British Pathé newsreel footage of Volturno survivors

Look for the promised update on the short life of Volturno‘s fourth engineer, James Belfield, in my next post, but now a special find!

Thanks to some descriptions in January 1914 editions of the Townsville Daily Herald (Townsville, Queensland), I have learned that there was newsreel footage taken of Volturno survivors. From the 7 January edition, a film from the Olympia theater’s program was a Pathé English Gazette newsreel that included footage of Volturno survivors. From the 14 January edition, a listing of the Stanley theater’s program describes the (presumably same) footage as being of Volturno survivors arriving on SS Devonian at Liverpool.

Fortunately, British Pathé have a wonderful website where you can search for and preview clips from their newsreels. A search for the word Volturno brings up three clips, two of which are related to the Allied offensive in Italy during World War II. The third, however, appears to be the footage discussed in the Townsville newspaper.

On the page with the clip, the title suggests that footage of the burning Volturno itself might be included, but I don’t think that is the case. The other wording on the page reads like an offering from the Descriptive Video Service, merely describing what appears in the clip.

Examining the footage, the imagery of the ship is clearly not that of Volturno, since the vessel has four masts (Volturno only had two). Comparing extant images of Devonian to the images, though, suggests that it is indeed the Devonian in the film clip.

The clip itself is about 1 minute 15 seconds long and nobody clearly identifiable as a Volturno survivor appears until about 26 seconds in, when the camera pans across two rows of men who were probably also posing for photograpers. Near the end, there is footage of women and children survivors descending a staircase on the ship. It is interesting to note that the three boys that I discussed in a previous post are seen descending the staircase at about 50 seconds into the clip. The photo in that post was described as being ‘Volturno survivors in England’, which I interpreted as being from Devonian (since it was the only rescue ship that landed women and children in England). The Volturno castaways in the film clip and those in the photograph are clearly the same, and combined with my deductions in the previous post and the Townsville Daily Herald descriptions, I feel confident that these are indeed Volturno survivors rescued by Devonian who are pictured.

In any case, here is the link for you to view the clip. One may also purchase the clip for £30, presumably in a higher resolution, non-watermarked version.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Volturno-related photos by Second Officer of SS Devonian « Fire on the Ocean

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