This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 4663).


START 00:00:00 Title 'Pathscope Safety Film presents "Mediterranean 1938 1939"' superimposed over a still of the G Class destroyer HMS Glowworm (pennant number H92) in the Grand Harbour, Malta. On board the battleship HMS Warspite with spray breaking over the bow as she pitches up and down in rough seas. Intertitle 'Gibraltar'. Europa Point and the town of Gibraltar beneath the Rock of Gibraltar filmed from a fast-moving ship - a flock of seagulls keeps pace with the vessel. A panorama inside the crowded harbour at Gibraltar from the bridge of the battle cruiser HMS Hood during the March 1938 Combined Fleet exercises; nearest to Hood is a G Class destroyer HMS Gallant (pennant number H59) moored alongside a County Class cruiser, probably HMS Sussex, and, close by, another Country Class cruiser, probably HMS London; both cruisers are in Mediterranean Fleet light grey. Also visible are three new Southampton Class cruisers, HMS Newcastle (with her stern to the camera), HMS Sheffield and HMS Southampton (all three light cruisers are in Home Fleet dark grey), the hospital ship HMHT Maine (painted overall in white) and, moored along the south mole, four battleships - HMS Nelson, HMS Warspite, HMS Malaya and HMS Royal Oak (the last two warships with a pair of fleet destroyers moored alongside). A view from the boat deck of HMS Hood near the single port side 4-inch anti-aircraft gun looking aft towards the battleship HMS Rodney. Another view of HMS Newcastle (?) beyond an H or I Class destroyer in the foreground. Intertitle 'Ark Royal'. The new fleet aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal In Alexandria, circa 28-29 January 1939, with two destroyers moored together on her starboard side; in the second shot (a view of her starboard quarter), the huge warship is dressed overall to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

00:02:11 Intertitle 'Preparing for Sea'. The Humber (?) tourer car belonging to Admiral Cunningham, Commander of the Battle Cruiser Squadron and Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet, is lifted off HMS Hood and lowered onto a large naval cutter and a cargo net containing four wooden casks is lifted off a naval drifter. Accompanied by seagulls, Turnbull's vessel crosses the bow of the new troopship HMT Dunera; moored along on the troopship's port side is a paddle steamer ferry boat. Looking aft from the quarterdeck of HMS Hood, the battle cruiser HMS Repulse and a Revenge Class battleship at sea.

00:03:29 Intertitle 'Target Practice'. A shot filmed in the spring or summer of 1938 showing a naval gunnery target float. The battle cruiser HMS Repulse on the port beam, steams at high speed on a parallel course in rough seas. A cable runs from the quarterdeck of HMS Hood to the gunnery target float in tow several hundred yards away. Big splashes over and under the target are made during a practice shoot by a light cruiser or a destroyer, eventually resulting in a straddle. More splashes are produced by small calibre shells. In a line that runs the whole length of the starboard quarterdeck, through the gap between the aft superstructure and X turret barbette and back along the port side all the way back to the stern, the crew of HMS Hood hauls in the cable to recover the target float. One of the battle cruiser's cutters is rowed back to the ship. Spray caused by rough seas breaks over A and B 15-inch gun turrets on HMS Hood's foc'sle.

00:05:14 Intertitle 'Some of Franco's Ships'. An encounter with Spanish Nationalist warships in the Mediterranean by HMS Warspite on 26 February 1939: the ships, all on the starboard beam, are the ex-Italian destroyer Huesca, seen here screening two cruisers Canarias and Navarra in the distance, and another ex-Italian destroyer, the Melilla.

00:06:46 Intertitle 'Glorious flying off Swordfish'. Filmed during exercises at sea circa 25 February 1939, three Fleet Air Arm Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bombers take off one by one from the fleet aircraft carrier HMS Glorious before making a sharp turn to their starboard immediately afterwards, intercut with shots filmed on board the aircraft carrier in February 1938 showing her starboard side, her funnel and bridge superstructure and the flight deck.

00:08:01 Intertitle 'Swordfish from the Battleships'. A Swordfish torpedo-bomber with a wheeled undercarriage is catapulted off the battleship HMS Warspite while she is in port. Another catapult launch is prepared when the battleship is at sea during fleet exercises (circa February 1939) and another Swordfish, this time fitted with seaplane floats, is propelled into the air; visible in the background are several other warships, notably another Queen Elizabeth Class battleship, HMS Malaya, two fleet destroyers and a Southampton Class cruiser in the distance. The catapult cradle is cranked back into place for another launch.

