Skip to main content

tv   Reel America Why We Fight The Battle of Britain - 1943  CSPAN  September 1, 2018 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

7:00 pm
george washington and out in hamilton -- alexander hamilton and a look at the historical accuracy of "hamilton: the musical." >> by the summer of 1940, nazi germany had conquered most of western europe, and hitler was making plans to invade england. next on "reel america," from 1943, "the battle of britain," the why we fight series. it is a 53-minute u.s. war department film which was shown to war department members and in theaters. it details august and the end of december 1940. hollywood director frank capra, a team of veterans, and army signal corps technicians show
7:01 pm
how the british defeated hitler's air force at a cost of more than 40,000 civilians and vast destruction on the ground.
7:02 pm
>> after conquering much of western europe, but self-styled the self-styled the master race was riding high. ♪
7:03 pm
now, adolf hitler stood, just as napoleon had stood more than 100 years before, and look across the english channel to the one obstacle that stood between him and world domination. the shorsharp cliffs of britain rose, sheer and white in the choppy waters. beyond, a little island, smaller than the state of wyoming. that island seemed open for world conquest. the fall of austria, czechoslovakia, poland, denmark, norway, holland, belgium, france, had given him more than 100 million slaves to work for him or starve. the preliminaries were over. it was time for the main events. the battle of britain. ♪
7:04 pm
hitler and his generals drafted feverishly drafted their plans for the conquest of britain. a slip could wreck the whole timetable of world conquest. six weeks of final preparation went into those plans. six weeks to determine the history of 1000 years. the theme was fool-proof. see for yourself how simple it was to be. the german planned for an invasion of england. phase one -- knock out the royal air force and get control of the air.
7:05 pm
followed the plan that had wiped out poland and france. destroy communication and transport lines. above all, get command of the air. two -- pulverize the coastline with dive bombers. drop parachute troops to take over the airfields and establish beachheads. phase three -- actual invasion. pour the german divisions across in high-speed barges under an umbrella of protecting fighter planes. then, send spearheads of armed might to divide, surround, and destroy all opposition. that is all there was to it. conquer britain.
7:06 pm
force the surrender of the british. then, with the combined power of germany, britain, italy, france, and japan, he could control the seas and tell us where to head in. the torch of freedom flickered low. on the channel invasion coast, more than 100 fully equipped german divisions were singing the nazi theme song, sailing against england, as they waited the word from hitler. here, for weeks, all of the supplies and weapons of the nazi war machine had been turned toward britain. ♪
7:07 pm
the jaws of the nazi whale were set to swallow jonah. and what about jonah? how was he doing? well, britain also had an army, but it was dragged from the sea of dunkirk. [dramatic music] an army without weapons. these had the left behind on the roads of france. guns, tanks, motorized equipment, all abandoned to save the one priceless item -- men. ♪ in all of britain, there was not enough equipment for one modern division.
7:08 pm
only one tank for every thousand square miles of territory. only one machine gun for every 1500 yards of the beach. britain had a navy, too, but it was scattered all over the globe, guarding vital food and supply lines. the british knew it would be suicide to use their fleet in the narrow waters of the english channel with the german air force in control of the air. britain also had an air force, an air force outnumbered 10-1 by the enemy, both in men and machine. and then there was britain herself. the people of britain. the people who were to be terrorized and forced to surrender. they knew every man, woman, and child would be hitler's target in the onslaught that could come
7:09 pm
at any moment. they knew they had a job to do and not much time to do it. in. the young, the not so young, and the old. the clerk, the butcher, the farmer, the members of parliament, they formed a civilian army, britain's home guard. they started from scratch. ♪ experience, equipment, supplies, all were scarce. only one shallow fire at each practice. the women of britain refused to be left out. >> we are in this, too. we will put up the barrage balloons. man the guns.
