Remembrance Day 2017

Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War.

This November, the HISTORY channel has an impressive line-up of specials and documentaries to remember those who have served and sacrificed their lives for Australia and New Zealand, to share their stories of bravery and heroism. 

Historical Profiles – John J. Pershing 

They called him “Black Jack” but his title was General of the Armies, John J. Pershing. Only one other man ever held that rank…George Washington. “Black Jack” was a soldier “by the books” a trait that won him the respect and admiration of his men and the world, as he led his troops on the battle fields of France in the First World War. He fought the war and helped shape the modern American army…he helped make the United States the military power of our century.


SPECIAL – Gallipoli: Last ANZACs Tell All

Narrated by Jack Thompson and featuring the last Gallipoli Anzacs this film challenges the widely held perspective of the Gallipoli Campaign and the birth of the Anzac legend


SPECIAL – Western Front: Last Survivors Tell All

Commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Fromelles with the last ten surviving WWI veterans as they reveal how 2000 young Australians were killed in their first Western Front battle.



Palestine: Last Lighthorsemen Tell All 

This landmark centennial tribute marks the 100th anniversary year 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.


SERIES – ANZAC Battlefields

Where is the Western Front? Why did two vast armies dig in, extending lines of trenches from the Channel ports almost to the Alps? This is the battlefield that the ANZACs, withdrawn from Gallipoli, entered at the beginning of 1916.

Industrial warfare at its most terrifying, gas, tanks, machine guns, barbed wire, the ANZACS find themselves fully acquainted with the texture of war on the Western Front.

It is 1917 and the Anzacs are involved in the seminal battles of Bullecourt, Ypres, Messines and Menin Road. The year starts for the Australians with success but a German counter-attack overwhelms them at Bullecourt.

One of the most notorious killing fields of WWI – Passchendaele. We walk where the battalions fought and where the artillery sank in liquid mud.

The German’s launched the massive Operation Michael on an 80 kilometre front on March 21st 1918, the greatest offensive of the war. We hear stories of desperate defence and the crumbling of the Allied line.

As the Germans retreated towards the fortified Hindenburg Line they attempted a ‘scorched earth’ policy, cratering roads and destroying bridges. Vigorous pursuit was necessary to prevent this.


SPECIAL – The Battle of Long Tan

This exclusive documentary honours the true story behind the heroic deeds of a group of young Australian and NZ soldiers in one of the most pivotal, dramatic and shocking engagements of the Vietnam War.


Lusitania: 18 Minutes That Changed World War I 

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 Pity Of War

The First World War was one of the great turning points of modern history. We know – or think we know – where and when it began. In the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, on 28 June 1914, a Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip murdered the heir to the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. But how and why did this crisis in the Balkans escalate into a bloody global conflagration? Did Britain really have to fight a war against Germany? And what did this war say about humankind’s propensity for violence? In this fascinating and fresh take on the Great War, Harvard historian Professor Niall Ferguson argues that much of the responsibility for the scale of the conflict lies with the British. He suggests that Britain’s decision to enter the war in 1914 was not merely tragic for those who lost their lives, it was also a catastrophic error that unleashed an era of totalitarianism and genocide around the world.



The ANZAC Spirit

When things are tough – on the sports field, in the face of natural disaster – we summon up The ANZAC Spirit. We know what we mean – the spirit shown by the original ANZACs on Gallipoli, in the Middle East and on the Western Front. But what were the qualities those ANZACs had that came together to be The ANZAC Spirit? They were: mateship, courage, humour, igenuity, endurance and individualism. Through the resources of the Australian War Memorial – photographs, documents, objects – Neil Pigot tells six stories of the ANZACs, each illustrating one of these qualities and all in combination bringing to life the very best examples of The ANZAC Spirit.


Breaker Morant: The Retrial 

The story of Australian legend Harry “The Breaker” Morant who was executed by the British Imperial Army in 1902, has become symbolic of what was wrong at the highest level of British command, in the little known but brutal Boer War. The film exposes the heartless cruelty, and criminal behaviour that was at the heart of British military strategy and also throws a light into the darker corners of modern warfare. Lieutenant Harry Harbord Morant was charged with shooting prisoners but his trial and hasty execution was a cover up for commanding officers who issued orders to take no prisoners which they later denied. The high command was imposing a program of murder and near genocide in a campaign to subjugate the local Boer population in South Africa all for the purpose of controlling the newly discovered goldfields. This was the first war to be filmed by the newly invented movie camera and the international telegraph meant that for the first time events across the world could be on the front page the next day. In this film fully dramatised scenes illustrate the complex story. Expert opinion from historians and high-level legal practitioners are presented with new evidence revealed for the first time in this program. It is a journey of intrigue and mystery as narrator Neil Pigot travels to three continents to find out the real Breaker Morant story, and discovers why he came to be a scapegoat for the British Army’s scorched earth practices in the South Africa War. It tells the full story of the tireless naval lawyer, Jim Unkles as he takes on the Australian and British parliament seeking a pardon for Morant.


SERIES – Changed Forever

“Changed Forever” is the dramatised story of Australia and Australians during the years of the First World War. Through the experiences of the common soldier, the commander, the politician, the family, the working man, the journalist and the superstar we weave narratives which illustrate events in Australia, Europe, the Middle East and America. Presented and narrated by Colin Friels, “Changed Forever” vividly recreates, in a most original way, years whose influence continues to resonate in the story of who we are and how we understand ourselves.


