The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927): ‘the spectators are exhilarated’

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)

This a guest post for Silent London: an edited extract from Dr Lawrence Napper’s forthcoming book, a study of British film in the 1920s and its relation to the First World War, which is provisionally called ‘Before Journey’s End’: British Popular Cinema and the First World War, 1918-1930, and will be published by Palgrave Macmillan. This extract is taken from a longer chapter tracing the development of the British Instructional Films series of battle reconstructions from 1921 onwards. Dr Napper is a lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London and the author of British Cinema and The Middlebrow in the Interwar Years (Exeter University Press, 2009).

  • This article contains spoilers, though as the films discussed deal with historical events, we hope no one will be too disappointed.

In 1927, as the flood of war-themed films identified by critic Caroline Lejeune the previous year developed into a torrent, two British companies were drawing on the legacy of British Instructional Films’ (BIF) war reconstruction series. Both The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands and The Somme (MA Wetherell) could claim to be legitimate heirs to the series. The former was directed by Walter Summers and produced by Harry Bruce Woolfe, while the latter shared a number of personnel with BIF’s other productions including its producer, E Gordon Craig.

In their release strategies, too, the two films followed the model of their predecessors – The Somme opened at the Marble Arch Pavilion on 5 September for an exclusive run, while The Battles of Coronel and Falklands Islands was screened privately for the royal family at Balmoral before opening at the New Gallery on 15 September. These openings were announced together in the press coverage, implying a parallel between the two films. Both films went on general release during Armistice week, where they competed with a number of other British films with war themes, including Remembrance (Bert Wynne, 1927) and Roses of Picardy (Maurice Elvey, 1927). In the premier London houses, they were succeeded by further exclusive runs of new war dramas, Blighty (Adrian Brunel, 1927) replacing The Somme at Marble Arch, and Land of Hope and Glory (Harley Knoles, 1927) in the Plaza, Regent Street.[1]

The Somme (1927) (Image: BFI)
The Somme (1927) (Image: BFI)

Despite these similarities, it is nevertheless possible to identify divergent strategies in the two films. The self-conscious use of formal moments of remembrance evident in the 1925 Ypres (Walter Summers) was incorporated into a number of the fictional war dramas, including Remembrance, Blighty and Land of Hope and Glory. The balance of drama and documentary elements continued to shift, and both The Somme and Coronel and Falklands develop the more dramatic shooting structure evident in Mons (Walter Summers, 1926), although in different directions. Mindful of the criticisms of Mons, director MA Wetherell re-instated the diagram elements of earlier films in his explanation of the overall strategy of The Somme (a decision which earned him praise from a number of reviewers), while Summers took advantage of the relatively contained story of Coronel and Falklands to offer a film much more clearly driven by the narrative conventions of fiction film-making.[2] As part of this, the exploits of Victoria Cross (VC) winners – so consistent an element in all of the previous films – were dropped entirely from Coronel and Falklands, which offers instead a much clearer identification with motives and inner emotions of the captains of both the British and German ships, conveyed through classical editing.

Reviews of Mons had praised the film’s “international aspect” and the fact that “no offence will be given. No atrocity is saddled on the enemy…”[3] In the face of the Film Europe movement, this was an important consideration and The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands promised to give an even-handed account of the battles, portraying German as well as British officers. The company even brought four German actors over to play the parts of von Spee, and others. These actors included a Captain Hankow who had himself been a German naval officer. He undertook to advise the production on matters of German naval uniform and etiquette.[4] Such international collaboration was not unique. German films were of course no longer banned from distribution in Britain, and many of them were shown to great acclaim. A German film detailing the wartime exploits of the cruiser Emden – Unser Emden (Louis Ralph, 1927) – was distributed in Britain by New Era, and attracted favourable comparison with The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands from both Winifred Ellerman and Caroline Lejeune. Although Ellerman speculated that the print she saw (advertised as a celebration of “the heroism of English and German sailors!”) might have been specially re-edited for the English market, Lejeune argued that the film “should do more to heal the bitterness left by the old war … than any film the kinema has yet made.”[5] Also advertised in Kinematograph Weekly for trade showing in July was the “remarkable Anglo-German production”, When Fleet Meets Fleet [Der versunkene Flotte] (Manfred Noa 1927), “a romance of the great battle of Jutland”. It had an international cast, including Henry Stuart, Nils Asther and Heinrich George, but appears to have been filmed primarily in Germany. The film’s romantic plot was supplemented with authentic footage “photographed during the actual battle”, obtained “through the official assistance of no fewer than three countries”. As with the BIF films, the publicity emphasised the authenticity of the production, conferred by the use of the actuality footage, and the involvement as assistant director of Graham Hewett, who had been an officer on board the HMS Vindictive and served during the Zeebrugge raid.[6]

