The latest addition to the Bioscope Library is Geoffrey Malins’ How I Filmed the War: a record of the extraordinary experiences of the man who filmed the great Somme battles etc. (1920). Malins was one of two British Official cameramen who filmed the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916 (the other was J.B. McDowell). The film that they shot was considered so outstanding that it was compiled into a feature length documentary (earlier Official war films had been much shorter), entitled The Battle of The Somme. It was first shown in London in October 1916 and was unquestionably a sensation. It is estimated that half the British population saw its unprecedented scenes of life for British troops on the Western front, with scenes of battle, troops going over the top, and the wounded. Malins’ book is vainglorious but rich in detail, a unique document of the making of what Nicholas Hiley has called the most socially significant British film of the twentieth century.
It’s available for free download from the Internet Archive, in PDF (24MB), DjVu (6MB) or TXT (532KB) formats. The film itself has been recently digitally restored by the Imperial War Museum, with remarkable effect, and a DVD release with new score is promised.