This film is part of Free

British South Africa

South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts delivers a stirring speech in London, watched by an approving Winston Churchill, in this affirmative film about South Africa’s contribution to the war.

Documentary 1943 19 mins


Stressing the unity of South Africa and its contribution to the war both in terms of natural resources and man and woman-power, this March of Time film’s primary purpose was to show the country in a positive light, emphasising the speed and efficiency with which South Africa was developing its industries to produce war materials as well as implementing a training programme for its growing armed forces, shown here by a noisy montage sequence featuring the distinctive Marmon-Herrington armoured car.

In the extract showing Prime Minister Jan Smuts speaking at the Houses of Parliament in 1942 we hear him stressing the need to tackle the roots of social unrest and suffering. Modern viewers may be struck by the contrast between these words and the images in the film showing the day to day reality of racial segregation in South Africa. The film also papers over the cracks in South Africa’s political system, mentioning the fact that the country had narrowly voted in favour of war, but not that the vote had in fact split the ruling United Party, with the Afrikan wing, led by Barry Hertzog, unable to support an alliance with Great Britain, their former enemy in the Second Boer War, and still hated by many Afrikaners.