Battle of Normandy, The: 85 Days in Hell (2019)

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Battle of Normandy, The: 85 Days in Hell (2019)

Post by bunniefuu »

It was the
turning point of world w*r ii...

Three million soldiers,

Hundreds of thousands
of ships, planes, and tanks,

A logistical complexity

In a military operation.

This was the battle of normandy.

More than 75 years
since the end of the w*r,

Certain details
of this tremendous battle

Have gone untold.

Very few people
could tell you what happens

In june and july and august

And how the battle
for normandy actually ended.

Now unpublished archives,

20 Years of research,

Experts from the united states,
the uk, and canada

Bring to life
the boots-on-the-ground reality

Of normandy's 85 days of hell.

Liberation has come
to normandy, but so has w*r.

Three months
of savage combat...

If we can destroy
the german army in normandy,

Then the rest of france
will be saved.

...during which
the allies and the germans

Will fight mercilessly.

It's a b*ttlefield
where they live and they die

And where they fight and where they k*ll.

From the average soldier's
point of view,

This just seems to be a hopeless situation.

It was a very dirty battle,
a schmutziger buschkrieg,

A dirty bush w*r.

Everyone paid
a heck of a price for this.

D-day was
just the beginning.

June 6th, 1944, early morning.

Thousands of ships embark from england,

Headed to the french coast
of normandy.

Two years in the making,
it's an allied operation

To take back france from the germans.

They call it overlord.

Rarely in history
will you find a time

Where these major powers
are all mobilized

Almost to the full extent
of their strength

To have this confrontation

Over what is to happen
with the normandy invasion.

Allied soldiers
will face a territory

That the germans
have occupied for four years.

Caen, cherbourg, saint-loô...

All the great cities of
normandyare under n*zi control.

The landing zone chosen
is 80 kilometers long.

Placed under the command
of u.s. General eisenhower,

The troops will land on five sectors.

Utah and omaha beaches

Will be taken by the americans;

Gold, juno, and sword beaches

By the british and canadians.

Around 6:30 a.m.,

The first waves of allied
soldiers land on french soil.

During the first hours
of the landing,

The allies suffer heavy losses

From the entrenched german defenses.

But soldiers and armored
vehicles continue to land,

Putting pressure on the enemy.

The vital part
of any seaborne invasion

Like operation overlord
was to get ground rapidly

Because only then could you
start to push back the enemy

So that they could not
keep firing at the beaches.

After just one day,

Thousands of allied soldiers
have already been k*lled,

But the wide scope of the landing

Has been fatal to the germans.

The first phase of operation
overlord is completed.

Scattered throughout the landing zones,

The allies must now regroup the
different units on the ground.

You've got to link up
those five beaches

As quickly as you can.

If they're not linked up,

Then the germans can fill the gaps

And can begin attacking the allies

From any direction they want,

From what military people
call the flanks.

Eisenhower and his generals

Needed to create a buffer zone

To protect against
the german counterattack

That would come,

And, in fact,
they prepared for that.

The plan
for sealing off normandy

Was called transportation,

And this meant bombing
all of the bridges

Over the river seine to the east

And over the river loire
to the south

So that the whole of the norman
area was completely cut off.

But also it meant smashing
houses and towns and villages

At crucial crossroads and
placesto prevent the germans

Bringing up
reinforcements and supplies.

The american phrase, which had
been invented in italy,

Was called putting the city
in the street,

Which basically meant
simply blocking the roads

So that traffic could not get through.

Even before
the fighting starts inland,

is partially destroyed...

No water, no electricity,
no phone lines.

And now, after taking
the five landing beaches,

The allies must advance,
whatever the cost,

To push the germans back

And occupy enemy territory.

The first objective of general montgomery,

Commander of the british
and canadian forces,

Is to seize the city of caen,

Located nearly 20 kilometers
from sword and juno beaches.

On day 2,
montgomery is convinced

That he will succeed
in rapidly capturing caen.

But facing him
is general erwin rommel,

Known for his feats in africa
and nicknamed "the desert fox."

Rommel mobilizes his most
powerful armored divisions

To meet the british-canadian
forces advancing towards caen

And block montgomery's
allied offensive.

The first days of fighting
north of caen are devastating.

The perfectly organized
german defenses

Invariably repel all english
and canadian attempts.

Facing the german mark iv,
mark v, and tiger tanks,

The american sherman tanks
used by the allies

Are just not up to the mark.

