Battlefield (documentary series)

Battlefield (documentary series)

Infobox Television Film
name = Battlefield

format = War documentary
director =
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"Battlefield" is a documentary series initially issued in 1994-5 that explores the most important battles fought during the Second World War. The series employs a novel approach in which the history of World War II is described by detailed accounts of 12 major battles together with a variety of background and other related information. The series provides a comprehensive narrative of the war; in addition to traditional tactical details, subjects such as personalities and motivations of the leaders, technological developments, management of war economies, strategic contributions of smaller battles, etc. are explored in terms of their contribution to particular turning points. Rare footage specific to each battle is included.

Broadcast History

These documentaries were produced and aired over several seasons as separate series. Series One is focused on the main key battles in WW2, and Series Two deals with other lesser known but significant battles. Series Three: Vietnam of the Battlefield Vietnam (documentary series) consists of twelve one-hour episodes from the acclaimed TV series devoted to Vietnam's key battles.

The Battlefield series was originally aired on BBC and later on PBS. The Military Channel currently shows a shortened version of the series. With a minimum of recreations (though slightly more than some other documentaries, most notably the World at War which has in most episodes no recreations) this show is nearly 100% actual combat footage. The narrator speaks throughout the series, with no interviews of actual battle veterans. Detailed analysis of the battle including leaders, commanders, soldiers and weapons is presented. Events preceding the featured battle are presented, as well as some aftermath details.


Each episode of Battlefield is divided into segments. A typical sequence is as follows:

:*Prelude to Battle:*The Leaders:*Strategy for Offense:*Strategy for Defense:*The Commanders:*The Opposing Forces:*Weapons:*The Men:*The Eve of Battle:*The Battle, several Phases:*Order of Battle :*The Battle Won:*After the Battle

Series One

Infobox Television Film
bgcolour =
name = Battlefield Series One

caption =
format = Documentary
runtime = 11 hours 10 minutes
starring = Tim Pigott-Smith (Narrator)
creator = La Mancha Productions, a co-production with Polygram Video International
director = Andy Aitken, Dave Flitton, Justin McCarthy;
Writers: Andy Aitken, Dave Flitton, Charlie McBride, James Wignall
producer = Dave Flitton
writer =
music = David Galbraith
country = UK
language = English
network =
released = 02/05/2005
first_aired =
last_aired =
num_episodes = 6
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
imdb_id =
tv_com_id =
amg_id =

BATTLEFIELD Series One (1994) consists of six two hour programs describing the pivotal confrontations of World War II (France, Britain, Midway, Stalingrad, Normandy and Berlin). Each conflict is placed in the larger context of the global situation. Strategy and tactics are described in detail using graphics. Archival footage from several sources includes rare film from the Moscow archives. Narrated by Tim Piggot Smith and commemorating the 60th anniversary of VE day - 8 May 1945 - Series One consists of:
#The Battle of France - Blitzkrieg's most astonishing triumph, establishing Hitler as unassailable within continental Europe.
#The Battle of Britain - An historical account of The Battle Of Britain which was to become a battle for air supremacy. The two mightiest air fleets in the world clashed in tumultuous mortal combat. At issue was Britain’s very survival.
#The Battle of Midway - An historical account of The Battle Of Midway which found the American Navy out-numbered 2:1 by the Japanese fleet. The stakes were no less dramatic when Americans met Japanese in this carrier-to-carrier battle of Midway. Both sides knew that the victor would rule the Pacific for years to come.
#The Battle of Stalingrad - The annihilation of an entire army amidst the charred and frozen ruins of Stalingrad was a catastrophe for Nazi arms. Thereafter, the colossus of the Red Army was never to lose the initiative in the East.
#The Battle of Normandy - D-Day was the biggest amphibious operation in history. But even after the Allied troops had successfully forced a landing in strength, they still had to face a foe whose tenacity and resilience in defense was legendary.
#The Battle of Berlin - The furious, climatic last battle of Hitler’s war. Over half a million lives were lost as the Red Army finally crushed the last Nazi citadel.

