I have been asked to be the spokesman for this Allied expeditionary force, in saying word of introduction to what you are about to see. It is a story of the Nazi defeat on the Western front. So far as possible, the editors have made it an account of the really important men in this campaign. I mean the enlisted soldiers, sailors, and airmen that fought through every obstacle to victory.
Of course, to tell the whole story would take years but the theme would be the same, teamwork wins wars. I mean teamwork among nations, services, and men. All the way down the line, from the G.I., and the Tommy, to us Brass hats.
Our enemy in this campaign was strong, resourceful, and cunning, but he made a few mistakes. His greatest blunder was this, he thought he could break up our partnership but we were welded together by fighting for one great cause in one great team, a team in which you were an indispensable and working member.
That spirit of free people working, fighting, and living together in one great cause, has served us well on the Western front. We in the field pray that that spirit of comradeship will persist forever among the free peoples of the United Nations. ♪ ♪ – To you who now living in love and hope, who sense a future in the surrounding air, this testament is offered. Here you may look on the violent fragments of our age and the once thinness of the little thread that made us then the citizens of freedom.
While dark was Europe and the face of man when this begins. The nation had gone mad and struck out everywhere the compass knew. The ebb tide of our honor fell away and left its wreckage on a hundred coasts.
The German cast his fires about the globe. His strength, drawn from the smoking sour and roar lay in our weakness and at last his conquests smoldered behind the barriers of his arms. Along the website where the sea strikes France stood the west wall of concrete, stone, and steel to mock the frail hopes of the petty free.
Wounded, hard-pressed, and wasted on our strength, almost like madmen then, we planned to breach the wall and smash the German spine. But where? We searched the coast of Europe like fierce eagles.
Between low Flushing and deep-harbored Cherbourg, our eyes sought out the place of the assault. Exits and title range marked shallow Flushing off, sand and the wind canceled the Belgium coast. The north Scine beaches were too small and cliffs barred the approaches. [inaudible] too narrow. The Pas D' Calais, heavily defended.
It all resolved on Normandy on Caen.
There, planes could land upon the carpet ground, the coast defenses were more light, and tides had a good range, and men were safe from winds. So, on five miles of still un-bloodied sand, the fretful course of fate would be assailed by armored nations. Now our people bent to the construction of a steel array and took the builders hammer in their hands.
It seemed almost as though the sun stood still 'till our free peoples full of rage and power, heaved through the air the ponderous spear of war. This is our peoples' story, in their words. ♪ ♪ – [Man] I suppose, [clears throat] if the battle of the North Atlantic hadn't gone right, things, well, might have been considerably different. That was an ugly time for all of us, merchant ships, naval escort, air patrol. I guess I had my share of bad luck.
I lost three ships and some good friends. ♪ ♪ [explosions] – [Man] I remember reading somewhere that when a seagull comes down on a patch of oil, its feathers stick together and it can't get off the water again. There must have been a lot of dead seagulls around the North Atlantic. – [Woman] Of course, we only saw it happening on the wall map and yet it was…well, quite real. When I started there, those markers we used reminded me of toys out of some children's game, but soon they became new boats and ships carrying cargos, food, supplies, and weapons, and men to use them. [ship whistle] – [Man] I remember coming over, the worst thing about the trip was you didn't know where you were going. Wherever it was you'd be a stranger and nobody likes that.
That ship was loaded from stem to stern with sad sacks. Around the third day out, things got pally. Like the fellow said, "We were all in the same boat." [chuckles] A comic.
Finally we got to Liverpool, they had a band to play us in, an English army band full of chimes. "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" they played. [chuckles] To tell you the truth it was pretty corny but nobody said anything because, well, you know, it was a nice gesture. Funny thing, on the way over you felt like you were the whole works, you couldn't help it. But then all over the UK you'd see things that'd make you begin to realize you were just part of a, a big proposition.
All kinds of things. ♪ ♪ [explosions] – [Man] I was a Pre-Med student at Johns Hopkins in civilian life. Now, I do know a little something about anatomy and I say it is scientifically impossible for the human body to stand up to the training we received. An absolute impossibility. Muscles and tendons and bone structure was not designed to withstand that battering. Don't ask me how it happens that we did stand up to it.
I don't know. It has no scientific explanation. [explosion] – [Man] Here, listen to this, out of one of them Army pamphlets, "To a young man. Soldier in the army of offers exceptional advantages and opportunities such as physical training, foreign travel, sport, and many other facilities which are normally denied to those engaged in the majority of civilian occupations.
The majority of occupations in civil life become monotonous to say the least. But in the army, life is so varied that there is little or no prospect of a monotonous or irksome time." – So men were girded for their highest hour. And while they learned the lethal arts of war, in small and secret rooms the planners met to read their work mature.
Beyond our view, the German, proud and confident, stood calm in deep emplacements on the armored coast. The war was not yet one of men and blood. The weapons were the factories and the maps, and voices speaking in the hidden light. Season by season, all our plans advanced and those few men on whom the mass of war rested with all its weight worked ceaselessly. – [Man] I used to wonder whether the millions of people doing their various jobs realized they were a part of it all, paving the way for the invasion. [propeller noise] – [Man] We kept bashing away at German targets, mostly steel and oil. [inaudible] Hamburg, Battle of Berlin. – [Woman] Things were getting tougher every trip, more ground defenses, more night fighters, more crews not coming back. ♪ ♪ – [Man] We got away early in the morning. Sometimes you'd see Lancasters coming back.
A lot of times, we'd stoke up the same targets they did. We beat up aircraft factories too, it was a deluge service. Day and night, 24 hours a day. – [Man] We dropped agents over France.