What we have to remember is

Every american sherman t*nk

Has to be shipped to the b*ttlefield,

So it means you have to
produce something

That's reasonably light enough
to be able to ship

And small enough that you can
get it on the ship.

It's a reasonably good t*nk,

But you don't want to be
in a toe-to-toe battle

With a german t*nk head-on.

33 Tons for the sherman.

More than 43 tons for the german tanks.

More robust, with armor
superiorto the americans',

They delivered
devastating cannon power.

The muzzle velocity
of those tanks

Meant that if it hit you,

That shell was going to
penetrate your armor probably,

You know, especially along the sides,

And either go
straight through or worse,

Rattle around inside and explode.

While the british
and the canadians

Are defeated on the east flank,

The americans start
advancing on the other side.

General bradley commands the troops.

Their first objective is
17 kilometers from the coast...

The small town of carentan

And its network of roads and railways.

Carentan is really the key

To seal off the cotentin peninsula

And then capture cherbourg,

Which is, you know, the greatest
harbor in normandy.

But also in tandem with that,

You're gonna start moving southward

Towards the town of saint-loô.

The 101st
american airborne division

Surrounds carentan on june 9th, 1944.

The fighting, ruthless and savage,

Would last four days and four nights.

On june 12th, carentan
falls into american hands...

...with heavy losses
on both sides.

But the allies
have achieved their goal.

Six days after the landings,

All the coalition forces
are finally linked up.

The troops occupy a beachhead
80 kilometers long,

Reaching at certain points
10 to 30 kilometers deep,

While on the west side,
the americans advance

Towards cherbourg
and saint-loô,

On the east side,

The british and canadians
still clash with the germans,

Who maintain their positions
around caen.

These repeated defeats
put montgomery

In a difficult position
with the u.s. Command.

He's desperate to win
a first irrefutable victory

On the b*ttlefield.

On june 12th, he attempts
an encirclement maneuver

By skirting caen from the west
to trap the german divisions.

The 7th british armored division

Is sent to the small town
of villers-bocage.

But the germans anticipate the move

And ambush the british
with a tiger t*nk battalion

Commanded by michael wittmann,

The most impressive t*nk
commander of world w*r ii.

One by one, the british tanks
are destroyed.

The failure
to capture villers-bocage

By the 7th armored division
and xxx corps

Did impact badly on morale.

They just realized that it was
going to be a far tougher job

Than they had thought about
or imagined when they set sail.

In these conditions,
taking the port of cherbourg

Becomes an absolute priority
for the allies.

After capturing carentan,
the americans take ten days

To travel 50 kilometers
and reach cherbourg.

The 4th, 9th, and 79th
u.s. Divisions

Finally reach the city
on june 21st.

They launch the attack
the following day.

Three u.s. Divisions
are all just advancing

North toward cherbourg

And trying to get into the town
as quickly as they can.

The city is defended
by 30,000 troops

Trapped by the allies.

They're doomed
because the allied navy

From the seaward side can pound them,

And then the american army
coming from the landward side

Can kinda just catch them in a vise.

So, the whole thing kind of just devolves

Into this sort of block by block fight.

It will take a few days

Before the american soldiers

Drive out all pockets
of resistance in the city.

On june 26th, the germans surrender.

Thousands of soldiers are taken prisoner.

After four long years of occupation,

Cherbourg finally
tastes freedom once again.

Cherbourg is certainly
the biggest city

At that point that is liberated.

There is this larger german surrender,

And the allies then have it.

As an average soldier,

That still wasn't
necessarily your typical day,

So those who were there,
say, at cherbourg,

Tended to remember that.

Despitethis first
victory in cherbourg,

The casualties after three weeks
of fighting are staggering.

Thousands of soldiers have
already been k*lled or wounded.

On the b*ttlefield, the medical teams

Try to intervene
as quickly as possible.

They transport blood,

Set up field hospitals.

A complex organization
is established

To follow the troops as they advance.

In spite of the losses,
the allies keep moving forward

Day after day after day.

After the americanstake
cherbourg, they head south.

The next allied target is

Less than 90 kilometers away...

The city of saint-loô.

But the american soldiers face

One of the most dangerousregions
for infantry and tanks...

The normandy bocage.

The bocage is made up of cultivated fields

Separated by ditches and embankments,

Canopied by hedgerows several meters high.

It's basically
a maze of these hedgerows,

Most of which are about 8 feet
to 13 feet high,

That thick norman soil,
clay-like soil,

Packed around fences and stone

That certainly individual
soldiers can't get through,

So the hedgerow opening
becomes a k*ll zone.

