" DESERT VICTORY " WWII BRITISH DOCUMENTARY BATTLE FOR NORTH AFRICA VS. AFRIKA KORPS PART 1
Produced by the Army Film and Photographic Unit and the Royal Air Force Film Production Unit, this black-and-white film is Part 1 of “Desert Victory,” exploring the Battle for North Africa during World War II. The picture begins on a somber note, with a message at mark 00:23 that “in the making of this film four British cameramen were killed, seven were wounded, and six were captured by the enemy” and that “the scenes of Field Marshal Rommel and of Hitler were filmed by the Germans — but were captured by the British in the rapid advance.” It is dedicated to the “men of the Eight Army … who, on the 23rd October, 1942, left the holes they had scratched for themselves in the rock and sand of the desert and moved forward to destroy the myth of Rommel invincibility … and complete the liberation of the second Roman Empire overseas.”
With that, the scene moves to a barren landscape at mark 01:30 and the reminder that “the western desert is a place fit only for war. Thousands of square miles of nothing but sand and stone.” Hot days, frigid night, sandstorms, and a lack of water all contribute to making life intolerable. “The Arabs say after five days of it, murder can be excused.”
At mark 04:00, the film takes the viewer to El Alamein, where two decisive battles in 1942 had taken place. We are shown Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, a British Army commander who was Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East theatre (but later relieved of command during the crucial Alamein campaign). The British are shown successfully defending their position from German artillery and fighters near mark 06:00, and at mark 07:00 are visited by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in August 1942. (The British Eighth Army had all but exhausted itself after the first battle of El Alamein in July 1942, and the visit was as much a morale boost for the troops as it was a review of Auchinleck, who was replaced as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command by General Harold Alexander). Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery was named commander of the Eighth Army.
Alexander’s primary mission as commander was to take on and defeat German Field Marshall Erwin Rommell, whose control of much of Egypt threatened the British Commonwealth’s Suez Canal. To that end, the film reminds its viewer (at mark 08:30) that British men and women at home were at work in factories to make certain supplies and armaments were always being made available. Scenes of workers on assembly lines and in aircraft factories fill the screen, and at mark 09:37, the viewer is told that workers in the United States are also contributing to the war effort, especially in the creation of the Sherman tank.
At mark 13:51, we catch a glimpse of Rommell in some of the captured German footage, and explanation of how the Germans were beginning to suffer from a lack of supplies, thanks to constant bombardment from American and British aircraft on supply lines and supply ships. The Royal Navy also did its part, the viewer is told at mark 15:15, as nearly two dozen German ships were sunk in the Mediterranean Sea. “In August (1942) alone, 80 percent of what was sent to him was sent to the bottom,” says the narrator.
Back on land at mark 17:07, both sides were ready for another fight in Northern Africa. This would come to be known as the Second Battle of El Alamein, fought from October 23 to November 11, 1942. It would end in an Allied victory, turning the tide in the North African Campaign and bolstering Allied morale.
“Rommell was full of confidence,” the narrator explains at mark 18:47 as we see more captured German footage. “He was saying to journalists in Berlin. ‘You may rely on our holding fast to what we have gotten. We hold the gateway to Egypt.” At 19:22, we see Adolf Hitler, and an receive an explanation of how he promoted Rommell to the rank of field marshall.
The British had other plans and beginning at mark 21:40 are shown preparing for battle, including readying aircraft and arming tanks with shells. “And now that all new what was to be done and all was made ready,” the narrator says at mark 22:55, “there were final moments of normal desert life. Of rest, of washing clothes, of a swim in the sea.” And as the sun set, they rested … and waited.
“The Battle of El Alamein began in the evening,” we are told at mark 24:50, as tanks rumble across the screen. “As light failed, the final moves were made.”
The darkness and quiet of the film is suddenly broken at mark 27:14 with a shout of “Fire!” and blasts of ammunition as fighting erupts. The film ends following three minutes of intense footage and amidst the sound of a bagpiper.
Produced by the Army Film and Photographic Unit and the Royal Air Force Film Production Unit, this black-and-white film is Part 2 of “Desert Victory,” exploring the Battle for North Africa during World War II. The film starts cold with British tanks rolling across the desert during the Second Battle of El Alamein, and explanation that in the early going, the British Eighth Army had made a four-mile advance through German lines to the north, as well as advancements against the lines of German Field Marshall Erwin Rommell to the south and a central defensive line. Shells are shown flying across the desert as British troops advanced, despite counterattacks launched by Rommell, the narrator explains at mark 02:20.
“The air force was doing an incredible job. For the Luftwaffe, the skies became a place of deadly peril,” it is said near mark 03:30, as scenes of aerial dogfights continue.
On the fourth day of the battle, both sides squared off at Kidney Ridge, as the narration ceases and the film allows the horrors of war to unfold before the narrator informs the viewer (at mark 05:52) that Allies were able to take the area. Footage from the battle continues, followed by an explanation that many of Rommell’s troops were cut off during the fight. “Casualties suffered were heavy on both sides,” we’re told at mark 07:56, “but large groups of prisoners were in our hands.”
As bodies are shown strewn across the desert and wounded are tended to by medical personnel, the film again shows Rommell at mark 09:00 and discusses his decision to move Panzer divisions closer to the north to engage British troops, but the air force prevented them from becoming fully organized. By November, the battle was in Phase 4 of the fight, with the objective of destroying enemy armor and forcing the Germans to fight in the open, reducing the Axis stock of gasoline, and attacking and occupying enemy supply routes. As Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery is shown surveying the battle at mark 13:54, we learn that the German forces were sufficiently weakened to allow Allied armor to drive a wedge straight down the middle of the German lines. What follows are scenes of tanks rolling through the sands and firing on German targets.
At mark 17:35, the narrator explains, “Throughout this day, November 3, the heaviest armored battle of the campaign had been waged. Fighting went on along the whole front, but it was centered on el Aqqaqir (the base of the Axis defense) where a tank battle of the bitterest kind reached hour by hour a deeper and more bloody intensity. Three-quarters of the Axis tanks were burning our otherwise wrecked.”
At mark 18:42, we hear an announcement from the BBC news announcer Bruce Belfrage, who announces that Axis forces were in full retreat in Northern Africa. The camera pans to factory workers, who erupt in cheers.
With Rommell and the Afrika Korps in retreat, the Allies seized artillery left behind and took countless Italian soldiers prisoner, along with thousands of Germans including German General Wilhelm von Thoma, and buried 20,000 enemy dead. At mark 21:15, the narrator notes, “Pursuit was remorseless … (the Germans) tasted what they had administered in France and Poland.”
The Axis made a fighting withdrawal to El Agheila but Rommel's troops found themselves exhausted and with few replacements, and the German general a text-book retreat, destroying all equipment and infrastructure left behind and peppering the land behind him with mines and booby traps. In January 1943, British forces entered Tripoli. At mark 26:42 the narrator explains, “The surrender of Tripoli by the governor of Libya and the mayor of the city extinguished the Italian overseas empire. Country by country, the British army had conquered it.”
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.comWe encourage viewers to add comments and, especially, to provide additional information about our videos by adding a comment! See something interesting? Tell people what it is and what they can see by writing something for example like: "01:00:12:00 -- President Roosevelt is seen meeting with Winston Churchill at the Quebec Conference."
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
- 2020-04-08 00:23:53
- Internet Archive HTML5 Uploader 1.6.4