CP-16 16mm movie camera: Neil Davis

On 30 April 1975, victorious North Vietnamese forces entered the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, ending the 20-year partition of Vietnam and a war that had cost millions of lives. While most westerners had evacuated, Australian cameraman Neil Davis chose to remain and film the final moments of the war. He travelled to the Presidential Palace, using this CP-16 sound movie camera to film the first North Vietnamese tanks breaking through the gates.

While filming, he was approached by a North Vietnamese soldier yelling at him to stop. Responding with the planned phrase: “Welcome to Saigon, comrade. I have been waiting to film the liberation,” he was allowed to continue.

Davis started covering the war in Vietnam from 1964 and chose to follow the South Vietnamese Army into combat. For the majority of the war, he filmed with a small Bell and Howell 16 mm camera, with a tape recorder strapped to his side for sound recording. He later switched to the bulkier CP-16 which captured synchronised sound and contained a 400-foot film magazine.

Known for his bravery and balanced filming, Davis tried to get as close to combat as possible, on one occasion making contact with the Viet Cong and filming a village behind the lines. He was badly wounded while filming fighting in Cambodia, and was saved by a transfusion of coconut milk until a proper blood transfusion could be performed.

Davis continued to film conflict zones around the world. He was hit by shrapnel from a tank shell and was killed on 9 September 1985 while filming an attempted coup in Bangkok.