The germans had four
years to prepare their defense.

Heavy machine g*ns were positioned

In the corners of each field.

Mortars target every spot
the allies might cross,

And mines hide in their pathways.

With a visibility of no more
than a couple of meters,

The americans advance blindly.

Up against the germans,

Dozens of allied soldiersdie
taking back a mere meadow...

...or a single hedge.

The u.s. Army
finds itself in normandy

In the middle of a bloodbath,
absolute bloodbath.

Day by day, hedgerow by hedgerow,

Choke point town by choke point town,

Every one of them where you fight,

You're going to suffer casualties.

From the average soldier's
point of view,

This just seems to be a hopeless situation.

You just know that this seems to be

Kind of the road to nowhere
in normandy.

As the americans
try to navigate

The normandy hedgerows,

The british and canadians

Are still attempting

To break the german stronghold

Around the city of caen.

The british general montgomerydecides
to change his offensive.

He launches operation charnwood.

On july 7th, 467 allied planes

Drop more than 2,500 tons of bombs

On enemy-occupied areas
around caen.

After having been
heavily bombed on june 6th,

The city of caen is decimated.

On july 9th, the british
and canadian soldiers

Finally enter the city
from the north.

As the canadians
and british fought into caen,

Through the rubble,
they saw french civilians

Who had survived the bombing

But whose family members
had been k*lled.

They talked about hearing
the screams

Of the french civilians
who were trapped.

But for the allied command,

The annihilation of caen

And the thousands of civilians k*lled

Under the american and british bombs

Was a necessary evil...

The price to pay in winning the battle.

It's always hard
talking about ends and means

And what justifies what
in warfare.

A moral decision would be
that the k*lling of civilians

Is, almost by definition,
a w*r crime.

But you're not going to be able
to avoid it in reality.

The priority was
we've got to defeat the germans

Because, in a way, we accept
that normandy is going to be

Really the sacrificial lamb
for the whole of france.

If we can destroy
the german army in normandy,

Then the rest of france
will be saved.

While the british
and canadian troops

Gradually liberate the city of caen,

The americans continue to struggle

Against a strong german resistance

On their way to saint-loô.

Thousands of allied soldiers
are trapped

In the normandy bocage.

The incessant rain and mud
slow their progress even more.

To escape this fatal labyrinth,
they try an ingenious strategy.

We've got to create
a new opening

Through the hedgerows,
because the main one,

The germans have covered,

And they're going to k*ll everybody

Who moves through there.

So, they begin to weld,
ironically enough,

The remnants
of german beach obstacles,

The metal, onto the front
of tanks with prongs...

...and begin to use
the tanks then

To punch a new opening
through the hedgerow.

With these
so-called rhino tanks,

The allies take the germans
by surprise.

But for every hedge crossed,

They remain at the mercy
of the enemy soldiers.

As the germans have
in the ditches,

Beyond the hedgerow,
a lot of panzerfaust gunners.

It's a one-time, one-shot
kind of anti-t*nk w*apon

That can blow up your t*nk,

So the infantrymen have to move
very close to the t*nk

And basically what
the military calls "clean out"

The germans in the ditches.

That basically means k*ll them.

And very close,
face-to-face quite often.

And then the tankers will lay down

What's called
white phosphorous fire,

And white phosphorus is a terrible w*apon.

It's basically a chemical
that will just burn through you

As long as it has oxygen.

It was a very dirty battle.

I mean, the germans themselves
described it

As a schmutziger buschkrieg,
a dirty bush w*r.

And general collins, who'd been
fighting in the far east,

Said this was worse than the jungle.

On july 18th,

After three weeks of relentless fighting

Since the capturing of cherbourg,

The allied soldiers finally
enter the city of saint-loô.

But upon arrival, not much remains.

The soldiers have to advance
extremely slowly

As the germans have mined
the entire city.

A few civilians emerge
from their shelters

To search the rubble for
objectsthat might have survived

The onslaught of allied bombs.

After cherbourg, saint-loô
is the second great victory

For the allied command.

But the state of the city,

Which is later nicknamed
"capital of the ruins,"

Exemplifies the high price
of liberating normandy.

After a month and a half
of fighting,

The troops' morale
is at an all-time low.

Every foot gained against the germans

Comes at the costof
intense and merciless combat.

There's the stress
of not knowing

When the next german shell
is going to come in

And whether it's going to hit
near you or not.

They see
a very limited b*ttlefield.

