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An hour long documentary by James O'Regan

About the WWII operations of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit (CFPU)

The Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit (CFPU) was the last such unit formed by the allied armies. But, they were the first in scooping the world on the major events in Europe: the invasion of Sicily, the top story of the century - D-Day*, the liberation of Paris, the Elbe River link up of the Allied armies, the first feature documentary shot while under fire, and only footage shot of action leading to a Victoria Cross.

This documentary has its own first. Viewers will see, for the first time, original colour footage of the D-Day operation. They will see clips of the unit's first production Wood for War about the Canadian Forestry Corps at work in Scotland, as well as clips from the CFPU's own newsreels, both never before seen on television.

Through fresh interviews with veterans of the CFPU and its archival newsreels, viewers will see the story from the men who shot the film: Charles Roos, the first allied cameraman ashore on D-day; the late Al Calder, who parachuted over the Rhine and shot that operation; Michael Spencer, the unit's first editor, who worked on the feature documentary above; and, the late Lew Weeks, who shot the liberation of Paris.

This history takes on a personal flavour through three highlights. In the first, James O'Regan relates a small detail in the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day: a despatch rider, O'Regan's father Brian (1924-1999), played a small but key role that had helped the world first learn of this mighty event from the CFPU. In the second, we see how Brian became the first Canadian to enter Dieppe after the Invasion. In the third, we see how Brian became the subject of a world scoop photo at the Elbe River Link Up between the US and Soviet armies.

The documentary is 48:50 in length. At 12 noon, on June 6, 2002, on the 58th anniversary of D-Day, the show received its first rough cut.


James O'Regan is a Canadian actor, writer and producer. His award-winning comedy short, Edsville (about a couple that stumbles upon a town of Ed Sullivan impersonators), earned a 14% share and 1.02 million viewers in its CBC prime time premiere. For more background, go to: Please use your browser's back button to return here. You may contact James O'Regan by e-mail.

Production Timeline

Project Beginning (Working Title "A Walk Along the Beach") - October, 1998
Veteran Interviews - March 2001
Rough Cut - June 6, 2002
Video post complete: September 7, 2004
Audio post complete: November 4, 2004
Production Release Date: November 2004
DVD (on demand) Release Date: April 19, 2005
First Broadcast, CBC's Country Canada (digital network): November 11, 2005
Theatrical Premiere, Barney Danson Theatre, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa: December 12, 2005
ISBN 978-0-9731985-5-3 assigned by Library and Archives Canada, May 14, 2007
PBS Premiere, variously with Ken Burns' The War, September 20 ff, 2007

* The Ottawa Citizen, November 8, 1999, p A5: "Editors pick D-Day top news of the century"