Living History Group
No.5 AFPS was formed during 1943 under the command of Major Hugh Stewart. The initial intake comprised 36 regular soldiers from a variety of units from Royal Artillery to Liverpool Irish and Royal Tank Corp, who had volunteered to join the AFPU. Training was to take place at Pinewood Film Studios in the heart of Buckinghamshire at Iver Heath, just a few miles from Uxbridge. In addition to the AFPU, Pinewood functioned as a base for the RAF Film Unit and the Crown Film Unit, who carried out a programme of propaganda films for the Ministry of Information.
The training comprised of lectures on all aspects of both stills and cine camera work, together with the obligatory drill (one hour each day). Once the basics were mastered Major Stewart began a programme of toughening up as guests of the Scots Guards at Chelsea Barracks.
Upon completing the course each of them became a full Sergeant and received a final ‘toughener’ from the Irish Guards at Lingfield Barracks. This was 3 weeks of battle school using live ammunition etc. topped off by a 32-mile full kit route march.
After over a year at Pinewood the group moved to a temporary home in commandeered flats in Knightsbridge, from where they left to join the various units that would shortly take part in the largest operation of the war – the Invasion of Europe.
All pictures copyright of Gary Hughes & Jeff Ball unless otherwise stated