This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: MGH 3385).


Film opens with captions detailing the history of, and current work of, the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU). "1914-1918 Ambulance trains and motor ambulance convoys in France and Belgium. Casualty hospitals in Dunkirk and Britain. Relief work in Belgium." "1939-1946 The FAU was re-formed in September 1939 and during the war undertook ambulance work in Finland, Norway, Greece, North Africa, Italy, France Belgium and Germany." "IN BRITAIN - emergency relief work in the bombed cities and assistance in the short staffed hospitals" "IN THE FAR EAST - medical supplies transported along the Burma Road, medical and civilian relief in China" "IN INDIA - Civil Defence preparations supervised, assistance rendered to victims of the Mydnapore cyclone and Bengal famine." "IN ETHIOPIA AND SYRIA - medical and health services organised" "Civilian relief teams followed the Allied armies in to Europe." (No film - captions only)

Caption "This films shows two phases of the Units work - Britain 1941 and Europe 1945". 10th Camp, Manor Farm, Northfield, Birmingham, England, 1941. Three members of FAU arrive at the camp gates walking along a country lane, Keith B Lithgow, Charles F Woodhouse and Heber (Roy) Ridgway. Close-up of the cover of a St John Ambulance book on Home Nursing. Shot of Jackson R Progin and John C Rose. Lecture by Sister Gibbs, shot of the Sister at a blackboard and her audience of FAU members. Shots of the murals on the wall. Bandaging practice. Close-up of cover of a St John Ambulance book on First Aid to the Injured. Lecture by Dr Rutter, shot of Dr Rutter holding a skull and standing in front of a blackboard. Shot of the audience of FAU members. Exterior shot of a small group of FAU members looking at a map and receiving instruction from Ian C Robinson. FAU man lying on the ground by a river and small waterfall pretending to be injured. Stretcher party runs through a park to reach the "injured" man. Shot of the bandaging on a splint to the "injured" man's leg. Shots of the stretcher party, bearing the "injured" man moving through the park around the edge of a lake. Brief shots of a group of FAU members on the march. Friends Ambulance Unit Headquarters, 4 Gordon Square, London, England, 1941. Keith C Linney walks up to the front door, rings the bell and enters. Close-up of fingers typing. John (Peter) G Leyland retrieves a file. Edna G Bailey sitting at her typewriter. C Brian M Phillips typing and operating the telephone switchboard. Peter J Hume talking on the telephone. Frederick (Freddy) S Temple typing. Richey E Mounsey seated, smoking a pipe, passes a piece of paper to John (Peter) G Leyland. John (Peter) G Leyland reading a document. Thomas (Tom) L Tanner talking on the telephone. Close-up of a telephone switchboard. Close shots of fingers using a typewriter. Caption "Over five hundred men had been trained". View of the skyline of Gloucester, including a church tower. Gloucester City General Royal Infirmary, Gloucester, England, 1941. Ian Kilvert pulling a cart containing pig buckets (large buckets containing food waste intended for the consumption of pigs) in the grounds of the hospital. Caption "GLOUCESTER Forty men worked at the City General Hospital." Shot of a male nurse, wearing a FAU coat, washing his hands and applying a sticking paster to a patient in a hospital bed. Shot of man preparing medicine in the hospital dispensary .Caption "Pig Buckets" Two men moving a hand cart containing pig buckets in the hospital grounds. Caption "Portering" William (Bill) Brown pushes a patient in a wheelchair along a hospital corridor to the massage department. Ian Kilvert piling up empty pig buckets. Two men moving a hand cart containing pig buckets. Interior of a hospital ward, David C Merchant takes the temperature of a patient. FAU man stoking a boiler in the hospital boiler house. Caption "Ambulance Train No 22" Ambulance Train no 22, Newmarket 1941. Shot of a railway signal followed by shots of the stationary ambulance train. Train passes on another track. Thomas (Tom) C Newby exits the train carrying a bucket. Basil B D Whitworth fills hurricane lamps handed to him out of the ambulance train by a nurse. LNER water tank pushed along the platform by Newby and Whitworth. Shot from above of another train passing the ambulance train. Shots of water being pumped in through the roof of the ambulance train by Newby and Whitworth. Caption "Stretcher practice" Nurse overseas FAU men as a stretcher is loaded on to the ambulance train. Another shot from above as a train passes the stationary ambulance train. Shots of men