Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dale of Cambodia

Spencer Dale and his camera in Cambodia
An interesting story has recently surfaced that took place some forty years ago and which could soon be the subject of a documentary, if enough funds can be found to complete the project. It's the true story of Spencer Dale, a mid-20s Australian, who in the early 70s found himself in the eye of the bitter civil war between the Cambodian army and the Khmer Rouge. Without fear for his own safety, Dale fired off hundreds of still photos and several hours of Super 8mm movie film as he gained the trust of the colourful General Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey, who commanded the FANK's 13th Brigade, known as the Tiger Brigade. That trust enable Dale, who was a man seeking adventure rather than being a journalist imbedded with the government troops, to get footage that no-one else has ever seen, over a period of five years. You can find out more about his story, Dale of Cambodia, here. As for the charismatic Chantaraingsey, he was the military governor of Kompong Speu, running the province like his personal fiefdom, though he made sure his men were well-treated, fed and regularly paid, and this made him a popular figure. He is thought to have perished at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in 1975 whilst making a failed attempt to rescue his wife, but it's just one of the unconfirmed rumours that surround this larger-than-life character.

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