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D-Day To Berlin: The Struggle To Break Out

Airs Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Army troops wade ashore on "Omaha" Beach during the D-Day landings, June 6, 1944. They were brought to the beach by a Coast Guard manned LCVP.

This three-part series recounts the Allies' remarkable progress from the beaches of Normandy to their ultimate victory in Germany 11 months later.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Wounded men of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, receive cigarettes and food after they had stormed "Omaha" beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
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Above: Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Wounded men of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, receive cigarettes and food after they had stormed "Omaha" beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Coast Guard manned USS LST-21 unloads British Army tanks and trucks onto a "Rhino" barge during the early hours of the invasion, June 6, 1944. Note the nickname "Virgin" on the "Sherman" tank at left.
Enlarge this image

Above: Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Coast Guard manned USS LST-21 unloads British Army tanks and trucks onto a "Rhino" barge during the early hours of the invasion, June 6, 1944. Note the nickname "Virgin" on the "Sherman" tank at left.

Told through the powerful testimonies of those who took part, this is the story of the courage, grit and determination behind one of the greatest military campaigns, and one that changed the course of European life. Using archive and dramatic action to recreate famous battles, the powerful narrative pays homage to the bravery of all those who took part in the defining drama of World War II. A BBC/History Channel co-production.

"The Struggle To Break Out" - The battle for the beaches had been won, and the narrow sliver of French coastline gained on D-Day was slowly extending. But the optimism born of the successful D-Day landings quickly began to fade as the Allies confronted a skillful enemy who was determined to throw them back into the sea.

British troops became trapped in a terrible battle of attrition reminiscent of the grim battles of World War I. Sixty thousand men were killed or wounded in the first three weeks of the campaign. By the end of June a million men were caught in a grim struggle in the wheat fields and hedgerows of Normandy. Monty was obliged to crack down on a strange new sickness that appeared to be gripping his men – Tiger Fever – as they faced the Germans’ superior Tiger tanks.

It was not Allied ground forces that finally broke Hitler’s elite SS divisions in Normandy, but Allied air power. By the end of August 1944, Allied victory seemed assured. Rommel had been wounded and his replacement Field Marshal von Kluge had committed suicide. Hitler was directing the battle, and despite hysterical demands for self-sacrifice, the German army was in full retreat.

Episode Two - "Allies At War" will air at 9 p.m. on November 1. The the final episode, "The Dream That Died" will air on Tuesday, November 8 at 9 p.m.

Video

Video Excerpt: D-Day To Berlin: The Struggle To Break Out

Above: This clip is from the first episode of "D-Day To Berlin," a three-part series that recounts the Allies' remarkable progress from the beaches of Normandy to their ultimate victory in Germany 11 months later.