Dramatic reconstruction of events during the Battle of Ypres in the First World War.
"To obtain information and weaken the enemy morale, French raids are frequently undertaken. Parties of picked and intrepid men disguise themselves to match the blackness of the night." M/S night scene of men's faces being blacked up in a trench. Two of the men have a play fight. Grenades are distributed, one of the soldiers picks two out of the box and kisses them. "The Raid Commander, a mere boy, receives his final orders. NB. To avoid making distinction between this and countless other equally successful raids, the name of the regiment is omitted." M/S of the Raid Commander being given his orders in the dugout. Three men shake hands and the Commander gives a letter to one of the other men saying "Will you post this - in case --?"
M/S of men in the trench having a last drink before the attack commences. They clamber out of the trench and through the wire. A dead body lies on the parapet. The Germans fire as the English, go over the top. The German's let down their guard. Interior of the German dugout, one of the men plays an accordion and the others sing along. Meanwhile the British soldiers crawl towards the German's post. "The 'Bangalore Torpedo' - charged with High Explosive, and capable of breaking through the stoutest wire." The torpedo is put in place. The men light the fuse and there is an explosion. The order is given to charge. The German's surrender. Those singing in the dugout suddenly stop as they hear sounds of the battle. British soldier pulls aside blanket over the entrance to the dugout and asks: "Is there anybody there?" The accordion player replies "Nein - nein!" British soldier replies: "NINE did yer say? Well, share this amongst yer!" He throws in a grenade. There is an explosion and the men surrender. "The enemy, recovering from his surprise, counter-attacks with vigour." Combat sequence showing German's throwing grenades, explosions, injury etc. "Days after a paragraph would appear in the enemy communique worded somewhat as follows - "
C/U of a report in a German paper. Dissolve into British translation. "Official Communique. Imperial Headquarters Berlin. On the night of the umpteenth inst., the enemy made a raid in the Ypres Sector, which met with some small success, owing to his deplorable use of BLACK TROOPS of exceptional ferocity." "There were other raids, the details of which did not find their way into the papers, in which the casualties were equally heavy." M/S of group of British soldiers in camp repairing their uniforms. Two men overact a sequence where one shows the other his undershirt and the other shows him his gun. Presumably there is a hole in the shirt where a bullet entered? "One compensation is vouchsafed the keepers of the Cape of Death. Six miles west of Ypres stands Poperinghe, the "Hostess of the Salient." "Pop" offers innumerable amusements. There are cinemas and shops, of a sort, and "Moaning Maggie" (an enemy long range gun) permitting, one can even obtain a shampoo and a shave." Exterior of a makeshift barber shop. "Coiffeur" sign over the door. Man is given a shave in the open air. A sign beside the door says "We do not shave while the enemy are shelling." C/U of the French barber as he works. He talks to other soldiers whilst he soaps a man's face, getting it in his eye.
"At Poperinghe too, was born Toc H. (Talbot House) a club that developed into a brotherhood where amid a world of mud and madness many a man found that fellowship which all his life he had been seeking." M/S of group of soldiers relaxing in a club atmosphere. A man plays the piano, one has a doze and two smoke cigarettes and chat. A soldier enters and shakes hands with the smokers. They share a joke. M/S of the pianist and man singing a song. One of the soldiers throws a cushion at them to make them stop. The pianist throws it back at him.
L/S of battleship at sea from another boat. "And then - home!" reads the intertitle. M/S of woman standing on the path of a pretty country cottage. She holds a baby in her arms. She waves as her man returns. M/S of soldier returning home. Man kisses his wife and daughter then they walk into the house together. "For those whose leave has passed, or not yet come, there is, as regular as in suburbia, the blessed consolation of the mail from home." M/S of group of soldiers in camp crowding around the man who has brought the mail. He hands out letters to eager soldiers. They take their mail away to read. M/S and C/U of soldier beaming with pleasure at his letter. C/U of the letter. "Dear Alfred, Just a line to let you know it's raining over here, and to hope as how the socks came in handy." He smiles and takes off his hat which turns out to be a very large sock. He takes a photograph out of his jacket pocket. C/U of the photograph. He turns to see if anyone is looking then kisses the photograph. He reads the rest of his letter and laughs.
"Meanwhile in the Salient great things are afoot. Beneath the ridges of Messines nineteen gigantic mines, the fruit of eighteen months incessant labour, lie awaiting the fateful touch." Aerial shot of the area showing the line of defence illustrated by a thick black line. "Listeners keep constant guard lest the enemy should attempt by counter mining to destroy the saps." Dark shot of men in trench.
Note: See film entitled "When I Was in Burma" which also features Toc H.
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