DDay in Colour 1944 World War II Documentary Normandy in Operation Overlord




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[Music] [Music] [Music] [Music] this is much the greatest thing we have ever attempted you are about to embark upon the Great Crusade your task will not be an easy one I was in yellow but I was scared I was scared to death two years after the ordeal of Dunkirk Britain struggles on despite the support of American industry and resources there is little optimism from the battlefields the disaster of the fall of Singapore in February 1942 and the surrender of Tobruk in June bring the darkest days of the second world [Music] but in southern Russia Hitler's armies are being bled dry in a vicious fight against the Soviet Union [Music] as 1942 wears off the German advance in the East slopes the diary of an infantry officer it's terrible here Russians resisting hard they're getting reinforcements all the time one of our companies wouldn't fight very shameful every single one of us is tense by February 1943 the once invincible German army will be defeated at the great Battle of Stalingrad allied confidence grows at long last a victory for Britain and America in North Africa [Music] general Alexander in a telegram to Prime Minister Winston Churchill [Music] sir it is my duty to report that the tunisian campaign is over all enemy resistance assists [Music] we are masters of the North African shores [Music] at home a new mood of confidence galvanizes the nation a survey of public opinion carried out by mass observation the general picture is one of considerable optimism about future developments in the war a successful action is expected by the overwhelming majority housewife Margaret Compton [Music] the outcry for a second front in Europe grows and grows there are meetings about it in Trafalgar Square speeches all over the country strike in the West start a second front now but the government reveals nothing of its plans [Music] but secret planning for a major assault on Western Europe has begun in earnest [Music] throughout 1943 the Allied leaders meet in a series of conferences to plan the route to victory [Music] Churchill and US President Franklin Roosevelt confirmed the Germany first policy convinced that Japan will capitulate after Germany is defeated General Allen Brooke accompanies Churchill to the Casablanca conference [Music] the back of the work here is broken and thank God for it it has been one of the most difficult tasks I've had to do although our discussions have become somewhat heated at times our relations have never been strained I hope we shall leave here with a more United outlook to war [Music] during the conference the British persuade a reluctant United States to begin the assault on Europe in Sicily before an attack on occupied France [Music] Churchill's strategy to strike at what he calls Hitler's soft underbelly in Italy postpones the invasion of France for almost a year [Music] but it buys vital time for the build up of resources and manpower in July 1943 British and American troops successfully land in Sicily Hitler's ally the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini is overthrown Italy soon surrenders [Music] Churchill and Roosevelt now turned their attention to preparing for a massive invasion of France within a year a report of the combined Chiefs of Staff Quebec conference August 1943 this operation will be the primary United States and British ground and air effort against the axis of Europe following the establishment of strong Allied forces in France operations designed to strike at the heart of Germany and to destroy her military forces will be undertaken we have approved the outline plan for Operation Overlord [Music] as the plans for the Allied invasion of Europe are being made the United States Army Air Force and the Royal Air Force carry have massive day and night bombing raids over Germany a directive issued by the combined Chiefs of Staff your primary objective will be the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military industrial and economic system [Music] and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where the capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened [Music] learn Haglund on night bombing duty with the RAF having seen my name on the bottle order I once again experience like awful tension which comes with knowing what we might be up against and the possibility that we might not return [Music] the Allied aerial bombing campaign is relentless and brutal among the British people memories of their own horrific experiences during the Blitz evokes sympathy for German civilians from some but none at all from others to anonymous contribution was to the Mass Observation survey they didn't think twice money bundles all's fair in love and war I feel terrible when I think of what those poor bastard women and children was going through I only hope that what they say is right and all the games have been evacuated [Music] November 1943 Soviet leader Joseph Stalin enters strategic discussions with Churchill and Roosevelt at the Tehran conference US General Dwight D Eisenhower's appointed supreme Allied commander the date for the great invasion is confirmed summer 1944 Britain becomes a vast military camp in preparation for Operation Overlord Allied troops gather from Poland France Canada and the United States the long wait begins US war correspondent Ernie Pyle some people say the British have been at war so long they've forgotten about peacetime life and a resign to the war dragging on and on but I don't sense any such