Tag Archives: Remembrance Day

Preview: History recognizes Remembrance Day with superior 100 Days to Victory

I’m a bit of a history buff, particularly when it comes to the First and Second World Wars. I’ve watched dozens of documentaries, miniseries and films, and have visited sites of battles in France. I thought I knew almost everything. Not even close.

Airing on Remembrance Day on History, 100 Days to Victory unveiled two hours of material I’d read scant details about. Produced by Bristow Global Media and Electric Media in association with Corus Entertainment’s History and narrated by Peter Outerbridge, 100 Days to Victory—broadcast Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9 and 10 p.m. ET/PT on the specialty channel—tracks the final 100 days in the First World War. The program is a stunning achievement in television, combining words from historians and recreations of crucial battles to tell the story of Canada’s important role in the conflagration.

The opening minutes set the scene. It’s early 1918 on the Western Front and German forces are making a final push to crush the Allies and win the war. French Marshal Ferdinand Foch and British Field Marshal Douglas Haig, desperate for a victory, turn to Canadian General Arthur Currie and Australian General John Monash for advice. Between them, the pair devises a brash and ingenious plan to rout the enemy using a combination of forces in a whole new way.

Along the journey, the producers introduce the background of each of the four military leaders; where they came from, their military backgrounds and personalities. And, using actual letters and diary entries written by military leaders and everyday soldiers in the trenches, the program provides a well-rounded description of what was happening and going through everyone’s minds. Historians like Dr. Tim Cook of the Canadian War Museum, Prof. Elaine McFarland, Patrick Watt and Mat McLachlan offer a detailed play-by-play of each battlefield move.

In the second instalment, Allied forces smash through Germany’s impregnable Hindenburg Line—a five-trench, fortified, 600-kilometre horror bristling with barbed wire, machine guns and booby traps—with daring Canadian Corps advances planned by Currie.

Remembrance Day, for me, is a time of reflection. And, by watching programs like 100 Days to Victory, I’m able to put myself in the shoes of Canadians who fought to defend this country and salute them.

100 Days to Victory airs Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9 and 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.

Images courtesy of Corus Entertainment.

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Link: Remembrance Day is now different, as we recognize what lingers

From John Doyle of The Globe and Mail:

Link: Remembrance Day is now different, as we recognize what lingers
The remarkable series War Story (made by Barry Stevens) exists as several startlingly powerful statements. In previous productions, the emphasis has been on allowing actual stories to be told only through the personal reminiscences of witnesses of the events of war. The singularity of the voices, without the interruption of a narrator or pundits, is intimate, unmodified and stunningly forceful. Continue reading.

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Black Watch Snipers recalls Canada’s elite WWII soldiers on Remembrance Day

Band of Brothers changed my whole outlook on the Second World War. The excellent HBO series put faces to that conflict in a way no school assembly, as important as those are, could as a group of American troops slogged their way across Europe and into Germany.

Black Watch Snipers has done that again from a Canadian point of view. Airing Friday at 9 p.m. ET on History as part of the network’s Days of Remembrance programming, the yap films documentary follows the actions of this country’s most storied regiment: the Black Watch Battalion. Mixing interviews with the five remaining snipers, now all in their 90s, of that elite group—Dale Sharpe, Jim “Hook” Wilkinson, Russell “Sandy” Sanderson, Mike Brunner and Jimmy Bennett—with stunning recreations, Black Watch Snipers is the gripping recounting of their heroic and terrifying experiences over a 10-month period in 1944.

“We looked after each other. That’s how we survived,” Wilkinson says into the camera. If only it was really that easy.

Russell “Sandy” Sanderson
Russell “Sandy” Sanderson

“It’s a damn war and we didn’t start it,” Sanderson says. “And it had to be ended. So we did the job.”

Black Watch Snipers begins on Juno Beach on D-Day, with the Black Watch Battalion heading 20 miles inland to Verrieres Ridge where they encountered the full force of the Germans. Hundreds were killed. The scout platoon, formed soon after and led by Sharpe, consisted of young men with one mission: to be ahead of the main group and take out as many high-ranked German soldiers as they could. Their movement continued across the top of France and into Belgium, where the team took on the dangerous task of interacting with the Germans entrenched in Antwerp. Then it’s on to the Netherlands, where the battalion suffers more tragic losses, its liberation and a final showdown in Germany.

To a man, they all say at some point during the broadcast that they’ll never forget what they went through. We shouldn’t forget either, and Black Watch Snipers helps us remember.

Black Watch Snipers airs Friday at 9 p.m. ET on History.

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