This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 2734).


START 00:00:00 Colour Kodak Safety Film logo. Scenes filmed in the Whampoa Docks in Kowloon showing two ratings standing on the quarterdeck of HMS Kent holding the template for the ship's crest that they are going to paint on the cliffs overlooking the docks and the cliffs themselves where previous warships' crews have added their crests onto the bare rock. A brief view looking down steep steps leading into the floor of the naval drydock (?) at Whampoa. Views from the top of the cliffs where there are several naval ratings and HMS Kent down below in a drydock; her aerial recognition markings - the Union Jack on the roof of A turret and the ship's initials 'KE' on B turret - are especially prominent. Shots showing the party of naval ratings on the cliff top, several safety lines and the ship's artist at work painting the ship's crest onto the rock face with the help of a template design. A view from HMS Kent's bridge of the cliff face with outline and the detail of the ship's crest, the county of Kent emblem, clearly visible. Scenes on the cliff top where a pot of bright red paint is lowered down to the ship's artist who uses it to complete his work and one naval rating holding another tin of red paint. A view of the completed work, a red hexagonal crest lined with yellow with a rampant horse in white at its centre.

00:04:12 Views of shipping in Hong Kong territorial waters from a yacht (?) showing an Insect Class river gunboat (flying what looks like a French Tricolour but could also be a signal to boats taking part in a regatta to get ready) at sea with a full set of canvas deck awnings in place, a French Navy Amiral Charnier Class destroyer/seaplane carrier at anchor, a British merchant ship with a Union Jack displayed conspicuously on its hull just below the bridge and a former cargo passenger liner now serving as a naval depot ship (identity unknown) 'dressed overall' with brightly coloured flags.

00:06:02 Views of several of the six 60-foot motor torpedo boats belonging to the 2nd Motor Torpedo Flotilla at its base in Hong Kong and a stern view of MTB 10 as it heads away from the camera at high speed. Scenes filmed on board an MTB, most probably MTB 10, as it heads at high speed through the waters off Hong Kong and the flotilla commander, Lieutenant-Commander D G Clarke, on the bridge. Views looking aft from the bridge showing the wake produced by the MTB as it travels at high speed - a Union Jack flag is spread out across the deck as an aerial recognition sign.

00:07:10 Scenes filmed in a stretch of water known as Lei Yue Mun (Blundell refers to it as Lye Mun Pass) on board HMS Grampus, a mine-laying submarine, looking along the foc'sle with its aerial recognition Union Jack clearly visible and Lieutenant-Commander 'Mousey' Moore peering through his binoculars on the bridge. Shots of an open watertight hatch leading down below from the bridge of HMS Grampus and several officers on the bridge who smile at the camera; one of them, identified as Lieutenant Collett, walks past the camera. A view of a boom defence vessel (either HMS Barlight or HMS Barlane). A naval signaller sends a message with flags from the bridge of HMS Grampus. Views looking fore and aft from the bridge of HMS Grampus as the submarine cruises on the surface.

00:08:37 Scenes filmed on board the harbour oiler RFA Ebonol with a brief view of its name on the grey painted hull and members of its mixed British and Chinese crew. Shots as RFA Ebonol is underway at sea showing members of the crew using a ship's boom to lower a paravane into the water on the port side, making a big splash as it hits the water and running on and under the sea at the end of a line. Shots showing a paravane being lowered into the water on the starboard side of the oiler and it racing alongside the ship on top of and underneath the water. Shots showing four naval ratings leaning against the ship's railing watching as the starboard paravane is lifted out of the water and swung on board by a boom. The portside paravane is lifted clear but the half dozen or so crewmen operating the lifting boom have difficulty in lowering it on to the deck and an officer steps forward to help them. Scenes on board the harbour oiler showing RFA Ebonol's captain, a Lieutenant (wearing sunglasses), on the bridge, a Chinese helmsman (wearing a cap with a 'Royal Fleet Auxiliary' headband), a smiling Chinese Petty Officer, a British naval rating on the starboard bridge wing and another officer on the bridge.

00:12:36 Scenes on board HMS Kent during repairs at Whampoa Dock, Kowloon, showing Chinese dockyard carpenters with the tools - chiefly caulking irons (similar in appearance to masonry chisels and blades), hammers and wire wool - which they use to remove old caulking from between teak deck planks on the quarterdeck and using a pitch ladle to pour new pitch between the planks. Shots showing Chinese carpenters using caulking irons to strip out old caulking material between planks and scraping the deck where old planks have been removed; one of the men is seen wearing a protective cloth over his head. Views of the starboard side of the quarterdeck showing the carpenters arriving with new planks of teak decking and the general clutter while their work has yet to be completed. A very under-exposed shot of a naval carpenter (?) at work.

