ANZAC Day 2019

This April HISTORY is commemorating Anzac Day with an impressive and moving line-up of documentaries which remember the sacrifices and battles fought by our brave men and women who helped shape our nation.



The Great War

Discover how WWI transformed America through the stories of African-American soldiers, feminist activists, Native-American “code talkers” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten.


Royal Cousins at War

At the outbreak of the First World War three cousins reigned over Europe’s greatest powers – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King George V of England. This 2-part series looks at the role played by the three monarchs, and their relationships with each other, in the outbreak of war, arguing that it is far greater than historians have traditionally believed.


Bristol Scout: Rebuilding History

This one hour documentary, narrated by Robert Llewellyn, follows a fourteen-year personal journey of determination and skill rebuilding history, beginning with the discovery of various aviation artefacts belonging to Captain F. D. H. Bremner, a World War One pilot. Chanced upon by his grandsons, the find leads to them to undertake a rebuild of the Bristol Scout aircraft flown by their grandfather during the Great War.

The programme follows David & Rick Bremner along with their friend, Theo Willford in their ambitious task of building the aircraft, one of the first single seat fighters, to its original specifications, searching out the original plans and parts list, using former techniques and construction skills, learning, as they do so, the trials, tribulations and triumphs that faced those early pioneers of flight and aerial warfare.


War Above The Trenches

Above the trenches of the Western Front, another battle is taking place. From the stumbling, earliest days of flight to the savagery of industrialised warfare, the aeroplane has become a killing machine.


100 Days To Victory

From command headquarters to the frontlines, this inspiring drama documentary from Electric Pictures and Bristow Global Media Inc. vividly tells the story behind WWI’s finest multinational feat of arms. Told in an accessible, popular style, the series reveals how visionary Allied leadership, revolutionary tactics and the indomitable bravery and skill of the Australian, Canadian, British and French, Armies, turned the tide to win the Great War. In early 1918, the Allies had their backs to the wall as a great German offensive swept westward in a final bid to win the bloodiest war of all. Yet, little more than six months later, Germany was forced to accept bitter, final defeat.

This two-part series offers a fresh and appealing approach: one that is focuses upon victory against the odds, a victory only made possible through great feats of courage, determination and ingenuity.  This version of the events of 1918 will remind audiences of a genre they are familiar with from the movies: the super-hero movie. Faced with overwhelming jeopardy, our heroes must rise above past disasters, overcome their own personal demons and, in the face of appalling circumstances, find a way to triumph. They do so by experimenting with new ideas and learning to trust each other.

The Allied generals’ tactics are innovative. The battles of 1918 embody what came to be known 25 years later as ‘total war’ – fought out of the trenches, in towns, across bridges and canals, scaling hillsides, using covert penetration at night, ‘bite and hold’ tactics, and – for the first time – carefully co-ordinated massed artillery, tanks, aircraft and infantry. Based on vivid personal testimonies, we bring the generals’ battle plans and the searing experience of our front-line fighters powerfully to life.

Through cinematic recreations, interviews with top historians and state-of-the-art CGI, 100 Days to Victory is a gripping account of the last 100 Days of the First World War.


Jutland: WWI’s Greatest Sea Battle

Thousands of British sailors died in the Battle of Jutland. In the recriminations that followed, Admiral Jellicoe’s reputation was ruined. Now his grandson plans to uncover the truth about the battle.


Beyond Kokoda

This moving documentary shows the violent and savagery experiences shared between Australian and Japanese soldiers forged in the dense jungles of Papua New Guinea. The Kokoda Campaign was a war without mercy, the scene of one of the most brutal conflicts in Australian History. This 2-hour special shows the story of men caught in the war and how they reconcile their shared history over sixty years later by interviews with Australian soldiers and for the first time show extensive interviews with Japanese soldiers and airmen to gain a unique and almost lost perspective of the Kokoda Campaign.

The battle was a decisive Australian victory, a victory that delivered Australia from Japanese encirclement and possible occupation. The film provides Australian and Japanese audiences with poignant statements about the bloody nature of war and how this has scarred the young men who fought it.


Mata Hari: The Beautiful Spy

Mata Hari is the very epitome of beauty and feminine seduction. As a courtesan she captivates the most influential men of her time, and she exerts a hold over our imagination to this very day. But as World War I raged did Mata Hari really betray secrets revealed to her by her influential lovers? Was she a German spy? Was the death sentence passed by the French justified? This documentary tracks down the true Mata Hari – the most famous and most beautiful spy of all time.


Mateship: Australia & The USA

For a century, the United States of America and Australia have fought side by side in every major conflict. It’s one of the longest alliances in modern history.

The relationship hasn’t always been easy or even. Both countries have changed dramatically since 1918 when they first fought together at Hamel, France in World War 1. The scale of US power has transformed the world. But this friendship, forged in battle, shaped also by long exchanges of ideas, people and trade, is a fascinating story of trust, difference, loyalty and respect: what Australians would call mateship.

Mateship – Australia & USA: A Century Together is told via the present tense journey of renowned journalist Mike Munro through key places and periods in the history of the US-Australian relationship. Mike encounters places, objects and people that bring the past to life. The film also draws on the rich moving and still archives of Australians and Americans at war and at peace.


The Battle of Fire Support Base Coral

Over three weeks in 1968 the 1st and 3rd battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment 3RAR fought in desperate hand to hand combat against overwhelming Vietnamese forces.

The largest battle Australian forces had been involved in since World War II, 25 Diggers were killed and over 100 wounded, the most casualties suffered by Australia in any one engagement in the Vietnam War.

