Remembrance Sunday/ Armistice Day

November 11th is Armistice Day  . 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 11 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 during this time, and the sacrifice many soldiers made in order to preserve  the freedoms which today some of us take for granted.

Although film and Television were in their infancy during the First World War and Colour film was in it’s infancy during the Second World War, there have been many fascinating and often harrowing DVDs assembled from Archive Footage & recollections of those who served during the two World Wars, which give some idea of the horrific nature of the events that were occurring during this period, and Over the years the newspapers have given away a number of fascinating and rather harrowing DVDs to mark Armistice Day, some of which may still be available on Ebay, or if your feeling flush the boxed sets can probably be obtained from Amazon. Anyway, a few years ago, I went through a bit of a phase of collecting Newspaper DVDs, including many series of War DVDs.

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.

True Stories of World War II DVD Collection

The True Story of the Dambusters
This DVD features the true story behind The Dambusters, who were the daring pilots of 617 Squadron who set off on the night of May 16th 1943 on a mission to breach the Dams of the Ruhr Valley in Germany in order to disrupt the Nazi War Effort, to do this they used the famous Bouncing Bomb which was designed by Barnes Wallace and required precision flying at low level in order to be effective Of the 19 Lancaster bombers that were sent, eight never returned, but despite the losses the attack was a success and many factories were flooded and the Nazi war industry was affected greatly by the resulting water shortage.

The True Story of the Bridge on The River Kwai
This harrowing DVD looks at the true story behind the building of the Bridge on the River Kwai, which saw Allied POWs battling disease torture and starvation in order to hack through 255 Miles of Harsh Jungle to build the Thailand Burma Railway for the Japanese, this was achieved in only 14 Months at a horrendous cost. It is almost impossible to imagine the cruelty, Horror & Suffering endured by the Allied Prisoners during this time, and is sobering to think that more than 100 000 Men lost their lives during this time, caught up in a relentless cycle of Disease, cruelty & Death.

The True Story behind D-Day – The Longest Day
Using remarkable archive film, this fascinating DVD looks at the amazing events of June 6th 1944 when Operation Overlord, which was the culmination of two years planning, was finally put into practice & the largest invasion force ever assembled was given the job of putting more than 130 000 men ashore on the Normandy Beaches. Meanwhile nearly 25 000 specialist troops were also deployed by Glider or dropped by parachute, with Bombers and fighters pounding the German defences in order to provide cover for them. This program looks at how the idea for this audacious plan was first conceived developed and finally executed.

The True Story of the Battle of Britain

Making dramatic use of rarely seen British, French & German film coverage, This is the true story of how, under the inspired leadership of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain was able to survive the thunderous assault by the Luftwaffe It tells the story of the Desperately close run conflict between September 1939 and June 1941 that was either death or glory, and how Britain managed to win a tumultuous victory in the skies above Britain, which ultimately turned the tide of The Second World War.

Forgotten Voices of the Great War/Forgotten Voices of the Second World War II

These five audio CD’s are based on the writings of Max Arthur the author of ‘Forgotten Voices of the Great War’ and Forgotten Voices of the Second World War II. and contain dramatic audio extracts, oral histories and personal experiences provided by the soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians of both conflicts and content taken from the Imperial War Museums. The WWI CDs are narrated by Richard Bebb and the WWII CDs are narrated by Timothy West.

WWI – The Opening Shots
WWI – The Somme and Back to Ypres
WWI – The Struggle to Victory
WWII – War at Sea and in the Air
WWII – D-Day and Beyond

Remembrance Sunday- World War II in Colour

Narrated by Robert Powell. This Really interesting series contains rare archive colour footage of key events of the Second World War.
Disc 1: The Gathering Storm
This film shows how the major powers ignored all the signs and allowed the likes of Mussolini and Hitler to begin the course that would lead the world into catastrophe.

Disc 2: Lightning War
This film focuses on the Blitzkrieg, the terrifying military tactic developed by the Nazis which crushes Poland and conquers France within weeks but it also reveals the heroics of the French resistance and the role they played in Dunkirk.

Disc 3: Britain At Bay
In June 1940, Britain stood alone against the Nazis. This film shows how close Britain came to defeat, as it’s exhausted air force struggled to fight off the German Luftwaffe. However, due to errors made by the Germans, Britain was able to regroup

Disc 4: Hitler Strikes East
When Hitler expounded his intention to invade Russia his generals looked at him in horrified silence. However, Hitler himself was certain of victory. This film follows the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, the biggest tank battle in all history.

Disc 5: Red Sun Rampant
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attach on Pearl Harbour. As the sleeping giant awoke, the war that followed was characterised by major innovations, in particular the emergence of the aircraft carrier as the decisive weapon of the seas.

