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Alec Tozer

Profile

Dates
1939-1953
Role
Cameraman
Newsreels / Cinemagazines
British Movietone News
Search
Search for all stories where Alec Tozer is credited
Notes
Tozer apparently wrote an account of his experiences - Gerald Sanger noting that ‘Alec has written a delightful and amusing volume on his experiences,' adding that it might be published - G. Sanger ‘The Story of British Movietone News in the War Years,' c.1946, copy in BUFVC.
Photo credit
BUFVC/Norman Fisher Collection

Career

Alec Tozer was a cameraman whose first credit is for ‘REMEMBRANCE 1939 - A TRIBUTE BY MOVIETONE,' in British Movietone News No.544A in November 1939. Tozer became a war correspondent for Movietone, and in June 1940 his first report from Egypt, entitled ‘WATCH ON THE NILE,' was included in British Movietone News No.576. By July 1940 he was being credited in No.578A as ‘OUR CAMERAMAN ON LIBYAN FRONTIER,' but by October 1940 he was in Kenya, and No.593A carried his report ‘WOMEN OF KENYA IN FRONT LINE.' By January 1941 Tozer was back in Libya, and British Movietone News No.604A showed him with his damaged car in ‘FALL OF SIDI BARRANI... Movietone’s Cameraman, Alec Tozer, sent back these first pictures despite being nearly killed when his car was blown up.' Terry Gallacher [qv] remembered Tozer as ‘not tall or of heavy build’: ‘He had jet black hair and was swarthy as if he had just returned from holiday. This may add an element of truth to the legend that Alec was ‘captured’ by the Australians in the Western Desert, they thinking him to be Italian.'

By May 1941 Tozer was in Ankara, and No.625 carried his item on ‘CHILDREN’S DAY IN TURKEY.' From here he travelled to Syria - where he provided ‘SYRIAN SUCCESSES’ for British Movietone News No.632 of July 1941 - and then Iran and Iraq. At the end of 1941 Tozer was sent to Burma, from where he sent ‘RANGOON RESOLUTE,' a story run in British Movietone News No.662 of February 1942. From Burma he travelled to China, an item on which appeared in No.697 in October 1942, but he then returned to Burma, and his ‘SECOND BATTLE OF BURMA’ report appeared in No.722A from April 1943. By February 1944 Tozer was back in England, but soon afterwards he was appointed as ‘the Merchant Navy’s first and only accredited newsreel correspondent.' In June 1944 Tozer was one of the six newsreel cameramen assigned to cover D-Day, along with Jack Ramsden [qv] of Movietone, Jock Gemmell [qv] of Pathé, John Turner [qv] of Gaumont, R. Colwyn Wood [qv] of Universal, and Jimmy Gemmell [qv] of Paramount. Tozer filmed D-Day from a troop carrier, and his footage was included in ‘LIBERATING ARMIES INVADE NORMANDY’ in British Movietone News No.784, and in ‘CONSOLIDATING IN NORMANDY’ in No.785, both of June 1944. However, Tozer’s ship was not due at the beachhead until the third day, and he later admitted that his experience was ‘not nearly so full of action as I had imagined it would be.'

Tozer returned to covering home front stories, but early the next year he was working in Burma with George Oswald [qv] of Universal. Tozer’s footage appeared in ‘FOURTEENTH ARMY’S TRIUMPH’ in British Movietone News No.825 of March 1945, and in ‘MANDALAY FALLS’ in No.826 of April 1945. Tozer remained with Movietone after the end of the war, and in October 1945 he filmed ‘METEOR SPEED TESTS’ for British Movietone News No.856. In 1948 Tozer covered the Olympic Games for Movietone with Reg Sutton [qv] as his sound engineer. Sutton recalled that ‘Alec was married to Eve, a night club hostess, they lived in a period house in Wilfred Street close by Buck House’: ‘Theirs was a stormy marriage and did not last long.' Tozer was listed in the Movietone staff list for October 1951, and seems to have been regularly employed until he covered Ascot for British Movietone News No.1207A in July 1952 - although he afterwards returned to join the camera team that filmed ‘THE CORONATION’ for British Movietone News No.1252A in June 1953, filming from the Colonial Office. According to Terry Gallacher, ‘after Alec Tozer left Movietonews, he became involved in the setting up of Reed’s Laboratory, a lab specialising in 16mm colour.' Reg Sutton noted that Tozer’s uncle ‘was boss of Pathe pictures’ (Alexander R. Tozer, managing director of Pathe of France Ltd.).

Sources

A. Tozer ‘D-Day as the Newsreel Boys Saw It,' Cine Technician, September-October 1944, p.88: BUFVC, British Paramount News files, Number 1470 (A. Tozer, rota dopesheet 11/3/1945), Number 1530 (Tozer’s rota dopesheet, 23/24 October 1945): A. Tozer ‘Newsreels in war-time: war filming in the Far East,' Journal of the British Kinematograph Society, January-March 1946, pp.19-21: J. Ballantyne (ed) ‘Researcher’s Guide to British Newsreels: Vol.II’ (1988), p.35: BUFVC, T. M. Gallacher, ‘Additional Notes,' October 1998.

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