The following story is used with permission by Lieutenant-Colonel Réjean Duchesneau, MBA
Head, Defence Public Affairs Learning Centre
Chief of Staff (PA)
CFPU veteran entrusts Award to DPALC
By Lieutenant Ronald Alvarado
OTTAWA- The Canadian Society of Cinematography (CSC) presented the CSC COMBAT CAMERA AWARD, a special achievement award to the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit (CFPU) during its annual awards banquet held in Toronto on March 27th. Sergeant (Ret) Charles “Chuck” Ross, one of only seven remaining members of the Unit, accepted the award accompanied by two members of the current Combat Camera team based in Ottawa.
In a brief but moving acceptance speech, Mr. Ross said he was humbled by the recognition and that he was there as a sign of respect for the members of the unit who lost their lives and were wounded documenting the war on film.
“It is a great honour to carry out this tradition for recording history for today’s generation,” said Mr. Ross, adding “We were the fore-runners of television. Looking back at the astonishing work we did despite all the obstacles, we are both humbled and honoured to carry this legacy.”
The CSC award recognizes “the outstanding achievements of the CFPU during the war, in honour and remembrance of the courageous cameramen of the Second World War.”
Chuck then travelled to Gatineau and presented the Award to the Defence Public Affairs Learning Centre (DPALC) where a wing of the school is dedicated to the memory of the CFPU.
“The images these incredible soldiers captured during the war are known to every Canadian; they are our common legacy,” said LCol Réjean Duchesneau, head of the DPALC.
“The work they did carries on with the fantastic work being done by today’s visual storytellers, especially within Combat Camera and the Army News teams,” he said, adding that “It is important that we maintain the traditions of the CFPU, and an honour to be asked to keep safe this very significant Award.”
The CFPU was founded in 1941 in order to document military operations during the Second World War. The CFPU captured most of the still and video images for 106 Canadian Army Newsreels, and generated news stories about Canadian military operations during the Second World War. Its members capture images of the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings in Normandy, the liberation of Paris, and the Elbe River link up of the Allied armies, known as Elbe Day. Seven members of the CFPU gave their lives during the war and several sustained injuries capture the amazing images every Canadian has seen in some form.
“I was issued a browning .38 side arm, but I never fired a shot in anger. In fact, the only thing I recall shooting was a rooster for breakfast one morning,” said Mr. Ross. “I was more protective of my camera equipment than I was of my life. I never left my camera, and I always covered my camera first, then myself.”
Mr. Charles Ross is also one of the last members of the CFPU who was on the front lines, reaching mainland Europe days after D-Day. He and his buddies risked their lives to bring to the big screens back home images of Canadian soldiers clawing their way across Italy, Normandy, France, Holland and Germany.
Also honoured with a special CSC Award was Mr. James O’Regan of Ottawa, an communications officer with Environment Canada. Mr. O’Regan wrote, produced and directed the documentary video “Shooters” that tells the story of the CFPU as a tribute to his father who was a member of the Unit. He received the inaugural Focus Award 2010 for “the excellence of this film and the importance of its message.”
For more information on the CFPU: https://www.canadianfilm.com/cafu/cafu_welcome.htm (NOTE: a new website featuring the Canadian Film & Photo Unit is currently in the works and can be located at www.canadianfilmandphotounit.ca)
For information on Mr. James O’Regan and the video Shooters:https://www.jamesoregan.com/Shooters/index.htm