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)

The navy in action

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands is today probably the best known of all the BIF battle reconstruction films, and perhaps for good reason. It survives more or less intact, and has been restored by the BFI, for a gala screening at the London Film Festival and a nationwide theatrical and home video release. It is consistent in tone and perhaps the closest among its contemporaries to a modern conception of what a fusion between drama and reconstruction might look like. This is partly to do with the way in which Summers carefully excised the more intractable elements of its predecessors. The self-conscious insertion of actuality footage, the reconstructions of VC incidents, and the use of diagrams and model shots are all excluded from the film in an attempt to make a much smoother and more dramatically satisfying account. Summers was helped in this by the nature of the story he chose to tell. As the Times reviewer observed, “it is not easy to imagine any subject better suited to treatment on the screen… the narrative is naturally balanced, and unlike the narrative sections of the war on the Western front, dramatically complete.” The two related sea battles create a balanced and integrated structure, forming the focus for the first and last acts of the drama, with a clear interlude between them dealing with dramatic preparation of the Inflexible and the Invincible for the final battle. The engagement at Coronel in the South Pacific shows Sir Christopher Cradock, although out-matched by Von Spee’s superior fleet, choosing to fight in the hope of preventing the German ships reaching the Atlantic and attacking British trade routes. It offers the psychological interest of Cradock’s difficult decision, as well as the drama of his defeat and the sinking of the Good Hope and the Monmouth. The reprisal at the Falkland Islands, where the British (under Admiral Sturdee) outmatched Von Spee’s squadron (who encountered them by accident) and were able to pursue and destroy them, forms a perfect counter-balance.


The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)

Overall, the film offered the opportunity to celebrate the navy in action, while also acknowledging the cost and the risks of war, as well as paying tribute to the gallantry of the enemy. As Amy Sargeant points out in her excellent account of the film, the early intertitle announcing it as the story of a “victory, and a defeat as glorious as a victory” sets precisely the tone in which the film operates, and through which it must be understood. Sargeant argues that the film responds to the dilemma of “how to honour the memory of those who die in war without celebrating war itself” – a problem increasingly debated with regard to the spate of war films of the late 1920s.[7] While previous films in the reconstruction series had offered vignettes of the VC winners or of ordinary Tommies as representatives of “those who die in war”, the Battles of Coronel & Falkland Islands relies more heavily on a group of commanding officers as heroic models of dignity under pressure. Neither Ypres, nor The Somme invite us to follow anybody higher in rank than a Lieutenant Colonel. The Battles of Coronel & Falkland Islands, by contrast, represents the chain of command all the way up to the First Sea Lord (Admiral Lord Fisher), tracking events from the Admiralty in London. The nobility and tradition of naval command are emphasised as key elements of the heroism celebrated by the film. When deciding whether or not to risk an action at Coronel, Cradock is photographed standing in front of a portrait of Nelson, while an intertitle emphasises the emotional tension of the decision: “In his hands alone the fateful choice – fight or run.” The gallantry of the German officers is also emphasised. At the supper celebrating their victory at Coronel, Von Spee is invited to toast “damnation to the enemy”, but refuses, saying he prefers instead to “raise my glass in honour of a gallant enemy”. Later, on receiving a bouquet of flowers, he muses that “they may serve for my funeral when the time comes”. Finally, at the Falklands, when he is informed that the smoke he had assumed was from coal being burnt to prevent its seizure, is in fact smoke from the British battle cruisers steaming up for action, Von Spee turns towards the camera with an expression of disbelief and horror – a gesture that invites us to share in his emotions at this catastrophe. Nevertheless, German reverence for naval protocol is also, the film implies, inhuman. At Coronel it leads one captain to order continued firing on the clearly sinking Monmouth because her flag has not been hauled down. At the Falklands, the British offer to cease fire on the doomed Scharnhorst – “pity to kill brave men needlessly”. This impulse is contrasted against Von Spee’s command to continue firing the one remaining gun, even though his ship is sinking. Later the British gallantly rescue the survivors of the Greisenau, in pointed contrast to the Germans attitude towards the Monmouth.