Series 1 Specifications:
*Genre/Theme: Documentary, war related
*Language: English
*DVD Region: Region 2 (Europe) and 4 (Australia, New Zealand)
*Studio(s): Universal Pictures Video; Universal Music Operations Ltd.
*Copyright 1994 Universal Pictures Visual Programming.
*Music: David Galbraith
*Publisher: Hornall Brothers Music Ltd.
*Release date: 02/05/2005
*Format: PAL, six two-hour episodes on six DVDs
*Running Time: 11 hours 10 minutes

Series Two

BATTLEFIELD Series Two (1996) consists of six two-hour (100 minute) episodes that focus on the battles that won the Second World War:
#The Battle for North Africa - The long struggle for North Africa provided US forces with invaluable battle experience, paving the way for the eventual re-conquest of Europe.
#The Battle of the Atlantic - For the British the longest and most critical battle of the entire war. The German intention was to sever Britain's trading links with the world, guaranteeing her capitulation.
#The Battle for Russia - Hitler's plan for the conquest of Russia called for a classic Blitzkrieg offensive, which would be pressed ruthlessly to its conclusion within the course of a single season's campaign.
#The Battle for Italy - When victory in North Africa seemed assured, Allied Planners turned their attention to Italy. The objective was to seize Rome, knock Italy out of the war and push north towards Austria.
#The Battle of Leyte Gulf To restore American prestige in the Pacific, Roosevelt authorised an invasion of the Philippines, a former US territory and the scene of a humiliating defeat at the hands of Japan in 1942.
#The Battle of the Rhine During the last months of 1944 the British and Americans pressed steadily through France and Belgium to the western frontiers of the Third Reich.

*Genre/Theme: Documentary, war related
*Language: English
*DVD Region: Region 2 (Europe)
*Studio(s): Universal Pictures Video; Universal Music Operations Ltd
*Release date: 02/05/2005
*Format: PAL
*Number of Discs: 6
*Running Time: 300 mins

Series Three

BATTLEFIELD Series Three (1999) presents the key battles of the Vietnam War in six two-hour episodes:
#Dien Bien Phu - The Legacy : The Undeclared War
#Search and Destroy : The Showdown in the Iron Triangle
#Countdown to Tet : The Tet Offensive
#War on the DMZ : Siege at the Khe Sahn
#Air War Vietnam : Rolling Thunder
#Peace With Honour : The Fall of Saigon

Series Three was reissued by Time-Life as 12 segments, each 50 minutes long, on NTSC VHS videotapes. Between the end of 1996 and late summer 1998, [ Gavin Bonnar] and World War II Veteran Greg Moodie produced 3D animations and graphics for the 12 hour Battlefield Vietnam documentary series. The series was produced by LaMancha Productions and produced and directed by Dave Flitton. A PolyGram Visual Programming/Lamancha co-production. Narrated by Gavin MacFadyen.

Series Four

BATTLEFIELD Series Four has been published by Time-Life with 50-minute NTSC VHS videotape episodes. The program copyright is Cromwell Productions, Ltd. (2001). This series of 12 tapes includes the following titles:
# Pearl Harbor
# Fall Of Singapore
# The Bomber Offensive 1941-1943
# The Destruction Of The Luftwaffe 1944-1945
# Awakening The Bear
# Russia's War Against Japan
# Island Hopping
# The Defeat Of Japan
# Operation Zitadelle
# The Battle For Kursk
# The Road To Leningrad
# The Battle For Kurland

Series 4 - 6

In May 2006, [ Eagle Rock Entertainment] issued NTSC Region 1 DVDs of "Battlefield - The classic military series" with 18 programs of 100 minutes each. The 'Battlefield' series has become an almost permanent fixture in the schedules of broadcasters all over the world and has established itself amongst generations of viewers new and old. Major networks still showing documentaries from the ‘Battlefield’ series include Discovery Networks Europe (UK) and PBS Television (USA). ‘Battlefield’ has also been at the top of the list for buyers of military history videos.

The series features
* Archive film, including rare colour footage
* Informative maps and graphics
* The political and military situation before each battle
* Portraits of leaders and commanders
* Explanations of weapons and tactics
* Detailed analysis of the cause of each battle
* The action in the context of the war as a whole

Titles in series 4 from 2001:
# The Battle Of Kursk
# Air War Over Germany
# Manchuria - The Forgotten Victory
# Pearl Harbor
# Guadalcanal
# The Siege Of Leningrad

Titles in series 5 from 2001:
# The Battles For Tunisia
# El Alamein
# Monte Cassino
# The West Wall
# Arnhem
# The Battle Of Falaise / Caen

