This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 170).


START 10:00:00 Film title and intertitles "At Algiers on September 6, 1943, General Eisenhower and Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham assigned me to witness the surrender of the Italian fleet... Departing from Malta the evening of September 7, we were first to help our landings in Salerno Bay..." Scenes filmed in colour on board HMS Warspite showing another Queen Elizabeth Class battleship, HMS Valiant, at sea, the Warspite's foremast and its radar array (a Type 271 surface warning radar 'lantern' on the mast platform and a Type 281 air warning radar at the masthead), the fleet aircraft carrier, HMS Formidable off the Warspite's starboard beam in poor light. Intertitle "HMS "Formidable" sends off the dawn patrol." A view in daylight (8th September 1943) showing a single-engined aircraft (a Vickers Supermarine Seafire ?) taking off from HMS Formidable (see technical notes); in the background are HMS Valiant and an escorting destroyer. A group of cheerful Royal Navy officers in tropical whites and light brown uniforms on the bridge of HMS Warspite, including Rear Admiral La Touche Bisset, commander of Force H, who is closest to the camera.

10:01:51 Intertitle "Spending the night of September 8 off Salerno, we first celebrated the announcement of the Armistice... Admiral Bissett (sic) opened his sealed orders to meet the Italian ships... from Spezzia (sic)." Medium close-ups of Rear Admiral Bisset and his officers reading sealed orders announcing the surrender of Italian fleet. Intertitles "Less the Roma which had been sunk off Sardinia... we sighted the Italians 12 miles away at 0825, September 9..." A sea view from HMS Warspite - heat haze blurs the horizon between the flat calm sea and the sky, two signal pennants flying from the British battleship in the foreground. Intertitles listing the names of all the Italian warships from La Spezia that surrendered to the Royal Navy - "they soon trailed us like ducklings paddling behind their mother..." Distant views of a line of unidentifiable warships (possibly led by HMS Valiant) heading towards the camera. Three RN officers looking across at HMS Valiant on the starboard beam. Two destroyers, the nearest one HMS Echo, steam along on Warspite's port beam with the coast of Tunisia visible in the background. Intertitle "The Ship's Mascot... was a witness." The ship's mascot, a mongrel dog, stares out across the water at the destroyer. Close-ups of three smiling RN officers.

10:05:10 Intertitle "Admiral Cunningham, aboard the 'Hambledon', came out of Bizerta to review his prize..." Distant views across a flat calm sea of the Tunisian coast and several warships, including HMS Hambledon (temporary flagship of Admiral Andrew Cunningham, Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet). HMS Echo on the port beam. Views of the Italian Condottieri' class Type D light cruiser, Eugenio Di Savoia. Intertitle "Off St Paul's Bay, Malta..." Views of the 9,000-ton Eugenio di Savoia and two Italian 45,000-ton battleships, Vittoria Veneto and Italia with Rear-Admiral Bisset and other RN officers in tropical whites gazing at them as they steam slowly past HMS Warspite.

10:06:49 Intertitle "In the Grand Harbour". A hazy view of Valletta, Malta and a point-of-view shot as HMS Warspite approaches the entrance to the Grand Harbour. Italian Admiral Alberto da Zara steps ashore with several of his fleet officers and is formally greeted by two senior Royal Navy officers. Part concealed by shadow, da Zara inspects the Guard of Honour. Intertitle "And while waiting for D'Zara (sic), the Admiral popped a button". Admiral Cunningham struggles to button up his tunic after his collar button has dropped off. Concluding intertitle "And after this meeting... the Italian Fleet with its own crews are fighting for the Allies. With gratitude... I am sincerely, Harry Butcher, Commander USNR - 'Butch'".

END 10:08:13

A silent Kodachrome film shot mainly on board the Royal Navy battleship HMS Warspite by Commander Harry Butcher USNR, General Dwight D Eisenhower's naval aide, featuring the surrender of the Italian fleet in September 1943.


Technical: the shot showing an aircraft taking off from HMS Formidable at 10:01:35 has been flipped over by mistake as the aircraft carrier's superstructure is shown here on the port side.

Remarks: it's a shame that the intertitles seem to take up most of this film but there are several good shots of the warships mentioned in the full summary and, for the radar enthusiast, a Type 281 radar in operation.

Summary: Despite of the sentiments expressed in Harry Butcher's final intertitle, none of the surrendered Italian warships seen here served alongside Allied navies. The battleships Vittorio Veneto and Italia were eventually scrapped but the light cruiser Eugenio di Savoia was handed over to the Greek Navy and remained in service until the early 1960s.




Technical Data

Running Time:
8 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
211 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
United States of America
Butcher, Henry C Commander