resignation there are all kinds of wisecracks about the way Americans have flooded the island nearly crowded the British off US Army Air Force general Lewis Brereton a standing joke among Americans is the British habit of saying you can't miss it when giving directions I don't know why it is but the British simply can't give understandable directions the presence of a huge contingent of foreign troops doesn't meet with everyone's approval Tom Stewart this place is full of Canadians and Americans and the things I've witnessed have to be seen to be believed it is a literal fact but all the girls here only think about courting beer and movies Maurine bolster in a letter to her boyfriend in the RAF their manners were so awful they did nothing but criticise England the whole time I was simply bristling with patriotism how dare those young come here and run my country down for visiting servicemen accusations of rudeness and fraternization are the least of their worries rehearsals are training for an amphibious and airborne assault are endless fears about the real thing grow as the week's pass donald budget of the u.s. airborne forces an instructor in a stage told us that we weren't volunteering for any picnic that most of us would die in combat in fact he said if any man lives through three missions the government has said it will fly that man home and discharged now you know as well as I do that Uncle Sam anchor discharged anyone during wartime so now you know what your chances are of living through this war you haven't got a chance [Music] in occupied France German troops have been enjoying the comfortable life of conquerors for almost four years but for the French the situation is unbearable these hands ingrain blaka everywhere how sickening those colors there is no escape from the Germans that jostle and Alba you these victors murderers of relatives friends and brothers the value of freedom is not realized until it is lost [Music] by the beginning of 1944 following yet more losses on the Eastern Front Hitler knows that soon he will also have to face an allied invasion in the West Hitler - his generals the threat from the East remains but an even greater danger looms in the West the anglo-american landing if the enemy here succeeds in penetrating our defenses on a wide front consequences of staggering proportions will follow all signs point to an imminent offensive against the Western Front of Europe Hitler orders Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to take responsibility for the Atlantic defenses senior German officers begin a detailed inspection rommel writes to his wife I'm going to throw myself into this new job with everything I've got and I'm going to see it as a success [Music] our trance will be on the beaches that's where the enemy is always the weakest General Sir Bernard Montgomery is appointed commander of Allied ground forces for the invasion he has first-hand experience of Rommels tactical ability from the North African campaign Rommel is in command from Holland to the Lubar it is now clear but his intention is to defeat us on the beaches he has made a world of difference since he took over we must blast our way on shore and get a good footing before he brings up his reserves while the Germans know that there will be an allied attack they can only guess where or when it will take place Churchill warns the British that secrecy must be maintained at all costs we shall require from our own people here from Parliament from the press from all classes the same cool strong nerves the same toughness of fiber which stood us in good stead in those days when we were all alone under the German Blitz and here I must warn you that in order to deceive and baffle the enemy as well as to exercise the forces there will be many false alarms many things and many dress rude [Music] under Churchill's operation bodyguard elaborate deceptions are created with the intention of preventing Hitler from discovering the date and location of the invasion [Music] the French Resistance helped to create false intelligence to keep Germany off the scent secrets are deliberately leaked which suggests that the invasion will take place in the pas-de-calais or even Norway the BBC French service becomes a vital means of communication across the channel in due course instructions of great importance will be given to you through this channel but it will not always be possible to give these instructions at the previously announced time therefore you must get into the habit of listening at all hours Llewelyn a a member of the Macky the French Resistance June 1944 we had an old radio that kept us up-to-date with the situation we heard the famous line from Paul Valens poem the long sobs of the violins in autumn telling us of a large-scale attack within days across Britain tension grows security tightness Lewis Brereton preparations for the invasion are being felt all leave has been cancelled as at midnight a strip of the English coast facing Europe is out of bounds to all travelers without official business counterintelligence crews are active throughout London and other centres of population to guard against violations of military security across the channel the Germans are working feverishly to strengthen the Atlantic Wall everyone knows the invasion is coming but few know when [Music] the Allies brace themselves for the biggest test of the war Churchill in a telegram to Roosevelt if we make serious mistakes in the campaign of 1944 we might give it to the chance of a startling comeback they show the need for the greatest care and foresight my dear friend