Australian Screen

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Jungle Patrol (1944)

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clip Cleaning up the Japs

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

The patrolling Australians are attacked by Japanese snipers. They return fire with Bren guns, then grenades thrown with deadly accuracy. The Japanese soldiers are soon dead. Their bodies are checked for documents and buried in their bunker. Taking up a position in a tree, the camera films an artillery attack on an enemy stronghold on a ridge. American bombers then join the attack, pounding the hillside with high explosives. The ground forces attack with machine guns and mortars.

Curator’s notes

This is most likely a mixture of actuality and re-enactment. The aerial bombardment of what is almost certainly ‘the Pimple’, a ridge top taken by the Australians in late December 1943, is real, albeit organised by the cameraman Bill Carty (see main notes). The attack on the Japanese bunker is unlikely to be real, for several reasons. The terrain at the beginning of the fight does not match that at the end; the camera position for most of the action is far too good, and too exposed to be safe; and the camera is able to catch perfectly the exploding grenades as they hit the bunker. The Japanese bodies certainly seem to be real, but we have no way to establish whether these shots were made at the same time. Given that this was not a real unit, but one selected for the cameras, it is quite possible that the whole fight is re-creation, with generic shots of dead Japanese added later for authenticity.

Indeed, we don’t know that there ever was a real jungle patrol by these men. They were actors, in a very real sense, even though real soldiers. It is hard to imagine that the filmmakers would have asked them to patrol in real forward areas. Apart from the danger, it would have made it much harder to get the shots they needed. Bill Carty was an experienced photographer who had been involved in several near misses by this stage in his career in New Guinea, but he was also very careful. If it is a re-creation, it is extremely well put together, and a fairly accurate depiction of how the fight for Shaggy Ridge was done. Anyone with any knowledge of these soldiers, please contact this site.

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