7:10 pm
we will run the railroads and get the trains through on time. ferry the planes. carry the dispatchers. drive the ambulances and run the buses. and we well see that our men are fed and do not go hungry. ♪ >> others worked. men and women alike. they worked full-time, overtime, doubletime, 40 hours a week, 50, 60, 70. hours meant nothing. fatigue meant nothing.
7:11 pm
until the government forced them to cut down hours because over fatigue was hurting production. ♪ and when they were not working, the men patrolled the moors from for parachuters and blocked the roads. they look for invasion defenses. for something had happened here that the germans could never understand -- in a democracy, it is not the government that makes war, it is the people. to lead them, the people had
7:12 pm
chosen winston churchill as their prime minister. and he spoke the words in every british heart when he said, we -- "we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in the streets, and on the hills. we shall never surrender." ♪ >> this was britain and its darkest hour. the people knew they were in for the worst the nazi mind could invent, yet they did not panic or run away. they patrolled and waited. they drilled and waited. they worked and waited. waited for the terror they knew was coming. then, it came. [sirens] that is the sound that became part of the life of every man,
7:13 pm
woman, and child in britain. [sirens] [baby crying] august 5, 1940, the battle for britain is on. ♪ >> in the air tunnels. flying due west. here comes the luftwaffe. in dozens of flights, hundreds of planes, bombers, dive bombers. across 21 miles of channel. that eight short minutes of water. their first tactics were to bomb convoys on the channel, convoys loaded with food and ammunition. ofound for the great port london.
7:14 pm
german fighters waited overhead for the defending planes of the royal air force, the raf, to appear. they did not have long to wait. [bell ringing] [plane engine noise]
7:15 pm
the raf came, facing odds of 6, 8, 10-1, and dove in, shouting the old hunting cry "tally ho." [plane engine noise]
7:16 pm
phase one of the nazi plan calls for the men of the raf to be knocked out of the air. the men of raf did not read the nazi plan. in the first four days, the raf knocked 182 german planes out of the sky. for the next several days, the .ermans attacked they flew over the thames river. [explosions]
7:17 pm
>> take cover! [plane engines] noise] id off with 180pa more planes.
7:18 pm
the luftwaffe went to stamp that southhampton, trying for a knockout before supplies overseas ran out. they cannot be knocked out. cargoes were unloaded for the protection of the raf overhead. spitfires and hurricanes in the air was not panning out. so he switched his main attacks the fighter airfield, dover. maybe he could destroy the planes on the ground. he bombed the airfields and the fields were hit. but the planes were saved. for britain, unlike poland, did countries, did not make the mistake of bunching the its planes on the runways. the planes of the raf were scattered and hidden, only a few on one field. and those in the far corners. the spitfires still went up to meet the enemy. in the first 10 days of the battle of britain, he launched major attacks to get on the air
7:19 pm
and lost 697 aircrafts. the british lost 153. 60 british pilots bailed out. ♪ valuable tradesmen were saved and ready to fight again.
7:20 pm
the crews of göring's planes were lost forever. ♪ the pace was too hot. something was going haywire. they had to call a timeout. on the 2000-mile front from norway to france, the whole nazi blitz program was being stalled because the raf was still in the , air. the troops were getting horse hoarse from singing "we are sailing against england." ♪ the long-range german guns were getting hot from bearing shells across the channel. [explosions] in public, hitler assured the germans that mr. churchill tells his people england will win, "but i tell you victory belongs to germany." [cheering]
7:21 pm
but in private, he put the head of the luftwaffe on the hot seat. göring was ordered to do something -- and do it quick. he ordered attacks on in land air drums and industrial centers. maybe he could knock out the raf on the assembly lines. he adopted the tactics, too. more fighters and fewer bombers. or maybe he had fewer bombers to send. those he did send were perfected fighters at high altitudes, fighters on both sides, fighters in the front and in the rear, fighters weaving in and out of the bomber formation. >> britain, winner of the first round, was ready. with higher morale and sharper defense. improved listening posts were set up along the coast and warned of the enemy's approach before he left the continent.