This asymmetry in the treatment of British and German actions did not go unremarked. In a letter to the Guardian, TF Laun, a German pacifist who had seen the film on Armistice day, complained of the implication that the German commanders revelled in the sight of British casualties, and made no effort to save them. “Ought we not finally to cleanse our minds from every trace of the war propaganda?” he asked.[8] A swift response from JM Kenworthy supported his complaint, although it pointed out that there were good military and practical reasons for the German squadron not to rescue the crews of the Monmouth or the Good Hope – which the film had omitted to mention.[9] Further contributions were more outspoken. Robustly defending the film on the grounds of truth, Sidney Rogerson detailed the variety of ways in which the producers had striven for historical accuracy and impartiality. He closed in a more ominous tone, contending that “a person who can see misrepresentation where no misrepresentation exists is much more dangerous to the future peace of nations than a film such as this, which is merely a historical record…” Other correspondents quoted a favourable review in the Berliner Illustrite Zeitung and the scene of Von Spee’s toast to demonstrate the impartiality of the film.[10]


The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)

Despite these defences, it remains the case that the weight of the film’s impartiality is invested in the figure of Von Spee as a gallant opponent, operating (like the British) within a recognised code of honourable conduct. Even when representing ordinary seamen, the film is concerned to show professional men, working as teams within clear protocols. There is little interest in the leisure activities or humour of the ratings, or in evoking the collective memory of a veteran audience, which is such a strong element of Ypres and The Somme. The few touches of “trench” humour are offered in moments of crisis, and are generally re-directed towards professionalism by an officer nearby. Thus, when the Good Hope is sinking, a sailor ruefully observes, “We’ll ’ave to change our name from Good Hope to What Hope!”, only to be countered by an officer intoning that, “While there’s life there’s always hope my lad. Carry on.” More commonly, the film shows sailors as part of a well-ordered machine – manning the guns, working the boilers, even rescuing the survivors of the Greisenau.

These naval professionals are contrasted against the rather more amateur force of volunteers in Port Stanley, who muster at the sight of Von Spee’s squadron. On seeing his ships turn tail, this Dad’s Army-style outfit comically attribute his action to fear of their own fighting prowess, rather than the presence of Inflexible and the Invincible in the harbour. This essentially trivial representation of the islanders attracted complaints, particularly from the governor of the islands, Arnold Hodson. The film, he claimed, “ridiculed and caricatured” the islanders and their volunteer force, and girls from the Falklands visiting London and seeing the film had ‘gone away weeping.’[11] Jo Pugh has written about the considerable flurry this incident caused in the Colonial Office, suggesting that almost all of the scenes set in “Port Stanley” (actually shot on the Isles of Scilly) were excised not only from the prints sent to the Falkland Islands, but also from prints destined for other colonial locations in order to avoid offence.[12]

It is perhaps not surprising that such complaints were taken very seriously. Colonial markets were important, particularly for films celebrating the Navy. As Sargeant, citing Marx, points out:

The historic role of the British Navy in wartime was to pursue its peacetime policy “by other means”. Britain’s supremacy of the seas is perpetually represented as its guardianship of their freedom.[13]

The film is explicit about this point from its very first moments. The introductory intertitle announces it as

… the story of the sea fights of Coronel and the Falkland Islands – of a victory, and a defeat as glorious as a victory – a story of our Royal Navy, which through storm and calm maintained for us the freedom of the seas.

