INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 84 (20/10/1944)

This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 84).


I. "THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF PRESENTS NEW COLOURS TO THE FOURTH BOMBAY GRENADIERS" The Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, arrives in Bombay aboard a modern transport plane, carrying the new colours for the Fourth Bombay Grenadiers. Sir Thomas Rutherford, Governor of Bihar and Lady Rutherford watch the presentation ceremony of the colours which had been kept in Durbar Hall, Delhi, blessed by a Bishop, a Pundit and a Maulvi. Scenes of a marchpast of the Grenadiers. "Regular soldiers know that a strong regimental spirit is an armament in itself", states the commentary. "Ceremonies like this help build that spirit, handing it down the centuries."

II. "WOMEN WHO WAIT" Women's Auxiliary Service canteen vans, emblazoned with the letter 'B' for Burma, follow the Army into Burma. In the Forward Area they serve troops as "for soldiers in the fighting line, WASB spells comfort". Commentary notes that "Indian soldiers, who haven't seen a bazaar for months, cram weeks of shopping into a few minutes". as food is served to troops.

III. "FROM THE LEDO ROAD TO MOGAUNG-MANDALAY" Jeeps are transported to a Division along the Ledo Road, across bridges built by Engineers and then down river, fastened to rafts at Warazup. Scenes of jeeps in rivers and soldiers emerging from water, often "covered in bloodsucking leeches". Scenes of men with equipment inside dinghy boats on monsoon-swollen rivers, preparing to attack Japanese lines. A Commanding Officer explains attack plans as howitzers are hauled into position by "sheer man power".

IV. "TOUGH GOING WITH THE FOURTEENTH ARMY IN THE ARAKAN" Scenes of the Arakan Allied Front and artillery batteries being moved into position to shell retreating Japanese lines. Observation posts overlook trees and clearings within the "trackless jungle, dripping with disease". "Flimsy tents perched on a hillside" provide shelter as supplies and water from a spring are carried up the hillside. Exhausted men get food, giving them "courage to fight the next enemy, the most insidious of all, the rain".


Summary: film not viewed; synopses based on commentary sheets.



Indian News Parade 84 opens with an item, filmed at the end of September 1944, showing General Auchinleck presenting new colours to the 4th Bombay Grenadiers at Ranchi. The Times reported on the ceremony and stated that ‘speaking in Urdu, the Commander-in-Chief said it was unusual to present colours in war-time, but this was a special occasion, marking the return to its rightful place in the army of one of the oldest infantry units’. The paper further noted that the unit ‘has done valuable service in relief work in Bengal’ (The Times, 30 September 1944, 3).

The remaining items are all filmed in Burma, beginning with a report on the Women’s Auxiliary Service (Burma) – widely known as WAS (B) – which was formed in January 1942 and initially made up entirely of European women. Jude Cowan, in her work on Indian News Parade, argued that this item ‘is intrinsically connected with South East Asia Command (SEAC) and its propaganda initiatives for Burma and South East Asia’. She suggested that the welfare amenities available in Europe, or to American soldiers in Burma, were not generally available to the British soldiers in Burma. The WAS(B)s were thus ‘part of a comfort strategy to tackle the problem’, providing not only food and amenities through their mobile canteens, but also entertainment, dancing and companionship (Cowan, 2001, 25). This is evident in the accounts of those women serving – recorded, for example, in the 2002 history of the service, Chinthe Women– and was also noted in contemporary press reports (Jaffe, 2001). For example, Cowan includes a poem about the canteen workers published in The Times of India, which concludes ‘You can keep all your “bully” and bacon, your marmalade, pork and baked beans, I would rather observe a nice feminine curve, than the lines in the army canteens’. Army officials were also aware of the broader value of the WAS(B)s, and the Chief Staff Officer informed a press conference in autumn 1944 that ‘it is not just a cup of tea…that is doing the men so much good … it is the chance to see and talk with English women’ (Cowan, 2001, 25, 26).

These reports may suggest that these British women were solely serving the British soldiers, as they emphasise their physical attractions and their role in offering a connection to home. However, the film does show the women serving both British and Indian soldiers, as Taylor noted in the dope sheet. ‘In an average day’, he stated, ‘they travel upwards of 100 miles and serve as many as 1000 to 1500 soldiers, both British and Indian, with practically anything they need from a cup of tea to bootlaces’. Jude Cowan recognised a contrast in the demeanour of the women towards the British and Indian troops. ‘The relaxed and happy faces of the women talking to the British troops contrasts’, she argued, ‘with their strained faces when talking to the Indian troops’. This may illustrate a division along racial lines, although Cowan also suggested that this could be attributed to communication difficulties between the WAS(B)s and the Indian soldiers (Cowan, 2001, 27).

