This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 4569).


START 00:00:00 Monochrome scenes in the New Territories near the border with China featuring terraced paddy fields in the valleys between the ranges of hills. Views of the walled and moated village of Kam Tin, a narrow alley inside the village and some of its inhabitants.

00:03:19 Peasants wearing broad-rimmed straw hats and in traditional working clothes carry baskets of rice yoked across their backs. A fishing net is raised from a pond. Peasants of both sexes carry heavy loads of straw and firewood into their village. A new peasant dwelling awaits completion (?).

00:04:05 On board the heavy cruiser HMS Kent at HMS Tamar, Hong Kong, Admiral Sir Percy Noble formally welcomes Major-General A E Grassett, General Officer Commanding British Troops in China, and his ADC. Visible in the background alongside the quay are three submarines and a destroyer behind them.

00:04:13 The new 400 feet-wide, 200 feet-deep Shing Mun River dam filmed in June 1939, very shortly after its completion.

00:05:19 Two men, identified by Blundell as Gibbs (P.M.O.) and Nic Williams (F.R.M.O.), step on boulders to cross a stream (the Shing Mun River). A view of a waterfall. A view of steel cantilever road bridge on the border at Lo Wu (?) between the British-owned New Territories and Japanese-occupied China, with a Union Jack on one side of the Shenzen River and an Imperial Japanese flag flying from a border post on the other. A group of Japanese soldiers stare at the camera from their side of the frontier.

00:06:01 Scenes filmed in November 1939 in the New Territories: ducks waddling about, feeding in a flooded paddy field, being herded by a Chinese peasant farmer, labourers carrying heavy baskets of soil yoked across their backs and dumping their loads on the side of a railway embankment. A peasant farmer watering the soil with two big tubs of water yoked across his back. Adults and children in the fields gathering in the rice harvest, giving the rice crop a preliminary threshing in large baskets with screens around their tops to prevent rice husks escaping and carrying the rice home in large baskets yoked across their backs. Water buffalo used to draw a wooden plough across a paddy field. A young woman wearing a broad-rimmed straw hat with a fringe to keep flies off carries two large baskets of rice on her own. A European man watches as Chinese labourers use a mechanical thresher on the rice and fill up baskets with the crop. A row of six large funeral urns containing the bodies of the dead sealed in quicklime.

00:14:36 Colour scenes filmed in October 1939 at Aberdeen Harbour on Hong Kong island and the surrounding waters showing Chinese fishing boats and junks under sail and fishing nets drying on poles. A mass of junks and sampans that are floating homes to entire families in the sea off Aberdeen and along its waterfront. Fishing boats with booms spread out on either side to carry the nets and junks in full sail.

00:19:36 On board HMS Kent at dawn for the flag raising ceremony on the quarterdeck, showing the ship's Royal Marine band playing the National Anthem, two officers saluting the Colours and the White Ensign flying from the ensign staff at the stern.

END 00:20:00

Silent 8mm black and white and colour footage shot in 1939 by Lieutenant-Commander George C Blundell showing Hong Kong's New Territories and floating communities on Hong Kong island.


Remarks: this reel affords a glimpse into an altogether different world of hard, back-breaking toil and poverty contrasting sharply with life on board a Royal Navy warship, the normal subject of his cinematography. However, in the colour scenes he filmed of the fishing community at Aberdeen, the romance he naturally sees in a life on water is never absent. The shots of the junks in full sail are particularly impressive.

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, Blundell 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 in September 1940 (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.




Technical Data

Running Time:
20 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
B&W, Colour
240 ft (ca)

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Blundell, G C (Captain)