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"In 1953/1954 I served as a motion picture cameraman with the 497th Signal Photo Company in Kaiserslautern, Germany," writes Jim O'Donnell.  "While there my assignment was to supply motion picture footage for use in an Army syndicted television show called 'The Big Picture.'  On one particular assignment I filmed a story called. 'The Battlegrounds of World War II' which was edited into a half hour episode of 'The Big Picture.'  

Question:  Is there an archive of these shows in existence anywhere?  I would enjoy seeing that show again as I have many pleasant memories associated with the completion of this project.   

My name is James O'Donnell. My service number was: US 52 277 276.  My e-mail address is ntnjim@comcast.net I'd appreciate a response to this query.  Thanks.  

Jim O'Donnell"


After seeing Dennis Cresswell's notes on The Big Picture, Jim O'Donnell added:

I read through the Cresswell piece and, you're right, it's interesting.  Unfortunately, not what I was looking for. 

He worked at the Pictorial Center several years later than when I was sending European footage to Astoria.  He mentions the Battle of the Bulge and the Bridge at Remagen.  I arrived in Bastogne just in time to help them celebrate the renaming of the main street through town as "The 48 States Street" and the dedication of a large memorial on a rise just outside of town.  It was created in the shape of a huge star with the names of the (then) 48 states engraved around its perimeter in appreciation for their liberation exactly ten years earlier.  It was quite a celebration! 

Also, I filmed what was left of the bridge at Remagen, the large granite spires on either side of the Rhine and a couple of pylons out in the river.  Since my assignment was to compare the peaceful scenes of ten years later with the war scenes shot at the same locations it was quite a contrast to see the pleasure boats going up and down the Rhine past the remnants of the bridge.

I'm somewhat surprised that there doesn't seem to be any repository for those old "Big Picture" eposodes.  Perhaps they turned it all over to the National Archives????


Some time ago (added O'Donnell) I wrote asking whether anyone might provide a source for a specific episode of The Big Picture -- THE BATTLEGROUNDS OF WWII.

You posted my request along with my e-mail address. Well, not only did I find a VHS copy of the show but two of the guys with whom I served in the 497th Signal Co. (photo) have contacted me and we're now communicating via e-mail. I'm hopeful that if the posting remains on your site, I may hear from others. HOWEVER, I've changed my e-mail address. So, if in the course of editing the site you can make this change, I'd appreciate it. The new address is: ntnjim@comcast.net(Done.)

Thanks again for all your help.  Warmest regards.

James O'Donnell

(Updated August 14, 2005)