00:08:29 a pair of Fairey Swordfish biplanes flies overhead. Four rounds are fired in quick succession from the single 4-inch anti-aircraft gun on the starboard side of HMS Hood's boat deck during anti-aircraft target practice. The battle cruiser's port octuple Mk VII 2-pounder pom pom and one of her four .5 inch machine gun mountings also take part in the practice shoot. A Fairey Swordfish flies past on HMS Hood's starboard side - it may be the target drogue towing plane but the target itself is out of shot. The quadruple .5-machine gun keeps up a rapid rate of fire, ejecting a stream of brass cartridges onto its circular firing platform; three naval ratings serving as the gun's ammunition numbers replace empty ammunition drums. The starboard octuple pom pom is briefly seen in action and, after the anti-aircraft shoot is over, two naval gunners collect up expended 2-pounder shell cases from the portside octuple pom pom firing platform.

00:09:35 Fairey Swordfish '075' fitted with seaplane floats touches down in the sea on the starboard side of HMS Warspite and keeps pace with the fast moving battleship. One of the seaplane's three crewmen is busy securing the hook from the battleship's starboard aircraft crane to the lifting bracket on the upper wing, allowing the biplane to be lifted clear out of the water. A backlit view to starboard of a line of three Royal Navy (?) submarines on the starboard beam as they pass a fleet destroyer

00:10:22 'Here and There'. The H Class fleet destroyer HMS Hyperion (pennant number H97) maneuvers at slow speed during a Non-Intervention naval patrol in the Mediterranean after she has sent a boat across to the destroyer with three funnels in the background (possibly a Spanish Republican warship on loan from the Soviet Union). The Royal Navy boarding party rows back to HMS Hyperion and the boat is hauled back up onto its davits on the destroyer's port side. A motorised ship's launch otherwise known as an admiral's barge and flying the flag of St George to denote its function heads rapidly past other vessels in Alexandria's outer harbour and a Short Sunderland Mk 1 flying boat of RAF 228 Squadron. In Navarino Bay on the west coast of the Peloponnese peninsula, Greece (circa 7 - 19 July 1938): five men from HMS Hood sail by in one of the battle cruiser's whalers converted into a ketch with two masts and sails; in the background is a County Class cruiser with Non-Intervention patrol aerial recognition stripes on her B 8-inch gun turret (either HMS London or HMS Sussex). Men swim in Navarino Bay and play water polo. One of Hood's steam picket boats arrives alongside the gangway on the battle cruiser's starboard quarter. A view of the waterfront in Alexandria (?) as a fast-moving admiral's barge approaches and maneuvers alongside HMS Warspite's (?) starboard quarter.

00:12:54 Intertitle 'Through the Suez Canal'. Filmed from the bridge of the destroyer HMS Glowworm as she steams north through the canal on 11 October 1938 and passes on the canal's left bank a station run by the French-owned company responsible for running the international waterway and nearby dwellings for its officials and, sailing in the opposite direction, a barge and a felucca with lateen rigs crewed by Egyptians. A car and a man on a bicycle head in opposite directions on the road lining the west bank of the Suez Canal. Further along, HMS Glowworm encounters a southward-bound steam locomotive pulling a long line of goods wagons. At sea in the Mediterranean with two Royal Navy battleships ahead of the cameraman's vessel - HMS Warspite is in the lead.

