Target for Tonight (or Target for To-Night) is a WWII documentary film made in 1941 by the British Crown Film Unit. The film was directed and produced by Harry Watt and distributed by the British Ministry of Information associated British Film Distributors. The film follows the mission of the crew of a Vickers Wellington bomber as they are sent on a strategic bombing mission over Germany. Much of it was shot on location at the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) Mildenhall station, and real R.A.F. personnel were used for the majority of the casting.
It was released to both high critical acclaim and enormous public popularity, both within Great Britain and internationally. In February of 1942 the film received an Academy Award as a Special Award winner “for its vivid and dramatic presentation of the heroism of the RAF.”
Most of the crew members that appear in the film did not survive the war, including Flight Sergeant John (Jack) Balfour Gray of the Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) who was serving attached to the R.A.F. as a Wireless Gunner at the time of the filming. Within the letters of the John (Jack) Balfour Gray Collection are many references to the film and the public’s reaction to it. Jack died on February 27, 1942, when his Handley Page Hampden bomber crashed while returning from a night operation over Germany, killing all onboard. Among those R.A.F./R.C.A.F. cast members who survived the war was Jack’s friend and fellow Canadian Flight Sergeant Henry (Harry) F.C. Humphries who makes several appearances alongside Jack in the film.
Below in the collection contents is the promotional booklet that was published with the release of the film: The Book of the famous film Target for To-Night: The Record in Text and Pictures of a Bombing Raid on Germany. The text, an adaptation of the original screenplay, was written by Paul Holt both for the booklet and for serialization in the Daily Express newspaper.
The complete video of Target for Tonight can be viewed on the Imperial War Museum’s website; the film has been divided into six separate media files of between six to eleven minutes each in length.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ record of the Target for Tonight Award.