This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 19).


I. VICEROY VISITS EASTERN FRONT - Pictures of His Excellency The viceroy, Lord Linlithgow's flying visit to the Eastern Army operational Areas and RAF bases.

I. VICEROY VISITS EASTERN FRONT - Travelling by air the viceroy recently paid a four day visit to Eastern Army operational areas and RAF bases. The object of the visit was to see the extent of work being done by the fighting forces on this front and to meet as many of them as possible. The tour was marked by informality throughout. At Chittagong, he spent several hours in inspecting naval, military, RAF and Civil Defence installations. In Manipur he toured military Installations travelling many miles by road to areas overlooking Burma and the Chindwin Valley. He inspected Air Force and ack-ack units and showed particular interest in technical defence measures. He also saw the extent of damage inflicted by enemy air raids. In this Temple Hall, now a mass of debris, had crowded for safety a number of people who were killed by a direct hit including a family of six of this pathetic old woman.

II. SPORT - LAHORE - Opening of the luxurious king George the Fifth memorial Swimming Bath and aquatic sports.

II. SPORT - LAHORE - The luxurious King George the Fifth Memorial Swimming Bath was opened at Lahore by Sir Bertrand Glancy, the Governor of Punjab. The Finance Minister, Sir Mancharlal opened the proceedings in the presence of a distinguished crowd. His Excellency then made a short speech after which he left the dais to unveil the tablet over the entrance to the bath. The swimming pool was then declared open to all communities. Some of the best aquatic sportsmen are to be seen contesting in the first race. It is followed by a game of water polo with Sir Bertrand Glancy starting the game by throwing in the ball.

III. RELIABILITY TESTS OF PRODUCER GAS PLANTS - Reliability tests held in Delhi of military vehicles fitted with Gas producer Plants made in India, when 25 vehicles each equipped with a plant of different made competed.

III. RELIABILITY TESTS OF PRODUCER GAS PLANTS - Recently in Delhi, the War Transport Department held a Reliability Test of military Vehicles fitted with Indian made Producer Gas Plants. Twenty-five vehicles, each equipped with a plant of different make line up to compete in a 1,000 mile run under rough and difficult road conditions. The producer Gas Plant industry which started with the introduction of petrol Rationing now claims fifty-five manufacturing firms in India and already ten thousand civilian vehicles are running on Producer Gas, thus saving several million gallons of petrol annually.

IV. GOVERNOR'S CUP (KARACHI) - Governor's Cup Racing in Karachi.

IV. GOVERNOR'S CUP - At Karachi a large crowd gathers at the Racecourse to witness the event of the season, the Governor's Cup. The Governor of Sind, Sir Hugh Dow, is present in person. Off to an even start they set a hot pace with two horses fighting out one of the shortest of finishes. The cup was won by Major Ablett's 'Princep'. The major is seen here receiving the cup from the Governor.

V. REFUGEES - Touching scenes of a large number of refugees arriving in Karachi and the shelter and hospitality offered to them in India.

V. REFUGEES - In Karachi, a touching and dramatic spectacle was to be seen when a shipload of Polish refugees arrived at the quayside. These were once ordinary peace loving citizens of a country, which suffered a ruthless and unprovoked attack during which cities like Warsaw were almost raised to the ground by the German Luftwaffe. India may well be proud of the shelter and hospitality offered to over 10,000 refugees. Death and disaster left behind these tragically war worn people may learn to smile and be happy again.

VI. COMMUNIST PARTY CONGRESS - Impressive pictures of the First Communist Party Congress in Bombay, where over 25,000 workers and nearly 300 delegates from all over India participated in a rally under the Red flag.

VI. COMMUNIST PARTY CONGRESS - A rally of 25,000 workers in the Kamgar Maidan signalised [sic] the inauguration of the First communist Party Congress in Bombay presided over by Mr S A Dange, the founder member of the Communist Party in India. Mr Bankim Mukherjee, the president of the All-India Kishan Conference hoisted the Red Flag, the flag which still flies triumphantly over Stalingrad. The object of the party said Mr Mukherjee was to secure the defence of the country against any Axis aggression and to secure the freedom of India through Hindu Muslim Unity. By rallying the workers and peasants and rousing them to a consciousness of the implications of the present war, the Communist Party has given a lead to the country to tackle their urgent day to day problems such as food and to build the foundations of a Free Indian in the post war world by active mobilisation of the people to win the present war.

VII. TUNISIA - First pictures after the victory of the battle of Tunisia - The Gallant Fourth Indian Division collecting large numbers of arms and ammunition, including big siege guns abandoned by the retreating Axis Forces. Scenes of cordial welcome to the Indian troops as the victorious army enters the Port of Sfax.