WWII: The Bombing War 

The allied bombings of WWII and the French civilian casualties they caused have been brushed aside in history as part of inevitable collateral damage of war. But did such a purportedly legitimate purpose require so much sacrifice?


The Great War

In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the war on April 6, 1917, The Great War explores how World War I changed America and the world. Drawing on the latest scholarship, including unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, The Great War tells the rich and complex story of the conflict through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “doughboys.”

The series explores the costs and challenges of bringing America into World War I and the ways the war transformed every aspect of American life through the experiences of African­American and Latino soldiers, suffragists, Native American “code talkers,” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten.


SPECIAL – Armistice

Professor David Reynolds takes a fresh look at the extraordinary events and personalities involved in the Armistice which brought the Frist World war to an end in 1918.  He uncovers a story of wounded egos, political scheming and brinkmanship behind the lines as statesmen and generals haggled over the terms of peace while, at the front, the soldiers fought on.

In a journey that takes him through command centres and battlefields, he explores why half a million men were killed or wounded in the bitter endgame of the ‘Great War’ and he unravels how Germany ultimately plunged to total defeat. In March 1918 the Germans nearly won the war; in November they not only lost it, their country also fell apart in revolution, leaving them unable to resist the Allies’ harsh terms.  So, for many Germans, the new order was a betrayal of all they had fought for – a lasting resentment that would eventually fuel Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

November 11th proved to be a doomed peace – a prelude to a century-long struggle for mastery of Europe.  David Reynolds argues that it was the frenetic politicking and brutality of the fighting in1918 that sowed the seeds of the even bloodier Second World War just 20 years later.


Great Mysteries And Myths: The Gallipoli Mystery 

A brief look at the reasons why the Gallipoli campaign turned into one of the most disastrous of WWI.


Railways Of The Great War 

World War I was a railway war. Michael Portillo finds out how the railways helped to precipitate a mechanised war, shaped how it was fought, conveyed millions to the trenches and bore witness to its end.


The Forgotten General 

Based on Jock Vennell’s book of the same name, explore the life of a man regarded as one of New Zealand’s finest ever military commanders.


 SPECIAL – The Last Ring Home

The Last Ring Home is the story of Lt Minter Dial’s Annapolis Naval Academy ring, that miraculously made its way home 18 years after he was killed as a POW of the Japanese in WWII. The Last Ring Home is a tribute to Lt Dial, the producer’s grandfather, and all members of the “Greatest Generation,” and the men and women among the Allied forces who gave so much. It is also a journey of self-discovery, having an impact on the filmmaker, his wider family and many other people in its wake. This story, which took over 25 years of research, illustrates the importance of serendipity and the role of good and bad luck in piecing together a personal history of someone who died 70 years ago. The Last Ring Home is to inspire everyone to uncover their own personal history, to keep a foot in their past and the other foot in the future and to be thankful for the tremendous present in which we live, thanks to the sacrifices of the those who fought in WWII.


The Memorial: Secrets Of The Anzac Legend – The Unknown Soldier 

Neil Oliver goes behind the scenes at the Australian War Memorial as its dedicated staff prepare for the commemoration of Remembrance Day. Neil investigates the history of the Unknown Soldier.


SPECIAL – 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 2, 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.


Spirit Of The Railway 

The true story of the forced construction of the infamous Thai-Burma Railway by prisoners of war during World War 2. 100,000 men died of disease, starvation or were beaten to death by the Japanese and Korean guards.


The Somme 1916: From Both Sides 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?


Tony Robinson’s Tour Of Duty – Fremantle 

“Tony Robinson’s Tour of Duty” focuses on the last century of war and war service in Australia – on the battlefield, and on the home front.

Whilst this series is a continuation of the much loved quirky Tony Robinson format, there is one important distinction – a Community Roadshow, where the locals of the towns and cities Tony visits become the stars of the show. Tony encourages the locals to show off memorabilia, tell stories and share poignant recollections of their ancestors who fought the war at home and abroad.


Les Darcy: The Maitland Wonder

In an era when boxing champions held a celebrity status even greater than that of today, one man’s success made him a legend in his lifetime – Les Darcy, The Maitland Wonder.

With extensive archival footage and accounts from people who shared his life and saw him fight we reveal the man behind the legend. This documentary depicts his progress from the blacksmiths workshop in Maitland to the thunderous applause before a full house at Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay Stadium.

A hero to some, a coward to others. This is one of the most amazing stories in Australia’s sporting history.


War Horse: The Real Story 

This is the extraordinary and deeply moving true story of the million British horses who served in World War One. It is told using rare archive and testimony, combined with the latest historical research.

The story begins with the mass call up of horses from every farm and country estate in the land. Brough Scott evokes the world of Downton Abbey as he tells the tale of his aristocratic grandfather Jack Seely and his courageous horse Warrior who would become the most famous horse of the war. In a new era of mechanised trench warfare, the deep bond that developed between man and horse helped both survive the hell of the Somme and Passchendaele.

The finest hour of the cavalry came in spring 1918 when, led by Warrior, they broke through the German lines and helped win the war. But there was heartache for the horses when the war ended. 85,000 of the oldest were sold for horse meat. Half a million were sold to French farmers to help rebuild the countryside. Only 60,000 made it back to Britain.

Six black horses that survived the war would pull the body of the unknown warrior to its last resting place in Westminster Abbey. But the most famous war horse of all to return in glory was Warrior. His story, like the million other British horses who served, should never be forgotten.