tv Reel America Tunisian Victory - 1944 CSPAN March 29, 2018 11:28am-12:49pm EDT
point. i asked him where are you? what are you experiencing? are you where you thought you would be? he didn't answer back. he only had half of a face. it was interesting to be that close to the evil and how willing he was to die. >> tunesian victory was a world war ii propaganda film on the north africa campaign and released in early 1944. the documentary used combat footage and reenacted scenes and segments with president roosevelt and french president charles de gaulle. it told the story with alternating british and american naur rate e narrators. approximately 275,000 soldiers surrendered. this is an hour and 15 minutes.
destination unknown, a military secret. the largest overseas expedition guided by the american navy. some 3,000 miles away an even greater convoy moves in its appointed place across the seas shielded by the british navy. destroyers in close support and beyond the horizon battleships. from the decks of aircraft carriers and from the shore planes of the fleet that travel the skies and search the skis, the outpost of a protected
screen. east nor east the american convoy. nothing like these two armadas had disturbed the waters since the world was made. this was a combined operation that began some four months earlier in washington, d.c. the president of the united states welcomed the prime minister of great britain. the moment that brought them together. the lights burned all night that night in the white house where the two leaders met with the combined chiefs of staffs. for this was the picture taking all too definite form. two axis heads were headed east. in the north pursuing his way.
in the south rommel towards the border. these two were intended to meet in iran and head eastward towards india. in the oriant japan occupied the coast of china in preparation for the drive westward through india. if these two were allowed to meet russia and china except for remote ports would be completely isolated. japanese raw materials and german protection would be combined. the peoples of europe, asia and africa would be enslaved. by morning a decision both bold and revolutionary. bold because in this our darkest hour we dared to take the offensive. revolutionary because that offensive was conceived, planned and executed by the peoples of
two nations. the time and the place had been agreed upon. code name of combined operation was acrobat. two great elements were time and secrecy. 125 days in which the plan launched offensive from bases 3,000 miles apart, operation involving hundreds of thousands of american soldiers and sailors. millions of american and british men and women only by whose combined efforts planned to become reality but for whom the plan was september secret. new in its entirety the plan for this operation. in london and washington british and american armicists were placed at adjoining desks and worked through and gradually in the forced daily intimacy men
the convoy continued. my name is mcadams, joe mcadams. kansas city, kansas. private first class. i was on one of those ships you're looking at. part of the biggest show on earth and didn't know it. too darn many ships to see all at once. well, we had been hollering for action. now we were going to get it. but we didn't know where. norway, france, italy, china? finally on the fifth day we got the news. handed out a little book. i remember you walked into duty as a soldier of the united states. >> why north africa?
what was the plan? convoy from american was heading east. the one from britain heading south. at a given point the british convoy would divide. for 12 hours the two halves would proceed in opposite directions. then the second half would reverse its course and follow the first. passenger 24 hours behind. thus with clock like precision the combined operations would begin with simultaneous landings. casablanca protect against an axis attack through spanish. algiers to secure bases through which to prasz eastward. then the occupation from which we could cut rommel supply lines.
