This ambitious amateur colour film vividly captures the devastation wreaked on Bristol and Bath by the bombing raids of winter 1940-41. Also featured are rare glimpses of the nearby picturesque village of Chew Magna, which was barely affected. Film stock was rationed during the war and nearly all wartime footage was shot in black and white - so this film is remarkable for being in colour.
The footage was shot by a local Bristol optician, M W Dunscombe, at the request of Ernest Dennison Fear, who was born in Chew Magna in 1872 and emigrated to Kansas City in the 1890s. Fear had commissioned the film to show friends in the USA how Britain was faring in the war - particularly the impact on the village of his birth and surrounding areas. The optician-turned-filmmaker seems to have been successful in business too - there is still a Bristol optician trading under the name M W Dunscombe. Special thanks go to the Imperial War Museum's Rebecca Harding for providing further information on the provenance of this remarkable film.