Face Off Series Examines World War II

During the Twentieth Century there have been two world wars and numerous conflicts which have produced some of the most complex battles ever fought by Mankind on this planet.

The Second World War alone accounted directly or indirectly for the loss of fifty million lives. Each major war or conflict has produced heroes of the hour – men who rose above the mediocre to lead their fellow men to victory and sometimes defeat. These Great Commanders have led and inspired their troops on land, on sea and in the air.

In the great tradition of Alexander the Great, Nelson, George Washington and Napoleon, the Twentieth Century has produced its own commanders who for the first time, have had their exploits filmed. In many cases their rise through the ranks, their social backgrounds, their early mistakes and the formulation of their personalities have been recorded on moving film in a way that was not possible in any other age.

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In this new series ‘Face Off’ the producers have had access to 500,000 hours of the finest and most elusive archive film in the world. By examining the lives of these great Twentieth Century Commanders in pictorial detail and with newly produced 3-D graphics it is possible to take, in each program, two of the world’s greatest combatants in their ultimate test – the Battle which took place at the peak of their careers and which led to victory for one and very often disgrace, defeat and failure for the other.

‘Face Off’ examines the background tactics and strategy which enabled Admiral Nimitz to defeat Admiral Yamamoto at Midway. It will take you behind the scenes in the Battle of Britain and show in never before shown footage how Air Marshall Dowding defeated the Luftwaffe of Herman Goering with only a handful of Spitfires and Hurricanes.

New state of the art 3-D graphics will enable the viewer to carefully weigh the balance of probabilities as codebreaking, logistics, bravado and luck all played the part as the great Commanders came together for the final face-off.

How did Bradley defeat Model in the Bulge? How did Halsey beat Kurita at Leyte? What were the tactics used by Schwarzkopf to defeat Saddam and how did Buckner beat Ushijima at Okinawa?

Only by viewing the secrets, some of which will be revealed in this series for the first time, will the viewer be taken behind the scenes and shown the build up to twenty-six of the most pivotal clashes of the Twentieth Century. Face-offs between the biggest names that history can provide. The ultimate weighed and measured clash of the Titans – ‘Face Off’.

Within weeks of the outbreak of World War 1, the course of the struggle on the Western Front was effectively decided amid the vast plains, forests, and lakes of East Prussia. A 67-year-old German general, Paul von Hindenburg, was brought out of retirement to defend his country. In one of the great annihilation battles of history he defeated two Russian armies coordinated by the uncle of Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duke Nicholas. Specially researched computer maps and graphics show in detail how the Germans used superior mobility to defeat a numerically superior enemy, and illustrate some of the critical moments of the battle.

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Desperate to break the stalemate on the Western Front in 1916, Germany’s army chief-of-staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, conceived a diabolical plan -by attacking one of France’s most symbolic towns he would draw her army into a bloodbath, and bleed it to death. At first this seemed to be working all too well, for more than six months the battle raged, with more than three-quarters of the French army going in to defend Verdun and suffering dreadfully. But the Germans had not allowed for the courage of the ordinary French soldiers, or the steadfastness of their commander, Philippe Petain.

The last great cavalry battle in history was fought on the biblical site of Armageddon in Palestine during the latter stages of World War 1. In a brilliantly executed surprise attack, British Empire Forces led by Edmund Allenby and supported by Lawrence and the Arabs, shattered an outnumbered Turkish army under the command of German general Liman von Sanders, and brought about the collapse of the centuries-old Ottoman Empire. The battle also included the use of early air power, and specially-developed full-colour computer graphics illustrate one of the most crucial actions.

As 1918 dawned, Germany’s commander on the Western Front, Erich von Ludendorff, launched a desperate gamble to win the war before the growing flood of American troops being deployed against him led to certain defeat. Using specially-trained stormtroops and the most concentrated artillery barrage yet known, his troops burst through the British lines and seemed to be threatening Paris. But the nerve of the British, and their commander Douglas Haig held. Despite repeated attempts, the last great German offensive was ground down. The battles were notable for the first tank against tank engagement in history, and this is brought to life in a carefully-researched four-color graphic.

September 1918 saw the first full-scale action of the American Expeditionary Force during World War 1. Its commander, John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing had carefully built up its strength and now his inexperienced troops were committed to battle against some of Germany’s most battle-hardened troops, led by their outstanding leader, Max von Gallwitz. Superb four-color computer graphics illustrate the difficult wooded and hilly terrain with which the Americans were confronted, the superb German defenses they had to overcome, and the way in which tanks worked with infantry to achieve a successful breakthrough.

In the summer of 1940 Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany. Much of Europe had been defeated, and the triumphant Luftwaffe under its flamboyant leader Hermann Goering was poised to seize control of the air and allow an invasion of this last bastion of freedom. Only Royal Air Force Fighter Command stood in the way – and the Germans had no doubt that this could swiftly be annihilated.

But its reserved and unassuming commander Hugh Dowding was determined that his massively outnumbered force could save his country. Action footage and specially-developed computer graphics combine to tell the story of a unique confrontation – the only battle which has ever been decided by air power alone.

Manfred Rommel made his name as one of the outstanding commanders of World War 2 leading the German Afrika Korps in a series of sweeping victories which took his forces almost to the banks of the Suez Canal. But at an obscure railway halt in the desert, he came up against his nemesis.

Cautious and methodical, Bernard Montgomery was a very different sort of leader, but one ideally suited to the costly and desperate slogging match that was needed to penetrate the formidable Axis defense lines and begin the long advance across North Africa. Four-color computer graphics complement action footage to bring alive the methods used to achieve the vital breakthrough.

Interested in the holocaust? Read up on its history in this article. You can also read more on World War II here and here.