Screen Archive South East is a public sector moving image archive serving the South East of England. The archive's collections of magic lantern slides, films, videos and associated materials capture the many varied aspects of life, work and creativity from the early days of screen history to the present day and serve as a rich and invaluable historical resource.
This film is part of Free
Pre War and Wartime scenes in Chichester
Spitfire the Rabbit makes a guest appearance in this charming family film from the early years of the war - featuring various aircraft and larks with men of the RAF.
From the collection of:
This delightful film starts in peacetime with autogyro and seaplane action followed by domesticity and speedboats on the Sussex coast. When war arrives we see Beaufighters, Ansons and Spitfires fly up and past while RAF men lark about in Chichester's Little London. A South Harting cottage and a burnt-out factory are followed by more antics with this playful family. Finally, RAF fighter ace, Tony Gaze, feeds his pet rabbit ‘Spitfire’ as the real thing flies overhead.
This film features Tony Gaze, an Australian who joined the RAF in 1940 for pilot training. Based at RAF Westhampnett, which is today the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit and Chichester-Goodwood Airport, Gaze's success as a Spitfire ‘ace’ led to him being awarded three Distinguished Flying Cross medals, a feat matched by only 46 other men during WW2. His last DFC was for shooting down the formidable Luftwaffe jet fighter, the Me262. In September 1943, Gaze himself was shot down near Dieppe and, with the help of the French Resistance, managed to evade capture and return to Britain. After the war, Gaze helped establish Goodwood as a premiere motor racing circuit and competed himself in the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix.