The Army Film and Photographic Unit was a subdivision of the British armed forces set up on 24 October 1941, to record military events in which the British and Commonwealth armies was engaged.
AFPU photographers and cameramen were recruited from all over the Army, with many of them having been press photographers or cameramen in peacetime. Regardless of their background, all AFPU recruits underwent compulsory training in battle photography at Pinewood Film Studios.
Once trained, AFPU cameramen and photographers accompanied various army units in all theatres of action – armed only with a camera and a pistol. Almost 23 percent of all AFPU soldiers were killed in action, and they have been honored with a memorial at Pinewood Studios that preserves their names. The memorial also includes members of the AFUU’s sister unit, RAF No. 1 Film Production Unit.
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, ten AFPU men from newly formed No. 5 section accompanied the first wave of troops ashore, while others landed with airborne troops by parachute or glider. In the following months, the AFPU accompanied the British Army as it fought its way across Europe. Thanks to three brave men of the AFPU who recorded the ferocious battle for the bridge at Arnhem, the desperate last stand of the British 1st Airborne Division was also remarkably well documented.
In the following photo set, the UK-based living history group Poor Bloody Infantry present an excellent up-close study the men of the British Army’s Film and Photography Unit (AFPU) at Arnhem, and the specialist photographic equipment used to capture their historic imagery.