Films

Hunshelf Gunsite



Archive: Yorkshire Film Archive
ID No.: 2299
Title: Hunshelf Gunsite
Date: 1940-1945
Film-maker: Mr Thorne
Colour: Black & White and Colour
Sound: Silent
Duration of complete item: 8min.
Themes: Civil Defence - Home Guard; Women's Role

Summary:

An amateur film that documents some of the work the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service at an anti-aircraft gunsite in the village of Chapeltown, near Sheffield during the Second World War.

Description:

The film opens with the ATS marching down a village street in Chapeltown. In the background are propaganda posters, one asks women to join the ATS, another promotes the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign.

The film then shows the gunsite at Hunshelf. A woman in uniform stands at the sentry post, while another two women come out of the barrack huts behind the post to change guard.

A black and white sequence shows the ATS on exercises at the site. The film then reverts back to colour and shows the women running through trenches up to the guns and viewing equipment that help them spot enemy aircraft. As they do this, the film shows an aeroplane flying overhead.
A member of the Home Guard stands by some barrack huts and blows a bugle, then a group of Home Guard run to a huge anti-aircraft gun and manoeuvre it into position as if they were going to shoot a plane down. Once the exercise has been completed they then all get onto the gun and pose for the camera.

In the mess, some of the ATS cook and serve a roast dinner to their colleagues. Outside, three women work on the maintenance of military trucks. A baseball match takes place, possibly with some American GI’s who were based in the village, before the film closes with the men and women posing for the camera.

Context:

Mr Thorne was a dentist in Chapeltown and filmed the local community throughout the war using both colour and black and white film stock. His films form unique records of village life showing both the military services based there and the local people. He was able to get access to film the Hunshelf Gunsite and the work of the ATS which would have been unusual due to the security measures restricting filming of military activities.

The women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, (ATS), was formed in 1938 and during the war, the service was granted full military status. At the peak of its numbers there were in the region of 200,000 in their ranks. ATS recruits worked in a variety of fields including in clerical work, as drivers, mechanics, cooks and telephonists.

The ATS servicewomen also took on key roles in anti-aircraft battery establishments, such as the one illustrated in this film. The women were not officially responsible for firing weapons but often worked in spotting enemy aircraft, maintaining the equipment, and operating the gun positions.

 

Hunshelf Gunsite (1940-1945)

Hunshelf Gunsite (1940-1945)

Hunshelf Gunsite (1940-1945)

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