Sgt. Christie No. 5 Army Film and Photo Unit 6th Airborne Division

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by brithm, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

  2. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    After These Many Quests

    In 1949 L. Marsland Gander wrote his autobiography, After These Many Quests, and in the 16th chapter, Airborne Ballast, writes of his experience of preparing for and taking part in Operation Varsity. He names all six war correspondents who were involved on the British side.

    Of these three went in by glider:

    L. Marsland Gander - The Daily Telegraph,
    Canadian Stanley Maxted - The BBC,
    Geoffrey Bocca - The Daily Express.

    The other three, who elected to parachute included:

    Seaghan Maynes - Reuters,
    Australian Alan Wood - Exchange Telegraph Company or the London Daily Express
    American Bob Vermillion - United Press

    Gander writes, "All my colleagues turned up one by one, except Bocca and Wood. Bocca had been captured, but was released after a few days none the worse. Unluckily Wood, the bravest war reporter I ever met, was wounded in the leg and lost the limb." Not only was I not aware that Alan Wood jumped on Operation Varsity, but that he also suffered a serious wound resulting in amputation ?

    After the war Alan Wood is seen in the movie, Theirs is the Glory in a couple scenes sitting in a foxhole. The filming for the movie began in early August of 1945 and continued for two months and was finally released in October of 1946.

    Regards ...
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  3. Theobob

    Theobob Senior Member

    Very Interesting!
    thanks Cee
    So does anyone know if Alan woods wrote his memoirs after the war?
    it would be great to read them
  4. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I'm not sure if he wrote his memoirs or if someone else has covered his life. Here is an obituary notice for Alan Wood from Détente Or Destruction, 1955-57, Vol 29, the Collected Papers of Bertrand Russel, edited by Andrew G. Bone.

    Alan Wood Obituary Notice.jpg

    A list of his books which may be incomplete?

    Flying Visits - by Alan Wood. - London D. Dobson Ltd 1946; 1st Edition, 1946

    The Groundnut Affair - by Alan Wood - London: Bodley Head, 1950.

    Mr. Rank: a Study of J. Arthur Rank and British Films - by Alan Wood - London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1952.

    Islands in Danger. The story of the German occupation of the Channel Islands 1940-1945 - by Alan Wood and Mary Seaton Wood - Evans Brothers; First Edition, 1955

    Bertrand Russell: The Passionate Skeptic. A Biography - by Alan Wood - Simon and Schuster; 1st Edition,

    SERIES 13: Biographical research material and drafts assembled by Alan and Mary Wood, 1954

    In 1954 the authors Alan and Mary Wood commenced researching a biography of Chester Wilmot. Alan Wood died in 1957 before the project was completed. His wife Mary continued writing drafts but never completed the work. After the demise of the project the Woods' drafts and working notes remained in the possession of Edith Wilmot. This series contains notes of interviews conducted by the Woods with friends and acquaintances of Wilmot; correspondence connected with the proposed biography; and manuscript and typescript notes for, and drafts of, the unfinished work.

    The True History of Lord Beaverbrook - by Alan Wood; with a postscript by Sir John Elliot - London: Heinemann, 1965

    Regards ...
  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Sorry, I got a little carried away with Alan Wood''s postwar writing career ... :P

    Probably your best bet for an Alan Wood memoir is Flying Visits. I couldn't really find much on it and the cover suggests it was a travelogue of some kind. Here's a short description found at an online book seller:

    "A witty, travel diary, taking the reader around the world, meeting famous people. Description: vii, 9-149 p. 19 cm. Subjects: World War, 1939-1945 --Personal narratives, English."

    A bit of a long shot I think.

    Regards ...
  6. Theobob

    Theobob Senior Member

    Thank you Cee,
    A long shot it may be, but a bet a good flavor of the man
    I will try and track down a copy and report back
  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Here's a visual recap of identifications made to date in the Bert Hardy photo.

    Identifications .jpg

    A possibility for the man sitting sideways in the rear with feet on fender (Fender Guy) is Lee Howard of No.1 RAFFPU. Gander mentions that a RAF photographer joined their glider at the last moment and he was even up and about during the course of the flight across to Germany. Howard's name is also associated with the photos taken of Gander prior to take-off and after landing. Unfortunately we don't have another wartime photo of Howard for comparison and those of him in later life aren't the best match. Postwar A. L. Lee Howard was a newspaper editor with his longest stint at the Daily Mirror during 1960s. He wrote four novels under the pseudonyms of Leigh Howard and Alexander Krislov, the first of which, Crispin's Day, is based on his experience as an RAF pilot and cameraman in WW2.

    Regards ...
  8. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Just to try and keep this thread Sgt. Christie based. Found this small paragraph on Sgt. Christie and Harry Oakes on Operation Varsity from Alan Cooper's book Wot No Engines? page 165

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  9. Sussex by the Sea

    Sussex by the Sea Senior Member


    Are you sure Alan Wood the Daily Express journalist died in 1957?

