Wessex Film and Sound Archive

Royal Navy and Royal Marines

Apart from the early films made by Alfred J West there are many examples of amateur and professional films, sound recordings and videos about the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in the holdings of WFSA.

Subjects covered include ships and shipbuilding, training films, sea shanties, Naval Reviews, armaments, submarines, exercises, parades, the Women's Royal Naval Service, shore establishments, World War Two action and operations. These have been deposited by the Royal Naval Museum, The Royal Marines Museum, RN Submarine Museum, RN Armaments Museum, Priddy's Hard, and Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Society. Video copies of old films have also been acquired from HMS Raleigh.

A number of private individuals have also deposited their own films. Mr Roland Smith is remarkable for having taken the trouble to research, copy and produce a series of Naval Video Time Capsules, based upon films made during World War Two held by the Imperial War Museum Film and Video Archive.


A Synopsis of the life-work of Alfred West' is being published on the Internet for the first time, thanks to permission from the copyright holder Mr David Clover (great-grandson of West) and the British Library, where the original is held.

Download the catalogue 5.2mb pdf
Transcript of the catalogue 178kb pdf

West was a pioneer of cinematography from Southsea, Hampshire, UK who made films from 1897-1912. Concentrating on Royal Navy and British Army subjects for his famous 'Our Navy and Our Army' shows, the films also featured merchant shipping and yachting.

His catalogue represents all of the official films that he made, which had a great impact on the audiences of the time. These films were shown throughout the British Empire and were shown to Queen Victoria and the Royal Family.

Although many short films were made by West, very few have survived. Look at the catalogue - if you know of any others still around, perhaps where the film-maker is unknown (or even wrongly attributed), please contact us.

Further information on Alfred West at 'Our Navy'.


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Alfred West filming