It's a b*ttlefield
where they live and they die

And where they fight and where they k*ll.

For the soldiers,
the warm welcome of the locals

Reminds them why they came here
to risk their lives.

A little alcohol, cigarettes,

Simple gifts
that lift the men's spirits

Before the next advancement,

The next mortar fire,

The next dead.

Over time, many of them
realize that the only way out

Was to be k*lled or wounded,

Even as reinforcements
came behind them.

Their world became very small.

Battle stress became a tremendous problem

In the fighting in normandy,
and in july and in august,

As the strain continued,

Between about 20 and 30 percent
of the casualties

Were combat stress.

To compensate
for losses,

Reinforcements land daily
on the normandy beaches

And are immediately
sent to the front line.

After a month and a half
of intense fighting,

The main cities of normandy

Have been taken from the hands
of the germans,

But the battle is far from over.

To pierce the german defenses

And accelerate the troops' movement,

The allied command
launches operation cobra.

Cobra is conceived
around the idea of, gosh,

We have all these great bombers,

All this airpower we've been
using to pummel german cities.

What if we carpet-bombed

A part of the german lines
in these hedgerows

To punch a hole
and have an opening now

For our armor
and all of our other troops

To get through here very quickly?

It makes a great deal of sense on paper.

It's in the implementation

That it creates some serious problems.

Why? Because the bombers
are not that accurate.

You're asking them to do something

They're not really capable of doing,

Which is to b*mb close,

Within about 1,000 to 2,000 meters

Of their own ground troops.

They're lucky to hit a target
within three miles or so.

For two days,
thousands of bombs

Hit the front line
southeast of saint-loô.

Over the course of two days,

July 24th and 25th, 1944,

The heavy bombers come over from england

And they b*mb in front
of the u.s. as*ault division.

They b*mb short, and they k*ll
several hundred americans.

This is, I believe, the
greatestfriendly fire incident

In the history of the united states.

But also the good news is
it does tremendous damage,

Of course,
to the panzer lehr division,

The germans who were
on the wrong side of this,

And so cobra does
what it's designed for.

The panzer lehr

Other german divisions,

Were so badly thrown by the heavy bombing

That they were
in a completely dazed state

When the americans got to them.

Within two days, the real
breakthrough had been achieved.

In just a few days,

Thousands of germans are taken prisoner.

The reich forces have suffered
one of their heaviest defeats

Since the beginning of the w*r.

Despite the collateral damage,

The military success of operation cobra

Brings the battle of normandy
into a new phase.

On july 28th,

The town of coutances
is captured by the allies.

The same day,
a new commander arrives...

General patton.

Famous for his feats
in north africa and sicily,

Patton has just taken command
of the third u.s. Army.

His mission... Make a breakthroughto
the south of normandy.

The germans feared patton

More than any other allied general.

Patton's new job, which he was
extremely excited about,

Was the prospect of taking
over, having his own army,

Once the breakout came from normandy.

In just four days,

Patton's troops will retake the cities

Between coutances and avranches

And advance more than
50 kilometers to the south

At a pace not yet seen
in this battle.

As they progress,

Thousands of german soldiers
are taken c*ptive.

This really took the americans

All the way through, down past avranches,

And out of normandy,
even into northern brittany.

It was a spectacular smashing
ofthe german armies in normandy.

This was definitely
the start of taking the fight

Right the way through into france.

On july 31st,
patton and his troops

Reclaim the pontaubault bridge
that crosses the seélune river.

They gain direct access to the
west of france and to brittany.

The following day,

The americans arrive
at mont-saint-michel,

Completely abandoned by the enemy.

Patton's breakthrough is a serious setback

For the german army.

The germans are
in an existential situation

In normandy.

And the logical thing to do

Would be to simply retreat eastward

And get out of there
and fight somewhere else,

But we're not talking about logic

When we're talking about
someone like adolf hitler.

Instead of ordering
his troops to retreat,

Hitler decides
to counter-attack.

His plan... Send his tanks
to the town of mortain,

Close to where several
american units have joined up.

The goal is to create a breach
in the allied configuration

Meant to reach avranches

By cutting
the american army in two

And regaining control of the area.

Reluctantly, the german
generals on the ground

Prepare the counteroffensive.

They had
these firm orders from hitler,

Even though most of the commanders

Of the german panzer units

Were dubiousabout this
particular operation.

But they had no option, but they
had to go ahead and attack.

On august 7th, 1944,

The germans launch
a counterattack in mortain,

Code name... Operation luüttich.

