Cambridge American Cemetery Visitor Center Film
Seen in the Cambridge American Cemetery Visitor Center, this film shares the story of those Americans who were based out of the United Kingdom and fought and died in the Battle of the Atlantic, the Strategic Air War and in preparations for the Normandy invasion. The visitor center opened in May 2014 and is free and open to the public.
NARRATOR: On the battlefields of World War II, from the North Atlantic to the skies of Europe, to the shores of Normandy and beyond, a generation came face to face with history. Their courage, their competence and sacrifice, their friendships, forged and reforged in combat, all would turn the tide of battle. Those who traveled far, those who laid down their lives for freedom, those who fought to change the future of Europe and the world. We honor all of them here, at the Cambridge American Cemetery.
December 1941: The United Kingdom has been fighting a desperate battle for two long years. German U-boats, often in the infamous wolf packs, are devastating key Atlantic supply lines.
RADIO ANNOUNCER: The Nazis say their own U-boats sank the twenty-two thousand ton vessel, and credited the attack to two submarines under command of Lieutenant Reschke and Guggenberger.
NARRATOR: Shipping losses are reaching dangerous levels, with the Nazis managing to sink Allied vessels on a daily basis. Over a million tons of ships, fuel, and equipment have gone down. For the Allies, it’s a make or break challenge. If they lose this vital lifeline, they could lose the entire war. Over the next four years, British, American and other Allied forces will fight together to win the Battle of the Atlantic. Their over-arching goal: to keep the Allied war effort alive with a steady stream of these much needed resources.
During this epic struggle, more than 3,000 Allied vessels will be sunk. After a collision in the icy waters of the North Atlantic Chief Radio Officer Murray Blum dives into the wreckage-filled sea to rescue two men. He dies looking for others to save. The struggle reaches a critical point in the Spring of 1943. After months of tragic losses, Allied forces start to drive out the U-boats, and regain control of the seas. Safeguarding the vital convoys upon which the Allies depend. Even as battles at sea continue, the focus of the Allied war effort begins to shift.
INTERCOM CHATTER: - Two fighters six-o’clock up coming in dive or not Chief?
- B-17 in trouble out...
- 2 o'clock watch it!
- We’ve got an engine on fire...
NARRATOR: July 1942: American bombers join the battle for the skies as an air offensive escalates over Europe. Relentless waves of heavy bombers pound German military and industrial targets.
RADIO ANNOUNCER: With thousands of bombers and fighters we're attacking the Germans by day and by night-this sledgehammer blow smashed German resistance.
NARRATOR: In time, the impact will be devastating to Germany’s cities and its air force. But Allied crews suffer heavy losses too, flying dangerous missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.
INTERCOM CHATTER: - Watch em' Scotty!
- I got my sights on them
- Check that B-17 Chuck
- 3 o'clock!
- Motor's smoking
- Fire at 10:30 coming around
- 10:30 upper or lower?
NARRATOR: En route to bomb crucial factories, in Schweinfurt, Germany, Staff Sergeant Winston Toomey is mortally wounded when his B-17 encounters devastating anti-aircraft fire. Refusing to leave his post, he released his bombs, closed the bomb doors, and slumped over, dead…surviving just long enough to complete his mission. Allied bombers fly around the clock…the British batter German cities by night, the Americans strike high-value targets by day. Air supremacy is a linchpin on which the war turns. If the Allies win the skies over Europe, they can hope to succeed in the amphibious invasion that will be D-Day, taking the battle into Germany.
December 1943: More than 1.5 million American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are pouring into the British Isles, in preparation for the largest amphibious assault in history. New friendships emerge as different cultures are thrust together in the great undertaking. A team is built through months of preparation.
Training is grueling…and at times lethal…Private Jacob Bohl is part of an Engineering Special Brigade training in Exercise Tiger, a dress rehearsal for the coming invasion. Maneuvering in the English Channel in the dead of night, his convoy is spotted by German attack boats and torpedoed. Bohl and over 700 others will go down. But all these efforts led to one day, one moment, when the Allies embarked on the liberation of France.
GENERAL EISENHOWER: Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force -You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade...
NARRATOR: That day is June 6, 1944...when the Normandy landings begin.
RADIO ANNOUNCER: ...and armies of men are in motion fighting the greatest military amphibious undertaking in history.
NARRATOR: In the following months, across the hedgerows and the rolling terrain of France, the tide of battle will turn. As casualties continue to mount, thousands of wounded are evacuated to Great Britain to recover from the tolls of battle. For each of the men and women who battled so bravely, this is their monument, a reminder of their heroism and their lives, and a legacy that is all around us, in the freedom we enjoy each day. It stands here at the Cambridge American Cemetery. To acknowledge those who fell, to honor their sacrifice, to remember who they were, and what they did, when the world hung in the balance.