Produced by ITV for Tyne Tees and Border Television. This landmark three part documentary series explores and explains the greatest set-piece battles of the First World War - Gallipoli, the Somme and Ypres. Rare film and photographic archive, together with stunning location filming combine to bring these pivotal battles to the screen in a unique way. SOMME Here Comes The Kitchener's Army. The Battle of the Somme has a particular place in British social history. The opening day of the campaign on the 1st. July 1916 is remembered as the worst day in British military history. As the mainly untried recruits of Kitchener's New Army went over the top they were annihilated by the waiting Germans. There were more than 60,000 casualties, nearly 20,000 of them dead. It was a campaign that began in the sweltering heat of summer and ended four and a half months later, bogged down in a sea of mud. This programme details the opening phase of the battle and explains why so many young men volunteered. As the battle ground on through the summer the losses among the troops became critical. This was the result of Field Marshall Kitchener's policy of 'attrition', this literally meant throwing thousands of troops against the German lines in the hope that sheer numbers would effect a victory. This policy has been a matter of controversy ever since. Many of the surviving troops found it difficult to forgive Haig, as have many historians and researchers since. This programme charts the final stages of the battle as the British army slogged its way across the devastated ground. Only a few miles had been gained for the loss of untold thousands of lives. Ypres The Salient. The city of Ypres in northern Belgium was destined to become the most fearsome killing ground of the Great War. Known universally to the troops as the Salient (this to describe any feature which jutted out from the series of trench lines which ran 600 miles from the North Sea coast to the Swiss border). Soldiers who were posted here approached Ypres with a sense of dread. They knew the chances of their surviving were remote. This programme deals with the formation of the Salient in 1914 as the rapidly advancing German army swept all before it. They were faced by the regular soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force. Only 100,000 strong they were the world's finest soldiers. Created as a kind of superior police force, it had been their job to protect the Empire. Now, they faced a well trained and disciplined German force flushed with a string of victories. The subsequent bitter fighting around the city resulted in the British maintaining their foothold, one that they maintained for the rest of the war. The Battle of Messines was the first great allied victory of the war, a masterpiece of planning. Gallipoli The Last Crusade. This programme details the opening phase of the Gallipoli conflict. It was an audacious scheme, which, had it succeeded would have enabled the allies to capture Constantinople. This would have guaranteed control of the Bosphorous, which in turn guaranteed access to the Black Sea. This programme concludes with the disastrous naval engagement of 18th. March. One, which meant that from that time forward, the Gallipoli campaign would be a combined operation with the army committed to a landing on the peninsula. On the 25th.April 1915 allied soldiers were landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula. It was the first time that an amphibious landing had been attempted on this scale. Such an ambitious attack was fraught with danger, as the assaulting troops quickly discovered. The Australian and New Zealand troops landed at a place that has become a legend in the national consciousness of those two countries - ANZAC. Further south at Cape Helles the elite troops of the British 29th. regular division were put ashore with mixed results. At 'V' and 'W' beaches the Turks were waiting. The result was carnage. This programme goes on to detail that fateful day and the subsequent nine month campaign as the allies strove to maintain their tenuous hold on the peninsula. The final irony of the Gallipoli campaign came with the decision to evacuate nearly 100,000 troops. The irony being that after nine months of desperate fighting and 50,000 dead, the men were evacuated without loss.
Product Code: HI1032D
Run Time: 168 min approx
Format: Region 0 PAL
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