This film is part of Free
Preston and District Roll of Honour, 6th, 7th, 5th Series
A rare surviving WWI memorial film, featuring poignant images of men killed or injured serving in the armed forces.
The 'roll of honour' film is a genre unique to the First World War, consisting of photographs solicited from a community's members of men killed, wounded or currently serving in the war, filmed on a rostrum camera and projected in the local cinema. Even today, the act of watching these rolls is an emotional one as it personalises the toll of war usually only conveyed to us in numbers.
This film, acquired for the BFI National Archive in a single reel, represents the 6th, 7th and 5th series (in that order) and was produced by local filmmaker Will Onda in Preston. Although the film appears simple - a rostrum shot compilation of still photographs - its effects are complex. The progression of individual images has a distressing immediacy. The photographs are largely studio portraits or shots in uniform with a few images of groups at the Front or in transit bases such as Cairo. Information is limited to the soldier's name, rank and sometimes his regiment or special position - a chaplain, a bugler - and a statement if he was killed missing or wounded. There are the occasional brothers pictured together, and some battles are mentioned by name, including Ypres, Festubert and the Dardanelles.