VII. TUNISIA - Mr Churchill recently gave a detailed account of Axis losses in the battle of North Africa. These newsreel pictures, the first of a long series to arrive from Tunisia give but a brief glimpse of that battle. Here we have the Fourth Indian Division whose exploits in the desert have made contemporary history, collecting some of the abandoned material after the battle of Wadi Akarit. The spoils included small guns, trench mortars, big siege guns, even the out of date French 75's which the Axis were forced to bring forward when they had lost so much material. The local population which had fled to the hills for safety now return. The Port of Sfax, which will play an important part, possibly as a springboard in the coming offensive on the Axis, received a heavy pounding by the RAF. Soon after the fall of SFax, Indian Troops entered the city searching in the debris for the remnants of the Afrika Korps. People seem to move about once again. The news of the Allied victory made them feel a new sense of security as the men of the gallant Fourth moved among them. These Indian troops welcomed the change from the grim battlefield to the simpler scenes of life among a hospitable, peace loving North African people.

VIII. TUNISIA VICTORY CELEBRATIONS - Tunisia Day in Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Lahore, Karachi and Poona - Scenes of colourful pageantry and impressive parades throughout the country.

VIII. TUNISIA VICTORY CELEBRATIONS - We in India celebrate the Tunisian Victory which may well prove to be the turning point of world War No. II. The highest civil and military authorities attended the Victory parade throughout the country. We feel a sense of pride not because of the ceremonial which we watched, but because this symbolised the armed might of this country and its potentialities for offence and defence. As the spear head of the Allied Advance into Tunisia, the Fourth Indian Division had shown to all the world that they could be relied upon to do some of the finest fighting that has been done in this war. Tunisia was the culminating point of many months of careful planning by some of the finest military strategists of any war and the victory of Tunisia has now changed the whole aspect of World War II. In keeping with India's age old traditional victory celebration customs, many thousands of the poor were fed in Delhi and other cities. Prayers were held at the Jumma Masjid and in many other places of worship. Only twelve months ago, an atmosphere of uncertainty clouded the Mediterranean scene. But today those clouds of uncertainty darken the horizon of Berlin, Rome and the Axis outposts of Sicily and Sardinia. Not only in the big cities but in district towns and remote villages the people joined in the Tunisia celebrations. At night many scenes were reminiscent of 'Diwali' as buildings and streets were brilliantly illuminated. In industrial centres Labour rallies were held and people from all walks of life and sections of the community rejoiced together in thanksgiving. With Egypt and the Libyan Desert cleared of the enemy, the Axis menace to India's Western Front has disappeared. When the coming autumn witnesses the Allied offensive on India's Easter Front, India's fighting men will once again prove their inherent fighting qualities.



Although intended primarily for screening within India, copies of Indian Movietone News were also sent to London and Cairo as the Ministry of Information hoped that some of the footage would be suitable for inclusion either in commercial newsreels or in its own War Pictorial News, edited by its Middle East section in Cairo and distributed in various language versions in the region. Indeed the commentary sheet for this film indicates that the film was received in Cairo, yet the reaction to the footage at the Ministry of Information in England was extremely negative (INF 1/569). The paucity of cameramen at the Indian Army Public Relations Unit meant that while the demand for war footage from Burma and the Indian frontier increased, Indian Movietone News relied heavily on footage provided by other private newsreel companies (Woods, 2000, 99). The commentary sheet for Indian Movietone News 16 indicates that at least two of its items also featured in War Pictorial News, while the footage of Tunisia in Indian Movietone News 19 was also featured within the item ‘Mediterranean Miscellany’ in British Movietone News 727, released on 10 May 1943.

Indian Movietone News 19 concludes with two lengthy items relating to the Tunisia campaign. It includes footage of members of the 4th Indian Division after the Battle of Wadi Akarit in April 1943. Churchill wrote to the Viceroy shortly after this, praising the ‘outstanding performance of the Indian Army in all the campaigns of the Middle East’. ‘We take pride’, he added, ‘that India’s fighting men should now share in the successes which have crowned the long uphill contest in which they have played so valiant a part’ (The Times, 19 April 1943, 4). On 13 May the Commander-in-Chief in North Africa, General Sir Harold Alexander, reported to Churchill that ‘the Tunisian campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased. We are the masters of North African shores’ (The Times, 17 May 1943, 4). A week later, on 21 May, ‘Tunisia Day’ was celebrated across India. The Times reported on the celebrations in Bombay, where the victory parade included a mile-long procession, and in Calcutta, where ‘it took an hour to pass the Governor at the saluting base in Chowringhee Square’. The report concluded by stating that ‘the film Desert Victory is being shown to the public from to-night’, while the Governor of Bombay, Sir John Colville, told a public meeting that he believed India would ‘take that place which, by her effort in the war, she is winning for herself’ (The Times, 22 May 1943, 3).

Amongst the other items within this edition was further footage of Polish refugees. Polish refugees had featured in Indian Movietone News 9 and, as discussed in that entry, their appearance was strongly criticised by Film India, which objected to the attention afforded to the refugees in contrast to the lack of care and recognition given to India’s own poor. The magazine complained that while the local poor ‘are denied relief, charity, or even the facility of a film propaganda which we ourselves so richly deserve, charity is showered on the foreigners’ (Film India, February 1943, 19).