next trap them between our aligned forces and the british. one arm would be amputated and supply lines would be shortened by half through winning control of the mediterranean. north africa would be ours with bases with which to stab at the heart. those were the main objectives of the plan called acrobat. in both the men kept fit not knowing the task that lay ahead. this voyage was a new experience. they had never been so far from home before. >> certainly true of me. we to shop a long time. my dad was a passioned dad. never met such a collection. new york, london, melbourne,
montreal, chicago, birmingham, it's about time this team of internationals got cracking. when i was -- i made out quite a letter to my girl all about the way the ships zigzag. we haven't seen any yet but i'm enjoying myself. and now i have something else to tell. the best news i just put up on the ship's board. it was only one phase of a larger strategy. included there in naples. precision bombings turning out
the tanks. all these are part of a plan called acrobat of which the enemy still knew nothing. nothing of the submarine trip to africa with a message to be smuggled into france, nothing of the arrival of generaliz eisenhower. the enemy knew nothing until the last possible moment when the first half of the convoy from britain. it was at night that the ships passed through the straits. here in narrow waters attack seemed certain. aboard ship everyone -- the ship moved steadily on as though for the moment the enemy's sword had fallen from his hand through
indecision. this time it was in rome and berl berlin. for the first time since the war's beginning somebody else was calling. before the enemy could collect wits our ships lay as planned off their appointed destination. events planned four months earlier move to a climax. to the troops aboard spoke their commander general patton. >> soldiers and sailors, it's not known whether it can contest the landing but all business must be destroyed. however, when any of the soldiers seek to surrender you will accept it and treat them
with the respect. remember, the french are not nazis. >> november 8, 1942 orders of the day. the words play ball trands mated by the commanders signifies to take action against the enemy. a search light at night signifies that the enemy has adegreed to the terms. zero hour from america the president broadcast by short
here the french troops were asked to indicate a friendly attitude by throwing their search light beams vertical. it wasn't long before along the coast search lights were seen pointing to the heavens. as dawn broke fighter planes fitted with extra fuel tanks took off without waiting to hear whether the landing had been kept. resistance at algiers was finished. british and american troops landed east and west of the city, penetrated 10 to 15 miles and held heights and all vantage points. in algiers on that famous november 8 was admiral french vice chief of state. it was after consultation with him that the french commanding general agreed to surrender the
declared prisoner of the axis and ordered the cessation of hostilities. german armistice commissions were caught flat footed in each city. their jobs, to bleed north africa of her raw materials and farm products. the people of north africa were evidently not sorry to see them go. events moved swiftly. the general took command of the frenchland forces. united under general eisenhower, they were ready to take the field. once more, the stars and stripes, the union jack flew side by side. ♪ but the enemy had lost no time. across the mediterranean by sea
and by air, he was pouring in equipment to tunisia. despite this, we determined to start the campaign at once, hoping to reach the distant cities before the enemy's grasp had become too strong. this was a bold decision, for the british first army was as little yet more than one division, and the bulk of the american forces were needed to safeguard our position in morocco. we had other disadvantages. roads were poor, railways inadequate. the enemy beyond the mountains had short supply lines from sicily and sardenia. our own stretching forward from the improvised base at algiers, were four times the length. even more important, we lacked as yet airfields whereas the
enemy in tunisia had all the permanent airfields he needed. in less than a month, the weather would break. could our slender force in the last days of autumn achieve a flashing success against time and a stronger enemy? with immense energy, the attempt was made. by road, allied infantry, tanks, and artillery moved towards the hills. by rail went mules for mountain transport. by air flew british and american paratroopers to capture airfields and the tactical points nearby. ♪ by sea went commanders 300 miles to the east and only 60 miles
from the tunisian border. here, the airfield km the parachuters had already taken was under attack. [ gunfire ] it was our only permanent forward airfield and had to be fought for repeatedly. we advanced towards tunisia and still the enemy poured into africa. by mid-november, a thousand a day. among them, the mediterranean commander in chief, the man who had made his name infamous at
warsaw an rotterdam. november the 18th, our mixed force of allied troops had crossed the frontier into tunisia and skirmishes were frequent. [ gunfire ] on we went, small units of french, british, americans, held up here, gaining there, fighting and pushing on. by november the 22nd, we were in beja, 450 miles on the road to tunisia. news came that 30 miles on the french were holding against the germans. the french were fighting stubbornly, equipped with little more than machine guns and rifles. general anderson promptly moved to support them.
together we held, henceforth a pivotal point, and forced the germans back. but now we went into the plains and were increasingly exposed to the enemy's more numerous tanks and aircraft. november the 25th, the first real tank clash. [ explosions ] 15 enemy tanks destroyed and the rest withdrew. and on we pushed towards tunisia, racing against time and the weather.
