10 Historical Tragedies Caught On Film – Part 1 [18+]
British Pathe captured many extraordinary events on film over its 80 year history but sometimes the cameras were switched on when tragedy struck. From Franz Reichelt’s death jump off the Eiffel Tower to the Hindenburg Disaster, here are 10 historical tragedies caught on film.
1. Franz Reichelt jumps off the Eiffel Tower testing his parachute (1912).
On 4th February 1912, wearing a crazy homemade parachute contraption Reichelt hovers on the brink for a while having doubts before suddenly jumping to his death. A crowd watches from below including most of the Parisien media. They then measure the depth of the hole made by the impact of his body.
2. Emily Davison (Suffragette) killed by King’s Horse at Derby (1913).
Prior to the First World War, women’s rights were a regular item of Pathé newsreels. One great landmark in the history of Pathe scoops was one of their cameras capturing the extreme sacrifice by the suffragette Emily Davison. In the blink of an eye, Davison runs from the crowds and throws herself under the King’s horse. Crowds of people run on to the track to try and help both the fallen rider and Davison. Davison died several days later in hospital.
3. Frank Lockhart’s fatal bid for speed record (1928).
M/S of Frank Lockhart in his Stutz Black Hawk motor car, surrounded by people, before his bid for the speed record. Aerial shot taken from a plane of the car speeding along the beach. L/S of the car coming along the beach, past a small crowd of spectators. The car suddenly veers out of control and turns over several times, disintegrating as it goes; we see Lockhart’s body come flying out of the car and through the air, landing on the beach – quite horrific. Spectators react with horror – some rush towards the vehicle.
4. Hindenburg Disaster (1937).
Footage of the Nazi airship catching fire, crashing and burning to the ground. It shows impressive shots of the Hindenburg flying overheaon on Thursday, May 6, 1937, flying over its landing ground at Lakehurst, New Jersey, and then finally there is footage of the famous crash. 13 out of 36 passengers died, whilst 22 out of 61 crew members died, so many survived the disaster.
5. HMS Barham Explodes and Sinks (1941).
Dramatic footage captured the sinking of the Queen Elizabeth Battleship. A salvo of torpedoes from a German submarine struck from close range on HMS Barham on November 25, 1941 in the Mediterranean. Within four minutes, the battleship had listed over to Port and the ships magazines had exploded, sinking the battleship and killing 863 men. The terrifying explosion was caught on film by Pathe cameraman John Turner who was on an adjacent ship.
6. The Farnborough Air Show Tragedy on Film (1952).
Horrifying scenes took place in Hampshire after pilot John Derry, broke his DH. 110 through the sound barrier and flew low over the airfield in front of 120,000 spectators. However, a fault developed in the aircraft and to the horror of the crowd the plane disintegrated in front of them. Debris, including the jet engines, was catapulted towards picnicking families. The pilot, flight observer and 29 spectators were killed.
7. Le Mans Disaster (1955).
83 people were killed and 120 were injured. This sporting tragedy is the most catastrophic accident in motor racing history. Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes crashed and blew up at 125mph, killing Levegh and sending debris flying in to the crowd. The Pathe cameras captured the disaster on camera.
8. Trapped Pilot Drowns in Sinking Cockpit (1958).
The aircraft piloted by Commander J D Russell coming in to land on HMS Victorious in the Solent, Hampshire, it touches down, hooks onto the arrester wires and the plane then rolls along the deck. A rescue helicopter lowers a man down to try and help Commander Russell. But the waves lap over the cockpit and the aircraft sinks.
9. Bird Man death jump (1963).
Tragic piece of footage as Gerard Masselin dies when his parachute fails to open. We can’t find much about this man or what he was trying to achieve but this took place in 1963.
10. Donald Campbell Dies in Bluebird Crash (1967)
On 4th January 1967, Campbell was killed whilst attempting to set another water speed record in his ‘Bluebird K7’. He had already set seven water speed records between 1955 and 1964 with speed increases from 216mph to 276.33mph. The accident happened on Coniston Water, Lancashire, England. The Bluebird surpassed 320mph but as she did so she gradually lifted from the water before somersaulting out of control. Campbell was killed instantly.