Fred Pusey

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Fred Pusey (born Frederick Leonard Pusey, London 4 July 1909 – 1983, Surrey) was a British film art director and production designer, and a Second World War camouflage officer.[1] His artistic skill was put to use on large-scale deception schemes in the Western Desert, including a dummy railhead and a dummy port.


Early work[edit]

Pusey began his career working in an architect's office in 1925. In 1930 he became an art director at British & Dominions Film Corporation.[2]

Pusey was fortunate to be able to work as assistant art director with Vincent Korda's 1936 film Things to Come, which predicted a German invasion of Poland in 1940 and the bombing of a London-like city,[3] as well as Four Feathers and The Drum. He worked as set designer for films including Land Without Music and The Challenge.[2]

Wartime camouflage and film[edit]

Pusey made creative contributions to major camouflage and deception schemes in the Western Desert, collaborating closely with Steven Sykes. He worked on the camouflage for the dummy railhead, a deception for Operation Crusader.[4][5] He also worked on the dummy port at Ras el Hillal. According to Geoffrey Barkas, Pusey was ideal for the job, as he was "round-faced, amiably beaming, full of ideas and approaching them in a very methodical fashion".[6] He and Sykes worked out and put into practice a plan to make the wrecked port appear serviceable. They used a very large painted canvas, with some skilful scene painting by Pusey, to make a destroyed tunnel appear to have been repaired, and the ruined jetty to be in use. They built dummy oil storage tanks, stores, vehicles, camps and tracks.[7]

Pusey became head of production in the SEAC Film Unit during the war.[2]

Postwar TV and film[edit]

After the war, Pusey travelled up the River Amazon in Brazil for End of the River in 1946.[2]

He worked as production designer on TV series including Callan, Special Branch, and The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.[8]


Pusey worked as art director or production designer between 1932 and 1976 on films and TV programs including:

  • Good Night Vienna (1932)
  • Up for the Derby (1933)
  • Southern Roses (1936)
  • The Shape of Things to Come (Vincent Korda, 1936)
  • Four Feathers (Vincent Korda)
  • The Drum (Vincent Korda)
  • Spy in Black (Michael Powell)
  • Q-Planes (Michael Powell, 1939)[9]
  • Farewell Again (1937)
  • The Thief of Bagdad (Alexander Korda & Michael Powell, 1940)
  • 49th Parallel (Michael Powell, 1941)
  • Once a Jolly Swagman (1948)[10]
  • Prelude to Fame (1950)
  • Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951)
  • The Pickwick Papers (1952)
  • Our Girl Friday (1953)


  1. ^ Barkas, 1952. p 141–2.
  2. ^ a b c d Carrick, 1947.
  3. ^ Stroud, 2012. p18.
  4. ^ Sykes, 1990. p43.
  5. ^ Stroud, 2012. p 138–143.
  6. ^ Barkas, 1952. p159.
  7. ^ Barkas, 1952. pp 160–161.
  8. ^ IMDb: Frederick Pusey. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  9. ^ BritMovie: Q-Planes
  10. ^ Time Out: Fred Pusey - films


  • Barkas, Geoffrey; Barkas, Natalie (1952). The Camouflage Story (from Aintree to Alamein). Cassell.
  • Carrick, Edward (1947). Art & Design In The British Film.
  • Stroud, Rick (2012). The Phantom Army of Alamein: How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel. Bloomsbury.
  • Sykes, Steven (1990). Deceivers Ever: The Memoirs of a Camouflage Officer. Tunbridge Wells: Spellmount. ISBN 0-946771-54-5.

External links[edit]