60 miles, 50 miles, 40 miles. our supply lines inexorably thinning, our reinforcements fewer and fewer. 30 miles, 20 miles, 18 miles, 16, 15, and from the hills our patrols saw the city. but now the enemy attack rose to a crescendo. from the skies a bombardment to which we had no adequate answer. [ explosions ]
our supplies were far outrun. our casualties heavy. even as the goal was in sight, the race nearly lost. this adventurous gamble that failed. we fell back to the protection of the hills. but even as we withdrew to regroup our forces, we encountered a new enemy. winter was upon us. our hastily improvised airfields were flooded. our planes earthbound. the roads became running streams.
our tanks immobilized. all hopes of a quick victory had finally floundered in a sea of mud. but the race for tunis had not been in vain, for our battle lines now stabilized, ran south. along the barrier ridge of mountains known as the great dorsal, which separated the german occupied coastal plain from the mountainous regions to the west. german expansion was possible only through a series of passes traversing the great dorsal, and all through the winter months we held those passes against incessant german attack. this was the period referred to by the world as one of military
inactivity. a period during which we sustained nearly half the total casualties incurred during the whole north african campaign. >> that's right. when you're reading your papers about laws that don't apply to george metcalf and the bloody infant tri, never did. we're on patrol every night in the hills and in the woods. ♪ off we go with some tommy guns and a few bombs, and if we're lucky, we suffer a few jerrys and haul a few prisoners in. he was a poacher, a second nature to old fred. when we get back, we're
camouflaged so you can't tell whether we're men or walking lumps of mud. we just about scraped it off when we had to go out again at dusk and pick up the others. great life. you'd think mud would be different in africa. different from france, say. old fred says it weighs heavier here and don't smell the same, but me, i can't tell any difference. it turns into brown just like the other stuff. keeping your automatics and rifles clean is the worst. old fred's only got about half of his shirt left. there's one thing we do thank god for, the mules. fancy that, mules. if it wasn't for the mules, we'd just about starve. not that we eat them. i don't mean that. but they bring up the rations, see. nothing but mules or eagles could ever get here. mud, just mud. i told my girl, i'll stick in
mud. i can't say more than that. >> whenever the fields were dry enough, our planes took off to tackle. though still outnumbered, in four weeks they shot down 241 enemy aircraft for a loss of 89 of our own. further back, day after day, the strategic air force was taking off to kill the enemy's effort at the starting point. liberators from the east went farther to destroy enemy bases in italy. sardenia, sicilinia, sicily. [ gunfire ]
but on land, no offensive could be launched until spring. there was to be on either side of the great dorsal a building up of power. supply routes that spanned on the german side 150 miles of water, and on our side, hundreds of miles of land. then thousands of miles of water. the longest assembly lines in the world were in operation from the factories of the united states and britain, from birmingham to algiers, from
detroit, from manchester to los angeles, from pittsburgh to casablanca. ♪ ♪ full trains were assembled on the spot, loaded with freight and sped forward. the south atlantic became an airway as well as a seaway. from brazil, flights of p-38s equipped with extra fuel tank tanks were flown across the seas. each flight led by a flying fortress, which provided
navigation. from gibraltar, aircraft which had been brought by ship from britain and reassembled on the rock were flown off. nearly 1500 planes reached the front by this route. roads to the front were being built where none before existed. on wet, still unfinished landing strips, giant planes sat down with cargoes of material. our reservoir of power was filling up. tunisia was to be the theater of a major campaign, a campaign to
be fought where hannibal fought. where already three times in history great armies had been destroyed between the mountains and the sea. these hills and plains were again to echo to the temptest of battle. not now the trumpeting of elephants but the crash of tanks and artillery. not now an empire but a way of life at stake. ♪ ♪ ♪
>> on this christmas 1942, our soldiers and airmen in tunisia and the western desert gathered together in little churches under the open sky. and doing so, they thought of their homes and loved ones hundreds of thousands of miles away. our soldiers' thoughts were of new york and the middle west, of the cities and villages of france, of the plains and hills of india, of homes in cape town and the african belt, or among the snows of canada or in the christmas sunshine of new zealand and australia, and among the fog and rain of london and edinborough. they thought of their comrades
along about now, we began to take notice of the kids. first off, they were kind of shy, but arab kids are no different from the kids back home when it comes to candy. a lot of them looked about half starved. the germans had picked the land clean. so we gave half our milk ration to the red cross, and they ladled it out. off-duty, we just roamed around, looked. we saw some mighty strange sights. ♪
