Dramatic reconstruction of events during the Battle of Ypres in the First World War.
"Nor must be forgotten those Northumberland Fusiliers who, returning from Hill 60 worn out and weary, again turn back to lend a hand." M/S of soldiers walking across a hill with a shell exploding nearby. They are met by a messenger on a motorbike. He hands the sergeant a note and the men turn back. "The North is holding. Determined to force a passage the enemy directs another attack at Hill 60." M/S of men in the trenches, man close to the camera blows onto a fire which is heating a billy can of water. C/U of the man blowing on the fire. He is called away by a colleague "'Ere 'Busty' - what's this?" They look over the top of the trench and point. A cloud of smoke is seen on the horizon. "Respirators of a sort had been issued the day before, but the deadly gas cloud chokes and blinds before they can be adjusted. M/S of men in the trenches being overcome by mustard gas. "Rather than retire, the men of Dorset, vacating their gas filled trench, stand upon the parapet in full view of the enemy and hold them at bay..." The men fight on in the gas. "...until men of Devon and Bedfordshire, all unprotected from the deadly gas, stagger into the breach and make the line secure." M/S of men staggering through the gas and shelling. M/S of men clambering over the trenches.
"Elsewhere the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, caught unawares, suffer a similar fate." Men are gassed in a trench, they stagger and fall. "Private John Lynn, without waiting to adjust his respirator, mounts his machine gun upon the parapet in face of the approaching enemy." M/S of the gunner struggling to put his gun in place. He begins to fire off a round. "No enemy set foot in the trench defended by John Lynn." M/S of man firing a machine gun. Germans attempt to cross the barbed wire and are gunned down. John Lynn claws at his throat as he begins to choke. "A counter-attack organised immediately finds the trench tenantless save for John Lynn. He sleeps his last sleep "somewhere in France", but on the long roll of the Cross of Valour his name "liveth for evermore". Men rush into the trench and find John Lynn struggling for breath. The men carry him away and continue to fire their guns.
"But all the sacrifice is unavailing. On the 4th May it becomes necessary to shorten the line and withdraw." Aerial shot of the area showing the line of defence being pulled back, illustrated by a thick black line. "The honours of the first two battles belong to the men who fought upon the ground, and their valour and devotion is equalled only by the men who did battle in the air." "No danger too great, no hazard too high for the men who fly "with wings as eagles." "Orders are to attack enemy aircraft at sight." "Flight Sub-Lieutenant R.A. Warneford, sighting a patrolling Zeppelin, immediately gives chase." M/S of man in cockpit of a plane at night (obviously a studio shot) Sequence of shots portraying Warneford's pursuit of zeppelin and its crew. Dramatic sequence shows Warneford dropping bombs and the zeppelin being hit (models are used for this sequence). "The force of the explosion overturns Warneford's machine, stops the engine and empties his petrol tank." "Warneford manages to effect a landing to refill his petrol tank - but in the heart of the enemy country." M/S of Warneford climbing out of the cockpit with a petrol can. He refuels. M/S of German soldier on patrol who notices our man and blows his whistle to alert his colleagues. Chase ensues with Germans firing rifles and Warneford effecting an escape. "Warneford eventually reaches his base in safety, to be awarded the Victoria Cross for "conspicuous gallantry in the air." Ten days later this brave young Officer's life was terminated by a flying accident."
M/S of Warneford waving from the cockpit.
"While the Old Army is fighting its last great fight in France, the Youth of Britain is flocking to the formation of the New." High angle shot of military marching band and soldiers in a parade (this looks like contemporary footage.) "Behind the line attempts are made to practice social amenities." Interior shot of a "Divisional Baths" men exchange their dirty linen and have baths in a communal area. Good shots of the men sitting in little round tubs having a wash.
"Pass us the band of 'ope, Bill!" reads an intertitle. The men splash each other and lather up. One throws a sponge at another. Washing scenes intercut with shot of German artillery loading large gun. British Sergeant tells two splashing men off for their high jinx. Suddenly a shell hits the wash room and the men jump out of their tubs and run off, the two men in the foreground fighting over who gets the towel. Exterior of the wash room, men run out in their underwear and towels. Inside our two friends are still battling over the towel, one loses his grip and falls backwards into the wash tub!
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