INLAND WATER TRANSPORT ON THE RIVER CHINDWIN (4/1945)
This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: JFU 198).
Reel 1: A Ramp Cargo Lighter (RCL) being launched. A man paints an identity number (N-226) onto a Higgins barge with a stencil. An engine is lowered into a Unicraft tug. A Higgins barge launching. An Indian Engineer marks another vessel completed on a progress chart. Loading drums of POL (Petrol, Oil and Lubricants) onto a Higgins barge. Dumps of engineer stores. A bulldozer at work building a road near new oil storage tanks with the river harbour in the background. An ammunition dump. Men at…
Reel 1: A Ramp Cargo Lighter (RCL) being launched. A man paints an identity number (N-226) onto a Higgins barge with a stencil. An engine is lowered into a Unicraft tug. A Higgins barge launching. An Indian Engineer marks another vessel completed on a progress chart. Loading drums of POL (Petrol, Oil and Lubricants) onto a Higgins barge. Dumps of engineer stores. A bulldozer at work building a road near new oil storage tanks with the river harbour in the background. An ammunition dump. Men at work on a road. A low-loader carries a small railway locomotive (a tank engine). Jetties. Signals and ordnance stores are put aboard RCLs and barges. The locomotive is carefully loaded aboard an RCL. Road scenes near Kalewa, emphasising the difficulty of road communications in Burma with dusty roads, jungle, obstacles, burnt-out vehicles etc. A sign reads 'Main Road - Ye-U'. Shots from a river craft on the Chindwin. The pilot gives directions to the helmsman. A member of the crew checks the depth of the river with a pole. A local boat carrying Burmese civilians draws alongside. Local children in the boat. The crew barter with the Burmese civilians.
Reel 2: A tractor crane is used to position the stern section of an RCL. Rivets are heated in a portable forge before being hammered home by Indian Engineers. The bow, stern and central sectons of a Unicraft barge are riveted. A vessel is launched and more prefabricated sections are placed onto the now-vacated slipway for assembly. Various further construction scenes with engineers screwdriving, welding, painting, and riveting. Close-ups of riveting and the use of a power drill. An RCL undergoing speed trials on the river. Work on a Unicraft tug. A bow section for an RCL is positioned. Placing an RCL centre section in place. Launching a Unicraft tug and barge. Deckwork on an RCL.
Film showing the construction and launching of river vessels on the Chindwin at Kalewa, Burma, by men of 5 Inland Water Transport Group, Indian Engineers.
A very fine film, well shot and at times highly atmospheric. Unfortunately, however, while the (unusally detailed and accurate) dopesheet describes the shooting of 3,900 feet of raw material, only 1,500 or so appear to have survived. The dopesheet is marked '1,600 feet only received', implying that some 23 reels of film were lost in transit from the frontline.
The dopesheet includes an unusually long narrative preamble that is in parts surprisingly lyrical and melodramatic. For example: 'The air round Kalewa is full of dust and and resounds to the sound of a thousand hammers. Close your eyes and you might be in Clydebank or Jarrow, or Barrow; open them and there amid the Burmese fishermen and their lovely river is a shipyard of unique variety'.
Appendix 16 of the official history gives the following details of the various classes of barge. The steel Unicraft tug and barge were designed after a 1942 visit to India by Major-General D J McMullen, Director of Transportation at the War Office. It was designed on the 'Meccano' principle and could be transported by road or rail for assembly in-theatre. The RCL and Higgins barge were North American designs (Canadian insignia can be seen at various points in this film) for use on inland waterways and had a load capacity of 25 and 60-70 tons respectively. The 'Rodda Craft' and 'Burley boat' were also used. From 1 February to 30 May 1945 total tonnage carried by Inland Water Transport forward of Kalewa was 43,533 tons at a peak of 662 tons per day.
The Army commander, Lieutenant-General Sir William Slim, also conceived of using armed vessels on the Chindwin to disrupt Japanese water transport. To this end the Chindwin Flotilla was built, the launching and details of which can be found in the related items below.
- INLAND WATER TRANSPORT ON THE RIVER CHINDWIN (4/1945) (Allocated)
- Running Time:
- 18 minutes
- Film Gauge (Format):
- 1553 ft
- Production Countries:
- War Office Directorate of Public Relations
- Govan, H W (Sergeant)
- Production company
- SEAC Film Unit