This film is part of Free

Mrs. Cooper's Film No 2

Can film fight? In this fascinating amateur footage, King George sends officers to the front with reels and projectors

Amateur film 1917 26 mins Silent


At Buckingham Palace, after handing out Military Crosses for efforts on the French front, the King sends his officers to Italy with film and projection equipment. As his letter to the Italian army explains, by sharing "representations of the doings of my Armies in the field" he intended to show their "efforts in the common cause" and cement unity between the "fighting forces" in Italy. Early scenes in this film show British soldiers on parade and being inspected, as well as relaxing as pals.

Film became a vital propaganda tool in WWI. In the summer of 1916, the documentary The Battle of the Somme was a box-office hit, seen in cinemas by about 20 million Britons in its first six weeks of release. The film allowed the families at home to see what their boys were experiencing at the front: both the dangers and the ways in which the military took care of its men. It was followed by more documentary propaganda films, which were likewise well-received. The mission documented here was intended to replicate the impact of such films on home front morale for soldiers at the front.