Columns of panzers attack
the 30th u.s. Infantry division

With full force.

The gis resist
the powerful german tanks

And manage to slow
the n*zi troops' progress,

Giving time
for reinforcements to arrive.

Within a few days, the massive
influx of allied forces

Pushes back
the german counteroffensive.

Hitler's operation luüttich
is a total failure.

The germans suffer
at least 50 percent casualties,

Particularly along the roads
that kind of envelop

On either side of mortain.

It's really a disaster
for the germans.

By mid-august,
the german forces are defeated.

On august 15th, 1944,
hitler throws in the towel

And orders his troops to flee normandy.

Arriving from the west,

The americans advance

At full speed towards argentan

To join forces
with the british and canadians.

Village after village,
one by one,

They occupy enemy positions.

They annihilate the areas
of german resistance.

The small village of raânes,

Tirelessly held by the wehrmacht
and an ss unit,

Is reduced to rubble.

Dozens of civilians are k*lled.

But now is the time to expel

Every last standing
german soldier in normandy.

Bradley and montgomery

the allied troops' movement.

In the west, the americans

Advance towards the seine.

In the north,

The british and canadians

Increase their pressure

On falaise.

In the south,

The french armored division

Of general leclerc,

Along with the americans,
head back up to argentan.

Between the cities
of falaise and chambois,

A pocket starts to form,

Trapping nearly 100,000
german soldiers.

If the allies manage to close
the gap on the east side,

They will cut off any chance for escape.

Bradley boasted
to visitors to headquarters,

"Never does a general get
an opportunity like we have now

To close this gapand
basically to seal them off."

The battle of normandy
had been fought

Over hundreds of square miles,

But it seemed to funnel
at the falaise gap.

And this enormous b*ttlefield
of hundreds of miles

Gets focused down
to a very small deadly place.

To weaken
the enemy's final defenses,

The allied air forces
hammer the german positions.

On the ground,
the fighting is unprecedented.

The canadians take falaise

On august 17th,

Trun, the 18th.

Little by little, the vise

Tightens on the germans.

They have a corridor of no more

Than seven kilometers wide

To flee to the east.

The m*ssacre inside
thepocket at falaise was horrific.

The fighter bombers kept on coming in.

All of the german transport horses,

Dragging field hospitals
or g*ns or whatever,

Were just simply machine-gunned
in their traces.

The smell, the stench of
corpsesfor weeks afterwards

Was simply appalling.

It was a turkey sh**t, as the
americans would have called it.

On august 21st,

The falaise pocket is closed
once and for all in chambois.

Tens of thousands of germans
are taken prisoner,

And thousands lay dead.

The battle will later be known
as the stalingrad of normandy.

You have thousands
of dead bodies,

Animals and humans, that are in that area.

Eisenhower will later walk it famously

And say it was possible to walk

From one side of a field
to another

Without ever stepping
on anything but dead flesh.

I think that is something
to try to imagine today,

That falaise gap filled with corpses

And wounded, screaming men.

And that was the price of victory.

In the city of argentan,

Liberated the day before
bythe 80th u.s. Infantry division,

Cameras immortalize the meeting

Between the soldiers and the city's mayor.

In the middle of the rubble,

Some civilians finally dare
to emerge from their shelters.

The falaise-chambois battle
will be the last one

In these three months
of fighting in normandy.

On the allied side, 220,000soldiers
were k*lled or wounded,

And 20,000 civilians were k*lled.

On the german side, the reich
army lost more than 200,000 men

And another 200,000 were taken prisoner.

On average, a battalion and a half

Were being ground down
or destroyed

Roughly every single week.

In many cases,

A division would last no longer
than, say, two weeks.

Well, this gives one an idea of
how much normandy contributed,

I think, to the overall
allied victory,

Just purely in the case
of the destruction

Of german formations.

By the end of august,

Hordes of soldiers and vehicles
land at cherbourg

And head east to eradicate
the rest of the n*zi army.

Everybody knows aboutthe
landings on the 6th of june.

Very few people could tell you

What happens in june and july and august

And how the battle
for normandy actually ended.

And I think to this day,

We are still dealing
with those battles, that w*r,

Trying to come to grips with
it, trying to make sense of it,

Trying to understand the ruins
of normandy 75 years ago.

As few as 50 cameramen

Tirelessly shot each day
of this historic battle.

They left behind hundreds
of hours of footage,

Some of which only surfaced
decades later.

For future generations,

These images will remain
the final witnesses

Of normandy's 85 days of hell.
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