D-Day, June 6th, 2015

Excerpt from J.E.R. McDougall field diary…

9th of June 1944
McDougall field diary (at Cranbury):
On the afternoon of Wednesday the 7th we had received 600 feet from Sgt. Bill Grant. The night of Wednesday the 7th, at the American theater at 35 Davies St., the theater was packed with senior American officers. There were also the censors and, representing Canada, King Whyte, Sgt. Stone and myself. We sat through three or four thousand feet of rather dull American stuff, having to do mainly with preparations and embarkation.

Then came Grants stuff. And it was good. It was bloody good. All through the theater you could hear people whispering to each other and muttering as good shot followed good shot. When it was all over there was much excitement and planning on how to get it to Washington the quickest possible way. I left in the middle of the flap, happy and wondering how long our invasion luck can last. There’s nothing left for us to scoop the world on except Tokyo.

The next night, Thursday the 8th, Sgt. Reynolds came in (to Cranbury). I honestly hadn’t expected ever to see him again, because parachute jumping doesn’t seem the healthiest job in the world, especially on D-Day. He looked like a ghost, and apparently had had quite a rough time of it. He’d shot 100 feet of 16mm Kodachrome, and two rolls of 120 stills. He lost a 35mm camera and tripod. He decided to jump with only his 16mm Victor and his Rolleiflex, and to send the Eyemo and tripod in by glider, where he thought they would be safer. However, the glider was hit by flak and crashed, and both the camera and tripod are dead. Though the poor guy was just about out on his feet, I got him to work on his dope sheets and after much sweat, blood and tears we got the stuff off to London by special DR. Then I took him down to the mess where he told his story to the enthralled Warcos. He told the story well, and the Warcos were tickled to death.

And so we got not only the first movies and stills of the seaborne landing, but also the first and only paratroop stuff. So ended a good day.
Conducting officer Bill Naylor said that Sgt. Roos had had a narrow escape. His craft hit a mine and sank. Roos was one of three survivors, and through some miracle or other was able to save his camera and tripod. The camera, of course, was drowned, and we’re sending him another tonight.


9th June 1944
Would you please convey the congratulations of us all at #1 CFPU to Lieut. Dubervill and Sgt. Grant for the grand performance in connection with the m/n films and stills.

Their exploit has reflected great credit on CFPU and on Canadian enterprise generally. Their material, as they are doubtless aware by now, scooped the field and is receiving much favorable comment everywhere. The quality and action are excellent.

Of the initial 700 feet of film which arrived, 400 passed the censor and were despatched by air to the Newsreels in New York. Thus, Canadians at home will have an opportunity of seeing at the earliest opportunity what their lads are doing.

Gordon Sparling, Capt.
Canadian Film and Photo Section
P.R. Services.


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    • Hi Stuart,

      Thanks for contacting me.

      I am assuming McDougall is referring to “Cranbury Park Hiltingbury”;

      “Chandler’s Ford, Cranbury Park Hiltingbury (C6, C7, C8 & C9) WWII D-Day Marshalling Area Camps C6, C7, C8 & C9 – 85th Chemical Warfare Company, Royal Engineers; 46th Field Hospital (camp capacity 11,000 personnel & 2,000 vehicles).”



      See also…


      One of my colleagues suggests;

      “Cranbury Park, the mansion, is the most likely location to my mind. Many great houses were requisitioned for military purposes as they provided large working spaces and the land around made them easier to secure. There are a series of streets in Southampton that are named “Cranbury”: a road, a place, a mews and so on.”

  1. Re: [Welcome to the Canadian Film and Photo Unit website] Please moderate: “D-Day, June 6th, 2015”

    Hi Dale

    Thanks for confirming that. I actually live in Chandler’s Ford and run the local history group on Facebook. So I know Cranbury Park well. I am currently researching the marshalling camps in Chandler’s Ford. Finding most of the best records are in Canada including photos. A friend of mine is friends of the daughter of the lady who owns the house. I know she has photos taken there whilst the camps were there including photos of Eisenhower with the troops. My friend is trying to organise me meeting the owner. I only found out the other day the house was a division headquarters used for meetings. The Bank of England was also moved there during World War Two.

    From what you wrote it sounds like there was a Canadian stills and film unit based there which then took footage to London. That makes sense as it was on the main road to London. Also close to Southampton Airport which is about 4 miles away and was home of the spitfire. I am actually a professional photographer myself so just found the whole thing fascinating when I read it.

    Kind regards

  2. Hi Stuart,

    Thanks for sharing this.

    I have another colleague who is looking into more of his research to see what he had on Cranbury.

    Taking another look, I came across an entry for Sgt. Hugh McCaughey in his paybook;
    “June 9, 1944; Moved to Cranbury Park, 7 3/4 miles from Southampton”.

    He talks about bedding down in a tent, and talks about the return of paratrooper Sgt. Dave Reynolds to camp;

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Dale Gervais has been actively researching and documenting the history of the Canadian Film & Photo Unit since 2006. Dale recently retired in September, 2018, after over 36 years with Library & Archives Canada. Dale now works as an independent researcher, with experience in audio visual holdings, video production and more recently doing Archival textual document searches, and photographic scanning.


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