This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: JFU 552).


Reel 1 Part 1, shot by Sergeant Wilson at Dalla dockyard, Rangoon: shot of the name 'Noel K Adam' above the paddlewheel of a steamer with thick black smoke billowing from a funnel. Closer shot of the funnel with smoke. Wider shot of the Noel K Adam moving off. Moving away. Wide shot showing Noel K Adam on the Rangoon river with buildings behind; camera pans to follow the vessel. Wide shot shows a cargo ship at anchor in the river with lighters or barges alongside and a small local boat in the midground. From a moving boat the camera passes a barge laden with prefabricated boat parts with a wooden boat, the MFV 152, tied up alongside. Rounding the stern of the barge. Indian Engineers (carrying equipment?) amongst prefabricated sections; camera pans to incomplete boats under construction. Indian Engineers working on a boat on a slipway. Wide shot of two barges laden with parts; they appear to be numbered Z9 and Z1. Pan of wrecked vessels, apparently scuttled by the Japanese; camera moves from a simple single-funnelled steamer to a large empty cargo barge. Wide shot of beached barges with larger vessels in the background. Pan across a slipway to a barge on stocks. Pan across slipway with people working in shallow water to a barge and a steamer with a deep draught. Closer shot (longer lens) showing people at work on the steamer. Men at work. Pan from the riverbank with local people and many narrow local boats to larger civilian sailing barges. Scenic shot showing 'the morning sun catch[ing] the ripples as the tide ebbs on the Rangoon river' (from the dopesheet). Long pan of the Dalla dockyard settling on a warehouse which is marked 'Irrawaddy Flotilla Company Ltd/Incorporated in Scotland/Dalla dockyard'. Closer shot of the warehouse. In a foundry, presumably on the premises, two local metalworkers prepare a mould for the casting of a shaft. Molten metal is poured into a mould. Closer shot of metal being poured from a foundry ladle. Metal pours from a furnace into a ladle before one of the works stops the flow. Man at work on a lathe (this shot taken at 8 frames per second and so the man's movement appears unnatural). At a saw mill a piece of timber moves slowly across a table saw. Repeat shot of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company warehouse. A Burmese labourer at work with a chisel near the helm of a tug. A barge under repair with a nearby army generator providing electrical power. On deck with Indian Engineers and civilians. Using a power drill on deck. Wide shot of men at work on the vessel's propeller. Closer shot. Another shot of the table saw at the saw mill. Two beached steamers with men working in between. [Sergeant Wilson's slate seen balanced on an anchor.] Japanese prisoners of war at work improving a slipway; an armed Gurkha soldier walks towards them. Two shots of Japanese personnel at work. Indian Engineers assembling a barge from prefabricated parts. A crane lifts a bow section with men at work in the foreground. The section is positioned. Wide shot with the bow section in place. Wide shot of a man at work in a factory building; the roof is almost completely missing but the building apparently has power ('the wheels are still turning in the ruins of the workshop').

Reel 1 Part 2 shot by Sergeant Harris at Prome: A stationary train laden with sacks of rice. Series of shots showing heavy sacks of rice being unloaded. A sack is pushed down a chute made of corrugated metal towards the Irrawaddy riverbank. Shot looking down the chute as a sack slides down to waiting troops. Series of shots taken from the riverbank showing sacks sliding down chutes. Two shots showing sacks being placed over men's shoulders and carried away. Sacks are put onto a barge. The paddlesteamer Myra J Adam at full steam on the river. Barges are tied onto either side of the Myra J Adam. The paddlesteamer moves away with the barge attached alongside. The steamer in the distance.

Reel 2: Pan over a large dump of rice sacks to the riverbank with chutes in operation and waiting barges. Close-up of a soldier's hands as spilt rice ('the food of Burma') runs through his fingers. Sacks of rice down the chutes. Rice loaded onto barges. A small tug sets out. Small barges or tugs in midstream. The Myra J Adam (?) in midstream. Wide shot of the general scene on the riverbank. The paddlesteamer. Sacks are collected from the chutes. Indian troops pushing sacks of rice down the chutes. A barge, marked 'L7' moves off under tow. Indian soldiers amuse themselves by riding sacks of rice down a chute. Sacks are put aboard a large barge. Closer shot with longer lens. Myra J Adam underway. Views from a vessel on the river. Long lens shot of tug and a barge, with men apparently at work raising the anchor. Myra J Adam with barge alongside. View of the riverside with chutes, barges etc. Water at the stern of the cameraman's vessel.

Shot at the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company's Dalla dockyard on the Rangoon river, and at Prome (Pyay), this film records the early stages in restoring Burma's water transport, and shows the use of rivercraft to transport rice.


Possible camera trouble in Reel Two as the exposure wavers noticeably. Most of the reel appears to have been shot from the high ground overlooking the river, with longer lenses used for close shots.

The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, founded in 1865, quickly became an indispensable part of the colonial Burmese economy. Its vessels, officered by Britons and particularly Scots, and crewed by Chittagonian Indians, carried foodstuffs, mail, passengers and cargo as far upstream as Bhamo, and quickly turned the Irrawaddy into a vital and very profitable economic artery. With the Japanese invasion and the subsequent British retreat, orders were given for the scuttling of the entire fleet. During the Japanese occupation, Irrawaddy water transport became a priority target for Allied offensive air power, and rivercraft were again scuttled as the Japanese retreated in 1944-45. This film therefore provides a very useful record of the efforts to restore the Burmese economy that had been destroyed by years of occupation and war. Following Burmese independence in January 1948, the Company was nationalised and became the Government Inland Water Transport Board.



Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
16 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
1370 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
War Office Directorate of Public Relations
Harris (Sergeant)
Wilson, A (Sergeant)
Lieutenant; cameraman.
MacTavish, Duncan
Production company
SEAC Film Unit



Production Organisations