This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 2735).


START 00:00:00 Scenes filmed under the tropical awning on the quarterdeck of HMS Kent interrupted by jump cuts showing Captain Ashmore with the Army General Officer Commanding, Hong Kong, officers including one identified by Blundell as Sub-Lieutenant Dannreuther and the Bosun looking across the crowded strip of water between Hong Kong and Kowloon, members of the ship's complement of Royal Marines in steel helmets on parade and Admiral Sir Percy Noble, Commander-in-Chief, China Station, Captain Ashmore and the Captain in charge of the Hong Kong Dockyard in conversation and looking across the harbour.

00:01:10 Scenes filmed at sea on 27 July 1939 showing a County Class heavy cruiser, HMS Dorsetshire, directly ahead of HMS Kent firing two salvoes with its portside 4-inch gun battery. White puffs of smoke appear high in the sky as 4-inch shells from HMS Dorsetshire explode at a pre-set height and the smoke from one 4-inch gun barrel floats by in a perfect circle overhead. A view of HMS Dorsetshire on HMS Kent's starboard beam steaming at high speed on an opposite course. Scenes showing one of Kent's own Mk XVI twin 4-inch dual purpose guns in action and a Petty Officer holding a 4-inch shell in his hands and gunners collecting 4-inch projectiles from an ammunition locker. HMS Dorsetshire manoeuvres at high speed a short distance away. Shots showing HMS Kent's starboard 4-inch gun battery in action; Royal Marines (in flat caps) are in charge of S2 gun whilst naval gunners man S1 gun and are seen busy feeding the guns and fusing the shells on the two mechanical fuse-setters on each of the 4-inch gun mountings. The camera is affected by the blast produced each time the guns are fired.

00:03:31 Scenes filmed from the aft conning position showing HMS Kent's short-range anti-aircraft guns on the starboard side consisting of a large eight-barrelled Mk VI 2-pounder 40mm pom-pom and quadruple .5-inch machine guns on circular firing platforms. Scenes filmed during an anti-aircraft practise shoot showing the portside pom-pom in action, expelling large numbers of expended brass shell cases onto its circular firing platform. A view of a Vickers Supermarine Walrus seaplane towing a target drogue about a mile away. HMS Kent's starboard quadruple .5 inch multiple machine-gun mounting overlooking the much larger 2-pounder pom-pom gun joins in the shoot, unleashing a torrent of expended shell cases. Blundell films the pom-poms and quadruple .5-inch machine guns on both the port and starboard sides in action from various angles as they loose off a large number of rounds at the target drogue.

00:05:51 Scenes filmed from the bridge of HMS Kent showing all four 8-inch gun turrets firing salvoes to port whilst the ship is steaming in a straight line and making a turn to port. A smoke ring formed by the blast from an 8-inch gun barrel drifts by.

00:06:37 Shots showing the P Class submarine, HMS Parthian, submerging a short distance from HMS Kent, two ratings on their knees 'holystoning' the teak quarterdeck with small squares or 'prayerbooks' of soft sandstone and HMS Parthian re-surfacing, producing a frothy mass of water from its ballast tanks.

00:08:03 Shots taken from B turret and from the ship's boats slung over both the starboard and port sides looking forwards and towards the stern as HMS Kent steams through the tropical waters at full speed during power trials. A shot showing a depth charge rolling into the sea from the depth charge rail on the quarterdeck and exploding astern of the ship at a shallow setting about eight seconds later.

00:09:42 Scenes on the foc'sle of HMS Kent filmed from both the roof of B turret and on the deck itself showing the starboard anchor being let go and the anchor chains (or cable in naval parlance) rattling along the deck out of the navel pipe. Sailors fit a locking device known as a Blake Slip to the anchor chains and turn the wheel that locks the starboard capstan in place.

00:10:36 Scenes filmed at anchor (Tsingtau or Wei-Hai-Wei or Hong Kong} showing a senior French naval officer in tropical uniform (possibly Captain Berenger from the cruiser Lamotte Picquet) coming up the gangway on the starboard quarter of HMS Kent and being piped aboard by RN ratings and a view of his motor launch, with the French Tricolour flying from the stern. Shots showing a senior British army officer leaving HMS Kent, bidding farewell to Captain Ashmore before stepping onto the gangway. Two other army officers make their farewells. A motor launch with the army officers on board heads for shore. The officer of the watch, a Lieutenant, stands on the top of the gangway, a telescope tucked under his arm.

