Armistice Day- The World at War

 To mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, from Today (Friday) until Sunday, I will be watching episodes from this classic Award Winning 26 part Television series, which  is Widely acknowledged as the definitive history of World War II and which was First broadcast on 31st October 1973. Narrated by Academy Award Winner Sir Laurence Olivier, it assembled the unique recollections of people who fought, worked or watched, during World War II, and used archive footage to create one of the most powerful and successful historical documentaries ever seen.

  • Distant War: September 1939 – May 1940
    As The Full force of the Nazi war machine rolls East, there is an uneasy calm in Britain.
  • France Falls: May – June 1940 Totally unprepapred for war, France finds itself invaded by the Nazis, So Britain retreats and prepares itself for war.
  • Inside the Reich: Germany 1940-1944
    The Initial victory for the Nazis in Europe soon turns sour when they invade Stallingrad and are defeated by the Russians. However  they continue to fight till the end, despite an assasination attempt on the Fuhrer.
  • Japan 1941-1945
    Initially apprehensive about the outcome of declaring war, the Japanese are at first successful, but when they launch a devastating attack on the Amrican Base of Pearl Harbour their worst fears are unimaginably exceeded and they find out that they were right to be apprehensive.
  •  On our Way: U.S.A 1939-1942
    Hitler declares war on the U.S.A and Americans are divided between fighting the Japanese and the Nazis.
  • Red Star: The Soviet Union 1941-1943
    For two years The Soviet Army continues to fight the Germans alone on the Eastern Front, However after one of the greatest land battles in history, the Russians win an important victory, but it comes at a heavy price after having lost 20 Million of it’s people in the process.
  • A New Germany:1933-1939
    After the First World War Germany is stricken by a humiliating defeat, emerging from a cripplig economic depression, and are looking to one seemingly charismatic Chancellor to restore their hope and dignity and lead them back to prosperity- Unfortunately that man happens to be Hitler
  • Barbarossa: June-December 1941
    After a number of early successes, The Germans decide to invade Russia next, and after an initial succession of devastating victories they are feeling confident. Unfortunately they delay their next move and then find themselves at the mercy of the fierce Russian winter, which takes a heavy toll.
  • Banzai: Japan 1931-1942
    Having been at war since 1931 on the Chinese Mainland, the Japanese hope for an easy victory over British and Dutch troops in Asia, however on December 7th 1941 they launch their infamous attack on Pearl Harbour, which proves to be their undoing.
  • The Desert: North Africa 1940-1943
    The Eighth Army “Desert Rats” and Irwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps fight in the deserts of North Africa for two years, until a decisive victory at El Alamein finally starts to turn the tide in the Allies favour.
  • Stalingrad: June 1942-February 1943
    After their early success in Russia, the Nazis start getting reckless and Hitler starts feeling confident about capturing Stalingrad. However the Soviet Army are having none of it and after a fierce battle lasting six months they eventually emerge victorious and the German Army are never able to recover from this defeat.
  •  Wolf Pack: U-Boats in the Atlantic 1939-1944
    German U-Boats, hunting in packs in the Atlantic ocean, make life very difficult for Allied cargo ships and merchant Seamen who are bringing in fresh supplies to help the war effort
  • Whirlwind: Bombing Germany September 1939-1944
    A Whirlwind of Terror and destruction began in Germany in 1939, when Bomber Command authorised the  bombing of German Cities by night reinforced by American Forces, who attacked them by day.
  • Tough Old Gut: Italy November 1942-June 1944
    Winston Churchill considered Italy to be the “Soft underbelly of the Crocodile” and thought the Allies could cut through it to the heart of Germany. However This turned out to be somewhat wide of the mark and defeating Italy proved to be a much more difficult task.
  • Morning: June-August 1944
    The Western Allies resolve to invade Europe and England becomes a Floating Supply Dump as British and American troops assemble & prepare for the largest invasion fleet in history – The D-Day Landings of June 6th 1944.
  • It’s a lovely day tomorrow: Burma 1942-1943
    Soldiers fighting The war in The far East had to endure attrocious conditions, including monsoon rains and lots of mud. Despite this hardship they learnt to cope with the jungle and Slowly fought the Japanese to a standstill.
  • Home Fires: Britain 1940-1944
    During the harsh times of World War II, which were a time of of Rationing, Gas Masks, constant Air Raids, The Land Army, dig for victory and Evacuations, Britons found strength through unity, and developed The War Time Spirit which allowed them to cope with the sometimes dreadful conditions during the war.
  • Occupation: Holland 1940-1941
     Despite being neutral, Holland was attacked Without warning by German forces in 1940 . On the surface life seemed to carry on as normal but underneath there was a growing resistance movement which operated unseen and created havoc for the German war machine.
  • Pincers: August 1944-March 1945
    After Paris was liberated in 1944 the end of the war appeared to be close, However British and American forces disagreed on what to do next. Meanwhile Poland suffered devastating losses in its quest to achieve victory over the occupying German forces.
  •  Genocide 1941-1945
    Hitler had some very controversial(to say the least) views about people and considered the Aryan Race (Blonde Hair & Blue Eyes) to be supperior to everyone else, and that all other races (especially the Jews) were sub-human, thus Himmler’s SS were given the horrifying task of ridding the world of all people who did not live up to Hitler’s high ideals.
  • Nemesis: Germany February – May 1945
    The Allies eventually start winning the war, and as Germany crumbles around him and his lieutenants abandon him, Hitler retreats to his Bunker in Berlin. Meanwhile outside on the streets of Berlin the Russian Army raises the Red Flag.
  • Pacific: February 1942-July 1945
    The Americans had to fight their way across the Pacific towards Japan and the Phillipines, and each island had to be taken individually by storm, which resulted in heavy casualties and some of the bloodiest battles seen in World War II as the Japanese fought down to the last man.
  • The Bomb: February-September 1945
    During the Second World War Western scientists developed an immensely powerful new weapon and The World was changed forever, when on August 6th 1945 a B29 bomber named Enola Gay delivered the world’s first atomic bomb to the Industrial Japanese city of Hiroshima, This Killed an estimated 80,000 people, and Due to effects of Radiation Poisoning this number had risen  to 90,000–140,000 By the end of the year. Approximately 69% of the city’s buildings were also completely destroyed, and about 7% were severely damaged during the attack. Since then The EVergreen shrub Nerium Oleander has been adopted as the symbol of Hiroshima because it was the first plant to grow after the bomb went off.
  • Reckoning: 1945 and after
    The war is gradually brought to a conclusion slowly and messily. The Allies eventually  emerges victorious but exhausted. Meanwhile Russia and the U.S.A confront each other to decide the fate of the rest of Europe.