  10. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I'm just going by Bertand Russel's obituary notice that according to Andrew G. Bone appeared in The Times on the 5th November, 1957. If you noticed under Papers of Reginald William Winchester & Edith Wilmot, Section 13, his death is also said to have occurred in 1957.

    Regards ...
  11. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    You can listen to Harry Oakes' account with No. 5 Army Film and Photo Unit he and Christie were partnered together Christie with Stills and Oakes with Cine for Operation Varsity. They were attached to the 12th Devons and Oakes speaks about the landing and how they lost a few chaps trying to get the tail off the glider on Reel 4 about the glider landing and Christie tending to the wounded with water bottle and offering sweets.

    Ian Grant says that Christie at some point became 'bomb happy'. Though Oakes said he was a 'tower of strength' to him.


    P.S. Christie missed the Arnhem jump because he was suffering from conjunctivitis.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
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  12. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

  13. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    A terrific find on the Harry Oakes interview which will make a great addition to the story we are currently covering in the 12th Devon thread. It confirms that Jim Christie and Harry Oakes went in on the same glider as Edward Horrell and Owen Hillier of the 12th Devons. Christie took a shot from the cockpit on the flight over showing one of the RAF glider pilots. Sadly both of the Horsa pilots were killed in the crash landing along with six other men seated near the front.

    Regards ...
    brithm likes this.
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Lee Howard ?

    I somewhat regret knocking Brithm's Jimmy Christie thread sideways by attempting to identify the war reporters and PR men seen in the photo taken by Bert Hardy as they return across the Rhine after Operation Varsity.

    Identifications .jpg

    The one man that has eluded us sits to the right with feet on the fender of the kubelwagen and wearing a RAF badge on his beret. Correspondent L. Marsland Gander mentions in his book that a RAF "photographer" joined their glider party in the last moments. One man Guy Hudson and I have been mulling over is Lee Howard, a RAF cinematographer. Howard later in life became a journalist rising to the position of editor of the Daily Mirror in the 1960s. He also wrote several novels with his first, Crispin's Day, based on his wartime experience. The back cover of the sleeve shows him holding his Eyemo bomb-spotting camera.

    Howard - Crispin's Day.jpg

    Interestingly there is photo provided by Guy showing Gander resting on the ground next to a Glider Pilot. Immediately behind him is a movie camera that looks very much like the Bell and Howell Eyemo bomb spotter type.

    Camera Compare.jpg

    A comparison of the young and old Howard with our unknown RAF man is not totally convincing, though I can see some similarities. I could be off base but thought I would throw it out there for consideration.

    Lee Howard Compare 3.jpg

    Regards ...
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  15. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    From Marsland Gander's biography After These Many Quests

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  16. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Screen Shot 2018-10-25 at 17.08.03.png
    Major Royston William Raymond Oliver 143210 Royal Tank Regiment P.R.O.
    Major Roy Oliver

    Screen Shot 2018-10-25 at 17.23.56.png
    Stanley Maxted
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
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  17. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Some obscure shots of Christie being caught in cine footage in Normandy


    27th June 1944: Sgt. Peter Handford filming: at the end of the reel the first two stills show two cameramen one in a jeep smoking and the other laughing, I assume the first is Christie.


    28th June 1944: 01:43 Sgt. Ginger films Christie taking stills and his getting out of the way of an medical universal carrier.


    21st July 1944: Sgt. A.E. Wilkes filming "The effect of the great rainstorm of July 20th 1944 on troop movements in 1st Corps' sector of the Orne bridge-head." Christie seen in the background taking stills, close up of his crossing in the mud nearly slipping and wiping the mud with grass.

    Attached Files:

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  18. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Not sure if this is accurate information on Christie there is an James Percy Christie; born 30th July 1912 in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, occupation is recorded as an Editorial Assitant/ Journalist living in Fulham & Earls Court, married in Soho 1938 to Ellen Bagshaw. They are registered as living at 58 Ongar Road, Fulham SW6 then the 1939 census has them at 13 Kenway Road, Kensington, SW5. This Christie is said to have died in 1987 in Merton.
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  19. Dave L

    Dave L Junior Member

    Just to throw another name into the fray for Normandy. Guy Byam BBC who I believe parachuted in.

    Dave L
  20. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    27th June 1944: Sgt. Peter Handford filming: at the end of the reel the first two stills show two cameramen one in a jeep smoking and the other laughing, I assume the first is Christie.

    This is a comparision with the smiling A.F.P.U. photographer and the photograph from # 53 purportedly of Sgt. Christie in the Reichstag in 1945
    Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 19.44.17.png

    The soldier in the first still may well be Lt. Handford's jeep driver, in this shot the steering wheel is visible.

    Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 20.02.58.png
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
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