Banbury film maker shares extraordinary film of wartime recollections by Lord Saye and Sele

Lord Saye and Sele in a still from the video of his extraordinary recollections of service in the Second World WarLord Saye and Sele in a still from the video of his extraordinary recollections of service in the Second World War
Lord Saye and Sele in a still from the video of his extraordinary recollections of service in the Second World War
A Banbury area film maker has shared his extraordinary record of Lord Saye and Sele’s wartime recollections.

Nathan Portlock Allan, who has worked for many years with wartime veterans and lives on the Broughton estate, made the film in a long interview with Lord Saye seven years ago, when he was 96.

On the death of the 21st Baron Saye and Sele at the weekend, the film shows Lord Saye’s incredible recall of detail about his experience of leading his troops into Europe six days after D-Day, then a man in his early 20s. The recollections include the shock and horror of entering Belsen concentration camp and seeing its living, half-alive and dead inmates.

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Mr Portlock Allan made the film because he was concerned that the country should not lose the huge cache of wartime stories and memories that were at risk of dying along with those who served their country in the 1939 – 45 conflict.

He said: “By the early 2010s, it became increasingly apparent that numerous untold wartime stories lingered among these venerable men and women, who were slowly departing from our midst.

“As a young lad with a profound love for history, particularly World War II history, it was instinctive for me to seek out and converse with the older generation about their wartime experiences.

"While many were hesitant about recounting the horrors they endured, a significant number recognised the importance of passing on their tales to prevent history from repeating itself. It dawned on me, after three decades of hearing these stories, that this special generation - much like the World War I veterans of my childhood - was gradually fading away.”

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Mr Portlock Allan decided to capture some of these remarkable stories for posterity.

Nathaniel Fiennes outside Broughton Castle with his parents and young brother Ingelram Ivo Twistleton-Wykham-Fiennes, who was shot down and killed in 1941 aged 19Nathaniel Fiennes outside Broughton Castle with his parents and young brother Ingelram Ivo Twistleton-Wykham-Fiennes, who was shot down and killed in 1941 aged 19
Nathaniel Fiennes outside Broughton Castle with his parents and young brother Ingelram Ivo Twistleton-Wykham-Fiennes, who was shot down and killed in 1941 aged 19

“My own grandfather, who served in Burma, passed away when I was just seven, withholding the atrocities he endured at the hands of the Japanese,” he said.

“However my encounter with Lord Saye and Sele at the age of 17 unveiled another perspective. Learning about his wartime exploits became a pivotal moment, as he willingly shared his experiences, downplaying his contribution with the insistence he ‘didn't really do anything during the war’. Lord Saye and Sele emerged as a natural choice for my inaugural veteran to research and document.

“After delving into his regiment's history, I approached Lord Saye and sought his participation. He graciously agreed, offering valuable insights for pre-interview research. The interview was filmed on a warm June morning at Broughton Castle. Working independently, I transformed one of the stately bedrooms into a makeshift studio, setting up my camera, sound equipment and lighting.

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“Given Lord Saye's comfort with public speaking, the interview proved a pleasure to record. At 96-years-old with the war a distant 71 years past, his recall of events and the accompanying emotions was astonishing.

Nathaniel Fiennes, second from left, bottom row, with his men in France during the warNathaniel Fiennes, second from left, bottom row, with his men in France during the war
Nathaniel Fiennes, second from left, bottom row, with his men in France during the war

"I sat enthralled, absorbing his incredible tale presented in his characteristic measured, unembellished style.”

Two hours of video was edited with footage and stills from sources including Pathé news, Lord Saye's archive and online libraries.

This endeavour leaves another memoir for future generations, offering insight into the experiences of the unique generation during the tumultuous war years.

“His modest portrayal of his wartime role only underscored his greatness—a remarkable man with extraordinary humility,” said Mr Portlock Allan.

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