Must be awful to risk your neck and have to keep it secret. – [Woman] One-manned submarines, torpedo boats, commandos, we used them all to bring back cups full of sand from the beaches for analysis. – [Man] It had to be quick drying with a solid clay foundation. It would have to support 30-ton tanks. – [Man] I must have photographed nearly every field in France. Real job, of course, was the [inaudible] area, but I didn't know about that, nor did Jerry. – [Man] We dropped stuff to the macky, arms, ammunition, sabotage materials and so on. Then went over ourselves and taught them how to use it. – [Man] We built it to specification but we hadn't the least idea what kind of a gadget it was.
The only name it had was "Mulberry" – [Man] It was vital to know all about the Seine bay and the tides. – [Man] And we trained the men to negotiate those tides in landing craft. – [Man] Wearing down German sea power in preparation for the day. – [Man] A special study of the weather along the Normandy coast. – [Man] Miles of wire netting for the beaches. – [Man] Seventy-two hundred tons of petrol per day. – With an underwater pipeline to carry it to France. – A white star is the emblem of liberation. – Triple inoculation for all personnel. – New ships pouring from the stocks, old ships adapting. – Listening to the German radio output for fresh intelligence. – That was just part of the pre-invasion work.
By December '43, the plan itself was set and we took it to Tehran for final discussion. – [Man] The three leaders approved the plan. Our Russian forces advancing from the East, and invasion from the West. And then, the date was set. ♪ ♪ – I assumed command of SHAEF with the best all-around team for which a man could ask.
Some had already been working for months in England, others I brought with me from the Mediterranean. We adopted first a master plan and then had to coordinate every last detail of the ground, sea, and air plans. While this was going on, we led off with an air explain designed to make the landing points as soft as possible to batter the German communications and to make certain we'd have control of the air.
It was quite a explain, those airmen did a magnificent job. ♪ ♪ – [Man] We had Polish, French, Czechs, all sorts in our outfit. They'd natter away in the mess about what they'd been up to, the only word you could ever make out was "marshaling yard." – [Man] Us bombardiers seemed to do nothing but look down on French bridges those days.
We used to ask each other, "Have you cut any good bridges lately?" Well, finally there was only one whole railway bridge left over the Seine between Paris and the sea. [engine noise] – Down in the late spring, through the wounded towns of England moved the mess made by our patience. Two precious years of plans were put away, the offices were empty, all the maps were rolled up on the walls. What had been paper at last had come alive.
Across the website, aware of our resolve with cold contempt, alerted Germans stood beside their guns and reinforcements rumbled from the Rhine. Their generals were prepared, their might was poised. They looked across the heaving sea and grinned. They would reap harvest of us on the beaches and even Death himself would stand amazed. Yet faint across the groaning of the sea, came the thin thunder of a mass of power.
Drawn from the great free peoples of the earth, it gathered in the ancient ports of England to crowd upon the steel encumbered ships. ♪ ♪ – It was a funny sort of feeling marching down to the ships. We'd done it plenty of times before, of course, on schemes and that kind of thing. They didn't tell us this was the big explain, might have been just another exercise.
Some of the chaps cracked gags [chuckles] they wasn't very comic but we laughed. I think we all guessed. The general feeling was, "Okay, if this is it, let's get in there and get it over with." Waiting always got on my nerves, even waiting for a bus…never could stand it. Well, after a bit, our ship found it's place in the middle of all the rest of the stuff. And there we stayed!
For days! ♪ ♪ – They gave us the final briefing then. We knew what to do and how, they told us where and when. That's a briefing. I listened to every word, wrote it down in my head like a record and then kept playing over and over again.
Piece of beach in the morning. Ever since I became a soldier they were getting me ready for this. Before there had been time in front of me, protecting me.
Now that time had worn away and there were only a few hours left, in the morning I'd have to face it. I tried to imagine how much fear I would have, you know, if it would keep me from doing my job. I suppose everybody else was wondering the same thing. ♪ ♪ – Nobody said anything official, but all of a sudden the ship got much busier and over the amplifier, the chaplain said he'd be saying mass at 1830 hours. Funny, I don't think I ever believed even after the final briefing that the invasion was gonna come off.
Then a voice on the loud speaker said, "Men who wish to take their anti-seasick pills should take the first one now." That did it. ♪ ♪ [engine roar] ♪ ♪ – I was tugging a glider the way we always practiced it, except that I'd never been in the air with a whole army before. Three airborne division, 86th British, 82nd and 101st American. Just before our glider pilot cast off over our landing zone, I, I wished him "Good luck," over the radio.
Seemed a sort of inadequate thing to say. – As supreme commander, let me break in at this point to say just a word about the Navy. From the moment of embarkation to that of landing, the whole verdant fell upon the Navy and our merchant fleets. They had to sweep the mines, bombard the coastal batteries, marshal and protect the transports along the coastline preparatory to landing, and finally, man the small boats that carried the soldiers to the beach.
On that day there were more than 8,000 ships and landing craft on the shores of Normandy. It was a most intricate task and a vital one for the success of our plans. The courage, fidelity, and skill of the Royal and American Navies have no brighter page in our histories than that of June 6th, 1944. ♪ ♪ [intermittent explosions] ♪ ♪ [engine noise] ♪ ♪ – Back in London, only a few people knew, it was a well-kept secret.
Around day break, we correspondents were called and told to be at the Ministry of Information at 8:00 and they told us. ♪ ♪ – They called our beach "Omaha," don't ask me why. I've never been to Omaha, the one in Nebraska I mean. If it's anything like Omaha, France you can have it.
Understand Omaha was the roughest spot. We lost some good men, took a few prisoners.
It was a lousy trade. We'd been told what to expect so it wasn't like a surprise or anything. It's just, well, what really happens is different. For a while there we were pinned down but the lucky thing, the other beaches were going better so we got a little more in our share of the old teamwork.
