This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 2737).


START 00:00:00 Views filmed inside a drydock (probably the one at Whampoa Dock from 21 to 24 October 1939) showing the starboard side of HMS Kent during dockyard repairs; clearly visible are the draught marks in Latin numerals painted on the bow below the waterline starting at 7 feet above the keel and ending at 22 feet, the keel blocks of heavy timber upon which the massive 10,000-ton vessel rests, the curvature of the hull from the centre keel, the bilge keel running along much of the starboard side below the waterline, the starboard outer and inner propeller shafts with their three-bladed propellers, the stern with its large balanced rudder and the starboard inner propeller and shaft and draught marks in Latin numerals from 7 to 11 feet. A view of the admiral's sternwalk at the stern, showing a dockyard worker sitting in a bosun's chair painting one of the supporting stanchions. More shots of the rudder and the starboard propellers and propeller shafts and the shoring timbers placed between the hull and drydock wall that help keep the 630 feet long, 68 feet wide vessel in position. Water is seen pouring into the drydock as its lock gates are slowly opened up.

00:03:44 Views of the Admiralty S Class destroyer HMS Tenedos in Hong Kong harbour moored alongside a local fleet auxiliary vessel, showing her armament, a single QF 4-inch gun on the foc'sle and another one between the two funnels and a long row of sea mines on the main deck from the second funnel to the stern.

00:04:06 Scenes filmed on 5 November 1939 in Yokohama Bay off mainland Japan during a sweep for German disguised commerce raiders and blockade-runners believed to be in Japanese ports with the snow-topped semi-inert volcano, Mount Fuji, looming over the horizon. A modern Japanese freighter steams past through the choppy seas. Another officer on board HMS Kent films the scene with his cine camera. Long lens views of the 12,300-feet tall Mount Fuji rising high over Yokohama Bay with the Japanese freighter in the distance.

00:05:15 Scenes filmed on 7 November 1939 showing an officer identified as Mr Skinner wearing anti-flash headgear and a gas mask on deck on the port side of HMS Kent, watched by a petty officer and several naval ratings who, judging by the straps across their chests, are carrying gas masks on their backs. With his cap perched on his head, Mr Skinner throws a mock salute for the camera.

00:05:53 Scenes on the bridge of HMS Kent showing her new skipper, Captain Douglas Young-Jamieson, puffing away on his pipe, his naval cap on the ledge of the bridge, an officer identified as 'Baron' Clifford standing on his left next to him together with shots of two petty officers (identified as Riley and Holford by Blundell) peering through binoculars at air lookout positions. Scenes showing ship's officers (named as Pat Matheson and Peter Arbuthnot) and the captain (now wearing sunglasses) scanning the sky through their binoculars. Shots showing the wash created by a paravane being trailed in the sparkling tropical waters along the port side of HMS Kent and the paravane being lifted out of the water.

00:07:23 Scenes filmed on 21 November 1939 in Singapore naval dockyard as HMS Kent steams past the shore and through the anchorage past the submarine depot ship, HMS Medway, and a floating dock housing the Southampton Class light cruiser HMS Liverpool. Shots taken from HMS Kent as she heads through the Straits of Johore past the 10,000-ton French heavy cruiser Suffren and encountering on her port side an Albury Class coal-fired fleet minesweeper, an ancient-looking dredger with a tall funnel, a Hunt Class minesweeper, and, as she clears the boom defences on the approaches to the Straits of Johore, two Bar Class boom defence vessels and a Moorgate Class boom gate vessel (whose crew is seen lined up on the upper deck to salute the cruiser as she steams past).

00:10:12 Views of the French heavy cruiser Suffren steaming at high speed in the Indian Ocean ahead of HMS Kent, her Tricolour flying from the mainmast and a Latecoere seaplane on her starboard catapult. Close up shots of Suffren's crest and motto 'Dieu Y Pourvoira' in honour of Count Pierre Andr de Suffren de Saint Tropez, a distinguished 18th century French naval commander.

