BU WWI Film Set for Leicester Square Premiere


A film created by Bournemouth University students and set during the First World War is to premier in Leicester Square.

The Journal is a fiction film about a man called Blake, who finds a diary written by his Great-Grandfather during the First World War. The film is a flashback account of deception and honour.

The film was created by Bournemouth University Television Production students eager to enhance their learning through the summer months. Keen to tie in with the 100 year anniversary of the First World War, the team set about creating the film.

First year student and Journal Director Tim Mizon said, “We wanted to create a film that can catch the eye of the audience. We took on crowd funding first and raised nearly £3,000 – getting sponsorship from a number of executive producers. The team were so dedicated that they also contributed to the funding of the project. We are all passionate film makers and we wanted to make a film that we can take away and be proud of.”

The film is due to be premiered at Leicester Square on 25th October, and the first screening sold out within two hours of ticket release.

Tim continued, “A group of television 1st year students wanted to create a film during term time to create more opportunities for ourselves and to really take advantage of creating films before we depart from student life.

“We filmed in France and Belgium within the grave sites. I found a trench that was constructed by BBC Time Team’s investigator Andrew Robertshaw. He supported us with the 60ft trench, with costumes and weapons. We then moved location to Yorkshire to film the final scenes inside a house.”

Looking back on the film so far and how far it has come, Tim concluded, “We are very pleased with the success we have had so far, we still have one more scene to go but we are really proud with what we have achieved.  As a crew we are excited to be showing our film in such a prestigious area where Hollywood films are premiered.”

You can view the trailer for the film on YouTube and more information about the film can be found at www.thejournalfilm.com.

Women in WWI and its aftermath – have attitudes changed?

By Dr Kate Murphy, Senior Lecturer in Radio Production.

In 1918, the Ministry of Information produced some striking photographs of wartime women workers: operating a railway signal box in Birmingham; cleaning shop windows in Mayfair; driving a tram in Glasgow; delivering coal in the Old Kent Road; working as clerks on the HMS Essex and moving huge flour bags at a Birkenhead flour milling factory. During the First World War, almost two million women entered paid employment for the first time, to replace men who had been called up. Crèches were set up at munitions factories while the Treasury Agreement ostensibly ensured equal pay. Women were feted as heroines, doing their bit for the war effort.

Women working in flour mill, 1918

Female workers pack flour in a mill at the works of Rank and Sons, Birkenhead, Cheshire, in September 1918 © IWM (Q 28268)

While the reality might not have been so rosy – working conditions could be appalling, nurseries were few and far between, equal pay avoided by subdividing tasks – the new visibility of women in the workplace and their ability to perform tasks that had previously been deemed impossible had a profound effect on the nation’s psyche and its understanding of femininity. Women were shown to be as capable as men and married women, even mothers, combined work with family responsibilities without being denounced as aberrant.

The final year of the war saw the enactment of two significant pieces of legislation. The first was the Representation of the People Act, which enfranchised eight million women aged thirty and over (the vote was finally extended to all adult women in 1928). The second was the Parliament (Qualification of Women Act) which enabled women to stand as MP’s, ironically at age twenty-one, before they could legally vote. Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in parliament, in 1919. A third piece of equal opportunities legislation was passed in 1919, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act (SDRA) which supposedly opened all professions to women and entitled those who were married to work.

Women operating signal box 1918.

A female railway worker operates the signals in a signal box on a siding at the Great Central Railway in Birmingham, September 1918. © IWM (Q 28148)

But despite this acceptance of new and wider roles for women, once the war had ended most were expected to give up their jobs and return to housewifery; the Treasury Agreement ended and nurseries closed. Similarly, the SDRA was circumvented by the Church and the Army while loop holes were found to enable marriage bars to be reinforced. During the ensuing years, a growing cult of motherhood and domesticity vied with women’s increasing desire for careers and fulfilment outside the home.

Feminists, whose efforts before 1914 had been concentrated on the vote, broadened their objectives to include equal pay, equal promotional opportunities and the ending of enforced spinsterhood in jobs such as teaching and the Civil Service. At the same time, divisions developed between activists who, on the one hand, believed there should be no differentiation between women and men and those, on the other, who held that women had distinctive needs that should be legislated for accordingly.

Women tram driver in 1918

A female tram driver in Glasgow, November 1918. © IWM (Q 28391)

One hundred years on from the start of the First World War – how far have attitudes changed? The patronising comments that have greeted the new women members of Cameron’s cabinet, particularly the focus on their appearance and dress, would have been familiar to Nancy Astor. If their promotions are a ploy to win the next election, will these women then be discarded if the Tories have success? Likewise, the rumpus over women bishops reinforces the ever-present debate as to women’s suitability for some positions, as is also the case with Army women on the front line. Is it the deep patriarchy of these institutions which makes them so resistant to change? Or is there something inherently different about women that demands an alternative approach?

In similar vein to the years immediately after the First World War, equal pay, glass ceilings and working mothers continue to be areas of fierce argument, while images of home-making, baking and ideal mothering fill our TV screens. Women’s role and place in British society is as controversial now as it was then. In fact, those photos of women workers in 1917 look eerily post-modern and would even raise an eyebrow today.