Navy come in, the air guys, and finally we got moving good. You're going to hear a lot about how long it takes to make battle hardened soldiers out of green troops. Listen, I got to be a veteran in one day.
That day. – And so they paved the beaches with our blood and lurched across the dunes and reached the roads. The German parried fiercely. In the depths of rich green pastured Normandy, the three airborne divisions, first of all to land, fought lion-like against most grievous odds and loud across the cratered face of France came German reinforcements. From Berlin, a voice cried out, "The Allies must be thrown into the sea before another day had burned its hole in history." Locked in battle, the armies clashed. Our first objective then was to merge all the beach heads into one and 50 miles of men drive on together beyond the red sands through the broken wall. ♪ ♪ – Where I was it wasn't too bad getting ashore, after that it started.
You'd have to fight for every bloody field. It was the same each time, crawling on your belly keeping your backside down like you'd been told, chucking a few hand grenades, then rush them. Sometimes they killed us but we were killing more of them. The trickiest part was the farms, they were regular little Jerry fortresses.
If we couldn't manage them on our own, then we'd have to wait while the company commander called back for artillery support. The Navy was still with us too, chucking in shells ahead of us. In three days we advanced seven miles, then we were told to stand fast, and dig in. Next morning we heard the news, we got it from the BBC, and it sounded great, we had joined up all along the bridge head.
There was a solid line, 45 miles of it. We got a foothold, we were in. ♪ ♪ – We didn't have to do much navigating to get there, you know, just followed the convoys. I was doing close support. We waited around and then the ground troops would whistle us up and told us about some hardened target they wanted removed and, and in we'd go. We were like Texas on a [inaudible. ♪ ♪ – There's something nice about a beach, any beach.
You think of a beach and chances are you'll remember something nice, like a party or a picnic. Hours from the old days, girls in bathing suits. But the one I worked, Utah, looked more like a freight yard once we got going. For quite a while, we brought more supplies right over the open beach like we'd practiced it and like we'd made up as we went along.
We worked a 24-hour shift. Ducks, lights, rafts, rowboats, all sorts of Rube Goldberg. The stuff just kept pouring in, tanks, trucks, food, ammo, guys.
Millions of things. [explosions] – We didn't think we'd spend 15 days in the same field outside Caen. With the wood behind us and the Germans in another wood half a mile in front of us, and a little empty valley in between. Each side mortaring each other all the time. This meant you have to live in a slip trench and you got into a routine.
You know, stand to from half-past 4:00 to half-past 5:00, then two hours wait for breakfast. Came up fairly hot. Tin bacon or sausage, tea, and, of course, biscuits. We'd been living on compo food since D-Day.
It was good food, but, ah, you know, you got tired of it. I'd have given a lot for a slice of fresh bread and butter or a cup of fresh tea. Fifteen days is a long time to stay in one place and be mortared. You think everyone's coming straight for you. ♪ ♪ [intermittent explosions and gun fire] – [Woman] I can remember every case we ever had, especially the first one.
The ambulance brought him in late one afternoon. I came over to where he was lying and he looked up and grinned. I asked him how he felt, he said something about the, the German with a machine pistol using him for a dart board.
He was quiet and patient and a little bewildered, he'd never been hurt before. He asked how the fighting was going then he passed out. The doctor came over and looked at his wounds and, and swore. Said he had no business to be alive. We put him on the operating table and did what we could.
The doctor kept swearing all the time he was operating. We couldn't stop the bleeding. I remember the radio news that night, they said the casualties had been surprisingly light. ♪ ♪ – [Man] They said the whole thing was dear ole Winston's idea. A collapsible pre-fabricated harbor with everything on it except a naffy. Well, I wouldn't put it past him, it's the sort of idea he would have.
Worked in the end, Mulberry they called it. Well, I felt pretty good about it because I'd readed it grow right from the sinking of the first ships for the outter breakwater and further along to the west, the Yanks had brought one over too. Then on D plus-13 I think it was, an onshore wind started up. Not much at first but it got worse and unloading onto the open beaches got very tricky. We heard that over on the Yanks' section, the other harbor had been put right out of action.
And when the wind dropped, ole Mulberry looked pretty sick and after that time, it was the only bleeding harbor we had. – At the green tip of Normandy, the town of Cherbourg lay, a harbor for supplies. Our need for ports was vital as our breath. The German knew our lack and swiftly drew his forces into tight defensive groups so to contest the issue. All our plans turned upon Cherbourg, all our strategy waited upon its empty docks and piers. So the Americans sent all across Normandy to the coast, swung toward the north, impatient for the port.
Through hedge and field they carved their heavy way. ♪ ♪ – [Man] You remember back now when it seems like we took Cherbourg a couple of days after we hit the beach. Actually, it took 19 days to cover 30 miles. Thirty miles and about 92,000 hedgerows and a battle at every hedgerow. Otherwise, it was nice country.
Like Connecticut, pretty trees and arches, lots of cows and nice little farmhouses. [chuckles] The apples were too green to eat I remember. We hit it off fine with the people, farmers, nice people. It got tougher when we pulled up on the outskirts of Cherbourg, they had great defenses. Then the artillery really carried the ball, for three days we socked it to 'em. Sometimes we were pouring in at point blank range over open sights.
Finally, old Von Schleiben, the German commander tossed in the sponge, that's after telling his men to fight to the death. We took Cherbourg on June 25th, everything was rosy except the harbor we come for, the Jerries had really smeared that harbor. But right away our guys went to work cleaning it up and the way they tore into it, you could see that pretty soon it'd be working for us fine. Then, well, we fought our way up the peninsula, now we'd have to fight our way out of it. ♪ ♪ – [Man] And everywhere inside France, we men of the Marquis were fighting too.
I was in the north myself. We cut telephone, and telegraph, and high-tension lines. And eventually, when the allies landed, we fought in the open. In the Savoia mountains, our friends held up German convoys.