7:22 pm
a quick flash from a station. pilots were on their way to meet the enemy while he was still over the channel. day after day, out of sight and almost out of sound of the watchers on the cliffs, four, five, and six miles above, the battles raged over the dover area. the dover area became known as hell's corner. numbers, the of enemy again and again broke through defenses. [bombing] ♪ they reached inland to the air drops, aircraft plants, munition factories and machine shops. >> gunfire in the southeast,
7:23 pm
ride. ♪ [whistle blowing] ♪ >> but the workers kept working. and the raf kept flying. these two men with wings alone in the sky, behind them, motors and machine guns were shooting down more than the luftwaffe.
7:24 pm
they were smashing the whole nazi plan of the world conquest. >> how many, johnny? >> 109 destroyed, charlie. >> good show. >> i had a wonderful party, thanks. >> are you all right? put on a goo>> yes. >> between august 24 and september 5, 25 major attacks were launched. the cost of germans, 560 planes. the british lost only 219 and saved 132 pilots. invasion plans were going
7:25 pm
completely haywire. nazis were blind with rage. the german mind has never understood why free people fight on against overwhelming odds. hitler now knew he was superior in every weapon except the weapon of spirit. he told göring, to break that spirit and crush the people. crush the spirit of democratic life itself. the invasion would have to wait. the nazis would avoid the raf and smash the city of london into the rubble hitler made of warsaw and rotterdam. >> could london take it? even the people themselves and not know the answer. the defenses were hastily assembled.
7:26 pm
the ack ack guns, balloon barrages stayed at high altitudes. the royal air force held onto its last reserves. they sent children out of the city. they tightened air rate precautions. stationed more airplane spotters. rehearsed firefighters and moved into bomb shelters. they carried on. crush first blow aimed to the british spirit came on september 7. [sirens]
7:27 pm
>> planes are coming in. >> control room speaking. >> take cover in the basement. please do not run, but keep moving. >> go down the stairs or use the escalator. >> third-floor, clear. >> second floor, clear. >> first floor, clear. >> that day when 375 german planes came rolling up the thames river, the battle of britain became the battle of london. the germans broke through the charge of hurricanes and spitfires that went to meet them. [gunfire] gone was any pretense at aiming at military objectives.
7:28 pm
this was just savage destruction. [bombs exploding] [plane engine noise] bombs fell alike on the homes of the poor and rich. on shops, hospitals, churches.
7:29 pm
for 28 days, the nazis dropped everything on the city of london. tons upon tons of explosives. torpedoes that sheared away whole buildings. the war of the man in the street went out. he learned to exist with very little food. he forgot what it meant to have a night's sleep, spending most of his time underground in the damp and dark and cold. >> going in early tonight? >> i will be back in a few minutes, if you want. >> how are we going to get you up there? >> give this young lady a lift up. ♪
7:30 pm
>> the air raid wardens stayed at their posts. the air raid wardens stayed other post -- stayed at their post. doctors and nurses worked steadily as bombs crashed around them. squads labored night and day. >> is she dead? >> fireman said nuts to the bombs and went out to put out fires. this was life in the blitz. against all the rules of nazi warfare, britain was refusing to crumble. across the channel, the enraged goldring took command of the
7:31 pm
operation. -- goring took command of the operation. on september 15, he sent the luftwaffe into one of its greatest attacks. ♪ 500 german bombers and fighters rolled over the english coast. the british met the challenge by throwing in everything they had. ♪ a historic three-dimensional battle took place inside an area of 60 miles long and 5-6 miles
7:32 pm
high. [plane engines] [shooting] 200 individual dogfights took place within the first 30 minutes of the raid. [shooting] [explosions] [plane engines]
7:33 pm
>> keep a lookout for them. some of the german bombers broke through london defenses. they reached the center of the city.