If the Australian forces had lost at FSB Coral, Australia would have been out of the war. Yet few Australians today have ever heard of the Battle for Fire Support Base Coral.


WWI’s Tunnels of Death: The Big Dig

At Messines in Belgium, bomb disposal specialists work alongside archaeologists on WW1s biggest archaeological dig. During the First World War this was one of the killing fields of the Western Front and 100 years later the ground is still littered with unexploded shells, grenades and ammunition.

Held by the British in 1914, Messines was captured by German troops, including a young Adolf Hitler, and for nearly three years the two opponents faced each other in trenches, which the archaeologists uncover. What are revealed are trenches, which have seen the results of some very heavy fighting.


The Somme: The First 24 Hours

Tony Robinson tells the powerful and moving story of five men of one battalion as they enlist, train for and take part in the worst disaster in the history of the British army.


Western Front: Last Survivors Tell All

Narrated by Jack ‘Living Treasure’ Thompson, this landmark film commemorates the 100th anniversary of Australia’s worst battle Fromelles with the last ten surviving WWI veterans revealing how 2000 young Australians were killed in one day, in their first Western Front battle, when British Generals ordered them to charge in broad daylight across flat fields towards German machine gunners.

These brutally honest old warriors who enlisted at 16 tell horror stories about bungling and bloodshed in battles claiming 46,000 Australians lives that will make viewers weep. Condemning failed British-led Gallipoli as a terrible mistake these centenarians beg Australians to focus on Australian led victories on the Western Front which was five times greater because our soldiers won five times more battles, five times more Victoria Crosses, served there five times longer and sadly lost five times more lives.

After hearing these brave soldier’s stories, you’ll never think about WWI in the same light again.


Palestine: Last Lighthorsemen Tell All

This landmark centennial tribute marks the 100th anniversary of the WWI Battle of Beersheba – one of history’s last successful cavalry charges, mounted by the romantic Australian Light Horsemen against the Turkish enemy in Palestine.

The film features unique interviews with Australian veterans, such as Gunner Len Hall, who not only helped capture Beersheba, but also landed at Gallipoli with the Anzacs and rode with the legendary Lawrence of Arabia to capture Damascus.


Lusitania – 18 Minutes That Changed The World

When the passenger liner Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland in 1915, the ship sunk in just 18 minutes, taking 1200 people down with it. The needless tragedy arguably altered the course of World War I, as the number of Americans among the dead pulled the previously unaligned US and all its military might  into the war. Focusing on eight individual passengers and the German U-boat captain, this enthralling film brings those desperate last 18 minutes onboard the Lusitania vividly to life.

From the kitchens deep below deck to the first class cabins, it reveals stories of heroism, sacrifice, luck and misfortune  and how these individuals’ fight for survival impacted on the lives of millions world-wide.


The Somme 1916: From Both Side of the Wire

The truth revealed.

Marking the 101st Anniversary year of the Battle of the Somme, this programme presents the historic encounter from, for the first time, both sides of no-man’s land. With access to little known German military archives, Peter Barton reveals a story that contradicts previously unchallenged myths.

Why, given German forces were sometimes outnumbered five to one by the British and French, was this battle hailed as a British victory?

This series reveals insights about the failed Allied strategy, and revolutionary German tactics. And there are new answers to the questions that still haunt us 101 years on. Why did this battle last so long? And why was there such carnage?


Long Tan: The True Story

Investigate the battle of Long Tan, when an infantry company of untried Australians and New Zealanders held off repeated attacks by two heavily-armed North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong units outnumbering them 20 to 1.


The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress is a 1944 documentary film that ostensibly provides an account of the final mission of the crew of the Memphis Belle, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. In May 1943 it became the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States.[2]

The dramatic 16mm colour film of actual battles was made by three cinematographers, including First Lieutenant Harold J. Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum, a veteran of World War I, was killed in action during the filming when the bomber he was in was shot down over France on April 16, 1943.

The film was directed by Major William Wyler, narrated by Eugene Kern, and had scenes at its station, RAF Bassingbourn, photographed by Hollywood cinematographer Captain William H. Clothier. It was made under the auspices of the First Motion Picture Unit, part of the United States Army Air Forces. The film actually depicted the next to last mission of the crew (see below) on May 15, 1943, and was made as a morale-building inspiration for the Home Front by showing the everyday courage of the men who manned these bombers.


Churchill’s First World War

The period 1915-1918 was the darkest hour in the life of Winston Churchill.  Disgraced by the Gallipoli disasters, he fell from the Admiralty and political power, and was subjected to a whole series of political humiliations.  He was “finished”.  His wife feared he would die of grief.  This was his greatest test.

He was also tormented because he knew he was one of the very few political leaders opposed to the dreadful one note strategy of endless attrition in Flanders which was chewing up a whole generation on barbed wire.  His invention of the tank and promotion of air power (as well as Gallipoli) stemmed from his determination to find another strategic way; but how could he help save the nation if he was disgraced and exiled from power?

All his virtues were seen as vices.  This is the story of his fall and the road to redemption.


War’s Secret Shame: Shell Shock

An emotional account of the mental-health crisis caused by the First World War, and the long struggle to face the devastating impact suffered by soldiers ever since. In the aftermath of the First World War, soldiers who sacrificed so much were called cowards when they came home. Paralysed by fatigue, anxiety and extreme terrors, they were the victims of shell shock.

This emotional film delves into previously unseen archives to tell their story. Featuring interviews with top specialists, recovering veterans, and the British Ministry of Defence, it’s a moving account of the battle against an insidious killer.

From the doctor who challenged orthodoxy during the Great War, to the campaigners who brought a lawsuit against their government after the first Gulf War, meet the outliers who paved the way for progress.