Tag Archives: Smithsonian Channel

Hitler has his revenge in Hell Below

Watching X Company, I was reminded of the Battle of the St. Lawrence, when German U-boats patrolled the Gulf and mouth of the river during the Second World War in search of Allied ships to sink. In Tuesday’s new episode of Hell Below, attacks are ordered along the east coast of the United States in an attempt to threaten the war effort.

In “Hitler’s Revenge,” airing at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel Canada, the German Commander of U-boats, Karl Dönitz, wanted to follow up the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—which caused the U.S. to enter the war—with a full-scale assault along the eastern seaboard. With men like Kapitanleutnant Reinhard Hardegen at the helm of U-123, Dönitz hoped Hardegen and the captains of four more Type 9 submarines would get the job done via Operation Drumbeat. There’s a ton of interesting facts revealed in the episode, including background into Hardegen’s pre-submarine war career, the truly awful conditions inside the U-boats and the lengths crews would go to make 80-day missions aboard them somewhat livable.

There are plenty of action and tense moments. The plan to attack off the coast of New York City is so rushed no accurate maps of the water depth are available and Hardegen has to resort to a city guide and map to figure out what The Big Apple looks like. As with past episodes of Hell Below, stunning recreations, CGI and real war footage bring these harrowing tales to life.

Is Hardegen’s mission a success? Tune in to find out.

Hell Below airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel Canada. You can watch past episodes via Smithsonian Channel Canada’s website.

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Hell Below portrays perilous life aboard wartime submarines

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of military programming, and Hell Below is a fantastic one. Produced by Parallax Film Productions out of Vancouver, the documentary series delves into life aboard submarines during the Second World War, and Tuesday’s newest is a humdinger.

“The Wolfpack”—broadcast on Smithsonian Channel Canada at 8 p.m. ET—explores the elite submariners that hunted Allied convoys bringing much-needed supplies from the East Coast of North America to Britain. At the centre of the episode is Otto Kretschmer, one of Hitler’s U-boat aces whose guts and gambles made him a successful and valued member of the German side. Kretschmer inflicted incredible damage by manoeuvring his submersible into the middle of convoys and then picking off ships one by one, leading to cataclysmic losses.

Filmed aboard era ships and subs, Hell Below successfully portrays not only the successes and failures of Kretschmer and his crew, but the claustrophobic conditions they operated in. With hundreds of feet between them and the surface—and with Allied boats dropping depth charges—being on a U-boat crew was not for the faint of heart. You can’t help but feel sympathy as depth charges shudder through the sub’s structure, springing bolts and letting in freshets of water. Expert analysis, re-enactments, stock footage and impressive CGI help tell the tale of Kretschmer’s career and what happened when the Allies finally put radar on their ships.

Hell Below airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel Canada. You can watch past episodes via Smithsonian Channel Canada’s website.

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