'D-Day 75: Last Words On The Longest Day'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)
Overview: June 6th, 1944. Canada, Britain and the US storm the Normandy coast to wrestle back Europe from Nazi control. The soldiers call it The Longest Day. We call it D-Day.
This unflinching documentary tells the story of the historic battle through the dramatic recollections of those caught up in the action.
DVD Verdict: In what can only be described as one of the most fascinating and yet at the same time heartbreaking 90 minutes I have ever spent in front of the small screen, this captivating series gives a 360-degree view of the invasion from a British sailor who laid underwater charges that would blow up German defenses, to Canadians, Americans, French resistance fighters and German defenders.
Moving interviews are combined with newly discovered footage and dramatic reconstructions that plunge viewers into the heat of battle. Truly it will feel, in the quiet of a darkened evening, that you and you alone are the brave solider making these plans and acting on them for your country.
On June 6, 1944, in the dark hours just after midnight, over 13,000 American paratroopers were poised to spearhead the largest military invasion in history.
Standing by anxiously waiting inside twin-engine C-47 Skytrains, the paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions were determined to accomplish one of the most critical and risky missions ever undertaken.
One, if successful, that would forever change the history of the world.
Still in his early twenties, 1st Lt. Gerald “Bud” Berry, assigned to the 91st Squadron of the 439th Troop Carrier Group was among them. "We carried the 101st Airborne E Company and D Company and they jumped from our airplanes,” Berry recounts.
Flying co-pilot to his squadron commander, Berry recalled that the mission was going smoothly up until they hit an enormous cloud bank over the coast of France which made the already near impossible flight optics of the mission even worse. "You can’t tell anywhere about where you are at night, whether you’re at the dropzone or over the dropzone,” Berry says.
As the hundreds of other aircrews entered the cloud bank that would soon surround them, some pilots started to either gain or lose altitude in hopes to quickly bypass the storm before they made it to the dropzone.
Berry, however, decided that it was best to stay on course in hopes that the skies would soon clear. Berry’s swift decision worked out, although when the clouds finally cleared there was no time to spare. They were only about two minutes away from their designated dropzone.
In the midst of hellish German anti-aircraft fire, Berry had to instantly adapt to his surroundings before signaling to the paratroopers behind him when it was time to jump. "The only thing we were concerned with was the troopers and how they were making it off,” Berry adds.
After releasing all the men in the back of his plane, Berry was headed back to England along with the rest of the pilots that made it through that unbelievable flight to await further orders.
His is just one of the magnificent stories and recollections told here in this hour and a half long series that once begun you will find very hard to turn off (or even pause). That said, once finished, you will also find it very hard to forget. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.