Okinawa and the fighting in the thick Ardens (forest) are the two main areas of focus in this ninth episode of the History Channel's new series, "WWII In HD."
It was shocking to find out what a huge operation the assault on Okinawa was: over 1,500 ships and , 183,000 troops, making it a bigger force than what participated on D-Day. This invasion, to an island that was about 350 miles south of Japan, and was - I think narrator Gary Sinise said - the last airstrip leading to Japan. Thus, the Japanese (and Okinawans) had a huge force of their own to defend it: 100,000 men!
Yet, I found two sidebar stories of Okinawa to be the most compelling, of the ones told here in this one-hour episode. They both involved the natives of Okinawa, one in which the Japanese brutalized them and another in which an American force mistook them for Japanese and opened fire, killing and wounding hundreds of innocent people. Both stories are tough to hear and see.
The "Battle Of The Bulge" in frozen Germany was memorable, too, for something other than just the battles. It was the frozen temperatures and terrain. Soldiers literally froze to death and we are shown a man whose toes were all black from frostbite. Man, that is an ugly sight! Not only did we prevail in that push toward Berlin but it was done under extreme circumstances with under-clothed men who must have suffered greatly in the cold. I didn't know that it was Eisenhower's decision to turn our troops in another direction and let the Russians take Berlin, which - and the narrator seemed to agree with his inflections - might have been a mistake.
This episodes ends with the death of Franklin Roosevelt, the USA President who was revered by millions. He was the only President who served more than two terms and citizens were shocked beyond belief that suddenly he had died, although he had been very ill.
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