this is much the greatest thing we have ever attempted [Music] hello BBC this is God patrol but reporting from Rome Allied soup has occupied Rome which was the fascist capital and are these people here delighted the Allied liberation of Rome June 1944 it is welcome news for anxious comrades at home in Britain fourth of June more than a million men are on the move throughout southern England Operation Overlord will make landfall on the beaches of Normandy the attack is imminent captain Douglas Aitken a medical officer 24th Lancers only seven miles to go to the docks but the trips are slower American military police in their Jeep lead us all the way we pass along well-known roads I must say I take a deeper than normal interest in these last glimpses of England I occasionally find myself thinking foolish thoughts about not coming back and being away for a hell of a long time [Music] in addition to the vast Armada of men and their machines of war several hundred war correspondents from all over the world await the invasion ernie pyle is one of them none of us knew when the invasion would be or where [Music] some of the eager ones tried to pull strings to get front seats in the invasion Armada others with better judgment just kept quiet and that matters take their course captain smith number four commando [Music] there was more than the usual quota of farewells banded between friends [Music] I've never loved Britain so two years at that moment it was exhilarating glorious heartbreaking captain Alistair Bannerman the deck is packed with tractors jeeps personnel carriers guns and tanks I haven't much time left I know I'm no hero I pray for the courage the invasion plan requires the high tides of a full moon and a clear night but the weather deteriorates Eisenhower postpones the departure of the troops from English shores by 24 hours any further delay will rule out an invasion for a month the d-day landings will now take place on the 6th of June for the assault troops now crowded into more than 2,000 transport vessels the delay adds to the tension Bob Koch 116 Infantry Regiment the weather looks so bad we wondered whether the whole thing would be called off we played cards relaxed as much as possible thought about our families and prayed some boys said they knew they'd never make it I was in yellow but I was scared no question about it I was scared to death [Music] fifth of June d-day - one following the long delay in harbor the cross-channel journey begins the Normandy beaches are almost a hundred miles from the south coast of England leftenant Sydney back the great decision was taken the Armada set sail despite most unfavorable weather reports as they steamed by captain Perry and captain hall and fashion signals by Lam good luck [Music] as we passed the needles and felt the first Atlantic swells we knew there was no turning Michael the Solent was chock-a-block with ships of all shapes and sizes all straining at the leash waiting for the greatest amphibious operation the world had ever seen [Music] Able Seaman bill Cutler is aboard HMS larks what a task we have ahead of us what losses are we to suffer all are going in fully knowing the task set we will not fail [Music] the fleet reaches its assembly point in mid-channel the rough seas have convinced Hitler that an attack is unlikely false intelligence are suggested that the invasion will take place anywhere but on the coast of Normandy and on any day except the 6th of June oh and Rommel has left for Germany to celebrate his wife's birthday [Music] order of the day is issued by supreme commander General Eisenhower [Music] about to embark upon the Great Crusade toward which we have striven these many months the eyes of the world are upon you the hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere March with you your task will not be an easy one but this is the year 1944 the tide has turned the free men of the world are marching together to victory good luck as more than two thousand Allied ships head to the French coast under cover of darkness British and American airborne troops prepare to take off for France private George Alex 82nd Airborne Division I was getting nervous butterflies in my stomach we were told that the entire coast of France was mined fields were flooded to keep our gliders from landing we didn't know what to expect so we expected the worst dawn 6th of June d-day massive Allied air power is unleashed on northern France nearly 200 ships bombard 50 miles of the Normandy coastline battleships cruisers destroyers pounding away at the enemy beaches goodness knows how any living thing can stand up to such terrific battery lieutenant Cyrus it--let USS Bayfield it was like a thousand fourth of July's bolting into one the resounding blasts the terrifying the ship shook and quivered as if she knew what was happening US forces are to attack the beaches codenamed Utah and Omaha corporal Gill murder on his way to Omaha the transporters cut engines we clambered over the railings into the landing craft some guys were seasick some were arguing over little things that didn't count some guys like myself would you're standing there thinking shivering sergeant levers of the Canadian Scottish regiment approaches Juno Beach machine-gun bullets are starting to whine the boys are keeping their heads down here we go the ramp is down Omaha sergeant Harry bear my radio man had his head blown off three yards from me the beach was covered with bodies no legs no arms God was awful leftenant Aleksandra number 45 commander Royal Marines Sword Beach I couldn't help noticing the sweet sickly smell