BW 4/4

The Little Ships of England

Film: Little Ships of England

  • 19th December 1941
Considering making film on Boatbuilding

  • April 1942
Rough outline for "Boat Building" received
Delay due to research on what building is occurring at moment

  • May
Rejected, due to being too much about actual Building, when what was requested was film on men who build boats.


  • June
Boat Building criticism
Colour film dependent on locations selected
A lot of technical stuff

  • Treatment
Opens with war... Dunkirk. "it was the British genius for boat building and for the sea that helped to snatch victory from the Nazis."
Shows boat being building from tree being felled, to selection of best felled timber, follow the train carrying it. An apprentice learns from his Master. Process of wood being treated started. Explained to Apprentice -we learn with him.
Shipwright shows how hull is made, different types of engines.
Today ships made for war.
Shipbuilders are "doing their bit in the struggle for freedom."
Finished with Spitfire downed in the oceon - rescue boat saves him!

  • July 42
Film originally included in "Craftsmanship series" which was dropped.
Responses simply "Good" "No Comment"
Although the Dunkirk mention that "many did not return" at start was deemed "superfluous" and
Sir Harry Lindsay wrote "Quite good in conception and design. But for goodness' sake let boat which saves soldiers from Dunkirk... Be a tribute to British efficiency of boat building... Not just a defeatist tribute to the accuracy of German dive-bombing... Far more boats survived the Dunkirk rescue than were lost. We should make the most of that point".
Mr Gurney: "If this film is adopted, the film should surely be one for M of I to make rather than B.C."

  • Mr Gilkison to direct... Early production raised as he is on point of joining army.

  • July '42 budget drawn up

  • MOI suggestions
"Little Ships of England" for title.
Agrees with many previous suggestions that dunkirk escape should not show craft escaping from Dunkirk being wrecked.
"it is incorrect to refer to the Dunkirk episode as a victory. The little boats snatched us from defeat."

  • Shot in Looe, Cornwall

  • Rough cut being readied September 1942
Finished Jan 1943

  • No objection to UK distribution .
Only objection was Middle East Section who "would have prefer to have deleted shots showing our troops running from the enemy and on the beaches of Dunkirk".