working on bomb damaged buildings. FAU van no 114 (registration number EVP 215) driving along a street past a bomb damaged house and parking outside the London Hospital Student's Hostel, Philpot Street, London, England. Caption "Emergency relief work HQ" Scenes in the office of the Student's Hostel of the London Hospital. Fingers on a typewriter, Peter L Gibson standing by Glanmour (Glan) T Davies talking on the telephone. Location flags on a wall map of London. Noel L Ripley seated smoking a pipe. Michael Barratt Brown pinning a location flag in the Bethnal Green area of a larger scale wall map of London. Emergency Rest Centre, Bethnal Green, East London, England, 1941. Sign "EMERGENCY REST CENTRE"; Kenneth E Brown painting an interior ceiling. Caption "Work squads prepare rest centres". William P (Bill or Bish) Barnes scraping paint of a window. Rear view of William Barnes and another man scraping paint of windows. Piano being moved inside the centre. Man, woman and child walking along a bomb-damaged street and entering the rest centre, greeted by Jack Skeel. Caption "A bombed-out family received at a rest centre" Shot of a church spire. Shot scenes of bomb damaged buildings. "Shelter S Here"sign. Caption "Shelter patrol Isle of Dogs" Dark interior shot inside an air raid shelter . Two FAU men arrive, one identified as Donovan (Don) A Gravely. Shot of an elderly man, an elderly woman and two children. FAU member bandaging the toe of the elderly man. Shot of a Corporation of London poster "public shelter for 158 persons". Shots inside an air raid shelter in the City of London (possibly in Bread Street or Cannon Street). Shot of Patrick D Barr. Close-up of set of playing cards. Caption "Social Life during the air-raids - a 'model' shelter organised by the FAU". More shots of card playing. Patrick D Barr holding the hand of a small girl. Boys playing billiards. Men playing darts. Elderly man playing table tennis. Shot of Muriel B Davis. Posters "Atlantis summer cruises" and "protect your child against diphtheria". Shots of a piano, drum and people dancing. Muriel B Davis and Patrick D Barr looking on. More shots of people dancing. Dawn shot over roof and chimney pots. Small group walk along a bomb damaged street, small fires visible in the background. Caption "Evacuation Centre North London" ("Oakdene", East Barnet) Exterior shots of the large family house. Brief shot of a female cook ladling food into a large metal dish. Small boy standing at the foot of a wooden staircase banging a gong. Children running down the stairs. Caption "eighty-five evacuees from West Ham - an experiment in communal living". Two women at work in the kitchen. Small boy standing at the foot of a wooden staircase banding a gong (repeat shot). Children rush to sit down at a dining table. Louis J Dore carves a joint of meat. More shots of the small boy banging the gong. Adults walking down the stairs. Tray of food being carried by a woman. Shots of group eating at the dining table, including a man with a eye patch. David Tait working on the account books for the centre. Shots inside the first aid room showing bottles of medication on a shelf including a bottle of "Dettol". Small boy has his thumb bandaged by John M Saunders. Caption "Ministry of Health Emergency Hospitals". Large map of England on a wall with many small flags places in it. Shot of a sign "Ministry of Health Emergency Hospital". William (Bill) J Westover operating the hospital telephone switchboard. Ambulance arriving, patient on a stretcher being removed from the ambulance by John (Jack) E Thompson, Henry (Jim) F Cottrell and Oliver Beckett. Further shots of the telephone switchboard. Doctor examines a patient assisted by nurses and a FAU man. "Theatre" notice on door. Shot of the anaesthetic equipment. Nurse (?) scrubbing up. Patients on wheeled stretcher pushed through the hospital grounds. Shots in the operating theatre, doctors putting on surgical mask, instruments laid out, brief shots of the operation in progress including a close-up shot of the anaesthetic mask on the unconscious patient. Patient being returned to the ward on a wheeled stretcher, nurses preparing the bed, nurses and FAU men transferring the patient to the bed and close-up of a nurse tucking him in. Caption "China Convoy". Shot of Professor E R Hughes in his rooms at Oxford University, England 1941. Caption "a few months later these men were driving medical supplies over the Burma Road to China". Prof Hughes and a group of FAU men. Duncan Wood and Eric Chirgwin (smoking a pipe) writing Chinese characters. Henry H Rodwell, Reginald (Tod) E Lawry and Michael Harris listening to a "Linguaphone" record.

