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Spitfire 944 – WWII Flight Surgeon Footage

Spitfire 944
Spitfire 944

This short 14 minute documentary featured in the 2007 Sundance Film Festival won’t leave you disappointed.  The film invigorates an aged WWII pilot when he is reunited with old video footage of himself taken by his unit’s flight surgeon during the war.

The film was directed by William Lorton and produced by both Lorton and Jason Savage. Jason’s grandfather (also Lorton’s great uncle) was a flight surgeon for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.  The recently deceased flight surgeon’s name was Jim Savage, but apparently was known as ‘Doc’ at the British air base he was stationed at during the War.

As the unit flight surgeon, Doc filmed a variety of events with his own 16 mm camera throughout the War and sent much of this footage home to his family.   After Doc died in 1995, the film’s producers, Lorton & Jason Savage, watched the footage for the first time and decided to make a documentary.  Their first step was to see if they could locate any living veterans that were featured in the movies. The film sequence that impressed them most was of an American pilot making a wheels-up landing in a Submarine Spitfire (traditionally a British RAF plane during the war).  This particular Spitfire wore tail number 944.

Lorton located the pilot of Spitfire 944, Lt Col (retired) John S. Blyth, who apparently had known of Doc’s footage but had never actually seen it.  As Lorton’s interview of the old WWII pilot proceeds, the footage of the crash landing and aftermath is shown to him for the first time.  His reaction is dignified, but he is clearly full of both shock and warm sentiment as his memories of this most emotional of times is vividly recalled.

Watch the film in it’s entirety below, its well worth the 14 minute investment.

*SPITFIRE 944 can also be found on the Sundance portal here.