Lest we forget

November 11th is Armistice Day (coincidentally It is also the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year) . When we remember the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who fought during World War I and II,  to protect the freedoms which today, we take for granted. Sunday 13 November is also Remembrance Sunday when Church Services are also held in order to remember the sacrifices  made by the brave men and women who fought and died during World War I and II. In order To commemorate Armistice   day and Remembrance Sunday, I have been watching all the World War I and World War II DVDs which I have collected through the years from various newspapers. They make make for fascinating and often harrowing viewing, and although they can never hope to recreate the terrible conditions exactly, they give some idea of the horror and suffering many people went through durung this time, and the sacrifice many soldiers made in order to preserve  the freedoms which today some of us take for granted.

It is only when you visit the cemeteries and battlefields that it possible to comprehend the sheer scale of the loss of life and to understand the futility & horrors of war. It’s also a really sobering experience to see haunting images of the landscape, which even today still bears witness to the tragic events which happened during World War I and II

I also find it interesting listening to the accounts of people who lived through the war and hearing what it was actually like from someone who was actually there at the time.

I’ve also seen the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight a few times at the Severn Valley Railway’s popular World War II event and at Cosford and the sight and sound of those magnificent aircraft flying overhead is absolutely fantastic and totally unforgettable. I think It is also fascinating to be able to get up close to World War II planes like the Spitfire, Avro Lincoln, Hawker Hurricane & P51 Mustang at War Museums like RAF Cosford and RAF Duxford.