00:14:16 Intertitle 'Malta'. Views of the Grand Harbour showing a section of the fortifications in Valletta with a bastion known to the Royal Navy as Lascar's Point and, above it on the skyline, an architectural feature consisting of a double row of arches known as the Upper Barraca Gardens and, in the opposite direction, Fort St Elmo dominating the north-west side to the harbour entrance. A view of a circular public park in the centre of Valletta. Filmed from Lascar's Point circa 12 April 1939, a Southampton Class cruiser (either HMS Gloucester or HMS Liverpool) slowly makes her way through the Grand Harbour past two battleships (the furthest HMS Malaya) moored in Kalkara Creek. A cutaway shot filmed on a different occasion showing two County Class cruisers moored in the Grand Harbour under the walls of Valletta with their deck awnings spread. The Southampton Class cruiser makes a turn to port to enter Frenchman's Creek past the net layer HMS Protector and a large floating crane at its entrance. Looking across the Grand Harbour at the two battleships (the furthest one HMS Malaya, the nearest one is probably HMS Ramillies) and the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious (with the County Class cruiser HMS Sussex behind her) and, in the other direction opposite Frenchman's Creek, HMS Warspite and the destroyer depot ship HMS Woolwich; in the background, there is another Southampton Class cruiser moored alongside a floating dock that is temporary home to the battleship HMS Barham. The new arrival is shepherded into French Creek by two tugs. Fort St Angelo at Vittoriosa (?) as seen from HMS Warspite, whose quarterdeck has been covered by a protective canvas awning to keep off the sun. Two modes of water transport - a high-speed admiral's barge and a traditional Maltese dghaisa rowing boat - in the Grand Harbour. A Fairey Swordfish seaplane touches down in Bighi Bay with the outer breakwater and St Elmo's Point visible in the background; a small freighter and a much larger passenger liner are moored stern first under the walls of Valletta.

00:16:32 Intertitle 'The Mighty Hood'. Views circa May 1938 filmed from a dghaisa as its oarsman rows Turnbull around the Grand Harbour showing the battle cruiser HMS Hood with her deck awnings spread; the Upper Barraca Gardens are in the background. Intertitle 'Warspite in Dock'. Views of the bow and the rest of the hull of HMS Warspite in the floating dock from Turnbull's dghaisa. The battleship sitting high and dry inside the massive floating dock, featuring the admiral's stern walk, a canvas awning spread over the quarterdeck and, down below, her port rudder and propellers. Quarterdeck views under a sun awning of the battleship's Y turret and its twin 15-inch guns. Massive timber beams between the hull sides and the walls of the 970 foot-long floating dock help keep the battleship stable. Two freighters moored stern first under the fortifications of Valletta. A view of Fort St Elmo and St Elmo's Point from the bridge of HMS Hood and a freighter (possibly diesel-powered on account of her small funnel) steaming out into the Mediterranean between the inner and outer harbour breakwaters.

00:18:45 Filmed on 4 September 1938, Admiral Cunningham (?) (occasionally visible at the extreme left of the film frame) takes the salute on the quarterdeck of his flagship HMS Hood as the 1st Destroyer Flotilla steams past with their crews lined up on deck; the first five vessels are H or I Class fleet destroyers with dark grey hulls and light grey superstructures, including HMS Icarus (pennant number D03) and the sixth is a Tribal Class destroyer, possibly HMS Cossack. Intercut at this point is the shot of the bridge and forepart of a destroyer with Non-Intervention patrol aerial recognition stripes on B 4-inch gun - possibly HMS Glowworm. A First World War vintage Albury Class fleet minesweeper - known colloquially as a "Smokey Joe" - and a new fleet tug, probably HMT Brigand, bring up the rear.

00:19:47 A view of the quarterdeck of HMS Warspite, with X and Y turrets visible, steaming at high speed and leaving foaming waters in her wake. Title 'The End'.

END 00:20:11

Silent amateur film shot and edited with intertitles by Lieutenant-Commander F R A 'Dick' Turnbull records the activities of the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet, with which he served in 1938 and 1939 as a Midshipman.


Summary: Dick Turnbull (1920-2005) served on three warships during his time with the Mediterranean Fleet - HMS Hood from 1 January to 27 August 1938 and again from 26 November to 18 December, on HMS Glowworm from 28 August to 25 November 1938 and on HMS Warspite from 19 December 1938 to 10 December 1939. Turnbull's responsibilities on HMS Hood included the ship's boats and overseeing the transfer of Admiral Cunningham's car to shore.

Remarks: Excellent material, with good shots of most of the warships and the aircraft types mentioned in the full summary, especially the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious flying off Swordfish aircraft and HMS Warspite in dry dock. Unlike most other amateur camera operators, Turnbull usually keeps the camera running to make shots last. The scenes shot in the Grand Harbour, Malta, illustrate just how important the island was for the Royal Navy at this time. Rare footage, too, of British naval involvement in the Spanish Civil War.




Technical Data

Running Time:
20 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
500 ft (ca)

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Turnbull, F R A (Lieutenant-Commander)