The footage of the WAS(B) shown here was filmed by Sergeant A. Taylor in Shillong in September 1944. Taylor’s comments on the dope sheet of his original unedited footage (found in JFU 150) inform aspects of the commentary within this item. He noted that ‘these canteens are well forward with the troops and in IMPHAL were actually in front of the guns firing on the Japanese’. The ‘untiring’ work of Nin Taylor was again discussed, while the cameraman suggested that ‘the sight of these most attractive faces serve as a tonic to our tired and homesick troops’. He also suggested that the ‘WAS(B)s are ready for their return to Burma, and they intend to go every foot of the way with our troops; they were among the last women out of Burma, and they intend to be the very first to go back’. This is echoed in the Indian News Parade commentary, which states that ‘the women who had come out of Burma had just one wish … to get back again’.

The third item depicts the journey of a convoy of jeeps to resupply 36th Indian Division at Mogaung – the unedited rushes of which are found in JFU 144 – while the film concludes with further war footage from the 14th Army in the Arakan. 



Jude Cowan, in writing on this issue of the newsreel, noted the ‘active roles in which it shows women in India’. ‘Nin Taylor is shown driving the canteen van. The women run. They go out onto the road, and serve groups of men, appearing to talk to them as equals’. ‘This public image’, Cowan argues, ‘is showing women as resourceful, active and part of front line battle strategy’ (Cowan, 2001, 27).

However, while the film does highlight the dangerous role undertaken by women – ‘they found shells whistling over their heads’ – the commentary presents the women as a reassuring presence and a link to home life, rather than as modern, independent figures. ‘WAS(B) spells comfort’, as the women provide cake ‘that tastes like the cake mother used to make’. The commentator highlights the short-term nature of this role, a necessary, temporary measure while the men fight: ‘Women from Burma serve while they wait the day when they’ll be back home again’. The language is passive, implying that the emphasis is on the soldiers to win the war and return the status quo.

This message is reinforced in the following two items, as the commentator now states, over dramatic music, that ‘relentlessly our men have pushed on, fought and beaten the enemy’. There are two shifts. First, in the tone of the commentary and music – which was previously jocular and upbeat – and second, in its emphasis on the physicality of war. The howitzers are ‘hauled into position by sheer manpower’ the commentator notes. ‘You can see for yourself the muscle it takes’. The final item also creates a vivid image of the harshness of life in the Arakan. ‘It is difficult to watch, it’s hell to footslog through’, the commentator states, while the sound of gunfire is heard throughout.

‘Women who wait’ is thus contextualised by the two items that follow it. It may now appear a ‘lighter’ item, but given the terrible conditions and experiences depicted in the final two items, it also serves an essential function in highlighting the welfare work of the British in Burma and the care offered to these soldiers. As Cowan illustrated, this is especially important given the dissatisfaction amongst British ranks over the greater amenities and conditions afforded to American soldiers and those serving in Europe. It is also significant, given the intended audience for this newsreel, that the film shows the women serving both British and Indian soldiers, even if the relationship and roles performed for these soldiers may have varied.

Another constant theme throughout this edition is the emphasis on modern transport and British progress. In the first item, General Auchinleck arrives in a new plane that is ‘sleek and gleaming’, while the transportation of 36 jeeps – ‘no convoy had done it before’ – is the subject of the third item. This emphasis on modern development is closely aligned though with a call for stability and continuity. The first item outlines ‘a new chapter in the story of a hundred-and-fifty-six-year-old regiment’, as Auchinleck reminds the ‘regiment of its triumphs’, while ‘their distinguished record still inspires them’. This item thus serves as a call for unity, but also positions the events of the present war within a far broader ‘distinguished’ history, which it suggests will continue beyond the war. It also highlights to the Indian audience the British recognition of the Indian army. This spirit, perspective, and sense of gratitude, is all the more relevant in the context of the final two items. The film concludes by claiming that ‘out of it all, day by day, comes news of VICTORY’.

Tom Rice (February 2009)


Works Cited

Brayley, Martin and Ramiro Bujeiro, World War II Allied Women’s Services (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2001).

Cowan, Jude, ‘”Women at Work for War… Women at Work for the Things of Peace”: Representations of Women in the British Propaganda Newsreel in India in the Second World War, Indian News Parade’ (unpublished master’s thesis, Birkbeck College, University of London, 2001), accessed at Imperial War Museum.

Jaffe, Sally and Lucy ed., Chinthe Women: Women’s Auxiliary Service Burma, 1942-1946 (The Authors, Chipping Norton, 2001).

‘News in Brief: 4th Bombay Grenadiers’, The Times, 30 September 1944, 3.

See also

For the History of the 4th Bombay Grenadiers in Burma, see also Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel Stanislaus Tighe at National Army Museum (8206/83-17).



  • INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 84 (20/10/1944)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
9 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
835 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