In Which We Serve is a 1942 British patriotic war film directed by David Lean and Noël Coward. It was made during the Second World War with the assistance of the Ministry of Information (MOI).
The screenplay by Coward was inspired by the exploits of Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was in command of the destroyer HMS Kelly when it was sunk during the Battle of Crete.
Coward composed the film's music as well as starring in the film as the ship's captain. The film also starred John Mills, Bernard Miles, Celia Johnson and, in his first screen role, Richard Attenborough.
In Which We Serve received the full backing of the Ministry of Information  which offered advice on what would made good propaganda and facilitated the release of military personnel. The film remains a classic example of wartime British cinema through its patriotic imagery of national unity and social cohesion within the context of the war.
The film opens with the narration: "This is the story of a ship" and the images of shipbuilding in a British dockyard. The action then moves forward in time showing the ship, HMS Torrin, engaging German transports in a night-time engagement during the Battle of Crete in 1941. However when dawn breaks, the destroyer comes under aerial attack from German bombers.
Eventually the little ship receives a critical hit following a low-level pass. The crew's company abandon ship as it rapidly capsizes. Some of the officers and ratings manage to find a life raft as the survivors are intermittently strafed by passing planes. From here, the story is told in flashback using the memories of the men on the raft. The first person to reveal his thoughts is Captain Kinross (Coward), who thinks back to the summer of 1939 when the Royal Naval destroyer HMS Torrin is being rushed into commission as the possibility of war becomes a near-certainty.
Full article ▸