Well, it was a little easier in the mountains but reinforcements were delayed for many days. Factories and bridges would frequently disappear. But the price we paid for it was frightful.
In the village of Oradour alone, the Germans slaughtered 1,100 out of the 1,200 population and the place was completely burned. They were accused to have ambushed German troops. Every house was destroyed. Women and children died in flames in the church where they had been locked.
Yes, the price we paid was very great but our job was done. ♪ ♪ – Caen is a town through which the easy on ripples its slow way to the waiting sea, capital of Normandy, and here the British struck a stone wall of Germans. This was no Cherbourg advance, a knife thrust through the fields, but rather was the grinding of a drill, inch by inch forward. Here it was the German feared a quick breakthrough to the river Seine and here it was he massed his army's best.
Ten of the 12 divisions of his armor. Paratroops, SS men, the young, the cruel, against the veterans of allied men. We wanted him to fight here and to hold the battered ground because the future plans depended on him standing where he was. At Caen, the dust was diamonds, every foot of ground was priceless, for by midmost summer, Caen was to be the pivot of the war. ♪ ♪ [intermittent explosions] – [Man] Caen was the first decent sized town we'd taken but there wasn't any celebration because we knew nothing had been settled.
Jerry was as strong as ever. One of the men said, "God, are we gonna have to go right across the world doing this to beat 'em?" Because most of Caen was dust, just plain dust, and I wondered what Hamilton back home in Canada would look like after a beating like that. Well, anyway, our tanks in the British started massing and moved south out of the city.
We knew there was a big 'do' coming up. ♪ ♪ – [Man] The explain for us began south of Caen, where the Poles joined up with us. When we began moving forward, I heard a lot of the lads say, "Rumbles on the run," [chuckles] but I'd been at El Alamein and I knew he wasn't on the run and I was right. There was nothing lovely about the battle south of Caen. No pincer movements, no out flanking.
No, nothing like that. Just a hard, bitter, bloody slugging match.
We had to stay there and give as good as we got, even if we couldn't give better. ♪ ♪ [intermittent gunfire and explosions] – Beyond the rubble and the dust of Caen, the empire troops kept up their endless pressure.
The German did not dare to disengage but fought with all his cunning and his strength, still unaware of what we'd planned for him. West by Saint-Lo, the base of his defense, Americans were poised and bent to fire an armored arrow that would set alight the flame of freedom from the whole of France. But until Saint-Lo was seized, the arrow waited. ♪ ♪ [intermittent explosions] ♪ ♪ – [Man] One minute it's quiet with the birds singing, the next minute the Cromwell and Sherman tanks coming 'round the corner, going wide over. My buddy says, "Where all those tanks coming from?" So I asked a tanker, he yells down they're the 3rd Army taking off. Been waiting for three weeks, appears somebody let the rabbit out of the hat.
Man, [laughs] what a rabbit, with pearl handled revolvers! – [Man] When I think back to the breakthrough, I don't seem to be able to remember anything but the French people. People beside the road, kids we couldn't stop to give candy to, FFI boys bringing in the crowds from the fields, and farm workers waving as we went by. It was easier to look them in the face and smile and wave back at them when you haven't had to smash their homes to pieces first.
The morning we got into Rennes, boy, that really was liberation. ♪ [bells] ♪ ♪ [men singing] ♪ [crowds cheering] ♪ [bells] ♪ [cheering] ♪ [bells] ♪ ♪ [men singing] ♪ [cheering] – At Rennes, American armor planned to drive east and northeast and thus surround and take the German core divisions in the rear. The foe laid plans to stop the arrow dead by cutting it's supply route at the point where it stretched narrowest along the coast. So a great force exploded toward Mortain, hoping at Avranches to achieve the sea and drag our hopes down to the smoking ground. [explosions] [fire cackling] – [Man] There's a lot of places I'd rather talk about than Mortain, that's where I got hit. We'd been going great up 'till there, some of the guys had even been singing, harmonizing, and then that first German artillery caught us. Pretty accurate too, an hour later I was short 18 men.
Well, behold, then we hit back with everything we had. They weren't just trying to stop us, see, they wanted to come right through. And then me, I get a belt in the face left side and I keel. The last thing I remember is looking up and seeing those RAF Typhoons.
When I heard them screaming up ahead I thought, "Jeez, I'm glad they're on our side." [explosions] – [Man] I was sitting in front of the intelligence office doing a bit of sunbathing when headquarters came through saying the area northwest of Mortain was packed with German armor heading west. Well, that started it. For six hours, the wind kept it up absolutely nonstop. Take-off, attack, land, refuel, re-arm, and take off again. It was the same on every airfield in Normandy.
The only briefing I gave the chaps was, "Well, you know where they are." The only interrogation when they got back was, "Well, how many did you get?" ♪ ♪ – [Man] Three days it lasted, every kind of soldier was in there and every weapon. For me it was just eating and smoking, and loading that 105, no sleeping. Then things quieted down and the word came back, we stopped 'em cold. [chuckles] Everybody felt like celebrating, that was a tough order out there. I tried drinking a whole bottle of cough medicine, it worked fine, I got stiffer than a plank. – The counter attack which took us by surprise, still did not hinder our deceptive plans for dawn drew call, the foe had drawn a force and left his north flank weakened.
Now the stage was set, toward Falaise swept the empire troops together with the Poles. The German heard behind his back American armor churn toward Argentan. Out-generaled and out-fought, he found himself within a closing trap. ♪ ♪ [explosions] [gunfire] ♪ ♪ [plane engines] [explosions] ♪ ♪ [intermittent gun fire] ♪ ♪ – [Man] I've covered them with a gun down to the clearing stations.