7:34 pm
>> where are you? >> blimey, i thought they got you. >> who me? no, i had my fingers crossed. ♪
7:35 pm
>> the biggest bang yet. >> the biggest bang yet. 185 aircraft shot down. end of message. >> of the 500 german planes that came over that day, more than one third were shut down. in the 28 days of terror from september to october, the nazi's dropped 15 million pounds of bombs on the city, killed 7000 helpless civilians and wounded 10,000. bombs fell on buckingham palace, westminster abbey, the houses of parliament, fleet street, the center of the news, st. paul's cathedral, bombs
7:36 pm
blasting the historic past of the lives of englishmen. but, in these 28 days, the nazi lost 900 planes and crews. the more they sent over, the more were shot down. the british it fire -- the british spitfire proved to be a deadly weapon. on october 6, the germans changed to night attacks so maybe they could avoid a deadly spitfires and hurricanes. maybe that way they could crash the stubborn british spirit. never mind control of the air, never mind phase one, phase two, phase three. now just concentrate on bombing
7:37 pm
the people into submission and make them cry for mercy. [plane engines] [piano music] [sirens] ♪
7:38 pm
the raf was not much help at night. this was just german bombs against british guns. >> hello, dear. >> lost a good amount of men tonight, didn't they? >> london was left of a roaring inferno -- as a roaring inferno. homes were destroyed by incendiaries. blocks were aflame. still, the people of london, took it, night after night burrowed underground and morning after morning dug themselves out of the wreckage.
7:39 pm
>> would you like to sit down? >> thanks. >> did you sleep well? >> when i came down around 2:00? >> i do not hear it, did you? >> we are getting used to it. ♪ >> don't you think you had better go away from this for a bit?
7:40 pm
>> of course not. it would take more than this to get me out of my home. go on, you have got to get to work. >> the battle of london was the battle of the people of the city. in spite of bombs, fire, and death, they got to their desks to spend 10 or 12 hours working, working, working. the british spirit was stronger than ever. the raf was flying higher than ever, not only higher, but further. >> operators. ep781. 10 aircraft. there was a big one the other night. this is your target for the night.
7:41 pm
the submarine shipbuilding yards. a widely important target. it has got to be hit hard. >> in the midst of the life-and-death struggle, the british found strength not only to defend and counterattack with the few bombers they could get together. [victorious music] >> hit the charlie airborne, sir. >> can you hear me? >> ok, skipper. >> operator, is everything ok?
7:42 pm
>> it seems to be out here, sir. >> standby. i am going into a glide. [plane engine] >> steady!
7:43 pm
>> i got a bull's-eye with the last one. >> here was the raf giving it back. hitler cried night gangsters, for this crime, i will attack with thousands old red -- revenge. all of the german i bombers were put into the air. -- night bombers were put into the air.
7:44 pm
>> a thousandfold revenge was coventry. on the night of november 14, one million pounds of bombs were dropped on the city. coventry was smashed to the status of warsaw and rotterdam. [sad music]
7:45 pm
the people of coventry dug their loved ones out of the ruins and saw them to their last resting place in a common grave. [mournful music continues]
7:46 pm
hitler could kill them, but damned if he could kill their spirit. they knew the bench was as deadly weapon as a rifle and a new enemy had to be destroyed. the day was coming when they would strike back. and how they would strike back. christmas, 1940. [chorus singing "o come let us adore him"]
7:47 pm
christmas, this season of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. before hitler's first burst of rage against the people who cannot be licked. he cannot bomb them into submission, so he would burn them to ashes. millions of firebombs rained
7:48 pm
down on the great city of london. in a matter of minutes, more than 1500 different sections of the city burst into flames that merged into the greatest fire in recorded history. in the midst of the fire and destruction, vital water mains were shattered and water pressure was almost entirely cut off. heroes of the night were men of
7:49 pm
the london fire brigade as they stretched temporary hose lines to the center of the thames river. the nazi's had carefully picked a night at which the thames river had one of the lowest tides on record. while london burned above them, the people of the city held on, chin up, thumbs up. they knew this was the people's war and they were the people. the people could not be panicked, could not be beaten. [cymbals crashing] in the months to come, the british suffered many bombings and burnings.