00:11:12 Scenes filmed at Min River, Fujian (Fukien) (?).on 4 or 11 July 1939 showing an Imperial Japanese Navy Nagara Class light cruiser (possible the Nagara itself) with a Mitsubishi F1M2 biplane seaplane on its catapult astern of HMS Kent and framed by the White Ensign. A view of a D Class destroyer, HMS Duchess (her pennant number 'H64' visible on the hull), in the anchorage. Various semi-clandestinely-filmed shots showing a Japanese admiral and two of his flag officers from the Nagara Class cruiser being formally welcomed aboard HMS Kent, the Japanese admiral's motor launch heading back to its flagship. The Japanese naval officers take their leave of HMS Kent and, once they have departed, the piping party is dismissed, leaving the officer of the watch standing at the top of the gangway with his telescope under his arm. Filmed through an open scuttle or porthole, Admiral Sir Percy Noble is seen chatting to one of the ship's officers.

00:12:33 Views of another D Class destroyer, HMS Dainty (pennant number 'H53'), manoeuvring at high speed around HMS Kent.

00:13:02 Scenes filmed from HMS Kent's bridge on 16 August 1939 showing a large number of ratings gathered on the foc'sle looking ahead at a shoot by HMS Birmingham (unseen at this point) at a floating target towed by HMS Dorsetshire. Long shots of tall splashes of water produced by at least six 6-inch gun salvoes around the target.

00:14:13 Views filmed during sea exercises by 5th Cruiser Squadron showing the Southampton Class light cruiser HMS Birmingham overtaking HMS Kent on the port beam and the County Class heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire steaming on an opposite course with A and B turret trained to port; note the deck awnings covering a great deal of their main decks. Two large flags (described as speed flags by Blundell) are seen flying from the bridge of HMS Kent. HMS Dorsetshire steams on HMS Kent's port beam on the same course. Scenes filmed from the bridge showing gunnery officers with a plotting device known as an Enemy Bearing Indicator on the roof of B turret and more sailors on the roof of A turret with both turrets are pointing to starboard. Four-inch (?) shells throw up columns of spray several hundred feet away to port. Top shot views of the captain, officers and lookouts on the bridge of HMS Kent; the cameraman singles out Captain Ashmore (wearing a solar topee) and Lieutenant Peter Arbuthnot (on the right) standing on either side of the compass binnacle. Splashes from shells bursting in the water on the port side.

00:16:08 Views looking aft along the starboard and port sides of HMS Kent from the crow's nest and from the bridge. A shot of the the cruiser's own Vickers Supermarine Walrus seaplane being catapulted into the air off to starboard. Concluding shots showing A and B turrets firing four 8-inch salvoes to starboard and two to port.

END 00:17:00

Silent 8mm black and white footage filmed by Lieutenant-Commasnder George C Blundell showing HMS Kent taking part in gunnery shoots with the 5th Cruiser Squadron and calling in at various ports on the China Station in July and August 1939.


Remarks: other than the shots showing various senior naval and army officers on board HMS Kent (shot in a hurry and under difficult conditions) there are excellent scenes throughout this film, especially those showing twin 4-inch guns and the pom-poms and quadruple .5 inch machine guns being fired. 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. 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. With a war raging throughout China between the Nationalist Chinese and the Japanese, the aerial recognition Union Jack and the ship's initials displayed prominently on 'A' and 'B' turrets were placed there to warn off Japanese and Chinese Nationalist pilots. War losses among the ships seen here: HMS Dorsetshire was dive-bombed and sunk in April 1942, HMS Duchess was sunk in a collision in Scottish waters in December 1939, HMS Dainty was bombed off Tobruk in February 1941 and HMS Parthian was lost in the Mediterranean in August 1943. None of the Japanese Nagara Class cruisers survived the war. Blundell describes the shoot by HMS Birmingham as 'Throw Off Firing', a type of naval gunnery practice for which the guns have previously been moved a specified number of degrees out of alignment with their sights. This enables another ship to be used as a gunnery target without actually being hit by the shells fired at it.




Technical Data

Running Time:
17 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
204 ft (ca)

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Blundell, G C (Captain)