This role is immediately linked to the maintenance of Empire. A title introducing “WAR!” is followed by a series of images of “our sure shield, the Navy on instant guard over her scattered Empire” – images are introduced of the Firth of Forth, then of Canada, Australia, South Africa, India and “all our wide-set outposts on the seven seas”, each illustrated with a shot of Navy ships on the relevant coastline. It seems likely that these shots were taken as part of BIF’s coverage of the Royal Navy’s goodwill tour between 1923 and 1924, footage later released as Britain’s Birthright (1924). The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands, then, draws not only on the traditions of BIF’s battle reconstruction films, but also on its cycle of films celebrating the Empire and particularly the role and history of the Navy in the maintenance of Empire. Summers had made a dramatisation of the life of Nelson for the company the previous year, a match for Maurice Elvey’s patriotic 1919 version. The Sons of the Sea (H Bruce Woolfe), released in tandem with Ypres in 1925, also mined this seam. However The Sons of the Sea, in contrast to Ypres, had been poorly reviewed and made little impression at the box office. The Empire series, and Britain’s Birthright were also commercial failures, failing particularly to get distribution in the dominions.[14] Indeed, while the earlier battle reconstruction films were wildly successful in Britain, the evidence suggests that their distribution across the Empire was patchy at best.[15] Not so The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands. Iris Barry reported in the Daily Mail that the film had been booked in 25 countries, including the US and Japan, but also “Canada, South Africa, India, Australia, Burma, Ceylon …” as well as various countries in Europe and South America.[16]


The Battles of Coronel and Falkand Islands (1927)
The Battles of Coronel and Falkand Islands (Walter Summers, 1927)

‘The best motion picture a British director has ever made’

The film was certainly well received. As Bryony Dixon has suggested, its massive scale and expense couldn’t but have impressed audiences.[17] There was very little use of models, but instead a cast of full-scale ships, lent by the Admiralty, “stood in” for the actual vessels of 1914. They received full “acting” credits in the opening titles, in contrast to the human actors, who remained uncredited. Most of the production was filmed on location in Malta, and in the Scilly Isles, which stood in for the Falklands. Plenty of production reports attested to the epic scale of the efforts to ensure both accuracy and spectacle, including claims that Summers had actually directed the movement of the ships for the camera by wireless.[18] The key to the success of the film among critics, though, appears to be Summers’ technical skill in pacing and editing, particularly in the two set-piece sequences depicting the race against time at Devonport dockyards to prepare the Inflexible and Invincible for service, and the literal race of Sturdee’s squadron to catch up with Von Spee’s forces and bring them within firing range at the Falklands. Dixon compares the superb dynamism of these sequences with those of Eisenstein in Battleship Potemkin, although she suggests that the symbolism of Eisenstein’s film is lacking. Certainly Summers’ editing techniques owed much, as she suggests, to fiction film-making – condensing time and adding character to the story – and of course the structure of these sequences relies on suspense and “thrills” more than any the discreet vignettes in films such as Ypres. The over-the-top sequence in The Somme offers the nearest comparison, although the difference is instructive. The Somme sequence is psychological, a sequence of tension and waiting, expressed in a mixture of editing and superimposition, the Coronel and Falkland Islands sequences are much more kinetic – rapid rhythmic editing of frantic, concentrated action. Amy Sargeant also considers the technical excellence of the film to have swayed contemporary reviewers in its favour, both aesthetically and (perhaps more unexpectedly) ideologically. CA Lejeune had previously complained of the kinetic ability of war films (including Mons) to stir military emotions even in those who rejected war intellectually.