7:50 pm
[plane engines roaring] [shooting] [explosions] the battle of britain was won, but not by hitler. hitler had lost the battle. he lost 2375 german planes and their crews.
7:51 pm
for the first time, it was the germans who ate the bitter dirt of defeat. theiras the legend of instability. for a year, the not destruct britain with all of their might and leveled thousands of homes and damaged millions. they killed more than 40,000 men, women, children and seriously wounded 50,000 more. not one single nazi soldier set foot on british soil. heckler couldn't stop. in our next film, we will show hitler couldn't stop. in our next film, we will show how he turned to the east again. why did the nazi is lose the battle of britain? first, because the regimented people met an equally determined free people and the free people made them quit cold.
7:52 pm
>> we have been bombed, dive bombed, high level bombed, machine guns. we have had invasions. the last lot we had. we are still sticking it and we are going to stick it. >> second, because this was a new kind of war and the raf for the men who could fight. these were the men who belonged to what hitler called the weak and soft democracies. the british did more than save their country, they won for the world a year of precious time. it was not only for the people of britain, but for the people of the world that winston churchill spoke when he said -- >> never, in the field of human conflict, has so much owed by so many and so few. ♪
7:53 pm
>> our nine week series, 1968: america in turmoil is available as a podcast. you can find it on our website. this is american history tv,
7:54 pm
only on c-span3. tvh week, american history brings you archival films that provide context for today's public affairs issues. >> immigrants and the sons of immigrants, factory hands on the lower east side, farm boys from arkansas -- >> ♪
7:55 pm
i may not know what the wars about but i bet by gosh i will soon find out oh my darling don't you fear i will bring you a gun for souvenir ♪ >> u.s. army, dead and missing, wounded, 234,000 to 300. profits, $2 billion. of war,ackwash depression and rising hysteria, in a single year, 61 murders by lynching.
7:56 pm
revolution in touching off panic at home. victims of the raids, their homes ransacked without search warrant. arrestedign-born are and held without lawyers. in pittsburgh in gary, indiana, 12 hours days, take it or leave it. you better take it if you know what is good for you. >> ♪
7:57 pm
>> the workers of america, our contribution, $100,000 for the release of the steel workers. >> 1920 -- in a six short years, we built ourselves one of the biggest unions. in new york, 44 hour week in working machinery. decided it isrs the unions and turn back the clocks and bring back the sweatshops. >> lockouts. shut down the machines,
7:58 pm
lockouts of the doors and get an injunction against the picketing. >> the judges came back into the courtroom. >> what happened? did they get the injunction? >> supreme court of the state of the new york is an honor. -- is in session. >> the representative of the captains of industry. injunction granted. >> wall of the employers may succeed in getting injunctions, they succeed -- while the employers may succeed in getting injunctions, they do not succeed in anything else. >> sit tight. if we crack, it means the end of
7:59 pm
the union. hour day, starvation, slums, crime, everything that is rotten, everything that isn't human. ofasked you to walk instead -- your lives depend on it. your future. the future of your children. we will take care there's not a single house without a bread. we will not give you meat but your brothers and sisters will not let you start. >> you can watch in this and other american history programs on our website where all of our video is archived. that is >> on lectures in history, colorado university professor matt harris teaches a class about the antislavery movement before the civil war. he described as of the leaders including william lloyd garrison and french of douglas.
8:00 pm
he describes the influence of abolitionist literature such as narrowness by former slate -- narratives by former slaves. this class is about 50 minutes. professor harris: let us get to work. today's session is three types of anti-slavery were formed. these for the hour is up, i want to hear performs with regard to slavery. to -- if you were to look at americans in the 19th century, you would see they were reform minded. they have a lot of things they want to change. if i were to have you think about for a moment something you wanted to change in the 21st century, each of us could come up with things would want to see changed.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on