This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 2738).


START 00:00:00 Scenes filmed from 28 to 30 April 1940 in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean showing at least three giant sea turtles caught for food by the crew of HMS Kent and the waterfront at Male', the main population centre in the island group, where fishing boats can be seen moored inside a small harbour protected by a low breakwater or jetty. The heavy cruiser's Vickers Supermarine Walrus seaplane taxies across the anchorage and powers up to take off; there are several large schooners moored in the background. Scenes showing the ruler of the Maldives, Sultan Sir Hassan Nooraddeen, and his principal adviser being ferried across to HMS Kent in a barge with fourteen oars, coming alongside the Royal Navy cruiser and in conversation with Captain Young-Jamieson and his Executive Officer (or Officer of the Watch) with a telescope tucked under his arm. Views taken ashore at Male' showing small fishing boats left on a beach, local boys and youths posing for the camera, the Customs House with its second floor verandah and an empty street, with only one individual brave enough to defy the baking heat. Views of goats and youths in the grounds of the old fort at Male'.

00:02:36 Shots of Maldivian boys and youths who smile for the camera and four demure but unveiled teenage girls, their hair tied up in a bun over the ear on each side of their heads. The camera picks out one of the young women wearing a heavy pendant around her neck but she refuses to look at the camera. Shots of a young boy sitting on a swing with a baby on his knee and an adult male cheerfully puffing away at his 'hubble-bubble' or hookah. Views of a Moslem minaret (painted completely white and looking like two round wedding cakes stacked on top of each other) and prayer flags flying in front of a white pavilion at the main mosque in Male' (?) and its entrance complete with a heavy wooden door and oil lamps suspended from the ceiling. Boys and youths outside the mosque pose for the camera.

00:04:29 Scenes at Trincomalee, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) filmed 29 March 1940 showing the boom defences at the entrance to the anchorage and a Bar Class boom defence vessel and a Moorgate Class boom gate vessel on station; in the background is an Amphion Class light cruiser, HMAS Hobart. Scenes filmed on Sober Island inside the Trincomalee anchorage showing a Jolly Roger flying from a flagpole and five naval ratings carrying a long section of canvas; bring up the rear is a Petty Officer identified by Blundell as P. O. Mason. They are seen unfolding the material on the ground next to a large bungalow used by the officers as a rest home. Scenes showing naval ratings chipping away seaweed and the barnacles encrusting the floats on a swimmers' raft with sharp implements at the water's edge and trying to kill a live eel one of the sailors has fished out of the water.

00:06:02 Scenes in Mumbai (Bombay), India, filmed between the 4 and 6 June 1940: views of the Royal Indian Marine dockyard as HMS Kent arrives, the Apollo Bundar waterfront (where an Indian riding a bicycle narrowly avoids running Blundell over), the massive arch built on Mumbai's waterfront in honour of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in December 1911 and known as the Gateway to India. A view framed by one of its arches of the oriental dome on the nearby Prince of Wales Museum and a short distance away the massive neo-Gothic facade of the Victoria mainline railway terminus. Shots of street life in the busy centre of Mumbai - men wearing a mix of European and Indian clothing and carrying umbrellas, a street entertainer (?), naked except for a thong, and a mix of city transport new and old - modern AEC Regent double-decker buses, horse-drawn Hackney carriages, a double-decker trolley car and a bullock cart. A Mumbai traffic policeman is seen on point duty and two local policemen, one holding an umbrella, pose for the camera in their distinctive uniforms. A view of three vultures on top of a tropical tree near the Towers of Silence on Malabar Hill. Street vendors - tea sellers - pose for the camera. Scenes in Mumbai's busy commercial district - crowded pavements (the pedestrians consist almost entirely of Indian males, no women and very few Europeans); a section of ornate wrought iron tracery lines one section of pavement. Slightly over-exposed views of busy street lined by modern multi-storey buildings and used by cars, bicyclists and double-decker trolley cars.

00:09:53 Views filmed on 16 July 1940 from a dockyard building at Durban showing HMS Kent's Royal Marine band and detachments from the ship's company in their best parade uniformsas they form up for a route march on the quayside alongside their ship under the supervision of their officers and petty officers. They march off, shouldering their rifles; the sailors march in ranks of four whilst the Royal Marines march in threes.