[We] have in us too much of our fathers to be proof altogether against the bugle calling and the drums rolling, and the tramp of endless feet. We stand up instinctively for the anthem of a nation’s blood. It catches us quicker than thought, quicker than reason…[19]

Films stirring such emotions in the service of peace were much more difficult to make and harder to find, she complained. Nevertheless, faced with the bravura sequences of Coronel and Falkland Islands, she was positively breathless in her enthusiasm:

His angles and dissolves and distances and the keen pace of his cutting carry the story… He knows how to compose his screen as though it were a canvas, getting his effects with the contrasts of smoke and sea, the shining diagonals of the guns, the framework of a porthole, the rhythm of many feet on the gangplank, the cloud banks, and the gleam on the water and the troubled sky. He knows how to get beauty from the curve of a dive, and from the fierce industry of the shipyards and the movement of a needle on a delicate machine.[20]

The film, she claimed, was “without question the best motion picture a British director has ever made”. Other reviewers were also enthusiastic. The Times, while again regretting the lack of diagrams from earlier productions, still considered the film the most dramatic and successful of the series. The review particularly praised the representation of naval professionalism discussed above, noting that the film portrayed “not merely the spectacular aspect of a naval engagement, but the professional organisation which is the machine of victory. It is much that Mr Summers has done in treating a naval subject without overloading it with civilian sentimentalism.”[21] The Daily Mail considered it the best film of the series thus far, and highlighted the dockyard scenes in particular as “most thrilling and dramatic”.[22] The battle scenes were particularly enhanced, reported the reviewer, by the sound effects especially organised for the screening at the New Gallery. The musical accompaniment was supplemented by a much more immersive sound experience, which was also highlighted by Kinematograph Weekly: “the sound of the sea; the noise of the engine room… the roar and shock of fleet meeting fleet with all the thunder of gun fire will all be reproduced as faithfully as ingenuity can devise.”[23] Apparently the soundscape was a little too realistic for some, and a noise abatement order was served on the New Gallery by the shop next door, particularly connected to the “explosive scenic effects” used in the battle scenes of the film.[24] This immersive effect is perhaps also the aspect of the film that provoked the reviewer for the Observer, to robustly voice the kind of objections that Lejeune had so unexpectedly dropped:

For the love of truth, do not close your ears to the plain fact that spectators at the New Gallery are exhilarated… For hearts to glow at the spectacle of naval or military adventure is natural. To pretend that this glow arises from righteous horror is a falsehood more dangerous than disagreements at disarmament conferences.[25]

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)


A new kind of realism

With its rhythmic editing, spectacular cinematic effects and consistent narrative allegiance to the psychology of command, I would argue that The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands represents a culmination of the techniques developed across the BIF reconstruction series, but also a radical departure from them. The earliest film in the series, The Battle of Jutland, had striven for a sort of objective “truth”, offered primarily through commentary and animated diagrams, unsullied by emotion. In response to demands from audiences and exhibitors, later films sought to supplement this “objective” viewpoint with a sense of the human experience of the battles. The introduction of VC incidents, fictionalised vignettes of day-to-day life at war, reconstruction battle footage, model shots and an editing style more familiar from fiction films had been designed to meet these demands. Nevertheless these small concessions were matched with an increased desire to guarantee authenticity –through the incorporation of actuality footage, the maps and diagrams, the quotation of sources, the inclusion of explicit scenes of “remembrance”, and the use of veterans as actors. Often, the spectator is yanked out of the drama and made to contemplate evidence of the authenticity of what is being shown: the footage from The Exploits of a German Submarine and the shots of the Liverpool ferries in Zeebrugge, the sequence showing a Remembrance service at “Toc House Today” in Ypres, the on-camera interview with TWH Veale VC in The Somme. The emphasis on silhouetted figures against white mist, the alternation between model and diagram shots, and the use of theatrical, un-naturalistic lighting and backdrops also attest to the desire of the film-makers to distance themselves from Hollywood fiction film-making. The resulting “bricolage” effect of the films recognised the impossibility of reproducing “realistically” the experience of battle in the cinema, while at the same time insisting on the evocation of that experience in the personal memories of viewers. It is striking how often reviews, and audience reactions to the films, cite this evocation of memory as the source of their powerful emotional effect. One might argue that the success of big American war films, particularly The Big Parade (King Vidor, 1925), and then the flood of further fictional accounts from both America and Britain may mark the beginnings of the shift towards the style of Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands. Whereas early in the 1920s they had been viewed with considerable suspicion, by 1927 the possibility of fictional structures carrying the weight of wartime subject matter was much more thoroughly established. It was in comparison to the sophisticated special effects of Hollywood treatments that the effects of the shell explosions in Mons had been questioned in terms of their “realism”, for instance. The debate calling for the use of actuality footage instead of such effects was ironic, given that the BIF series had used actuality footage in preference to effects almost from the beginning. But by 1927, perhaps, effects felt more “real” than the actuality footage. Coronel and Falklands went further than its predecessors. The internal logic of the film as piece of narrative history was maintained throughout, and the emotional pull of that narrative is invested in the psychology of the officers, rather than the memories of ordinary men. In contrast to Fussell’s model of the ironic hero (for instance the company cook distributing food in Ypres), the officers in Coronel and Falklands have agency – they decide whether to take action or not, and on their decision rests the fates of the men under their command.