00:13:29 Scenes showing maintenance work being carried out on HMS Kent's anchor chains (known in naval parlance as a 'cable survey') with general clutter on the ship's foc'sle after one of the main capstans has been dismantled and is lying around in bits. A dockyard worker (?) wearing protective clothing uses a special hammer to determine the wear and tear on each link and shacle and uses a special tool to test the stud in a chain link. Another technician uses an oxy-acetylene welder on a shackle. Shots showing the starboard cable or anchor chain suspended from a dockside crane over HMS Kent's focs'le directly above the opening known as the navel pipe leading directly into the cable locker . One of the cable survey inspectors hammers a securing pin into a shackle. Two naval Petty Officers insert a pinch bar through a chain link level with the navel pipe to prevent it disappearing into the cable locker. 00:17:10 A view over the side of HMS Kent showing a sampan with the ship's letters on it. Views of HMS Tamar, the Royal Navy base in Hong Kong named after the white-hulled vessel (a nineteenth century troopship hulked there from 1897 to 1941) seen throughout much of this section; visible in the background is the new headquarters building for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank built in 1935. Also in the foreground is the river gun boat HMS Robin, and a County Class cruiser at the quayside a short distance away 'dressed overall' in brightly coloured flags to celebrate the promotion of Sir Percy Noble, Commander-in-Chief China Station, to the rank of full Admiral. 3-pounder saluting guns produce clouds of white smoke as they are fired from the Southampton Class cruiser HMS Birmingham and HMS Tamar. A large flag of St George flies from HMS Kent's foremast to indicate that the ship is serving as Noble's flagship.

END 00:18:05

Silent 8mm colour footage shot by Lieutenant-Commander George C Blundell showing scenes in Hong Kong harbour in the summer of 1939 while HMS Kent was being repaired in Kowloon.


Remarks: a competently-filmed and diverting record of different aspects of naval routine just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Together with the rest of Blundell's coverage of duty in the Far East, this material is a fascinating glimpse into a chapter in British naval and imperial history that came to an abrupt end with Japan's entry in the Second World War in December 1941.

Summary: with the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, George Blundell (1904-1997) served on board HMS Kent as a torpedo and electrical specialist from December 1937 to January 1941. As HMS Kent was not armed with torpedoes, he was put in charge of the depth charge party and the ship's anchors as well as serving as the China Station's fleet torpedo officer until the end of 1939. One of his shipboard responsibilities appears to have been the ship's anchors and anchor chains. HMS Kent was a County Class cruiser, launched in March 1926 and commissioned in June 1928. Her first ten years of service were spent in the Far East with the 5th Cruiser Squadron, returning to the UK for part reconstruction in 1938. In early 1939 she returned to the Far East and remained in tropical waters until August 1940, when she joined the Mediterranean Fleet in Alexandria. After being badly damaged by an Italian torpedo (see MGH 2740), HMS Kent spent more than one year in dock for repairs and was then assigned to the Home Fleet. In January 1945, after three years of duty in northern waters, she was paid off into reserve and scrapped in 1948. Her commanding officer from 7 April 1938 to 12 September 1939 was Captain Leslie Haliburton Ashmore. Before becoming C-in-C China Station in 1938, Sir Percy Noble (1880-1955) had a series of senior appointments at sea and on land. On his return to Britain in 1940, Admiral Noble was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches, in Liverpool, a position he held from early 1941 to November 1942. Thereafter, he was the Head of British Naval Delegation in Washington DC and retired from the Royal Navy in 1945. The flag of St George's Cross, originally belonging to Genoa but used on English ships since the 12th Century, is also the rank flag of an Admiral in the Royal Navy. Developed during the First World War, the paravane is a form of towed underwater "glider" designed to snag underwater sea mines. The crest of HMS Kent and the county of Kent is a white horse which in pagan Anglo-Saxon legend belonged to the god Odin and apparantly featured on the battle banner of Hengist, King of the Jutes who landed on the island of Thanet at the head of an invading army in the fifth century AD. With a war raging throughout China between the Nationalist Chinese and the Japanese, the aerial recognition Union Jacks displayed prominently on HMS Kent, HMS Grampus and MTB 10 were placed there to warn off Japanese and Chinese Nationalist pilots. Neither the 2nd MTB Flotilla or HMS Grampus survived the Second World War. HMS Grampus was sunk in the Mediterranean in June 1940 and all the MTBs in Hong Kong were destroyed during the Japanese conquest of Hong Kong in December 1941, along with HMS Robin and the boom defence vessel HMS Barlight.




Technical Data

Running Time:
18 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
B&W (part Colour)
217 ft (ca)

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Blundell, George C (Lieutenant-Commander)