00:11:13 Scenes filmed 30 - 31 July 1940 during the victualling of HMS Kent at Walker's Dock, Colombo, showing the ship's starboard seaplane crane at work, lowering a cargo net full of wooden boxes of food onto the main deck at the ship's waist just forward of the starboard pom-pom position (covered in tarpaulin). The camera inspects the wooden crates containing tinned tomatoes and marked 'Made in Italy'. More wooden crates are seen stacked on the ship's foc'sle next to A turret. One of the ship's Petty Officers and two ratings wind a thick coil of rope onto its bobbin located on the underside of the 4-inch gun battery deck. An assortment of different stores - a large number of bricks used to line the ship's boilers, a wooden barrel full of vinegar (?), an unidentified cylindrical object in canvas - are seen on deck. The ship's starboard seaplane crane lowers a large wicker fender into a railway waggon on the quayside. Shots of wooden crates and sacks containg coffee, more peeled tomatoes, sausages, Heinz baked beans (?), sultanas, apricots and sausages - and oxygen cylinders left on the maindeck being sorted out before being stowed below. Paymaster Commander Spiers, the officer in charge of victualling, is seen keeping an eye on all the activity. Naval ratings at work trying to remove the lifting hook from a cargo net in order to unload its contents. Sri Lankan dockyard workers carrying stores on their backs come up the gangway to board HMS Kent. Tea chests marked 'Ceylon Tea'. Shots filmed on deck and below deck showing naval ratings using an improvised pulley system using a boat davit to lower crates of food through a small hatch just between A turret and the deckhouse supporting B turret to store lockers down below. A Fleet Air Arm mechanic examines a spare 635hp Pegasus radial engine for the cruiser's Walrus seaplane stowed inside a large wooden crate.

00:15:31 Scenes in a drydock at Walker's Dock, showing general activity on deck - a naval rating shouldering an empty 4-inch shell case and others scraping rust - and a Sri Lankan or Somali dockyard worker applying rustproof primer to a scuttle or port hole on the hull. Shots filmed from the side of the drydock and on the floor showing another worker using a very long-handled paint brush to apply a heavy black paint along HMS Kent's waterline on the starboard bow.

00:16:30 Views filmed on 29 July 1940 from the side of the drydock and from the foc'sle of HMS Kent looking down onto the floor of the drydock where the ship's three bow anchors (two on the starboard side) and anchor chains or cables have been laid out for inspection or cable survey in naval parlance. On the foc'sle one of the anchor capstans has been part dismantled in order for maintenance work to be done to its machinery. Down below in the drydock, dockyard (?) inspectors test the condition of each individual link and shackle with a hammer and lubricating fluid is poured from a bucket onto one of the ship's three anchors. A naval rating cleans rust off a chain link and the cable inspectors continue their work checking the condition of one of the ship's cables by raining hammer blows onto individual chain links. An anchor chain is seen suspended from a dockside crane directly over the foc'sle of HMS Kent and carefully lowered into the cable locker below deck through the navel hole. END 00:18:52

Silent 8mm black and white film filmed in the spring and summer of 1940 by Lieutenant-Commander George C Blundell, chief torpedo officer on board HMS Kent, featuring a courtesy call in the Maldive Islands, a stop for rest and recreation at Trincomalee, short stays in Bombay (Mumbai) and Durban and time victualling and repairs at Colombo.


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. 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 (see MGH 2740), HMS Kent spent more than one year in dock for repairs and was then assigned to the Home Fleet. The Maldives were a British protectorate from 1887 to 1965. Sir Hassan Nooraddeen, KCMG (also known as Hassan Nooraddeen Iskandar II) became the Sultan of the Maldives in 1935. After his abdication in 1943, he lived until 1967. The island group consists of 26 main atolls totalling nearly 1200 small islands; they were badly affected by the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami in which 108 islanders were killed. On Sober island in Trincomalee bay, there was a tradition that on every occasion when a ship's crew arrived to use its facilities, a red Jolly Roger was raised. The Gateway of India, Mumbai's most famous landmark, was designed by British architect George Wittet and completed in 1924. Wittet also designed the Prince of Wales Museum (now called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum) opened in 1923. Modelled on St Pancras Station in London, the huge Victoria Terminus in Mumbai was designed by Frederick William Stevens and completed in 1885. Nowadays, it is known officially as is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus but the locals still call it the 'VT'.

Remarks: A diverting record of aspects of life on board a Royal Navy warship not normally recorded on film together with brief but absorbing glimpses of locations, buildings and peoples over which the British still held sway - but only for a few more years.




Technical Data

Running Time:
18 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
226 ft (ca)

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Blundell, G C (Captain)