Steve Ann poses with a Speed Graphic 4 x 5 still camera, mounted with a Graphlex cell flash. His reenactment group is called "Armed with Camera's".

A father and son remember the Canadians in the Pas-de-Calais in September 1944

I was recently contacted by a visitor to the website seeking information on the Canadian involvement during WWII around the Boulogne and Calais area of France. Specifically, Steve Ann, from Suffolk, England, was seeking the whereabouts of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit (CAFPU) for his research during the Fall of 1944. In exchange for information, Steve agreed to share some images of he and his son posing as U.S. Signal Corps cameramen. Looking at the images, I could not help but note that in many of the images Steve and his son Jordan posed in, were eerily similar to poses taken in many of the images of the CAFPU. So, in collaboration, Steve and I agreed to juxtapose his images with those of the CAFPU. Thanks to Steve and Jordan. Enjoy!

 

My name is Steve Ann and together with my son Jordan, We have been visiting the battlefields of the Pas-de-Calais, France for the past 17 years. We live in Suffolk, England and are approximately three hours from the battlefields of France. For us our trips combine several hobbies, world war two history, photography, re-enacting and collecting ww2 artefacts including cameras.

I am putting together a collection of my own black and white photographs of the remaining elements of the Atlantic Wall and the V Weapons sites. Many of which have been destroyed or lost to the sands of time over the years. As you know the Canadian 1st Army swept up the channel coast after D-Day, and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division liberated the Boulogne and Calais area. In September 1944 it was one of the most heavily fortified parts of the Atlantic Wall, being nearest to England.

Where the infantry and armour went, so did the Canadian Film and Photo Unit (abbreviated to CFPU). 35mm movie footage was shot of the battles for Boulogne, Cap Gris-Nez and Calais. Cameras such as the Bell and Howell 35mm Eyemo were the main weapon of choice for the CFPU cameramen. Not only were they used hand-held or on a tripod, but some were attached to tanks in combat to capture the up close action.

When my son and I display at re-enactment shows in England, we remind the public that all the photographs and movie footage they see was actually taken by the brave men such as the CFPU; who risked life and limb to get “the shot”. Combat units featured in the headlines at the time, but the camera units were there at the front too! Brave men such as Lt. Grant and Lt. Bell

Jordan and I have often walked the Pas-de-Calais battlefields in the footsteps of the CFPU; sometimes standing on the spot where original photographs were taken. Some of the most famous photographs taken by the cameramen are the cross channel guns, of which some still remain to this day, including the Todt Battery of four casemates. One of which is now an excellent museum. I am at present researching the 25th of September 1944, and the battles of Cap Blanc-Nez, Noire Mottes and Belle Vue. All won by the Canadian units and accompanied by the CFPU.

I hope you have found this article interesting. Kind Regards, Steve and Jordan.

2 Comments

  1. Steve & Jordan
    I am writing in the hope that you might be able to help with a project I am working on for our museum. I am a member of the 1st Hussars one to the Armoured regiments actively engaged in the capture of Calais and Cap Gris Nez. I have a very interesting account of our tanks playing cat and mouse with the guns at Cap Gris Nez describing how one tank crew would expose their vehicle prompting one of the guns to fire and while the gun was reloading the rest of the squadron would pop up and pepper it with HE and AP it then goes on to describe how this had absolutely no effect but that they continued this fruitless activity for several days. I know that one of our tanks was fitted with a camera by the CFPU just prior to this action and have recently received a WW II document from the CFPU that describes footage of the 6 CAR (1H) engaging the guns on 18 September 1944. I was hoping that you might hav a copy of this footage or could perhaps direct me to a source that might have it available. My email address is hearn@eastlink.ca.
    Thank you for considering my request
    Sincerely
    Steve Hearn

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About me

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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