The Big Parade (King Vidor, 1925)
The Big Parade (King Vidor, 1925)

This does not mean that the film dispensed with the previous style of “realism” altogether, merely that it was less explicit about presenting it to the audience in the cinema. Amy Sargeant points out that the utterances attributed to Von Spee appeared in a number of popular histories and biographies circulating from 1919 onwards. While these were cited in reviews and publicity for the film, they are not cited in the intertitles of the film itself as would have occurred in earlier films. Similarly the efforts the producers had gone to, to find actors who looked like Cradock, Sturdee and Fisher, was much discussed in publicity material, but the film itself – unlike Zeebrugge – does not show photographs or images of the real individuals for comparison. Interestingly, as the BIF series moved away from explicit gestures towards authenticity in favour of a smoother “fictional” world, other more thoroughly fictional films were also incorporating the techniques of BIF’s earlier productions.[26]

Most importantly, rather than seeking to evoke the memories and experiences of veterans, Coronel and Falkland Islands tells a self-contained story in which the key players are those making the decisions based on their understanding of the wider picture.[27] The “thrills” of the film come through the careful organisation of narrative and suspense, and the excitements come through the spectacular effects and the editing within the film itself, rather than through the connection between those effects and the actual events they depict. In this important respect, Coronel and Falkland Islands marks a moment when BIF shifted the aesthetic of its battle reconstruction films towards fiction, possibly in response to the more general popularity of the first world war as a subject for film stories. This shift was not immediate, however, and the distinction between fiction and reconstruction was by no means impermeable. New Era’s offering for 1928 – Q Ships (Geoffrey Barkas & Michael Barringer, 1928) continued in the style of dramatic reconstruction evident in the earlier films, although this time taking the blockade and the (at the time secret) use of armed vessels disguised as unarmed merchant ships in the war against the U-boats as its subject, rather than a massed battle. Lord Jellico was filmed re-enacting a meeting between himself and Admiral Sims (played by an actor), official footage was incorporated into the story, a German submarine commander was employed to advise on German naval details, and Commander Harold Auten VC was filmed in a re-enactment of his role in sinking the German submarine U-98. The film had a warm review in the Daily Mail, which while admitting that it was not a particularly dramatic presentation, nevertheless opined that, “Like all war films as one sees them today, it presents the greatest possible argument against war.”[28]

By Dr Lawrence Napper

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands will be the Archive Gala at this year’s London Film Festival. It will screen at 7pm, 16 October 2014, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with musical accompaniment from members of the Royal Marine Band, playing a newly composed score by Simon Dobson . Buy tickets here.

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[1] ‘Ellaline Terriss as Film Mother’ in The Daily Mail, 7/11/1927, p. 17.

[2]The Somme: New Era Film at the Marble Arch’ in The Times, 6/9/1927, p. 10.

[3] “Picture Theatres’ in The Guardian 9/11/1926, p. 12.

[4] ‘German Actors in London: To Play in British Naval Film’, in The Daily Mail, 3/5/1927, p15.

[5] Bryner, ‘The War from Three Angles’ in Close Up, July 1927, p. 21; C.A. Lejeune, ‘A British Film: The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands’ in The Guardian, 16/9/1927, p. 8; C.A. Lejeune, ‘A War Film From Germany: The Story of the Emden’ in The Manchester Guardian, 27/5/1927, p. 16.

