Produced by United Artists, “The World in Action” is a World War II-era newsreel that reminds viewers “New Soldiers Are Tough.” The newsreel opens with footage from December 1941, “as the wail of a banshee heralds a new chapter of total war.” Scenes of Japanese bombs falling on Manilla, Rangoon, and Mandalay are quickly followed with scenes of the devastation that followed, as lifeless bodies lay strewn amongst the rubble and crying family members cradle the dead and dying. The Japanese “tentacles of conquest” spread out across the specific, the announcer grimly states at mark 01:25, the world is facing an enemy that will stop at nothing to achieve world domination. With that, two Japanese soldier are shown executing two bound prisoners at close range.
This type of brutal warfare, more brutal than Allied forces have seen in the past we are told, is not confined to the Pacific Theater. At mark 01:55we are taken to Libya, were German troops speed through the desert, and at mark 02:25, the question is posed if whether even the massive sea power of the British Navy “is too little, too late” against Axis forces.
The footage switches to Washington, D.C. at mark 03:15, where military officers gather to discuss how “to fight the enemy with his own ruthless weapons.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt listens to advisors at mark 03:35 as the question is posed: “How soon can we take the offensive?” China’s Chiang Kai-shek is shown at mark 04:05, asking the same of his advisors. To accomplish the goal, the newsreel flashes scenes of General Douglas McArthur at mark 04:20.
At mark 05:05, a screen shot informs the audience: “Eagerly awaiting the day of world-wide offensive action, soldiers and civilians alike are closely studying the new battle tactics now being developed by the front line fighters of World War II.” Such measures were used by Spanish Loyalists defending the elected government in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), including snipers. Peaceful peasants in China were also called upon to take up arms against Japanese invaders, “and exchange the plowshare for the sword.”
In the Soviet Union, the film introduces us (beginning at mark 08:15) to the techniques used by fighters there, including guerrilla warfare and the “cut and thrust” techniques used by the cavalry as old Cossacks take to their horses once again.
Sweeping down on a Nazi Panzer division starting at mark 09:15, the footage shows the German tanks being lured out in a counterattack — only to be met by Russian artillery fire and concealed guerillas.
Mark 10:00 brings us to the British commando, “symbol to ever Briton of the new aggressive spirit,” as soldiers are shown preparing for combat.
America is not left out of the footage. Come mark 10:40, rows of young men are showing training for war. “Stretch the skin of any American they say, and you will find the tough aggressive spirit of the pioneer … and the fearless daring of the powder monkeys who blasted the rivers from their beds.”
At mark 12:00, the viewer is assured: “In the storm divisions now preparing to carry the arms of the Union to the four corners of the Earth, this spirit is astir again.” These new, “tough” soldiers also borrow surprise tactics once employed by the likes of Al Capone or John Dillinger to assure victory.
All of the training and planning turns to action at mark 14:49, as shells and tracer bullets light up the sky when Allied forces try to take a Nazi stronghold in Norway. Fighting house to house and with the towns engulfed in flames, the Nazis soon waved white flags of surrender while others laid dead in the streets. “We knew it would be a long time before U-Boats could refuel here again.”
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com