and the number of battle dressed bodies surrounded by a pinkish tinge gently floating on the tide line Captain Jim Roberts Omaha [Music] bodies everywhere as I went by I heard people screaming for morphine [Music] there was nothing I could do tenant John Pelle of the Royal Navy is aboard HMS Eglinton watching the return of the landing craft in the first assault wave I'll never forget the chaos a mixture of blood and fuel with legs and heads sticking out they came alongside we hauled the wounded out placed them on the deck in their awful suffering [Music] doing what little we could [Music] Canadian Charlie Martin we had all joined up in 1940 had trained together and lived together and had just mean together every day for the last four years friends who became brothers only to lose more than half of us [Music] the BBC home service d-day has come under the command of General Eisenhower allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France [Music] by the end of d-day more than 180,000 Allied troops have secured a narrow beachhead in Normandy [Music] in some places they have advanced after five miles inland [Music] although the airborne assault has been fraught with difficulty most units have been joined by land troops [Music] more than 2500 allied men mostly Americans have lost their lives many more German defenders are dead thousands of French civilians have died in bombing raids [Music] but the Allies bail of secrecy around the invasion had so effectively convinced Hitler and his High Command that the attack would come in the pas-de-calais the Germans have limited resources for a counter-attack a week after the invasion Field Marshal Sir Alan Brook arrives in Normandy the scene was beyond description everywhere was covered with ships of all shapes and sizes there was a sense of continuous activity it was a wonderful moment Devine myself reentering France almost four years after being thrown out [Music] gigantic floating harbors mulberries an idea initiated by Churchill himself have been towed across the channel [Music] the mulberries become the vital supply point for up to 10,000 tons of material per day [Music] England Allied troops are adapting to their role as liberators [Music] war photographer robert capa [Music] we received a little book telling us how to address the natives Bonjour Monsieur nous somme Nezu me American that was regressing the men [Music] Bonjour Mademoiselle voulez-vous fell in promenade avec moi that was for the girls the first one meant mister don't shoot me and the other could mean anything [Music] but not everyone welcomes the Allied presence sir Allen Brooke the French did not seem in any way pleased to see us arrive with a victorious army to liberate France they had been quite contented they were we were bringing war desolation to their country [Music] Richard Greenwood Royal Tank Regiment saw a few natives on today's journey through villages and fields not much evidence of enthusiasm amongst them perhaps they resent our intrusion I can well understand this their former lovely countryside is now a battleground [Music] [Music] over the coming weeks the land battle intensifies the German army repeatedly attempts fierce counter-attacks the Normandy countryside with its patchwork of small fields and tall hedgerows proves to be a difficult battleground but overwhelming Allied air power is crucial in the battle Field Marshal von Krupa replaces Rommel in July he writes to Hitler in the face of the enemy's complete command of the air there is no accessibility of our finding a strategy to counterbalance it's truly annihilating effect unless we retrieved in spite of intense efforts the moment has drawn near when this front will break [Music] germán confidence is ebbing of those captured many are young and inexperienced some are East Europeans forced into fighting for Hitler's cause general Gunther Bluemont ret chief of staff to the supreme commander in the West our forces are being bled white [Music] the replacement situation is impossible we simply don't have the men to contain the pleasure anymore [Music] by late July they allies achieve a breakthrough Salo and con are captured but the victories come at a price [Music] in the assault and Salo more than 3000 Americans are killed [Music] on August the 26th Allied troops celebrate the liberation of Paris [Music] general shall de Gaulle the exiled commander of Free French forces returns to lead the triumphal parade [Music] the eternal John Osmond fourth US Infantry Division in the street was the largest crowd I've ever seen thousands of people all there to see the goal and to celebrate the liberation of their City May had waited four years for this day [Applause] Elizabeth de Mirabelle of the Free French [Applause] it was beyond all we could have imagined the atmosphere of feverish joy was overwhelming the excitement was intoxicating yet death and suffering still layered Oh [Applause] [Music] the Battle of the Normandy has been a long and bitter fight almost half a million Allied and German troops are dead injured or missing in action though the war is not yet over and it will be many months before the Allies reach Berlin the events of d-day and the battle for Normandy are the beginning of the end for Hitler's Third Life [Music] from the memoirs of ernie pyle killed in action by the Japanese in April 1945 his account for August 1944 Paris one cannot help but be moved by the Colossus of our invasion it was a bold and mighty thing one of the epics of all history I hope that we can rejoice in victory but humbly the dead men would not want us to gloat [Music]