This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: JFU 164).


An edited production by the SEAC Film Unit (British) shows how 'SEAC', the newspaper of South East Asia Command, is produced and distributed to troops in forward areas.

Opening shot shows scattered copies of 'SEAC'. Headlines include 'Stilwell Cuts Mogaung Road', 'Chinese Score Two Victories', 'Day Bombers Over Poland' and 'Fierce Battle For Velletri'. Title 'Frontline Newspaper' superimposed over the newspapers, followed by 'Produced by SEAC Film Unit (British)'. Scenes of men operating deep in the jungle, fording rivers and manning a Vickers machine gun. A city street in Calcutta. The offices of 'The Statesman' newspaper. Writers or editors at work. A man speaks on a telephone. Another man, wearing a naval shirt, appears to be a cartoonist. An Indian female typist. A teleprinter (?) in operation. Camera looks directly at a pile of newspapers; more are dropped on top. The papers are the Hampshire Telegraph and Post, the News Chronicle ('1000 US Heavies Out Third Day Running'), the Daily Mirror ('Hun Expects Twin Blow'), Cardiff Times ('Germans in Crimea Blockaded'), Belfast Telegraph, Daily Herald, Daily Telegraph, Glasgow Herald, Daily Express ('Sebastopol Rout Turns Into Massacre' and 'British Fight 60 Miles From Mandalay') and the Daily Mail. An editor selects a photo and pastes it down. An illustration under bright lights (for drying?). An Indian man operates a mechanical engraver presumably for forming new type faces or logo designs. Type is set. A large press opens and the type, now set in the form of a large semi-cylindrical piece of metal, is taken out and set onto a roller. Copies of SEAC coming off the press. Indian staff sorting the papers. A British man wearing Lieutenant's pips and 'SWB' (South Wales Borderers?) on his epaulettes is joined by an Indian man with 'IAC' (Indian Armoured Corps?) and a junior but uncertain rank badge on his epaulettes. A mail sack marked 'SEAC Newspaper' is put onto a lorry which drives away. At an airfield the sacks are put aboard an Avro Anson transport. A ground crewman hand cranks an engine and the aircraft is seen taxiing, taking off and in flight. The sacks are unloaded. A small sack is marked 'SEAC TR/45'. A jeep, laden with newspapers, pulls up near a group of men who crowd around it. Men happily reading and being entertained by a cartoon. Copies are distributed to hospital patients in bed. Back in the jungle a mortarman adjusts his weapon's sights. Two men carry a mortar tripod down a very muddy slope. Men and mules walking in the jungle. Parachute supply canisters dropping. Men watching expectantly. Supplies dropping with a brief view from inside the aircraft. A supply bundle containing newspapers is opened. Copies distributed. Men enjoying their newspaper and looking at an illustration showing central Burma. Another city scene in Calcutta. A building named 'Wellesley House'. Interior footage; a photo editor places a 'Phoenix' banner in the corner of a photograph of a bare-chested, heavily tattooed white soldier with a slung Thompson submachine gun. A man leafs through a copy of 'Phoenix' which is richly illustrated with photos. Repeated footage of the Anson. Portraits of men reading. End title and fade to black.


Jungle footage seems likely to have been taken during one of the Chindit expeditions, probably Operation Longcloth in 1943, but as there is no dopesheet for this film it is impossible to say with certainty.

'SEAC', the four-page newspaper of South East Asia Command, was run by the Fleet Street editor Frank Owen, formerly of the Evening Standard, and first published on 10 January 1944. It was enormously popular and a massive success, running to 852 editions with the last being published in Singapore on 15 May 1946. In his memoirs General Slim describes SEAC as 'the best wartime journal I have seen. It - and Frank Owen - made no mean contribution to our morale'.

As no dopesheet survives for this film details as to its production are unclear. However it is obviously a near-complete item, with only the repeated Anson footage suggesting this is not the final cut. Presumably a voice-over would also have been recorded, though this appears not to have survived. Given the specificity of its topic it was probably intended for screening in camp cinemas in rear areas.

Date of this film is uncertain, but assuming the newspapers seen are recent editions, the references to the Crimea and Sebastapol (Sevastapol) suggest the Spring of 1944 as Sevastapol fell on 9 May 1944 after a month-long siege that ended in a botched evacuation attempt by German 17th Army. The '60 Miles from Mandalay' headline probably refers to operations on the Shwebo plain, or to the crossing of the River Irrawaddy and would imply a date before mid-March 1944. The fact that only one headline obviously relates to the Far East may also help explain the need for a newspaper like SEAC in the first place.



Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
10 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
811 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
War Office Directorate of Public Relations
Production company
SEAC Film Unit



Production Organisations