Disc 6: The Mediterranean And North Africa
This film tells the extraordinary story of the war in North Africa and features the heroics of the tiny island of Malta as it withstood wave after wave of Nazi assault. It ends with the Allies fighting their way up Italy with Germany in retreat.

Disc 7 Turning the Tide
This film follows the ’strategic bombing’ plans of Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris including the tragedy of Dresden where tens of thousanf thousands of ordinary German suffered and the Nazis attempts to cut American supply lines to Britain across the Atlantic.

Disc 8: The Soviet Steamroller
By July 1943, the Nazis were at the mercy of the mighty Soviet war machine. This film follows the Red Army as they slowly push the Germans back out of Russia up through the Ukraine, Poland and the Balkans – this was war on a monster scale.

Disc 9: Overlord
This film charts the careful planning of the D-Day campaign and the development of specialised equipment needed for the amphibious landings. It also reveals the deception plan that wrong-footed Hitler and how the Americans were very nearly driven off Omaha beach.

Disc 10: Closing The Ring
The year is 1944 and although the Allies are closing in around Germany, the outcome is still uncertain. This film explores the Allied disaster at Arnhem and the tragedy of the Waraw uprising, when Polish freedom fighters were abandoned to their fate by Stalin.

Disc 11: The Island War
This film looks at the war of the jungles including Burma where new specialist fighting units – like Ord Wingate’s Chindits – slowly pushed back the Japanese despite horrific conditions and savage hand to hand fighting.

Disc 12: Victory In Europe
This film follows the British and Americans as they cross the Rhine and the Russians as they push through Poland into Germany itself, covering the horrors of the liberation of Belsen and Buchenwald, the carving up of Germany by the allies and the Nuremburg trials.

Disc 13: Victory In The Pacific
Despite firebombing Tokyo and the loss of 200,000 lives, the Japanese refused to surrender. President Truman had no option but to go nuclear and the fates of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sealed. The film ends with Japan subdued as their war crimes emerge.

War in the Air

The Cold Dawn
This episode concentrates on the period when Allied Air Power seemed to be winning the war, The combined Allied Airforces could be found in action in Norway, in the Ardennes, in Italy and in The Balkans on the Russian Front. By now The Luftwaffe were showing signs of strain trying to defend The Fatherland and victory looked very likely for The Allies.

Eastern Victory
This episode of War in the Air covers the air war in Burma where the ability to deliver troops and supplies by air made a big difference to the war effort. Despite this Japan fought on valiantly until aircraft delivered the final knockout blow on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and Imperial Japan was forced to capitulate.

Overlord
This episode looks at the Allies plans for D-Day when it was realised that Air power would have a number of significant roles to play in the forthcoming invasion. On D-Day itself Transporters would deliver paratroopers & elite glider borne assault troops, while the combined air forces provided tactical air support in establishing the bridgehead to the beaches.

Facing New Weapons
This episode looks at the aftermath of the D-Day Landings when the Allies used their air superiority in order to defeat pockets of resistance that were holding out at Caen & Falaise, aswell as supporting the Allied advance on to Paris & Belgium. The German forces retaliated with their newly developed V1 Flying Bombs which fell upon Southern England forcing the RAF to resort to desperate measures in order to stop them.

Round the Clock

This program looks at the period from early 1943 to 1944 when the allies were pounding Nazi Germany, by day formations of B17 Flying Fortresses would battle their way through heavily defended skies to deliver their lethal cargo and by night the Lancaster’s of RAF Bomber Command took over, with the German civilians paying a heavy price for their leaders ambitions.

Wings over Italy
The campaign fought in the skies over Italy is rarely mentioned. This program looks at the period from mid 1943 to mid 1944 when the allies realised that Air Power would play a significant role in the Anzio landings aswell as actions at Cassino & in the liberation of Rome.

Desert Air Force
Covering the conflict from Italy’s entry into World War II in Summer 1940 to the establishment of an advanced wing of the Desert Air Force in Tripoli in 1942, this episode covers the invasion of Crete, celebrates the heroic defence of Malta and looks at the role played by the Allied Air Power in the Western Desert in defeating the Afrika Korps.

Combined Ops
This episode concentrates on the arrival of American Bomber Squadron’s in Britain between 1942 and 1943 and how the Allies mounted powerful strikes against Nazi Targets, which were met by swarms of German Interceptors, and caught in merciless aerial battles stretching across hundreds of miles of sky.

The Rising Sun
This episode looks at the Attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese in December 1941, which was proof of the war winning potential of the Aircraft, and showed that battleships were now terrifyingly exposed to the lethal bomb load from a single plane. And how this led to the Air war in the Pacific from Pearl Harbour to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and reveals the Allies somewhat chaotic defence of India and Burma from the Air during that period.

Remembrance Sunday – The World at War

Recently I have been watching 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