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Serenade to Britain (1945)

Courtesy of North West Film Archive

Main image of Serenade to Britain (1945)
35mm, 20 min, black & white
Production CompanyUS Armed Forces
Photographed by3rd AAF Combat Camera Unit
With the Co-operation ofThe Royal Air Force
Sound Recording by American Broadcasting Station in Europe

The US Air Force Band performs at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall as part of a UK tour.

Show full synopsis

As a gesture of goodwill in late 1944, the British Royal Air Force Band and Symphony Orchestra were dispatched to the United States by Marshal Sir Charles F.A. Portal to perform at various concert halls. In a simultaneous tour, General Henry H. Arnold sent the official United States Air Force Band to appear at more than 35 venues throughout England and Scotland. Captain George S. Howard, Commander and Conductor of the US Air Force Band between 1944 and 1963, led 85 American GIs in this UK tour, the Band's first outside continental North America since its beginnings in 1941.

This film extract, produced by the 3rd AAF Combat Camera Unit, follows the activities of the US Air Force Band members, who were selected from leading American symphonies and dance bands, during their brief stay in Liverpool.

Emphasising the cordial relations between the two nations, the film highlights British hospitality and the fact that the tour benefited the RAF Benevolent Fund. An American voice-over declares of Liverpool Docks: "the bandsmen thrilled at the sight of the great harbour which has played such a vital part in supplying the Allied Air Forces and Armies."

Fairly lengthy scenes show the US Air Force Band performing live in front of an audience at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall, and former Metropolitan opera star Sergeant Glenn Darwin is seen singing opera. The UK concerts drew enormous audiences and helped make 1944 an historic year in the development of the Band.

Anna Lupton

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Video Clips
Extract (2:14)
Liverpool: Sounds of the City