This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: ABY 112).


Reel 1: Docks on the Hooghly River, Calcutta; river craft are unloaded. Two men stand on top of a lorry as it is hoisted onto the quayside by a crane. Barge being unloaded; a large crate is lifted a crane. Numerous stacked containers; some of them marked 'Austin Coles Crane'. A local Indian dockworker. A barge pulls alongside another; a local Indian man heaves on a bamboo pole. A moored barge with a gantry crane lifting a crate. Two views of the crate being lifted before the crane starts to move along its rails. Scenic shot of Howrah Bridge with local people bathing in the foreground and looming monsoon clouds overhead. Closer view of the bathers. Shot of Howrah Bridge and bathers with the prow of a local dhow in the foreground; a small naval barrage balloon flies above the bridge. A container loaded onto a lighter. A container is loaded onto a barge with an RAF airman supervising. An RAF Ensign flies from the mast of an RAF Marine vessel, probably a seaplane tender. A man on the foredeck of a tender casts a line to a barge. A barge moored at the quay with an RAF man directing. View from onboard the RAF tender; men attend to mooring lines in the background. Crate lowered onto a barge. Three seaplane tenders moored together. A dhow, rowed by a number of men standing on the foredeck, proceeds along the river. A steam barge passes. [Slate at this point includes 'Bibmu Jetty' - see notes]. A large crate is hoisted onto a jetty and set down on a small light rail trolley. A group of about a dozen local Indian dockworkers push this rail trolley along tracks while an RAF officer walks in the opposite direction. A local man fishing with jetties and cranes in the background. Men pushing the crate on the rail trolley; an RAF airman supervises. The crate is lifted off the trolley by a crane and lowered onto a Bedford flatbed lorry. View of the crane operator working a foot pedal. The Bedford drives away. A line-up of mobile Coles cranes. A smaller wrecker lorry passes. A man gestures to a crane operator to lower the hook. Men at work servicing a crane. Wide shot of a large factory or hangar building with palm trees, parked vehicles and cranes.

Reel 2: A Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber being cleaned after delivery. An RAF non-commissioned officer supervises as local Indian workers clean various parts of the aircraft. Four men at work on the cowling and forward fuselage. A Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC fighter-bomber being sprayed. An RAF airman spraying the engine cowling; camera pans to man spraying the starboard wingtip. Second shot with man on cowling and another at work on the undercarriage. Tracking shot shot showing parked aircraft including Bristol Beaufighter, Vengeance, Republic Thunderbolt Mk II and Spitfire. A De Havilland Mosquito, taxiing along behind the moving camera, parks next to the Spitfire. A Hurricane IIC in the gun butts having its 20mm cannons tested. The guns are fired; camera pans to see a cloud of dust from the sand trap. Second shot of the sand being kicked up. Third shot showing guns firing; their recoil springs can be seen moving and cartridge casings and belt links fall to the ground while a man standing on the port wing covers his ears. Mosquito being serviced. Parked Vengeances with tarpaulins over their canopies; a local man drive a bullock pulling a plough across shot in the foreground. A large number of parked Hurricanes. A line of Vengeances. Quayside on River Hooghly; an Indian docker with a rope in the foreground. A river vessel with barges. A lighter passes before berthing. A dockworker attaches a hook to a stack of timber. Men rowing dhows; a dhow passes a barge as it prepares to berth. [At this point a slate is seen reading 'Boats unload Kankinara' - see notes]. Dockworker attaches a hook to a crate possibly containing disposable fuel tanks for aircraft. At first the crates slip when they are lifted. An Indian man at the controls of a crane. Crates being set down. A Hurricane IIC is serviced and a bullock cart passes in the background. Repeated mobile shot of Mosquito taxiing.

Reel 3: An RAF Thunderbolt Mk I fighter on a barge. A Thunderbolt Mk II (minus its tailplane) held aloft by a crane and lowered towards the camera (the two marks distinguishable by their faired 'razorback' (Mk I) or bubble (Mk II) canopies). The Mk I is hoisted up before being lowered onto a barge. Silhouettes of men pulling on a line as a Thunderbolt Mk II is lowered towards them. The Thunderbolt is set down and the lifting gear removed. Two Thunderbolts, silhouetted against an evening sky, on a barge. Another barge with several Thunderbolts aboard, mostly Mk IIs. A barge passes camera with seven Thunderbolts on board. A berthed merchantman on the Hooghly. River skyline crowded with ships' masts. Various shots from the river of berthed merchantmen with barges and smaller vessels. Looking up at the lifeboat deck of a large ship. View approaching Howrah Bridge. Passing under the bridge; good view of its steel structure. Second approach to the bridge. Skyline with masts and cranes. Passing a moored ship two men can be seen working on the hull. Locals carry baskets on their heads from a barge. The barge is alongside a much larger vessel, and the baskets are passed up a ladder by means of a human chain. A steam barge passes. A dhow passes.

Film showing arrival of RAF equipment in India at Calcutta Docks and its transport to Maintenance Units.


'Bibmu Jetty' presumably one of the many jetties on the Hooghly but unable to confirm.

'Kankinara' the name of a railway station an hour north of Calcutta in Bhatpara, but the meaning of the slate somewhat ambiguous.

Location in Reel 2 possibly 327 Maintenance Unit at Dum Dum, but this is somewhat tentative.

One of the cameramen of this piece, Warrant Officer John Laing McKee, was killed on 21 January 1945. Flying in a Liberator heavy bomber of RAF 99 Squadron supporting the landings on Ramree Island, McKee's aircraft collided with another Liberator of the same squadron and both disintegrated. All aboard both aircraft were killed. McKee, and the nineteen other aircrew of the two bombers, are buried in the CWGC Maynamati War Cemetery, near Comilla in Bangladesh.



  • RAF SUPPLY LINES IN INDIA (6/7/1944) (Allocated)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
26 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
2277 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Air Ministry Directorate of Public Relations
Hughes, H R (Sergeant)
Layzell, R G (Sergeant)
McKee, J L (Warrant Officer)
Production company
Royal Air Force Film Production Unit



Production Organisations