Thousands of them, and all kinds. The tough ones with the smile froze stiff on their faces by shell fire, and the plain Joes that had too much and ready to tell you that, and them poker faced officers that never lost the poker face look. The SS, the parachute troops, the old soldiers off the Russian front, I've seen 'em all. The Hitler Youth babies lookin' like they walked outta Lincoln High.
Expert killers, smart aleck with their talk o' rights under the Geneva convention and asking, "When do we go to America?" And the other guy who crawled out of a hole with his hands up, all through and talkin' too much, ready to swear he hated Hitler all the time. The kids that knew how a machine gun worked and nothing else, grinning like they were still on top so they could hardly hold that trigger finger still. The middle-aged guys wanting to tell you about the wife and kids, if you'd let 'em. And they were through killing when I saw 'em, and through gettin' killed too. Some of them thought they were lucky and others didn't, and some didn't give a [no audio].
I covered them down to the rear where it was somebody's job to find out what made them tick, but it wasn't my job to figure them out. I just kept 'em covered. Brother, I never gave 'em more than the Geneva convention and that was all. – American tanks ground on into the east towards Paris and the upper Seine.
Before them, the Germans helter skelter fled away and saw retreat or stood with hands upraised by roads all littered with their smoldering gear. And still the tanks ground on beyond the smoke into the unscarred county. – [Man] A good solid map, well delineated, is an absolute must for a modern mechanized army traveling at high speed. In our division, the issuing of maps was my job. When we broke out of the Cherbourg peninsula, my department had the situation well in hand. Then for us, everything went mad.
Stark, raving mad. One morning I woke up, and the army had gone right off the map, absolutely right off the map. So we rushed through an order for 500,000 maps of the Orlèan region. They arrived in due time. To our horror, the army progressed far beyond the Orlèan region.
It was off the map again. This was a period of acute crisis for me, I gave the highest priority to a fresh order of maps to the Paris area, we refused to be licked by this situation. The final blow came when it became evident that we were going to bypass Paris. That almost finished us. Eventually, we had to drop 10 tonnes of maps to them by parachute.
It was a very humiliating experience. I'll be glad when I get back to the Library of Congress where maps have some permanent value. ♪ ♪ – [Man] While the Allies were fighting near Paris, we French soldiers of the Declaire division were fighting in the Normandy fields. And suddenly an order came. "Go to Paris" it said, "And take it." The Allies, after having equipped our division with tanks, guns, rifles, lorries, and jeeps, that night decided to give us Paris too. So at 4:00 in the morning, the division starts rushing in the roads and in the sky on the right, on the left, everywhere, the American Air Force protects our trip. What a trip.
Two hundred and fifty kilometers in one day. I think I'll tell it all the time to my grandchildren and bore them with it until I die. – [Woman] At the beginning of August, we in Paris were seized by rumors. What could be confirmed was towards the middle of the month the Germans started to leave the city. Yes, those were the same Germans who had signed 25-year leases on their apartments.
Then on the 14th, our police went on strike. The next day, the Gestapo left. That was the day too when a police car opened fire on a German detachment on the Place de la Concorde and began the battle for the city. After that, it seemed the French flag was hanging from every window.
All the flags were made of curtains, old dresses, rags, everything, it didn't matter. Four days later, we heard shouting coming from the Hotel de Ville. We started running. Me, my husband, everyone in our house.
As we ran, people were screaming, "The French army had arrived." When we got to the Place de Hotel de Ville, we saw it was true. I kissed my husband because he was crying. [chuckles] It's funny, we began to realize how unhappy we had been for four years and how lucky we were to be alive on this August evening. ♪ ♪ [crowd cheering] – The great pursuit was on, at last the battle of France was ending. When all suddenly another D-Day stunned the shaken foe. Two armies struck, American and French along the broad beached southern coast of France.
Then north, the two new armies rolled like waves to join the forces moving on the right. Beyond the Seine, where from a hundred sites the Germans launched their flying bombs and brought death and destruction onto English towns, our valiant armies went about the task long since assigned them. Toward the right frontiers the Americans advanced. Against the ports hugging the website, garrisoned in force by desperate foes, Canadians were sent.
And in a thunderous sweep, the British armor surged toward a waiting Brussels. ♪ ♪ – [Man] The people of Brussels laughed and cried and threw flowers at our tank and said, "Goodbye, Tommy." [chuckles] but they meant to say, "Hello." Man, they were happy. I suppose they were no longer afraid. I remember wondering then, "How the first Germans would react to us?" [cheering] [explosion] – [Man] I remember one day we were coming across a big flat field, didn't look like nothing special. I hopped a barbed wire fence and guy says to me, "Guess what?" So I says, "What?" So he says, "You're in Germany, there's a sign over there says." And like a dope I thought, "Well, I won't be long now." – [Man] I won a quid over the fall of Paris and 10 bob on Brussels, and I had a fiver on it being over by October the 1st. – [Man] I remember the point system for getting out of the army came out about this time.
I began to think of that greyed chalk, striped, double-breasted suit in the moth balls. – [Man] I was in the 7th Army coming up from the south of France. One day a lieutenant said, "Take a ride with me, I got some prisoners for you to guard." "How many?" I says. "About 20,000," he said, "A whole German division had surrendered." – [Man] We Canadians were advancing in the north and one day we came across a thing I'd never seen before. "I guess it's a flying bomb site" the officer says. [chuckles] Well, that really made me feel good. – [Man] The prisoner told us the newest Jerry gag. If an aircraft explains up white, it's American, if it explains up dark, it's British, and if it never explains up, it's the Luftwaffe. – [Man] Every time they sent me along to sub a forward switch board and I got my earphones on, I found out that the real switch board had leap frogged five miles ahead. – [Man] I wrote to the old man in St. Louis, he owns a men's store. I told him he'd better cut prices on G.I. neck ties and socks if he didn't want to be stuck with a lot of military apparel. – [Man] Someone asked a sergeant major what he thought the chances were for a spot of leave. "Don't you worry about leave, lads," he says, "We've got the Japs to finish here." Regular soldier, of course, keen. – [Man] It was a terrific feeling crossing the German border, we were sure nothing could stop us. ♪ ♪ – Every line must somewhere have an end.