[6] ‘Inter-cine Captures Two Fleets’ in Kinematograph Weekly, 7/7/1927, p. 36. The advertisement failed to explain why experience at Zeebrugge should confer expertise of Jutland, however.

[7] Amy Sargeant, ‘“A Victory and a Defeat as Glorious as a Victory”: The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (Walter Summers, 1927)’ in Michael Hammond and Michael Williams, British Silent Cinema and the Great War (London: Palgrave, 2011), p. 80.

[8] T.F. Laun, ‘War Films: British and German’ in The Manchester Guardian, 16/11/1927, p. 20.

[9] J. M Kennedy, ‘War Films: British and German’ in The Manchester Guardian, 17/11/1927, p. 20. The weather and the darkness were quoted as practical reasons for not picking up survivors, as well as the military priority of pursuing the other vessels of Craddock’s squadron.

[10] Sidney Rogerson, D.G. Moir and ‘A Movie Fan’ ‘Correspondence: The Coronel & Falkland Islands Film’ in The Manchester Guardian, 18/11/1927, p. 15.

[11] ‘Colony “Insulted”: Falkland Islanders and the Battle Film’ in The Daily Mail, 21/11/1928, p. 4.

[12] Jo Pugh, ‘“A fairly stiff letter to the Admiralty”: HMG and The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands’, unpublished paper delivered at the British Silent Film Festival Symposium, King’s College London, 19/4/2013.

[13] Sargeant, op.cit., p. 87.

[14] Tom Rice, ‘Britain’s Birthright’ on the Colonial Film project database

[15] See for instance, ‘Ban on British Film’ in The Daily Mirror, 18/3/1925, p. 9. Which quotes Gordon Craig speculating that the failure of Armageddon in Australia was to do with block booking of Hollywood product.

[16] Iris Barry, ‘British Film Triumph’ in The Daily Mail, 24/3/1928, p. 5.

[17] Bryony Dixon, 100 Silent Films (London: BFI Palgrave, 2011), p. 20.

[18] ‘A Great Naval Picture’ in Kinematograph Weekly, 8/9/1927, p. 64. For further production reports, see ‘Night Sea Fight Drama’ in The Daily Mail, 5/1/1927, p. 10; ‘Marooned at the Nab’ in The Daily Mail, 8/2/1927, p. 7; ‘British Warships in Battle Scenes’ in The Times, 11/5/1927, p. 12.

[19] C.A. Lejeune, ‘War Films’ in The Manchester Guardian, 18/9/1926, p. 9.

[20] C.A. Lejeune, ‘A British Film: The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands’ in The Manchester Guardian, 16/9/1927, p. 8.

[21]Coronel and the Falklands’ in The Times, 17/9/1927, p. 8.

[22] ‘Superb Naval Film’ in The Daily Mail, 16/9/1927, p.6.

[23] ‘A Great Naval Picture’ in Kinematograph Weekly, 8/9/1927, p. 64.

[24] ‘Cinema Organ Complaint’ in The Daily Mail, 15/10/1927, p. 7.

[25] ‘Battles of Coronel and the Falklands’ in The Observer, 18/9/1927, p. 21.

[26] The Guns of Loos (Sinclair Hill, 1928) for instance, incorporates into its wholly fictional love-triangle narrative, a sequence showing Piper Daniel Laidlaw re-enacting his own VC winning action in piping his company out of their trenches into action under heavy fire. The scene is utterly ancillary to the plot of the film, and appears merely to authenticate the ‘realism’ of its re-creation of the Battle of Loos.

[27] One might observe that the only records of audiences with personal experience of the story seeing the film show the exposure resulting in a complaint – from the Falklanders themselves about the depiction of the Volunteer Corps, and from Cradock’s brother about the potential of the film to cause pain to the relatives of those who died. See ‘Naval Film Objections’ in The Daily Mail, 26/10/1926, p. 7. No records of similar anxieties exist for the earlier films, although Montagu Cradock’s concerns were quickly allayed.

[28]Q Ships’ in The Daily Mail, 26/6/1928, p. 12.

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