Newcastle ARP

Archive: Northern Region Film and Television Archive
ID No.: n/a
Title: Newcastle ARP
Date: ca.1940
Film-maker: Unknown
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Silent
Themes: Civil Defence: Civilian Services


This ARP training film deals with aspect of urban warfare, specifically the threat from phosphor bombs. The film also shows the aftermath of bombing raids in North Shields.


Opening scenes show members of the ARP arriving in a fire truck and unloading equipment from the adjoining trailer. The film shows the wardens cordoning off streets in Newcastle and taking appropriate action to deal with the aftermath of a (simulated) phosphor bombing. Members of the ARP are wearing protective clothing and gas-masks. The streets are lined with onlookers as water is pumped on to the streets and signs are erected for public information (a sign reads ‘Danger Gas’).

This is followed by shots of more simulated exercises and the treatment of casualties, some of which are carried by stretcher to nearby transport. The film also shows extensive bomb damage in North Shields, this includes panning shots of streets depicting houses with varying degrees of damage. It also includes further simulated exercises, including the removal of casualties from rubble and fire-fighting.
The film also contains what appears to be training of a Mounted Division of servicemen and a more light-hearted equestrian event.


The explosive phosphor bomb devices shown in this film, the main hazard from which was their highly toxic fumes, were a much feared weapon which, in the event, was not used in any significant quantity by the German bombers.

Permission from the local police constabulary and/or the War Office was needed to film in public, and was usually denied when the subject was considered to be of any strategic importance. This, therefore, makes the footage of bomb damaged houses in North Shields all the more unusual: such images were generally excluded from officially sanctioned films (except in very carefully crafted propaganda, e.g. the footage of the Blitz in Humphrey Jennings' documentaries) lest they damage morale. Given that it was filmed on 8mm, hand-held camera and the poor technical quality of some of the shots, it is possible that some of the footage was shot surreptitiously, without official permission.

Newcastle ARP (ca.1940)

Newcastle ARP (ca.1940)

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