In southeast Holland, nothing lay between the British army and the German plain except two rivers and a town. And so we made our plans, to send an airborne army down to seize Eindhoven and the British at Nijmegen and Arnhem, then to hold them for the force that would sweep up like thunder from the south. Thus where no line existed, would the Rhine at last be crossed in force. ♪ ♪ – [Man] I was to jump last in [inaudible] so I sat right forward by the window. I could see nothing but blue skies and the coaters from the fighters up topsides like midgets. One of the boys was reading a newspaper and he explained me a funny piece in it.
I couldn't laugh. The coast of Holland came along before I was ready for it. Someone yelled, "Running up now." We got to action stations.
I remember thinking, "What a bloody bit of bad luck to be bumped off now when the war is nearly over." ♪ ♪ [explosions and gunfire] ♪ ♪ – [Man] The line he's dropping on 'em and we come down and go to a place called Eindhoven, Holland. She goes good. We get right, dig in, set up a defense perimeter and wait for the British army to come up. Then we join them and head out for Nijmegen. – [Man] The bridge at Nijmegen hardly had a mark on it, we crossed the river and started out for Arnhem but we didn't get far. The Hun knew as well as we did that we'd got to get through and he put in everything he'd got.
That was the worst I ever struck, knowing our men were there waiting at Arnhem and we couldn't get to 'em. [gunfire] – [Man] At Arnhem, we got ourselves well dug in, us and some of the Poles. We were short of ammo and food, that was our main worry. I'll never forget those supply dropping missions, the way Jerry let loose at them and the way they just came straight on into it.
Towards the end, we knew the situation was bad, we knew we were hemmed in. We knew it was possible we wouldn't get out. More than anything, I remember the way everyone behaved. Men you knew as the toughest fighters became gentle, kind, and considerate to each other. I knew a lot more about men after Arnhem. ♪ ♪ – The guns died out in Arnhem, then we knew the greatest gallantry was not enough to cross the final bridge and now no choice remained to us.
Direct assault against the Siegfried line would be the only way to carve our corridors into the Reich. But first, a port was needed for supplies. Antwerp we had, but thundering German guns controlled the 30 cold miles of the Scheldt from Antwerp to the sea. The docks were still, the winches silent, all the ports lay dead, a useless city severed from the sea.
It would stay dead until we cut away through the gray Scheldt. So the battle formed to free the estuary for our ships. – [Man] I covered that battle for the Associated Press. I only wish I could have written the story with the greatness of the men who fought it. It was vicious and fearsome fighting all the way. The Canadians and the Poles clearing the south bank of the river, the Royal Navy and Marines and Norwegians charging knee-deep in blood and water into the mouth of the nine-inch shore guns at west Cappelle.
It was the kind of fighting that makes legends.
And the mine sweeping of the Schedlt afterwards, it was the greatest operation of its kind in history. The cost of that first ship into Antwerp harbor was the lives of thousands of our bravest men. I reported it as well as I could, but their memory deserves more than words. ♪ ♪ – [Man] I was hauling on the first convoy to Antwerp.
When I got to the front, I saw more empty supply dumps than I liked to see. Boys wanted to know where the stuff was, you can't fight without stuff, anybody knows that. I made lots of trips, I don't know how many. Driving all day, all night, singing so as to keep awake.
Songs like "Milkman Keep Those Bottles Quiet." [gunfire] – [Man] My job was, uh, to see to it that they had a new toothbrush and a cot, maybe a book to read when they came over from the east bank to the west bank of the Moselle for a little rest. We brought 'em over one company at a time because that was all the regiment could spare from the line at any one time. Somebody had tapped 'em on the shoulder and said, "All right boy, you're going back across the river for 24 hours rest." And here they were, where they could rest, they just couldn't believe it.
Here they were for just 24 hours without war, everything was down to essentials, counted out like dollar bills through a teller's window. One night's sleep, one day's hot meals, one clean change of underwear, one clean pair of pants, one shave, one hot explainer, one movie. I used to wonder what was the best of that day.
Was it the chance for 'em to write home? A hot explainer? Or that long legged girl on the screen? Whatever it was, all of it was over by the morning. They were going back with their one clean suit of underwear, their hot explainer, their clean shave, and their good night's sleep.
Back across the Moselle to their holes in the ground and the shells. – [Man] By that time, we knew we were going to see a winter campaign. There was no way out of it. The Germans were dug in and they were tough. And it was plain that until we got a lot stronger, we weren't going anyplace. – [Man] The squadron was operating whenever it could.
There wasn't a lot of flying, we were iced up and fed up. – [Woman] "Suppose you're having a swell time in Paris," my cousin wrote me, [chuckles] "with all that perfume, and silk stockings, and that champagne." – [Man] Uh, they called our end of the line south, we were in the Vosges mountains with the American 7th Army. But it was very little warmth in this south. I recall with pleasure the Mediterranean where we had landed in August. Ah, but memories do not keep one warm. – [Man] Before I joined the army, I'd have thought it was certain death to dig a hole in me back garden and live in it for the winter, but that's what we did. The sergeant said, "Well, squirrels do it every year." "Yes," I thought, "but they don't man machine guns as well." – [Woman] There was no heating in our Brussels office, I put on so much under my uniform they called me "The bundle from Britain." – [Man] I never smoked before but pretty soon I found myself smoking as high as a pack a day. [chuckles] I worry about that old law of percentages.
