Western Isles - The Story of Harris Tweed During the War

'Off the Atlantic coast of Scotland lie the Outer Hebrides. The film records the courage and endurance of the islanders. For centuries these fishermen, farmers and weavers of Harris Tweed have fought Atlantic gales. The return of survivors from a torpedoed ship is shown.' [1]

In Technicolor .

Time: 15:--
Production: Merton Park Studios
Director & Writer: Terence Egan Bishop
Photography: Jack Cardiff
Music: William Alwyn
Recorded by: Charles Tasto
Editor: C. Beaumont

'Among the islanders who appear in the film are:'
The Mother: Bean Ailein
The Father: Somhaisle Mac Tlle Mhoire
The Son: Ian Mac Néill Chiolais
The Daughter: Kitty Macleod (Caitriôna Nicleòid)


The sinking of the ‘Atlantic Queen’ and the survival of its crew is supposedly based off a real series of events where the S.S. Richmond Castle was torpedoed in the Atlantic Ocean, and crewman Angus Murray led the survivors’ return to the UK in a lifeboat. Curiously, however, the sinking of the S.S. Richmond Castle occurred in August 1942, after The Western Isles was released.

In December 1941, the Ministry of Information stated that The Western Isles should not be distributed abroad, as it was counteractive to war effort. The Minister of Information, Brendan Bracken, personally wrote to the British Council, claiming that the film was “living proof of Goebbels’ statements that the British are frivolous, or that they are fighting the war to perpetuate a way of living long since outmoded, or that they have lost the intellectual, moral and industrial lead which they once held.” The British Council distributed the film nonetheless.

Still from 'Western Isles'

Western Isles

Certificate: U
Distributors: General Film
Producers: Merton Park Studios
1,334ft / 15mins
Life on the Outer Hebrides. Produced for distribution by the British Council.

Index to Vol.9 / No.s 97-108 / 1941-42
Short Films Issued Between January 21 and February 20 [1942]
24 Western Isles
  1. ^ Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1942-43