. An airman works on a wooden oar. Close-up of this. Footage from an RAF high-speed launch at sea; looking out over the water and watching the wake of the launch's powerful engines. Looking out from the bow of the launch. Spray kicked up by the bow. Passing a moored buoy. Shadow cast on the spray of one of the launch's gun turrets and RAF ensign. White water behind the launch. Working party onboard a launch. Man scraping the companion ladder. Close-up of this. Hauling up the anchor line. Working on the radio aerial. An armourer reams the barrel of a Browning machine gun. Local men fell a palm tree. Two angles of a wireless operator and a telephonist in a tent receiving a message; the wireless operator gets up and hurries off. An airman uses a small hammer to beat a piece of metal, suspended from a tree for use as an alarm. Reverse angle of airman sounding the alarm. Local men felling a tree with ropes; the tree crashes to the ground and the men dash to get clear. Distant shot of two men getting into a rowboat. A local fisherman, presumably a Tamil, casts his net several times and hauls it in. A closer shot of the fisherman hauling in. A tented camp amongst palm trees. Second shot of tents among trees. Close-up on the entrance to a tent; a man with a towel emerges. Two RAF Air Sea Rescue launches moored side-by-side. A two-masted schooner passes in the background. Another view of the vessel with an anchor in the foreground.

Reel 2: An airman emerges from a tent, yawns, and stretches. Tented camp. Two men washing and shaving in the open on the waterfront. A third man joins them and pours water from a can into a simple basin. The man vigorously washes his face. Interior of a tent; a tilt down from a small Hindu statuette on a bedside table to a collection of photographs. One of the photographs is of a woman, presumably the sleeping airman's sweetheart, to whom the camera pans. The airman wakes, sits up and stretches. A palm tree; tilt down to a patrolling RAF sentry armed with Sten submachine gun (carbine on the dopesheet). Second shot of the sentry framed by an anchor at the base of shot. An airman demonstrates a knot. Series of close-up reaction shots of three airmen. Locals pass by carrying heavy-looking loads on their heads. Local fishermen tending to their boats, which are mostly narrow canoe-like vessels. A boat comes in. A nicely composed shot of a young local boy standing by the prow of a fishing boat and looking out to sea. A local fisherman mending his nets. A church. Local Christians praying at a small grotto, including a woman, a man, and a woman with a child. The man crosses himself. Waves gently breaking on the shore. A fine shot of a low sun shining through trees. At the tented camp seen earlier airmen emerge from the tents and run towards the waterfront. Close-up of running feet. Shot of men running down a jetty towards a rowboat, framed by a buoy in the foreground. The men board the boat. The last man, an officer, gets in and the boat is pushed off. The men start rowing out to the waiting high speed launch. View from onboard the boat. Coming alongside the launch. The officer boards first, followed by the rest of the crew. The launch casts off.

Reel 3: Shot from launch of an aircraft in the distance, probably a Supermarine Walrus amphibian. The launch approaches a dinghy and pulls it in. The 'survivors' come aboard. The survivors have a restorative cigarette and the Medical Orderly pours them some doubtless equally restorative brandy. Medical Orderly cross-decking from one launch to another and going below. A large schooner passes by. On its side is written in English script '<>'. Two launches seen from the rear; one of them identifiable as HSL 92, seen with its bilges pumping. An extremely brief glimpse of a Supermarine Walrus low overhead. A launch passes at speed. Various views of launches at sea. A good view of a Walrus passing low and slow. Interior shot of the bridge, unfortunately rather dimly lit and indistinct, of throttles being pushed forwards. Similarly dim and indistinct shot of the helmsman at the wheel. Men on deck putting on lifejackets. Men below decks. Badly shadowed footage of food being cooked under a tarpaulin. Interior shot of the bridge of a launch. Locals walking past palm trees. A fishing net hung between trees. A palm hut. A local man on a raft propelled with a long pole like a punt. Interior shot of a tent; an airman runs out. Officers go into a tent with a sign on a nearby tree saying 'HQ'. Close-up of the sign. Dim footage of men eating. View of a launch's propeller wash. An RAF ensign (a Union flag in the canton and an RAF roundel opposite on a sky blue field) flies from the mast of a launch. View peering over the gunwale. An airman hoists the ensign. Man detaches the companion ladder from the side of the launch and stows it in the launch's dinghy. A small sailing boat passes. The water at the stern begins to churn as the engines start. The water foams as the engines throttle up. A crewman scans the horizon with a pair of binoculars. Man on radio. A gunner traverses his turret. A local fisherman casts his net and hauls it in. Airmen in swimming trunks messing around on a raft. One does a somersault into the water. A distant shot of the raft.

Scenes showing camp life and operations by RAF 236 Air Sea Rescue Unit at Kayts, Northern Province, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).


Much of this footage appears, in an edited form with sound, in the RAF's in-house newsreel 'The Gen' No. 15. See related items.



  • LIFE WITH AN AIR SEA RESCUE UNIT (15/12/1944) (Allocated)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
29 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
2577 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Air Ministry Directorate of Public Relations
Hughes, H R (Flight Sergeant)
Production company
Royal Air Force Film Production Unit



Production Organisations