Early newsreels: A 1915 Pathé Animated Gazette
People went to cinemas during the war to be entertained, but moving-pictures also played an important role in providing cinema-goers with news and information from abroad. Early newsreels, or topical films, were an important part of the typical cinema programme of the time.
This film is an example of a full-length Pathé Animated Gazette newsreel that was shown during the war. It demonstrates the contents of these types of films and how they mixed serious topics with more light-hearted footage: scenes of the Algerian Native Cavalry in Flanders, a brief glimpse of King George V and Queen Mary making their way through packed London Streets to a service at St Paul’s Cathedral, the opening of a New Zealand military hospital, and Zouaves (Algerian French Infantry).
First English hospital for wounded Kiwis
The New Zealand Military Hospital at Walton-on-Thames was the first English hospital to be established for Kiwi soldiers during the First World War. It was officially opened on Saturday 31 July 1915, in a ceremony attended by “one of the largest gatherings of New Zealanders that has ever assembled" in the UK. (Evening Post, 24 September 1915, p.4)
This film clip shows NZ High Commissioner Thomas Mackenzie and William Lord Plunket at the hospital’s official opening ceremony on 31 July 1915. Lord Plunket was a former Governor of New Zealand and the chair of the NZ War Contingent Association, formed on London at the outbreak of the war to support wounded NZ troops. The Association helped to select the hospital premises, and its members later visited convalescing patients.
King George V inspects HMS New Zealand
The battleship HMS New Zealand was a gift to Britain’s navy from the people of New Zealand. The day before the ship departed on a tour of the colonies, it was visited by King George V, an old sailor himself. The King was particularly interested in the 12-inch guns, and navigation equipment. The Dominion newspaper reported that “His Majesty was greatly amused at the decorations of the gun-room, which… somewhat resembled a lady's boudoir [bedroom]." (7 February 1913, p.5). New Zealand-born officers on the ship were introduced to the King and he met the ship's mascot, Pelorus Jack, a bulldog puppy who can be briefly seen in this clip.