The diary kept by Ronnie Tritton is a revealing and often frank record of the internal conflicts at the Public Relations Department of the War Office and the Ministry of Information during the Second World War.
Ronnie Tritton was recruited in 1940 for the position of War Office Publicity Officer by Major-General Beith, Director of Public Relations at the War Office, to transform the dysfunctional department. The first civilian to hold the post, it was hoped his professional skills gained in Public Relations for the Savoy Hotel Group would be a valuable tool to overcome the British Army's negativity towards the use of any form of visual publicity. Internal conflicts between the service film units, the newsreel companies and the Americans proved a difficult balancing act for Tritton, as these diaries reveal. They are also an invaluable source of evidence not only for the growth and war effort of the Army Film Unit/Army Film & Photographic Unit, but also for the newsreels. With the support of Major-General Edgeworth-Johnstone, the Assistant Director of Public Relations, Ronnie Tritton became the catalyst for the British Army Film and Photographic Unit, despite considerable military and political opposition. This unit was to grow in strength and professionalism throughout the conflict, producing some of the most frequently used film and photographic material of the war.
The diaries also provide a record of life at the Savoy Hotel, London, during the Second World War (Tritton was on a retainer there and counted David Niven amongst his friends) and a wonderfully evocative, almost tangible sense, of London and life in the south of England during those years.
"These diaries tell the story of a genuinely remarkable man. Ronnie Edward Tritton played a very significant role in changing the way we see and understand war."
"Tritton understood, as few others, the power of the moving image to convey the impact of conflict and to shape the way in which people perceive war and it was Tritton, with his dedication to creating a powerful and valuable Army Film and Photographic Unit in the 1940s, who helped ensure that every aspect of the war would be seen and captured through a lens."
"Without his grit and determination, millions might have been deprived of the opportunity to witness, on newsreels and dramatic still images, the twists and turns of the Second World War."
"Like all the best diaries, it reveals a depth of insight and an abiding interest in people. It has a great deal to tell us about life in London during the war – in clubs, restaurants and hotels."
"Fred McGlade has done a remarkable job in editing these diaries. His painstaking and forensic examination of the source material has resulted in footnotes which provide a wealth of additional insight.”
Lord David Puttnam, film producer
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