Tracking a lost film

By Anne Copley

The Trust is building a relationship with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), situated in Washington and the US equivalent of the National Archives at Kew.

One of the items under discussion is a film “Onore al merito” (“Honour to those who deserve it”), made in 1946 under the aegis of the British Embassy in Rome. Its purpose was to acknowledge the huge debt owed to the Italian contadini by Allied escapers and evaders.

It merits a whole chapter in Lucy de Burgh’s book “An English Girl at War”, and it appears that her husband Hugo was instrumental in getting it made. Lt. Col. Hugo de Burgh was Commanding Officer of the Allied Screening Commission (Italy) and had been Senior British Officer at Fontanellato PoW camp before escaping to Switzerland after Italy’s surrender in September 1943.

Unfortunately the film itself is lost (though searches are under way), but the story of its production can be reconstructed in the Washington archives. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist, has been following its trail through correspondence and other documents and has written a fascinating and thoroughly researched blog which appears on the NARA website at:

Vernon Jarratt, one of the two film-makers, went on to run “George’s”, a very high-class restaurant in Rome, patronised by the 1960s movie crowd. Some of our members may have their own memories of time spent within its walls.