We Band of Brothers – Vietnam
Whilst in Vietnam with 6RAR 1966-67, HQ 1ARU 1970-71 and HQ 1ATF 1971, I took Super-8 movies whenever I could. As I took them, I sent the reels home for development and so didn’t see the result so I could improve my cine-craft. Apologies for that.
Then, in about 1993-4 at the time I was beginning to write my book I had the content transferred from myriads of small reels of home-movie Super-8 film to the then latest technology, Video Tape. Later I had the lot transferred to Digital Video Disk (DVD). During both transfers, despite me laboriously labelling the order of the content, and paying a great deal of money for the jobs to be done, the films ended up being seriously out of sequence. I then gave up.
But later my spirits revived and many years ago I gave a copy of the films to the War Memorial from where they have been sometimes briefly used as background in various programmes.
Now, in my dotage, ninety next December, over the last two years I engaged a commercial sound recordist, Julian Penn, the grandson of a good friend of mine here at Anthem, Ron Penn, ex Royal Navy, and we embarked on the task of a voice description over the films.
This is not as easy as it will look to those of you who will undoubtedly criticise the result. I watched the films firstly and made notes as I tried to remember names, places, and activities from up to fifty-six years ago. Then all the equipment was set up once a week and off we went. Having a clear voice was important, so this sometimes caused delays, but we pressed on over about eight or nine months. Whilst watching the film it was difficult to simultaneously read the notes as events flashed by on the screen. Also, to instantly recall the names of persons from fifty odd years ago off the cuff tended to stress the mind somewhat. So occasionally you will hear the name of a person after their image has already flashed by.
Going back to the “big picture”, Julian’s Dad, Ian Penn, then saw the result and decided that the whole project deserved a proper edit. He is a seriously top-notch technical computer expert and has retired from being a deputy-headmaster of a state school. He gave freely of his time and set out on the long and difficult task of understanding the whole sequence of the films and then moving pieces about to fit into their correct places. He also got rid of some poor quality and superfluous pieces, and all this without disturbing the voice-over – a truly epic task for which I am eternally grateful, as should those be who see the films as a matter of military history.
I have been told that there is a great lack of a visual record of the Vietnam War. The Defence Force photographers were only taking photos and film in black and white at the time, thus I hope my small effort will be useful.
Some major lessons may perhaps be learned, firstly the need for an established and powerful Reinforcement Unit to be deployed with any brigade size force overseas, and acknowledgement of the skin problems that may occur if soldiers, such as those of 7th Brigade I see in the field, are to operate in tropical conditions encumbered with the equipment the infantry troops are wearing. But all that is for others to worry about.
One other point is that I am sending these films to you via YouTube on a non-commercial basis so I would be grateful if you would keep distribution that way, only to friends and comrades. I will be forwarding the films to the AWM in the immediate future via USB.
Regards to All, and please feel free to make comments as you see fit:
You may also access the films by opening YouTube and searching for, exactly:
We Band of Brothers – Vietnam