This issue also includes an item showing the first Communist Party Congress at Bombay, which was inaugurated on 23 May 1943 and ran until 1 June. The Communist Party had traditionally adopted a vehemently anti-colonial policy, but by the end of 1941 the Party now argued that Indians should support the war effort, primarily in defence of the Soviet Union. Historian Rakesh Batabyal argued that the Bombay convention marked a further change in policy, as the party ‘tried to correct its “nationalist deviation” by toning down its criticism against the colonial authority’ (Batabyal, 2005, 135). Yet, the Government was soon questioning the validity of these public claims. An official report in September 1943 suggested that the ‘good resolutions’ of the Party were ‘stillborn’ and argued that the Party was generating ‘anti-British and pro-communist propaganda’ and utilising ‘every form of agitation, which they consider likely to increase their influence and popularity’ (Mukherjee, 2004, 213). 



Indian Movietone News 19 represents a continuing effort within the newsreel to promote the war effort within India. This is achieved in a number of ways. For example, the first item emphasises the increasing war threat on Indian borders and to civilians, as it depicts ‘a mass of debris’ and a ‘pathetic old woman’ who has lost her family of six in Manipur. The third item highlights the Indian contribution to the war effort at home through ‘Indian made Producer gas plants’, while the footage of Polish refugees again emphasises the welfare efforts of the British, in contrast to the treatment meted out by the Germans.

The footage from Tunisia more explicitly highlights the work of the Indian military overseas. This serves both to emphasise the Indian war effort but also to highlight, as Churchill’s comments reiterated, that India is now invested in the war and embraced within an imperial war effort. The following item, depicting the Tunisia Day celebrations, is intended to illustrate the unified national support for the war, as the item cuts between ‘big cities, district towns and rural villages’. Yet, while this is a celebration of victory, it also serves as a drive for further Indian recruitment as it presents the Indian soldiers as celebrated heroes and as a source of national pride. Furthermore, the commentator implies that their actions are bringing India to an international stage and changing perceptions of the country. ‘The Fourth Indian Division had shown to all the world’, the commentator stated, ‘that they could be relied upon to do some of the finest fighting that has been done in this war’. The commentator notes the continued role of the Indians within the War – and the continued opportunities to impact upon the international stage – as he concludes that ‘India’s fighting men will once again prove their inherent fighting qualities’.

The priority afforded to the war, and to generating support for the war, is particularly evident in the footage of the Communist Party Congress. As in Indian Movietone News 9, the film illustrates Government support for these Communist groups, based entirely on their endorsement of the war effort. The item does however acknowledge that this Indian war support is motivated by a desire for independence, as the commentator explains that the Party seeks ‘to build the foundations of a free India in the post-war world by active mobilisation of the people to win the present war’.

Although Indian Movietone News 19 contains eight items, there is a noticeable failure to address the experiences of the Indian poor. The first four items largely involve military tours and the Indian elite, as the Governor of Punjab opens a luxurious swimming bath and the Governor of Sind presents the Governor’s Cup. Film India complained about the lack of coverage afforded to the domestic problems and, in particular, famine within India. This is again apparent within this edition. The film shows the British feeding ‘over 10,000’ Polish refugees, without any consideration of the Indian plight, while the repeated references to war overshadow the Communist Party’s efforts in helping the famine victims, as the commentator makes only a brief mention of the Party’s desire to ‘tackle their urgent day-to-day problems such as food’. The final item does show ‘many thousands of the poor’ being fed, though this is not part of British welfare operations but rather part of ‘India’s age-old traditional victory celebration customs’. This broader problem within India is thus evident, but certainly not acknowledged, while the experiences of the poor are subsumed within victory celebrations, which sought to show ‘people from all walks of life’ rejoicing together.

Tom Rice (January 2009)


Works Cited

Batabyal, Rakesh, Communalism in Bengal: From Famine to Noakhali, 1943-47 (New Delhi: Sage, 2005).

‘British Newsreels for Overseas Countries. India’, July 1942-September 1943, accessed at The National Archives (INF 1/569).

‘Charity Does Not Begin at Home’, Film India, February 1943, 19.

Mukherjee, Mridula, Peasants in India's Non-violent Revolution: Practice and Theory (New Delhi: Sage, 2004).

‘Indians’ Fine Work in Africa’, The Times, 19 April 1943, 4.

‘General Alexander’s Report’, The Times, 17 May 1943, 4.

‘Tunisia Day In Bombay And Calcutta’, The Times, 22 May 1943, 3.

Woods, Philip, ‘”Chapattis by Parachute”: The Use of Newsreels in British Propaganda in India in the Second World War’, Journal of South Asian Studies, 23:2 (2000), 89-110.

Further Reading

Gupta, D.N., Communism and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1939-45 (New Delhi: Sage 2008).



  • INDIAN MOVIETONE NEWS NO 19 (1943-06-16)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
12 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
1052 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
GB, India
Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)





Production Organisations