Sunday, September 6, 2015

Air Raid Over Venice! (1915)

Sent to Europe to cover the Great War by William Randolph Hearst, Ansel E. Wallace filmed the German offensive on the eastern front, was captured by a German submarine when he tried to cross the English Channel and finally made his way to Italy to report on the Italian entry into the war. One of the first newsreel cameramen in American film history, Wallace had a major scoop in 1915 with his pictures of the new super submarines that were deployed by the German Navy.

A.E. Wallace, copied from the Boston American, 29 August 1915 

Bound for Venice

Wallace's experiences during World War I feature in a special chapter on the Hearst cameramen in our latest book American Cinematographers in the Great War. Among the footage shot by Wallace in wartime Italy are some remarkable scenes of the Italian declaration of war, taken in Rome. He also filmed Italian troops that were ordered to protect the Austrian Embassy from the crowds. Heading for the war zone, Wallace left Rome bound for Venice on May 26, 1915. The people in the city, Wallace said, were "spy mad", and he had a hard time taking his pictures because of the strict censorhip by the Italian authorities. But he was in Venice in time to report on one of the first Austrian air raids on the city in the summer of 1915.

Here is his personal account on this historical event, as printed in the Washington Herald of July 11, 1915:

A.E. Wallace returned to his hometown Evansville, Indiana, and started his own photographic business. He died in Evansville on December 20, 1941 and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

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