we wondered what the moorish girls looked like behind their veils. wondering was about as far as we got. one sunday in january, we're hanging around, catching up on the news from home, when we were rooted out for assembly. they told us to polish our brass and shine our leather. some of us said, what's the big idea? well, we found out. and you could have knocked me over with a tank. it was the president himself riding along in a jeep. ♪
when we saw mr. churchill come in, not puffing his cigar, we knew something big was cooking. >> in a small seaside hotel at casabla 234r casab casablanca, discussions began at once. first, a meeting was arranged between the generals who had succeeded the general assassinated a month earlier. out of the meeting was to grow a ju union of the fighting french, who had never lost hope. second the united command for the tunisian campaign was created. the allied troops in the area were now predominantly british, but by common agreement, general eisenhower continued in supreme command. as his deputy commanders, three british officers, general alexander on land, admiral cunningham on sea, air chief
marshall tedder in the air. the whole scheme a dove tailing of command, unique in military campaigns. third, we fixed the terms which would end the fighting. unconditional surrender. of all these decisions, our russian and chinese allies were kept fully informed. the conference ended. mr. churchill flew on to tripoli to greet the victorious and explain its vital part in forthcoming events. the decisive hour was at hand. >> battle lines were drawn. in the north stood the british first army. in the center, the french troops. in the south, the americans. further south, a small group of fighting french had completed its historic 1500-mile march and taken up positions on the left flank of the british eighth army, behind which barrier the
army had entrenched itself. tunisia was full of german troops, 15 full divisions. battle-wise veterans of poland, france, the balkans, they, together with seven italian divisions, were armed with the most modern types of equipment, including the newest fighters and bombers. the german orders were hold tunisia at all costs. keep control of the mediterranean. standing behind his line, he saw he must soon be faced with an attack as well as an assault by the eighth army. it was an endeavor to remove the menace behind him. on february the 14th, the blow
was struck. heavy armored columns burst out of the pass in the mountained area and through into the valley beyond. in the face of their onslaught, allied armor withdrew. by the 21st, the enemy had forced his way through the pass, and his armored columns were advancing in a three-pronged thrust. one main column aimed at tebessa, our supply base in southern tunisia, and another at thala, a key town in our lines of communication. almost within sight of his objective, he was halted. american, british, and french forces all stood immovable against the final impact. and in counterattack broke it. while allied air power pounded the lines of communication and supply. the threat was ended. advancing past destroyed german armor, we reoccupied the pass, and by march the 17th, the original battle lines had been
restored. as soon as he saw his westward thrust was doomed, he made an abortive attack south against the eighth army. the germans unveiled a new tiger tank. the british, the new 17-pounder anti-tank gun. 52 tiger tanks were left burning. from then on, the initiative was ours. of the various strategies which might now be employed against the enemy, general eisenhower chose one which envisionaged the entire military situation in terms of a cylander. the western wall, allied land forces along the great dorsal. the northern and eastern allied and sea power in the mediterranean. the sea ports of tunis were to act as the intake valve through those which enemy troops which escaped were to be sucked into
the cylinder. at the bottom of the cylinder stood the powerful british eighth army to serve as the piston, which in its upward stoke would push the enemy into an ever smaller space. still in possession of the enemy were certain high hills to the west of tunis. their capture was an essential part of the entire strategy, for these hills were the spark plug, which when the piston had forced the enemy into a state of high compression would explode in a combustible mass. that was the final strategy. to succeed, perfect coordination would be necessary between land, sea, and air forces. the northwest african air force was divided into five major groups of which three were combat. the strategic air force under general jimmy doolittle. these were the big boys, the long-range bombers, pounding away at enemy bases and
shipping. the coastal air force under air marshall lloyd. day and night fighters, these, protecting ports and convoys. and finally the tactical air force, a new conception of air power, developed by the british in the middle east. all fighters and attack bombers, british and american, were placed under one command so that we could strike with the full force of our flying artillery when and where it would do the most good. air marshall cunningham in command of this group and general alexander in command of all ground forces lived and worked side by side in a tent camp in the tunisian mountains. theirs was a complete partnership, and in it lay the pattern of ultimate victory. by the middle of march, the stage was set. the first move was up to air marshall cunningham.
