A documentary series on combat ships through the ages, from the 16th century to the present day.A documentary series on combat ships through the ages, from the 16th century to the present day.A documentary series on combat ships through the ages, from the 16th century to the present day.
Unfortunately the series is marred by the hype and conspiracy-mongering so standard in television historical documentaries. In the torpedo-boat episode, the producers trot out that tired staple of World War II naval or D-day documentaries, the great conspiracy to hide the E-boat attack on U.S. LSTs training off Slapton Sands, England on the night of 27-28 April 1944. We are once again told that this story was hidden for decades until intrepid truth-tellers could reveal it.
A glance at the U.S. Army official history, "Crossing the Channel," published in 1950, reveals" "One of the convoys of exercise TIGER was attacked by two German E-boat flotillas totaling nine boats. Losses were heavier than those suffered by Force U during the actual invasion" (p. 270). Some cover-up! Similarly, in 1957 Samuel Eliot Morison, in his semi-official history of the U.S. Navy in the war, devoted almost an entire page to a description of the E-boat attack on the LSTs and the losses suffered in "Invasion of France and Germany" (p. 66).
Before the series gets any further, I will note preemptively that much the same can be said of another favorite of the "Now it can be told!" set, the sinking of the transport LEOPOLDVILLE with troops of the U.S. 66th Infantry Division off Cherbourg on Christmas Eve 1944. Not only does Morison include the incident, but the New York Times described it as early as 14 June 1945.
It is unfortunate that for so many documentary-makers, real history is so dull that it has to be dressed up with hype like this. And it is a particular shame to see this in what otherwise appears to be a good series.
- Feb 13, 2018