"IN EUROPE 1945 - Germany", brief shot of several men at work in the open air in a small square bounded at one corner by a timber clad house (barn?) and at another by a half-timbered (fachwerk) house. Caption "After five million Displaced Persons had returned to their own countries half a million Poles and others remained." More shots of the men at work - men sawing wood, overhead shots of men digging and others moving sacks on their shoulders. Caption "Eight relief sections of the FAU assisted in the supervision and organization of these DP's". Very brief shot of a member of the FAU working with papers at a desk. FAU member opening a wooden door to the laundry for a women carrying a Red Cross box. Interior shots in the laundry - women handwashing clothes in a large bucket. Exterior close-up of a man working leather on his knee making, or repairing, shoes. Close-up shot of small children standing close to the cobbler. Mid-shot of two men working on shoes seated on the top of the entrance steps to the half-timbered building. Interior shots of the laundry - two women lift a large bucket of washed clothes and walk across the courtyard and hang the clothes on a washing line. Caption "clothes for German children from the International Red Cross" uniformed men and women open and sort boxes of clothes in the open air. Caption "they are sorted before distribution" - clothes being sorted in to piles. Caption "Italy", long shot of an unidentified Italian hillside village. Caption "Refugees in their thousands. Accommodation must be found for these new homeless", train full of refugees pulling in to a station. Caption "one of the refugee transit camps supervised by an FAU/UNRRA team "shot of a small group of refugees at a doorway to a large modern (unfinished?) building. Refugees and and their belongings at the side of railways wagons. Refugees loading their belongings on to trucks. Trucks arriving at the same large modern building. Portrait shot of an older women with a small child seated on her lap. Trucks reversing towards the building to unload. Caption "registration" men, women and children queuing to register at a small desk manned by two FAU men (?). Shot along a small dark corridor. Group of women and children seated eating. Group of refugees queuing at a window to receive food. Caption "in a nearby village an FAU man visits the mayor": shot of the FAU man parking by a fountain (in the village square?) and walking to a small flight of stone steps. Portrait shot of the Mayor. Mayor talking with the FAU man. Caption "Yes I can house 200 people in this commune", further shots of the Mayor and the FAU man. Portrait shot of an old woman. Caption "back in the camp". Women washing clothes in a laundry using wash boards. Women doctor (medical orderly?) bandaging a women's ankle. Two men exchanging papers for clothes, one man tries on a jacket and examines a pair of trousers (holding them in his outstretched arms to check their size). Caption "they leave for their new homes in the village". Refugees in trucks driving towards a hillside village. Trucks arrive in the village square, by the water fountain, and the refugees climb down from the back of the trucks and walk past some local children in to a building off of the square. Caption "Austria". Brief close-up low angle shot of teenage girls holding hands and dancing in a circle. Caption "there were thousands of DP's of many nationalities unable to return home" Long shot of Austrian mountains panning down to a DP camp in a valley. Man standing on the steps of a large wooden building used as a school blowing a whistle (?) - a large number of young children walk toward the building. Shots of the children entering the school building. Caption "the F.A.U undertook various welfare and occupational programmes, including a school in one of the camps": more shots of the children entering the school building, followed by shots inside the school - boys entering and sitting down in a classroom, brief dark shot into a kindergarten class, a group of young children playing with wooden building blocks, girls in a needlework class - including girls sewing and other girls using a cushion and bobbins to make lace, boys being taught motor cycle maintenance, boys using a metal file on a work bench, a basket weaving class and and a man working at small forge. A wider shot of the same teenage girls dancing in a circle in the open air. Shot of a girl reading aloud in a classroom. Shots of the female teacher and of the children leaving the classroom. Sustained shot of children running out of the entrance to the school. Children carrying plates, bowls and tins rush to sit down in the school canteen. Close up shot of a young bald headed child eating a meal with a spoon. Caption "Berlin". Shot of a women helping children on to a bus. Caption "'Operation Stork' - a daily evacuation of children to the British Zone". Shots of children getting on a bus. Child looking out of the bus with a poster for "Aktion Storch" on the window. Caption "two F.A.U. ambulances accompanied each convoy". Brief shot of the shoulder flashes of FAU man. Children looking out of a bus window. Shot of the FAU bus. Shot of laughing children seated in a bus reading papers. Shot of the FAU bus, loaded with luggage on the roof, moving off through the streets. Interior shots of children in the bus. Caption "The Aventino Valley, central Italy". 1945 Long shot of a man leading a donkey across the valley. Caption "this was a battlefield" panning shot over damaged buildings in a hillside village. Caption "on the mountainside - timber": view of a forested hillside. Caption "a hundred kilometres away, near the coast - tiles and bricks": men making roof tiles and laying them out to dry in the sun. Caption "an F.A.U. /A.F.S.C. team came to the valley to organize a reconstruction programme", truck travelling along a deserted road, shots of men, a women and ponies and a pile of lumber in a wood. Caption "they arranged that the timber should be bartered for building supplies" - continuation of previous shot in a wood. Men and ponies heavily laden with timber walking down a mountain road. Caption "orders are received for bricks and tiles" FAU man standing with a group of men and women making notes. FAU and AFSC men standing talking with a group of men in a village street. Ponies laden with wood walk past. Men loading wood on a FAU truck. FAU truck drives away from the camera with men seated in top of the load of wood. Brief shots of a large number of bricks. Two FAU vehicles drive in to a village past kilns (?). Brief shot of a large number of roof tiles. Shots of the two FAU trucks driving along a road and over a bridge. Large piles of bricks. Shots of men unloading wood and loading bricks on to one of the FAU trucks. Caption "back in the village the building sites are prepared": men working on a wall, women and children carrying baskets of rubble on their heads, the two FAU trucks on the road, men mixing mortar, women carrying materials on the building site, truck arriving, view over building site, shots on men working on site, men unloading the bricks from the truck and more views of building work. Caption "out of the rubble rise new homes": more shots of the building works and shot of the virtually complete homes. Caption "and the villages, who had given up hope, have learned to live again" Shot of a women, seated on a wooden chair outside a doorway of a newly rebuilt house, spinning thread, with a young girl seated on the doorstep next to her. Shot of a building and a repeat shot of a forested hillside. Caption "The Friends Ambulance Unit has enabled young pacifists to work for positive and significant ends in a world at war". The films concludes with brief repeats scenes showing the variety of work undertaken by members of the FAU. "THE END"