in a continuous 24-hour assault, the fortifications were pounded from the air. ♪ then general alexander gave the signal for the piston to begin its upward stroke. >> montgomery, looking ahead, had planned the battle three months before. he would strike after a barrage and in moonlight. but simultaneously, he would begin an outflanking movement on the left. the frontal blow had to cross a gorge and create a bridge head under cover of which tanks and
outflanking left hook by general fryberg and his new zealanders was racing across 150 miles of desert. the blow was now struck by 50,000 men on the ground and by bombers, fighters, and tank busters from the air. the germans pinned down, moving their armor to late. the new zealanders, henceforth to be known as the left hookers,
drove through. ♪ the line had been turned. the piston was on the move. its speed made possible by the feats in road building of the south african engineers. air and naval forced shelled and bombed all along the sea wall. our fighters struck at their transport planes, still pouring men in through the intake valve, knocking them out of the sky by the hundreds.
april 7th, an american patrol of tanks striking eastward met patrols of the british eighth army advancing northward. >> we got quite a bang out of meeting these guys. 2,000 miles they'd come, fighting all the way. yes, sir, we got a real bang out of it. these are the guys that broke the back of the africa corps. ♪ >> still, the piston pushed relentlessly on. april the 10th, april the 12th, and on april the 20th, after exactly 30 days of fighting in pursuit, the eighth army had
driven the enemy into the hills beyond, and in its wake was a great homecoming. >> what got me was watching those villages coming back. mostly on little donkeys, piled up with so much stuff you'd wondered how they'd carried it. reminded me of the bible somehow. you know, the donkeys and the hills behind, and these folks trekking home. there was one old chap, spoke a bit of english, and he comes up to me and says, thank you, thank you, thank you. then he started shaking hands with us. i thought he was never going to let go. and as we watched him going down the old system, he says, you know, george, i had a buddy killed the other day, and i was pretty sore about it. but now all these poor devils coming home gives the old thing a kind of a meaning. well, then when we went down to the village, it was just the same down there. little jewish boys taking off the yellow stars they'd been
made to wear as if they was lepers. then our army doctors attending to the women and youngsters, just as if they was on the panel back home. i certainly felt less blown off. i certainly did. >> the rapid advance of the eighth army had left the american divisions far behind the battle area. general alexander now switched these divisions to the north. this remarkable 200-mile march to the first army's line of supply was accomplished without once interrupting the eastward flow. and this in complete secrecy. ♪ the piston had completed its upward stroke, a desired state of enemy high compression had been achieved, now to capture the spark plug. the vital hills west of tunis.
engineers and pioneers built roads across the mountain tops for vital supplies to reach them. in 14 days, they built 11 miles. meanwhile, further north, the americans had embarked on their place of the campaign. this started with the assault on hill 609. long-range artillery started the attack. [ gunfire ]
[ gunfire ] >> we took hill 609. there weren't as many of us guys when we got to the top as there'd been at the bottom, but we took it. >> thus, one by one, the strongholds in the mountains fell. the germans had been outfought, now they were to be outwitted. general alexander knew their fear of the 8th army, so he
reinforced that fear with heavy bombardments and local attacks from montgomery's front. at the same time, he secretly transferred the 4th indian and 7th armored division in the north once the main attack was to come. >> spark plug was ours, and we were now ready to explode the combustible mass. now to pour on the power. now to give the apostles of power an education in the use of it. ♪ british and americans in the air
[ gunfire ] >> after only eight hours fighting, the hard trust of german resistance was shattered. our armor crashed through. the americans policed their way in. the british smashed right through the center to capture tunis. then a british armored column crashed across the neck. another british column raced around the tip of the cape to prevent any evacuation. the whole axis mass was split into four segments. the end came quickly. >> by tens, by hundreds, by thousands they came.
on foot, in trucks, and behind their bands. the greatest mass surrender of fully equipped troops in modern history. we had lost nearly 70,000 men, dead, wounded, and missing. 35,000 british, 18,000 americans, 15,000 french. but for every man we had lost, the enemy lost five. and at the end, 15 full divisions, 266,000 of their best men, laid down their arms. >> no men riddled with disease and shrunken with hunger, fighting to the last bare handed. educated in the school for power, they were quick to recognize superior power. and when they did, they quit.
