Title ID 3447Collection ID39
Title[Pre-war and Wartime Scenes]
Date[ca. 1937 - 1941]
CollectionSadler Family
ThemeFamily life Wartime and Military Case Study The Home Front
KeywordsAccidents Aircraft Armed Forces Everyday Life Family Fire Services Second World War (1939-1945) Wars
LocalLerwick Sidcup East Wittering Chichester Harting Westhampnett Westbury
RegionalGreater London Kent Shetland West Sussex
NationalEngland Scotland United Kingdom
ProductionFred Sadler
CameraFred Sadler; Robert Sadler
ParticipantsParticipants in this film can be identified from notes held on file at Screen Archive South East.
FormatBlack & White Silent
Duration15 min. 13 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A family film made just before and during the early part of the Second World War depicting everyday life. A variety of locations and family members are featured, including several servicemen in uniform.


The opening scenes show pilots test-flying autogyros in Lerwick, Shetland (repeated in another Sadler Family film [Jack Martin Pilot]) showing an Auto Gyro [Cierva C.30A Rota] taking off and landing at Lerwick, Shetland, and of a crashed sea biplane being lifted out of the water by a crane. They are shown taking off and landing on water. A sea bi-plane is also shown, alongside an upturned plane being winched out of the water.

Several family scenes follow: a bride and groom pose for a portrait with their bridesmaids; at the beach, a family plays in the sea [Jack Martin]; a baby girl sits in her pram in the garden. At Dell Quay, West Sussex a man races about in a speedboat while a few onlookers watch from the quayside. Royal Air Force planes [Bristol Beaufighters] fly low overhead. T

here are several shots of a young RAF airman getting out of a car in the street and entering a house; the actions (not the film) are then repeated in reverse motion. Portraits of Jack Martin, brother to the film-maker, in RAF uniform and a schoolboy in a walled garden, are followed by further scenes of low flying plane [Avro Anson] over the coast and views of a cottage at Mill Lane, South Harting, West Sussex. The family enjoy a picnic on a sunny day, and are also shown alongside their car. Firemen assess a fire damaged factory - the Sadler's dog biscuit factory at Westhampnett. Two women laugh and joke in their back garden while a man constructs an Anderson shelter. Wintry scenes follow; people tobogganing in the snow on Goodwood Hill.

An army and an RAF officer stand and chat in a back garden in front of a shed. Family members pose and play up for the camera. A final portrait shows the RAF officer, Tony Gaze (cousin to David Sadler) in the walled garden, and feeding a pet rabbit, named 'Spitfire' and a Spitfire plane flying over the house.


A still from [Pre-war and Wartime Scenes] (1937-1941?) showing Tony Gaze in RAF uniform feeding a rabit

Contextual information

This film is one of a number made by members of the Sadler family showing family and friends in and around Chichester. Much attention in [Pre-war and Wartime Scenes] (1937 -1941?) is given to the men in the family in their military uniforms. Interspersed are scenes of more commonplace aspects of family life such as a wedding, a picnic and playing in the snow. In addition, there are scenes of the family preparing for, and experiencing the war: the preparation of the shelter in the garden and the destruction of the family’s dog biscuit factory at Westhampnett. There is a sense of realisation of what is to come, signs of the war creeping into everyday life. The Gowlland family’s War Time 1939-40 (1939 - 1943) also provides fascinating scenes of everyday family life during wartime.

Members of the Sadler family seen in this film had notable careers in the air force during the war. Fred Sadler's brother, Jack Martin is seen having been decorated with a medal at Buckingham Palace in the Sadler Family film [Jack Martin Pilot]. David Sadler's cousin, Tony Gaze was an Australian Spitfire pilot who flew with Douglas Bader's squadron. After the war he was instrumental in starting a race circuit at the former Westhampnett air field at Goodwood and Gaze went on to become a Grand Prix racing driver. One of the films in the Sadler family collection [Melbourne] was filmed by Tony Gaze.

Related titles

Related resources


Imperial War Museum

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the collections of the Imperial War Museum include Film and Video, Photographs, Sound, Art, Documents and Printed Books. Amateur film is well represented in the Film and Video Archive. The collections’ database is searchable online.

Mass-Observation Archive

“The Mass-Observation Archive specialises in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains papers generated by the original Mass-Observation social research organisation (1937 to early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously since 1981.” The Archive holds a large amount of material relating people’s experiences during wartime. A search facility is available online.