Loss and Survival at Sea – The HMS Invincible at the Battle of Jutland, 1916

By Dr Innes McCartney, Nautical Archaeologist

As the world’s first battle cruiser, HMS Invincible was by any measure a revolutionary and important warship. All big-gun armament and turbine propulsion marked her out as one of the ships that led the dreadnought revolution. Her destruction at the climax of the Battle of Jutland, along with all but six of her crew of 1,031 was captured by photography and represents some of the most haunting images of the First World War. As a shipwreck, her remains too are no less stirring and emotive, while providing a valuable archaeological resource from the era of the dreadnoughts.

The actual clash of the two battle fleets at Jutland lasted only a few minutes before the heavily outnumbered German High Seas Fleet retired. But during this action HMS Invincible was the lead British ship. At the short range of 9,000 yards she was targeted by her enemies and just like the two other battle cruisers HMS Indefatigable and HMS Queen Mary destroyed earlier in the battle, she blew up in a massive conflagration. The explosion engulfed the entire ship and sunk it in less than a minute, giving little chance for any of her crew to escape.

Of the six survivors, the marine, Bryan Gasson had the most remarkable of escapes. He was actually inside HMS Invincible’s ‘Q’ gun turret when it was struck by a shell and hurled into the sea:

“Suddenly our starboard midship turret manned by the Royal Marines was struck between the two 12-inch guns and appeared to me to lift off the top of the turret and another from the same salvo followed. The flashes passed down to both midship magazines…The explosion broke the ship in half. I owe my survival to the fact that I was in a separate compartment at the back of the turret”


HMS Invincible's centre magazines explode (IMW SP2468)

HMS Invincible’s centre magazines explode (IMW SP2468)

The two centre turrets of HMS Invincible had exploded, breaking the ship in two. A photograph showing the exact moment the ship exploded  has survived and it shows not only the explosion in the centre, but also the ghastly sight of a massive jet of flame emitting from under where the fore turret was situated. In reality it means that the centre magazines had ignited and at the moment the photo was taken the entire insides of the ship most likely resembled a furnace. All of the six survivors worked in external parts of the ship. No one inside survived.

Within moments of the explosion, two halves of this proud ship jutted upwards from the seabed of the North Sea in an ugly reminder of what happens when battleships blow up. The two halves of the ship stayed afloat for nearly 24 hours before falling to the seabed, entombing the 1,025 casualties, already beginning to be mourned back in Britain. And so they remained until 1991 when a British expedition marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland found the wreck.

HMS Invincible sinks (IWM SP2470)

HMS Invincible sinks (IWM SP2470)

I first dived the wreck of HMS Invincible in 2000 and was able in the following years to thoroughly survey her with further dives and a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV). The forward half of the wreck is upside down and mostly sealed into the seabed. The stern section is upright. Between the two halves lies much of the internals of the ship including machinery, boilers, and at least one turret sleeve which probably once held Bryan Gasson’s ‘Q’ turret.

Q turret barbette of HMS Invincible (Innes McCartney)

Q turret barbette of HMS Invincible (Innes McCartney)

The most iconic and emotive remains of the wreck of HMS Invincible are her turrets themselves. On the stern half of the wreck, the guns of ‘X’ turret, (now without the turret roof) still point to starboard as if ready to fire at a long departed enemy. The massive 12-inch naval guns are all the more impressive because they are HMS Invincible’s and it is difficult to describe the sensation of actually seeing these for the first time.  The signs that the ship was heavily engaged in combat are everywhere to be seen. Of particular interest are the shut breech doors inside ‘X’ turret, showing that the ship was about to, or had just fired when she blew up.

A shut breech door inside X turret of HMS Invincible (Innes McCartney)

A shut breech door inside X turret of HMS Invincible (Innes McCartney)


From the witness accounts it is known that ‘P’ and ‘Q’ turrets fell out of the ship during the explosion. The gun turrets, or rather their remains, were found on the seabed several metres behind the track of the ship, both are upside down and can be distinguished because ‘P’ turret retains only one of its two guns. Minor details abound on the Jutland wrecks and the impact of human agency can be seen wherever chooses to look, such as the partially opened escape hatch which can clearly seen on ‘P’ turret. A stark reminder of the loss of life.

With the passing recently of the last of the Great War’s sailors, it is important that we don’t forget the men of the Grand Fleet. The wrecks of the Battle of Jutland recall this era more vividly than anywhere else I have surveyed. In war’s unfathomable lottery, marine Bryan Gasson’s survival from ‘Q’ turret was somehow made all the more remarkable by the discovery of his battle station in 2000. By the side of the turret lies one of the rounds which would have been the next Gasson’s team would have fired at the enemy if their proud ship had survived. After surviving the war, Gasson became school teacher and at the age of 85 was presented to the Queen at the commissioning of the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible in 1980.

The gun muzzles of HMS Invincible's X turret (Innes McCartney)

The gun muzzles of HMS Invincible’s X turret (Innes McCartney)

Although I have surveyed the wrecks on six occasions I know that only the surface has been scratched of what the Jutland wrecks can offer archaeologically and historically. So their protection is of the utmost priority. Sadly there is much evidence of commercial salvage among many of the wrecks so far discovered. Some are now barely recognisable. It is my sincerest hope that the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will in time, offer protection to these remarkable monuments to the battle fleets of the Great War and the brave men who sailed in them.

Innes McCartney has partaken in and led six expeditions to the wrecks of the Battle of Jutland. He found three new sites and produced the C4/Discovery/ZDF film “Clash of the Dreadnoughts”. He specialises in investigating, researching and interpreting the remains of 20th Century shipwrecks.