My company was melting away, you'd look up one day and be fighting alongside a stranger. It was a lonesome feeling. – [Man] Our hunk of the line was the Ardennes, pretty quiet. A lot of officers had gone up north, to start [inaudible] training grounds about the where and when of our offensive.
Then one day I'm standing guard and these shells stuck, I thought for a minute, "This was it." Then I realized these shells weren't outgoings, brother, they were in-comings. Next thing I knew, German tanks! It was an offensive all right, but it was going the wrong way. [explosions] – The offensive we were mounting to the north was suddenly forestalled and set aside as through rugged, thinly-held Ardennes, Von Rundstedt struck, he cut a fiery path through the American lines and sent his tanks desperately driving toward the river Meuse. A night of fog and pale December frost saw the beginning, none foresaw the end. He aimed for Antwerps harbor through Liege, and all our plans held fire while we bent our strength to curb the Germans in the bulge. ♪ ♪ – [Man] One night I was a replacement in England playing "Shove Ha'Penny in a Pump," the next day they shoved me in an airplane and that night I was fighting Germans and being kicked around.
I don't know about the other outfits but mine was being cut to ribbons, they were droppin' all around me. The thing that still sticks in my head is the medics. The only weapon they had was a needle but they were around right where it was the hottest. You'd hear that yell, "Medic! Medic!" and they'd always be there. ♪ ♪ [intermittent explosions] – [Man] Our whole division got a Presidential citation for what happened up at Bastogne, even me, just a cook.
I'll never forget that ole lieutenant running into the field kitchen and hollering at me if I had any idea how to operate a bazooka. I said, "No" and he said, "Well, you gonna learn now, son." I did, and I'll be doggone if the first shot out the barrel I didn't get me a Jerry tank. Got interviewed later by Stars and Stripes, they said it was a cracker jack story. [chuckles] I'd tell it at the drop of a hat. [gunfire] – [Man] We'd been up north where things were a bit static so we were quite glad to be moved down to the topside of this battle. Coming down through Belgium, we noticed how scared some of the civilians looked.
Natural, I suppose. We were held in reserve for a week and then they sent us into action. ♪ ♪ [gunfire] – [Man] On account of the fog, we couldn't get any air coordination. You sure miss it bad when you've gotten used to it all the way since D-Day.
Then on December 24th, like a Christmas present, that sun come up and after a while we was giving them the ole one-two again. [airplane engines] [gunfire] – [Man] We stopped 'em dead finally, it cost us plenty of men but we stopped 'em. And we started moving ahead again, the rest of us. ♪ ♪ – Rundstedt reeled back on a recoiling spring, his great attempt was over. And his armies that had devoured such a wealth of blood, sagged sodden towards the Rhine. At Yalta then, while dire explosions shook the German fronts, the three great architects of freedom met to fix the final blow and plot the piece.
And even as they met, we moved to act upon our strategy. We wished the foe to stand and fight upon the western bank of the grey Rhine. For there we could destroy him, outside his fortress, open unprotected by any bridge-less river.
Down we cast the gauntlet, challenging him, "Stand and fight." ♪ ♪ [intermittent explosions, engine noise] – [Men] We were attacking the north with the Canadians 'round about the Reichswald forest and Dutch frontier area. It was wet and filthy and they nicknamed our army commander "Admiral Kreiller." Well, anyway, the enemy put out some very stiff opposition. But actually, this was just what we'd hoped for. It explained that Jerry's emotions about fighting for every foot of his beloved fatherland were getting the better of his sense of strategy and every German killed on our side of the Rhine was to make it easier for us on the further bank and a lot of the Bosche were killed, I can tell you.
Reichswald was the bloodiest explain I've seen in this war. [explosions] – [Man] It was one of a push the captain told me, "Eight divisions," he usually knows, he follows things like that. I was with the outfit that took Mönchengladbach, I think you say it. There weren't many civilians in the streets and even the ones that were there we weren't supposed to talk to unless we had to.
It was a $65 rap for fraternization. I wonder how they happened to figure out that number, I mean, why 65? [explosions] – [Man] We could see the Cologne cathedral a long time before we got there. That tower was our objective, it was on the Rhine river. We went fast and by the time we got in the town there wasn't too much fight left in 'em.
Cologne was mangled all right, but there were still a few buildings standing. I was sorry, I thought of those front cities flattened. Anyway, we got our objective, now we had to cross that river. [explosions] – [Man] I thought they must have been very short of men when they put us sailors into battle dress, lugged the assault boats on the tracks and send us across Belgium by road. Talk about silent service, I'd never been sick at sea but I was sick as a dog on the road.
When we reached our destination I was feeling lousy, longing for a breath of sea air. I found the whole bloody landscape under a stinking smoke screen. A bit like London it was. Next day we got up to the Rhine, it was good to get a glimpse of the water again. [airplane engines] – [Man] Our air force is giving the old lumps on the east bank of the Rhine but I was still nervous.
The Germans had blown the bridges and we knew the crossing would be amphib. When I'm nervous I get off my feed, for two days before that crossing I couldn't eat nothing but a couple of Milky Way bars. It was gonna be D-Day all over again.
Dangerous. – [Man] America! There it was sitting there, big and black. I'm no architect, but to me that Remagen bridge was the most beautiful bridge in the world.
In the army when things go as per planned that's wonderful, but when they go better than planned, then you figure the chaplain's working overtime. It was a break getting that bridge and we cashed in on it and the first guys over the river were over in style. The read on the Rhine was finished, washed up, or to coin a phrase, "kaput." ♪ ♪ – [Man] We got across okay and everything was going fine, but suddenly then I get staked out to guard some German prisoners. I'll never forget their faces when them airborne blokes started to come over.