quit cold. this is the end of the axis african adventure. >> after all the racket, seems funny, don't it, joe. so quiet. >> yeah. >> what's biting you, joe? >> i don't know. i can't help thinking all the hard work that went into those burnt out tanks and half tracks and airplanes, gone for nothing. >> had to be done. >> oh, sure it did. but still in all, think of all the trucks and automobiles and things, all that junk might have been. >> i know. bloody shame. >> just because he was told that he was a superman. >> well, he never figured things out for his self, never argued the same as we do.
too bad he didn't hear some of our arguments at the old dog and fox back home. >> i guess that's the real difference between us and them. we argue, they don't. >> and when you don't argue the toss anymore, you aren't upper man anymore. you're just a blooming tool like a spanner or a sore. >> maybe they like it that way. >> maybe they do, but suppose somebody tried to use you or me like that, joe. suppose somebody said put that fella's eye out or turn a hose pipe on that jew or that whoment. would we do it? >> what do you think? >> you and me, joe, we may not always think alike, but we do think. you and me and old alfonz. the rest we certainly think, all right. >> you know, george, i got an idea. why can't we, after the war, the same work gang, i mean, keep on swinging together. what couldn't we do? >> you mean build more houses and have wars? >> yeah, that's it.
>> and ships, thousands of ships. >> right. >> and food so nobody would be hungry no more. >> yeah, building things up instead of blowing things up. like, i don't know, like dams in the desert and roads through the jungles. maybe bridges cross all the oceans. we could do it, i bet you. >> yeah, do all the jobs at once and knock the block off anybody who wants to start another war. and bring the smiles back to the kids' faces all over the world. >> boy, what a job. >> but just now, joe, it's the same rough road, the same road you and me have just come. the same bloody hard road. and for quite a while yet. >> boy, oh, boy, what a job. bringing back the smiles to kids' faces. ♪
here's a look at our prime time programming. american history tv tonight starts with the 75th anniversary of the battle of kasserine pass during world war ii. we'll hear a discussion at the national world war ii museum in new orleans from military historian on the american defeat at kasserine pass in tunisia. american history tv, prime time begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. tonight on book tv on c-span2, a look at recent fairs and festivals, including a discussion on immigration and race relations from the tenth annual tucson festival of books with the former senior editor at foreign affairs. then a discussion on political candidates and the elections
from the 2018 rancho mirage writer's festival in california. from the savannah festival, communication strategies in her book "we need to talk." and finally from the rose glen literary festival, katherine smith talks about her book "the gatekeeper." and tonight on c-span, two photojournalists talk about their experiences covering the battle l against isis in the iraqi city of mosul. you'll hear from victor blue, whose work focuses on the legacy of armed conflict, human rights, and the protection of civilians. and mitch utterback, a retired u.s. army special forces lieutenant colonel, who transitioned to a new career reporting on war, conflict, and disaster. here's a preview. >> this is a still from -- this is a photo right from my phone. the rebel in the foreground is an armored isis suicide car bomb. i'll use the military parlance.
a suicide vehicle born improvise the explosive device. now i'll say it in jargon. svbid. that's an isis svbid that detonated against an iraqi emergency response division humvee. sadly, the initial reports were incorrect, that there were no casualties. an iraqi policeman standing about 40 meters away was killed just from the blast wave of that explosion. inspecting the rubble of this explosion, the isis fighter driving the vehicle not only was he driving a suicide car bomb, he was wearing a suicide vest, and he had a folding stock ak-47 with six magazines. so if his car broke down, he was going to run out towards the good guys and detonate himself, and if it didn't detonate, he had an automatic weapon. he was ready to die. i -- i'll tell you, most of him was splattered against a wall, laying in a courtyard. i sat and talked to him for a
few minutes. and it was an interesting moment to see the -- you've never been at costco in the meat department and seen this stuff, but he was there, what was left of him, obviously a human being at one point, but i sat and asked him, what are you seeing now? where are you? what are you experiencing? are you where you thought you would be? he didn't answer back. he only had half of a face. but it was interesting to be that close to the evil and how willing he was to die. >> that was just a short portion of tonight's conversation with two photojournalists on their experiences covering the battle against isis in the iraqi city of mosul. you can watch the entire event starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. up next, military historian robert citino talks about the events leading up to and during the 1943