World War II: Lost Films (WWII in HD) (Blu-ray)
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Seventy years in the making. Three thousand hours of colour footage no one knew existed. The first documentary to show World War II from the perspective of both sides in full, immersive HD colour, the HISTORY™ series WWII in HD uses the diaries of soldiers who fought in the war’s biggest battles to create a personal, introspective and detailed look at life on and off the front lines. Though it was illegal for U.S. soldiers to carry diaries, many hid them away in their packs and recorded their experiences in detail.
Now, through the use of these diaries and other source documents, as well as HD colour and on-location shooting around the world, WWII in HD transforms their journey into a tangible piece of history. Culled from rare colour archival footage from an exhaustive worldwide search and converted to HD with meticulous technique, WWII in HD provides a picture of World War II as it has never been seen before.
Episode 1: Darkness Falls
By 1940 Europe has erupted into war, while America does its best to stay out of it. But after Pearl Harbour, America finds itself thrust into a two-front war it is ill-prepared to fight. Darkness Falls Austrian immigrant Jack Werner flees the Nazis and comes to America, where he enlists in the Army so he can join the fight against Hitler. Other young men, like farmhand Archie Sweeney, are pulled in by the draft. Gung-ho combat reporter Richard Tregaskis lands with the Marines on the jungle island of Guadalcanal. College senior Charles Scheffel hastily gets married before deploying to North Africa.
Episode 2: Hard Way Back
America has joined England in the fight against the Axis, but is undecided as to how to proceed. Rookie platoon leader Charles Scheffel suffers his first losses as he battles Rommel’s Afrika Korps in Tunisia. Also in Tunisia, wise-cracking nurse June Wandrey gets her first taste of the war’s horrors. Farmhand Archie Sweeney is shot dead while on patrol. Meanwhile Sergeant Jack Werner experiences his first taste of active combat against the Japanese in a bitter battle to retake the Aleutian Islands.
Episode 3: Bloody Resolve
By late 1943 America’s industrial might is starting to gear up. But when combat journalist Robert Sherrod lands on Tarawa, the machines the Marines were counting on fail them, turning Tarawa into one of the bloodiest Pacific battles yet waged. Marine Nolen Marbrey joins MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign in the South Pacific, but his patrol is lost behind enemy lines on New Britain. Meanwhile reporter Richard Tregaskis leaves the Pacific for the front lines of Italy’s bitter slugfest, where he is hit by enemy mortar.
Episode 4 - Battle Stations
As 1944 opens, the Allies are feverishly planning for the invasion of France. Starry-eyed pilot Bert Stiles joins the decimated 8th Air Force as they try to clear the skies over Normandy. In the Pacific, battle-hungry Jack Werner is frustrated during the Americans’ attempts to seize the valuable airfields of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. Charles Scheffel is in England, preparing for the D-Day invasion. Finally, D-Day arrives.
Episode 5: Day of Days
America is on the offensive, but hopes for a speedy victory are premature. Lt. Charles Scheffel is hit on his way into the Normandy beaches and must recover in an English hospital. In the Pacific, reporter Robert Sherrod accompanies the massive invasion of the heavily defended island of Saipan, where Japanese civilians become part of the war’s tragic equation. Naïve Navy enlistee Jack Yusen survives a rather unusual first action in the Atlantic before being reassigned to the more ominous Pacific Theater. And when Lt. Charles Scheffel finally rejoins his unit in France, they are bogged down in Normandy’s hedgerows.
Episode 6: Point of No Return
Lieutenant Charles Scheffel’s unit breaks out of the hedgerows and begins speeding across France. When he is ordered to seize a town on the border of Germany, he is injured so badly he earns a ticket home. Meanwhile B-17 pilot Bert Stiles has had enough nerve-wracking flying experiences and is on mental rest leave at an English estate – but then his request to switch over to P-51s comes through, and he returns to base ready to become a fighter. In the Pacific, Marine Nolen Marbrey is wounded in the bloody battle of Peleliu.
Episode 7: Striking Distance
By the fall of 1944 America is ready to liberate the Philippine Islands and the POWs who have been stranded there since 1942. Sergeant Jack Werner is among the men who storms the beaches of Leyte, one of the main Philippine Islands. Meanwhile, Seaman Jack Yusen fights and is sunk in the naval battle off Samar. Tuskegee airman Shelby Westbrook is accompanying bombers on runs over German oil fields, when he is shot down in Yugoslavia. He is rescued by Tito’s partisans and must find a way home. Japanese American 442nd medic Jimmie Kanaya is fighting in France when he is captured by Germans in the Vosges Mountains.
Episode 8: Glory and Guts
Reporter Robert Sherrod accompanies the Marines on their assault of Iwo Jima and witnesses the horror of the fight as well as the iconic flag raising. 8th Air Force pilot Bert Stiles finally get his opportunity to fly the P-51 fighters he’s been dreaming about. On his 6th mission he chases a German fighter too closely, crashes into the ground and is killed. Meanwhile, downed Tuskegee pilot Shelby Westbrook is helped back to the Allied lines by Tito’s partisans. Rookie infantryman Rockie Blunt arrives in Normandy as a replacement, only to find himself in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge.
Episode 9: Edge of the Abyss
In the Pacific, reporter Robert Sherrod witnesses the first days of the battle for Okinawa. When told he can rotate home, he gladly accepts, realising that to stay any longer may be his death. After surviving the Battle of the Bulge, infantryman Rockie Blunt pushes on and crosses the Rhine, he can almost smell the end of the war. Nurse June Wandrey visits with American POWs who were liberated along the way while Japanese-American Army medic Jimmie Kanaya is liberated from his POW camp in Nuremburg.
Episode 10: End Game
It is the final push in Europe, but before the Nazis surrender, infantryman Rockie Blunt witnesses one of the greatest tragedies of the war – concentration camps. Nurse June Wandrey is also there, caring for the survivors. In the Pacific, the brutal battle on Okinawa continues. Sergeant Jack Werner is wounded in action and earns a ticket home, while Corporal Nolen Marbrey participates in some of the most horrific fighting. After the dropping of the atomic bombs, Japan finally surrenders, and the world explodes into celebration on VJ Day.