00:11:08 Scenes in the Nicobar Islands showing the fleet oiler, RFA Penleaf in Nancowry harbour and five of HMS Kent's officers (including Peter Arbuthnot) dressed up in a mix of casual clothes and sports wear (especially to create a 'Plus Fours' look) and armed with shotguns posing for the camera on the quarterdeck. Filmed by Blundell on board his own boat, the shooting party heads for shore in one of HMS Kent's motor launches passing a large motor launch full of French sailors from the Suffren (or Libertymen as Blundell describes them). Scenes on shore on Nancowry Island showing the shooting party walking along the shoreline past fishermen's huts and local inhabitants looking at what's going on; nearby are square patches of ground where freshly-gathered cashew nuts have been left to dry. A naval officer poses for the camera in front of a mass of palm trees. Shots of a memorial plaque to 'Sammy' (an Indian sailor ?) left by the crew of the Royal Indian Marine Service survey ship Investigator in November 1922 and the grave of Dimati Brij Kunwa, widow of Lala Ratti Lall, who warned the British of the approach of the German light cruiser Emden in October 1914. Close up shots of a delicate fern grass leaf. Scenes shot during a fishing expedition showing freshly-caught fish, to which two more are added, and one of Blundell's torpedo man priming an explosive device he has made from torpedo detonators (?) and dropping it overboard, a spreading ring of foaming water after the device has exploded and more fresh fish in buckets.

00:14:03 Scenes in Colombo harbour in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) where several large ships are moored, including the armed merchant cruiser HMS Antenor, a Saint Class Admiralty tug (seen steaming through the harbour), an ex-Blue Funnel Line passenger ship, the French Compagnie des Messagieres Maritimes D'Artagnan (a large two-funnelled passenger liner), and two more armed merchant cruisers (the one on the left is possibly the ex-Bibby Line passenger ship HMS Cheshire and the one on the right nearest the camera is the ex-P & O passenger ship HMS Ranchi). All the armed merchant cruisers seen here have dark grey hulls and buff upper works, masts and funnels.

00:14:49 Scenes filmed on 5 December 1939 showing two large passenger ships on the horizon, large smoke generators on the quarterdeck of HMS Kent being primed and emitting thick white smoke and a smoke screen on the water. A distant view of Suffren on the port beam steaming at high speed, with smoke streaming from her aft funnel, and firing a salvo with her forward 203mm guns. END 00:15:48

Silent 8mm footage shot by Lieutenant-Commander George C Blundell in the first months of the Second World War whilst HMS Kent was hunting for German commerce raiders and blockade runners off Japan and in the Indian Ocean.


Remarks: A diverting and competently-filmed record of the routine on board a Royal Navy cruiser in the first months of the Second World War, with good shots of all the ships named in the Full Summary. In the round, a fascinating visual reminder of a chapter in British naval and imperial history that came to an abrupt end with Japan's entry in the Second World War in December 1941.

Summary: with the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, George Blundell (1904-1997) served on board HMS Kent as a torpedo and electrical specialist from December 1937 to January 1941. As HMS Kent was not armed with torpedoes, Blundell was put in charge of the depth charge party and the ship's anchors as well as serving as the China Station's fleet torpedo officer until the end of 1939. The minelaying destroyer HMS Tenedos, seen in this film as part of Hong Kong's Local Defence Flotilla, was sunk at Colombo harbour by Japanese aircraft on 5 April 1942. Douglas Young-Jamieson replaced Leslie Asmore as captain of HMS Kent when the later was hospitalised at the end of August 1939. In view of the diplomatic furor produced when HMS Liverpool, HMS Kent's successor on the China Station, intercepted a Japanese passenger liner with German nationals on board in Yokohama Bay in January 1940, the scenes filmed in Yokohama Bay provide an interesting backdrop to that event. Blundell's diary entries in the time HMS Kent was operating with the Suffren refers to the noise made by her air condition machinery whilst at sea. Both warships belonged to 'Force M', hurriedly formed to hunt for the German pocket battleship 'Graf Spee' rumoured at the time to be at large in the Indian Ocean. The Suffren survived the war and in November 1946 opened the postwar conflict in Vietnam (then French Indo-China) by bombarding the port of Haiphong. The Nicobar Islands, part of the Andaman Island group, were occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. Owned and administered by India since 1950, they were badly affected by the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami. HMS Kent was a County Class cruiser, launched in March 1926 and commissioned in June 1928. Her first ten years of service were spent in the Far East with the 5th Cruiser Squadron, returning to the UK for part reconstruction in 1938. In early 1939 she returned to the Far East and remained in tropical waters until August 1940, when she joined the Mediterranean Fleet in Alexandria. After being badly damaged by an Italian torpedo in September 1940 (see MGH 2740), HMS Kent spent more than one year in dock for repairs and was then assigned to the Home Fleet. In January 1945, after three years of duty in northern waters, she was paid off into reserve and scrapped in 1948.




Technical Data

Running Time:
15 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
190 ft (ca)

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Blundell, G C (Captain)