Titles in series 6 from 2002:
# Battle for Crimea
# Scandinavia - The Forgotten Front
# The War Against U-Boats
# Destination Okinawa
# The Campaign in the Balkans
# The Fight for the Mediterranean

Several episodes have been shown on The Military Channel:

The Battle of France, The Battle of Britain, The Battle of Berlin, The Battle of Midway, The Battle of Stalingrad, The Battle of Normandy, The Battle of Leyte Gulf, The Battle of Kursk, The Battle of the Atlantic, The Battle for Russia, The Battle for North Africa, The Battle for Italy, The Battle of the Rhine

Time-Life Video has published an NTSC VHS videotape series based on the PBS broadcasts of BATTLEFIELD Series One as the TIME-LIFE VIDEO: BATTLEFIELD WORLD WAR II VIDEO LIBRARY.

1) THE BATTLE OF FRANCE "DANZIG" (1994) * 56 MINUTES• Rare archival footage and state-of-the-art computer graphics in the Battle of France details the complexities of Hitler's greatest campaign...and illustrates that within the firestorm of that momentous victory would burn the embers of his eventual defeat.

2) THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN - PRELUDE TO BATTLE (1994) * 58 MINUTES• Part one of the Battle of Britain brings you inside Hitler's War Room, inside the cockpits and inside the tactics of the leaders themselves with rare archival footage, state-of-the-art computer graphics and obscure, often shocking, facts about the battle that was Britain's "finest hour."

3) THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN - THE BATTLE (1994) * 57 MINUTES• Part two of the Battle of Britain brings you closer than ever before the fury of war. By pulling his strike force way from the crippled British military airfields, Hitler unwittingly gave the RAF precious time to recover. The campaign he expected to proceed smoothly, turned into a battle for the ages.

4) THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY - PRELUDE TO BATTLE (1994) * 57 MINUTES• Part one of the Battle of Midway lays the groundwork for the most spectacular sea battle of World War II -- one in which at no point did the opposing forces ever come into visual contact with each other. Midway Island with its strategic position made it a throne from which a navy could rule the Pacific. 5) THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY - THE BATTLE (1994) * 57 MINUTES• Part two of the Battle of Midway chronicles one of World War II most famous naval engagements. The Japanese were confident of another triumph. The Americans, armed with radar and the ability to read Japanese coded communications, fought back with surprising ferocity. CASUALTIES - AMERICA: the carrier Yorktown, one destroyer, 150 planes and 307 lives. JAPAN: four aircraft carriers, two heavy cruisers, three destroyers, 275 planes and 3,500 lives!

6) THE BATTLE OF STALINGRAD - PRELUDE TO BATTLE (1994) * 58 min • Part one of the Battle of Stalingrad is the story of Germany's Wehrmacht against the Russian Red Army. The Russians appeared to be seriously overmatched, but history would prove that they were ready for battle when it counted.

7) THE BATTLE OF STALINGRAD - THE BATTLE (1994) * 57 MINUTES• Part two of the Battle of Stalingrad provides an unflinching glimpse of the desperation and horrors of war during one of World War II's most ferocious and bloody battles. Hitler's Sixth Army held Stalingrad alone -- cut off from supplies by hundreds of miles of Russian-held territory. After a brutal battle 110,000 German soldiers were captured -- only 5,000 lived to see Germany again!

8) THE BATTLE OF NORMANDY - PRELUDE TO BATTLE (1994) * 57 min • The men: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt & Adolf Hitler. The Germans are prepared for the invasion, but the Allies' campaign of deception made them deploy their armies in the wrong places. Meanwhile, the Allies had broken the German Enigma code giving them a priceless advantage.

9) THE BATTLE OF NORMANDY - THE BATTLE (1994) * 58 MINUTES• June 6, 1944 - D-Day! In one day, five separate beaches were taken, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Within days, all the Allied beachheads were linked up. However, progress was excruciating slow. See in detail World War II's most important battle! 10) THE BATTLE OF BERLIN - PRELUDE TO BATTLE (1994) * 57 min • The men: Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Intelligence experts informed Hitler that the Red Army had deployed eleven men for every German soldier along the Eastern Front. Seven Soviet tanks for every German Tank, Twenty Soviet guns for every German gun...Hitler ignored the warnings. The result was one of the most bitter, savage and horrific battles of World War II.

