Following the lives of ten characters through their letters and diaries in the ten days before D-Day. The mini-series contains documentary interviews with the people on which the book, and this mini-series were based.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator
...
Richie Gibson ...
Cliff Morris
...
Jay Thomas ...
Glenn Dickin
Callum O'Neill ...
André Heinz
...
Canadian Comanding officer
Don Gallagher ...
James Stagg
Anthony Dawes ...
Adm. Ramsey
Paul Haley ...
Gen. Eishenhower
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paul Aubrey-Rees ...
AWOL American Private (in Public House)
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Following the lives of ten characters through their letters and diaries in the ten days before D-Day. The mini-series contains documentary interviews with the people on which the book, and this mini-series were based.

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War | Documentary | Drama

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2 June 2004 (USA)  »

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(2 parts)

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Fairly familiar but exciting story.
11 January 2005 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Based on letter written home by English, Canadian, American, and German soldiers, this is a mixture in roughly equal proportions of newsreel footage, reenactments, and shots of the sites of battle as they stand today.

It's good to see a docudrama about the Normany landings from the UK. So many of them have come from America, so that other countries seem like supporting players. At that, though, I must say that the handsome young German doesn't have much to say to his folks except that everything is going swimmingly.

Interesting, too, to see how the mistakes and the gratuities of fate are handled. Treatments in other sources range from the outright propagandistic (we did everything right, and they were stupid) to apparently objective analyses of what went on, with judgments left suspended. (The British series, "Battle Order", is about as good as it gets.) Propaganda is understandable in wartime. But now, sixty years after the fact, it seems like political spin to gloss over our own failures.

For instance, the amphibious rehearsals at Slapton, on the Channel, are mentioned and even described as "tragic" but we're not given any reasons. The fleet of Allied landing craft was intercepted at night by German E-boats and several were sunk. The men were wearing inflated life preservers shaped like inner tubes but had not been instructed in their proper use. Most of the men wore them like belts around their waists, rather than up under their arms. If you wear the preserver like a belt when you jump into the water, you will become an inverted pendulum, turned upside down and drowned. The disastrous raid on Dieppe is described in a bit more detail.

Well, not every incident can be covered in two hours, and there is some new material here. The new information isn't at the high-echelon level. We already know that Eisenhower and Churchill agonized over triggering the landings during uncertain weather. Instead, the new information is at a rather touching anecdotal level. A young French boy living in St. Mere Eglise visits his sister, a nurse at the local hospital. The hospital has just been damaged by Allied bombs. So he and his sister gather together blood-soaked sheets, take them out into the open, and form a sanguinary red cross on the pavement. At that moment an Allied reconnaissance plane flies over and, spotting the cross, rocks its wings in recognition. Three British soldiers are killed by shelling while investigating a church. The French villagers come and place flowers on the bodies. And the chaplain takes a snippet of the French tricolor used to hold one of the bouquets together and sends it to the dead soldiers family, along with a moving, yet dignified, letter of explanation and condolence.

It's very much worth seeing. Particularly as the reenacted events recede into the past and those who carry the memories with them disappear.


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