They just stood there looking up at them and then after about half an hour of it, one of them looks at me, looks up at the sky and says, "Heh, propaganda." ♪ ♪ – [Man] The Ruhr Pocket was the first big objective across the Rhine. We and the heavy's sealed it off then the ground forces wrapped it up. After that they exploded in all directions.
Cut the Jerry armies up in pockets then take them one-by-one, that was the program. The Third Reich was being carved up like a Christmas turkey. [gunfire] – [Man] Chasing the bosche was getting a little bit monotonous, we hardly ever saw 'em, only burning houses, a few shells, and the occasional snipers rifle shot. That's a silly kind of defiance I thought.
And then one day the routine was broken, we came across a prisoner of war camp. Other ranks, Yanks mostly. They went mad when they saw us, screeched red Indian war crimes, pummeled one another and asked what the news was. Seemed a shame to tell them when they were so happy. "Well, there was nothing for it," we told them, "President Roosevelt died yesterday afternoon," we said.
You should have heard 'em quieten down, for once in this campaign they all felt as though they'd suffered a major defeat. I would like to stay there, talk to them, try to cheer 'em up, but we have no time to lose. Jerry only had a few hundred square miles of earth left to scorch, our job was either to hurry him up or scorch it for him. – [Man] We were in the home stretch, cutting deeper all the time when we ran into these displaced persons, slave workers.
They were sick and hungry from all over Europe. The roads were jammed with 'em, but they kept out of the way and didn't give us any trouble. Like a fellow said, "There's a lot more than towns gonna have to be reconstructed." – [Man] I wondered what was up when all RAMC personnel in our lot down to stretchered berneys where they urgently called for. I soon found out, we'd taken the Belsen concentration camp. Well, I'm not squeamish.
I'd seen amputations, operations, deaths long before I went into the army in '41. I was a warden, I lost count of all the arms and legs I pulled out of the wreckage down in Croiden. Got quite used to it. But this was different. Very different.
I-I don't know any words big enough to make you understand what we all felt. All I can say and, I'm proud of this, is that I had to fall out and be quickly sick in the courtyard. As I say, I'm, I'm not squeamish but… well, I'm human and thank God for it. – [Man] The government sent a few of us congressmen over to see those camps.
And if there's anybody left who wonders if this war was worth fighting, well, I wish they could have been along. There it was right in front of us, fascism and what it's bound to lead to, wherever it crops up. I talked to some of the prisoners, the ones that had the strength to talk. Their offenses were the usual Nazi crimes, you know, wrong religion or wrong race, belonging to a union or the wrong political party.
In Germany, it led to over 400 camps like the ones I saw. It was the worst thing I ever saw in my life and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. [crowd all speaking at once] – [Man] When an army gets to moving in a hurry, that's where air transport comes in. We'd been flying in the stuff along with the British Transport Command since D-Day and towards the end, they seemed to be moving faster on the ground than we were in the air. ♪ ♪ – As pocket after pocket of the foe fell, our hopes rose higher than the soaring flames that marked the broken towns of Germany. In Italy, a million prisoners came in, as with a single sudden blow the German power was smashed.
Then our tanks drove through the southern mountains where the foe had hoped to make his furious final stand. The Russians took Berlin and cut the heart from Hitler's empire and he himself who planned to rule the earth from Pole to Pole vanished like smoke among the falling walls. Upon the green banks of the river Elbe, we waited for the east and west to meet. ♪ ♪ – [Man] We linked up with the Russkies at the Elbe river, I hung around for a couple of days with a tommy gunner named, uh, uh, Konny Karve? He didn't know any English so I taught him to say, "My achin' back" and he taught me, "Tovarishch," that means comrade. We drank toast to lend leasin', had a million laughs.
Then old Konny Karve found an interpreter and gives a toast to the great American soldier. That stopped me, we did all right but I don't like to think where we would have been without them. ♪ ♪ [explosions] – [Man] We were going towards the Danish frontier, Bremen fell then Hamburg. The rot was setting in. A million and a half surrendered in the north. The fighting was nearly over and our job was beginning.
We'd been training a long time for the administration of Germany and we were prepared for plenty of trouble. Sabotage, passive resistance, or perhaps something more violent, you know, werewolves in sheep's clothing. But as it turned out, most of them were docile and did what they were told.
They seemed healthy, well fed. Their disease was in their minds. A German woman looking at what was left of her town said to me, "If only you'd given up in 1940, none of this need have happened." ♪ ♪ [explosions] – [Man] At one minute after midnight, May the 9th, 1945, the guns stopped.
D plus 337. – [Man] Now it starts, all the arguments about who won the war. Well, here's what I say, that no country on earth could have won it alone. So what does that mean?
That anybody who wants to take a bow by himself is not only boasting but nuts. – [Man] I spent four years in the infantry and I saw my share and during that time, I only met three men that liked to fight. They were a little cracked but it had to be done. Now that it's over I feel good, except for one thing: all this talk about World War 3. These big pessimists that talk so easy about another war just didn't see this one, or enough of it. – [Man] We readed them bringing in some high-op prisoners. Quite ready to be friendly, some of them.
I was thinking of fellows I'd known who bought it. Crashed, shot down, missing right through from the Battle of Britain. I remember their faces or some joke they'd played or maybe just the way they'd laughed or something. There seemed to be such a lot of them I remembered. ♪ ♪ – [Man] "To the victor belongs the spoils," that's what they say. Well, what are the spoils?
Only this: a chance to build a free world, better than before. Maybe the last chance. Remember that. ♪ ♪ – Now the time has come to put our victory to the tests of peace.
In company with men of many lands to sift from ashes what the struggle taught. In the rebuilding of a broken earth, may we keep in our hearts this ancient prayer, "Oh lord God, may thou giveth to thy servants to endeavor any great matter, grant to us also to know, that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory." ♪ ♪