11) THE BATTLE OF BERLIN - THE BATTLE (1994) * 58 MINUTES• As senior Nazi officials cowardly fled from Berlin, 300,000 Germans were left to defend the city -- less than 20% with combat experience. The German soldiers contested every inch preferring death to life under Soviet rule. The result? 305,000 Soviet deaths, 125,000 German civilians killed, thousands more military casualties. The legacy of this battle would be the eventual erection of the Berlin Wall.

Time-Life Video issued NTSC tapes of Battlefield Series Two as Volumes 13 through 24:

*Battlefield: Volume 13-The Battle for North Africa: Prelude to Battle
*Battlefield: Volume 14-The Battle for North Africa: The Battle

*Battlefield: Volume 15-Battle of the Atlantic-Prelude to Battle
*Battlefield: Volume 16-Battle of the Atlantic-The Battle

*Battlefield: Volume 17-Battle for Russia-Prelude to Battle
*Battlefield: Volume 18-Battle for Russia-The Battle

*Battlefield: Volume 19-Battle for Italy: Prelude to Battle
*Battlefield: Volume 20-Battle for Italy: The Battle

*Battlefield: Volume 21-Battle of Leyte Gulf:Prelude to Battle
*Battlefield: Volume 22-Battle of Leyte Gulf:The Battle

*Battlefield: Volume 23-Battle of the Rhine:Prelude to Battle
*Battlefield: Volume 24-Battle of the Rhine:The Battle

Numerous other episodes were made in 2001-2002 that included some of the minor battles of the war, including Battle of the Crimea, Battle for Manchuria, Air War over Europe, Battle of Leningrad, Battle of the West Wall, Battle of El Alamein..etc.

The Battlefield series has been issued in videotape by Polygram Video (UK - PAL format) and Time-Life (USA - NTSC format). DVD collections were reissued by Polygram Video in the UK (PAL format) in 2005.

The credits for Series One include:
*Narrator - Tim Piggot Smith
*Executive Producers - David Rozalla, Dave McWhinnie
*Producer - Dale Flitton
*Directors - Andy Aitken, Dave Flitton, Justin McCarthy
*Editor - Neil McLauchlan
*Assistant Editor - Gordon Bruic
*Graphic Designer - Greg Moodie
*Assistant Directors - Jo Scott, Moe Honan, James Wignall
*Writers - Andy Aitken, Dave Flition, Charlie McBride, James Wignall
*Historical Consultant - Prof. John Erickson
*Music - David Galbraith
*Sound Effects - Fred Parsons
*Production Assistant - Kate Hymers

The Battlefield series is copyrighted by PolyGram Video International. The series was produced by Cromwell Productions of Stratford Upon Avon, Warwicks, ENGLAND. Over the years Cromwell Productions in the UK has produced a wide variety of military history documentaries.

Example Citations from Library Collections

*The Battle of Midway / La Mancha Productions, a co-production with Polygram Video International; producer, Dave Flitton; directors, Andy Aitken, Dave Flitton, Justin McCarthy; writers, Andy Aitken, Dave Flitton, Charlie McBride, James Wignall; editor, Neil McLauchlan, assistant editor, Gordon Bruic; narrator, Tim Piggot Smith; music, David Galbraith. Alexandria, Va.: Time Life Video; PolyGram Video, 1995. 2 videocassettes (VHS) (118 min.). [PolyGram Video V699-05, V699-06] .
*Battlefield : Battle of Britain. New York : La Mancha Productions; distributed by Polygram Video, 1994. 116 min. (940.542 B2 1994 v.01 c.2 Video / IRC-CIS)
*BATTLEFIELD VIETNAM [VIDEORECORDING] / SERIES PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY DAVE FLITTON. [U.K.] : Universal Studios, c2005. "A PolyGram Visual Programming/Lamancha co-production." Colour recording system: PAL ; Region 2, 4. Narrated by Gavin MacFadyen. Disc 1. Dien Bien Phu, the legacy -- The undeclared war. Disc 2. Search and destroy -- Showdown in the iron triangle. Disc 3. Countdown to Tet -- The Tet offensive. Disc 4. War on the DMZ -- Siege at Khe Sanh. Disc 5. Air war Vietnam -- Rolling thunder. Disc 6. Peace with honor -- The fall of Saigon. Computer graphics and archival footage illustrate many facets of the various battles of the Vietnam era. First released: U.S. : PolyGram Visual Programming, 1998. DVD. ERC Reserve Media. 959.7043 BATT. Region 2,4 Contents:6 discs.

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