Edited mute black and white amateur footage recording the activities of the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU), part of the Christian pacifist organisation The Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers) during the Second World War.


ISummary: identification of individual member of the FAU and the various locations have been taken from an annotated shot list provided by the cameraman. Many of the individuals were identified at a screening of the film by the cameraman at a reunion of member of the FAU 19/20 September 1987. The individual names have been checked with the list of FAU member, appendix 2 of Friends Ambulance Unit by A Tegla Davies, published by George Allen and Unwin, 1947 (Ian Kilvert, who appears in the Gloucester City General Hospital section, is not listed in this appendix.)

The Friends Ambulance Unit began life in the First World War as the Anglo-Belgian Ambulance Unit and was later named the Friends Ambulance Unit. It was disbanded at the end of the First World War and reformed in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Britain 1941 sections are an edited version of the footage which appears in film ref MGH 3386 "The Unit".

The Religious Society of Friends, known as the Quakers, is a Christian pacifist organisation. "In 1660 the Harmless and Innocent People of God called Quakers made a declaration to King Charles II 'We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatever; this is our testimony to the whole world. The Spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move us unto it; and we certainly know and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us unto all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ nor for the kingdoms of the World'" (Friends Ambulance Unit by A Tegla Davies, published by George Allen and Unwin, 1947 pages 4 and 5)

The training camp location at Manor Farm, Northfield, Birmingham was lent to the FAU by Dame Elizabeth Cadbury. The camp was set up in September 1939.

The Evacuation Centre in "Oakdene" the large family house in East Barnet (North London) was opened in November 1940 and closed in March 1941.

The FAU had a section at the Gloucester City General Royal Infirmary from 25 May 1940 until 29 September 1945. The accommodation for the section of 32 members was initially three terraced houses in Sherborne Street.

Ambulance train no 22, manned by a section of eight FAU members, was stationed at Newmarket in the winter of 1940-41 and little used - only travelling once to Bradford.

The Berlin sequences are slightly out of focus.

For an account of the work of the FAU (in association with the American Friends Service Committee AFSC) in the Aventino Valley, from April 1945, see pages 387 - 390 of A Tegla Davies's book.

Copy viewed VHS. U-matic copy also held copied from the 16mm original held by the cameraman.

Stephen Peet, filmmaker and oral historian, born February 16 1920; died December 22 2005.

Interview with cameraman Stephen Hubert Peet, made in 1990, held in Sound Archive, ref 11736/10.




Technical Data

Running Time:
44 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Stephen, Peet
Production company
FAU Films