Friday, June 3, 2011

Battle of Arnhem - Two Movies on the Battle

The author of this blog has had published two reviews on movies chronicling the Battle of Arnhem. The first was 'Theirs is the Glory' (1946) and the second 'A Bridge Too Far' (1977). Reproduced below they can also be found at Airborne Assault ParaData, The Living History of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces. See; and


The film 'Theirs Is the Glory', produced in 1946, was the first significant effort to chronicle the gallant stand of the British 1st Airborne Division, including 2 Wings of the Glider Pilot Regiment and the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group in the battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden) which lasted from 17 September to 25 September 1944. It preceded the epic film A Bridge Too Far by 31 years.

It was a unique production in many respects, not the least of which was it was actually filmed on the war-torn site of the battle, used as ‘actors’ only actual participants in the battle, and was jointly produced by the J. Arthur Rank Organization and the British Army’s Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU). Some of the cast members having been only recently released from POW camps.

Among the persons appearing in the movie were, Lt. Hugh Ashmore, Maj.C.F.H."Freddie" Gough, Maj. Richard "Dickie" Lonsdale, Mrs. Kate ter Horst, Pte Tommy Scullion of County Antrim, Pte Peter Holt from Middlesex, Pte David Parker from Scotland, Cpl Pearce from Wales, Pte George ‘Titch’ Preston from Grimsby, Pte Frank ‘Butch’ Dixon (proven lethal with a PIAT), Sgt John Daley of Waterford, and war correspondents Stanley Maxted and Alan Wood. In addition the total cast was comprised of other paratroopers, gunners, sappers, RAMC, RASC, reconnaissance squadron and the glider pilots, all veterans of the battle. Each member was paid £3.0s.0d. per day by the Rank Organization.

The movie had simultaneous premieres in Ottawa, Arnhem and the Gaumont Theatre in the Haymarket London on the second anniversary of the start of the battle, 17 September 1946.

Originally in VHS format from 1987 and more recently on DVD, it is currently available in European format (PAL) and on NETFLIX. A detailed article on the making of the film was contained in After the Battle Magazine, Issue number 58.

If you would like to watch the movie in its entirety, it can be seen at;


The year 1977 saw the release of the movie A Bridge Too Far, which now ranks as one of the epics of World War II. It is based on Cornelius Ryan’s book of the same name, which chronicled the British, American and Polish Airborne Forces, as well as their German foes, during Operation ‘Market-Garden’, 17 September 1944 – 25 September 1944. There is a specific focus on the British 1st Airborne Division and their action during the battles of Arnhem and Oosterbeek. It is one of the last major war movies to be made in Western Europe.
In addition to accurately conveying the overall action, the movie used a series of vignettes portraying significant personages in the battle with a cast of eminent actors. The Hollywood production directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, and produced by Joseph E. Levine, included, Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Robert Redford, Sir Laurence Oliver, Liv Ullmann, Edward Fox, Gene Hackman, Maximilian Schell, Ryan O'Neal, Dirk Bogarde, Hardy Kruger, Elliott Gould, and Jimmy Caan.
There were several significant technical features in the movie. Included was the hire of a veritable livery of over 100 World War II vehicles and armour from the Military Vehicle Museum, in Falmouth, owned by Charlie Mann. Eight C-47 Dakota troop transport aircraft were on hire from the Finnish and Royal Danish Air Forces. Six full-scale Horsa gliders were constructed. The logistics of feeding, boarding, transportation, wardrobe, armoury, film-making equipment was equivalent to an actual major military operation. The movie was estimated to have been injected in excess of £8 million into the local Dutch economy for hotels, motels, hostels, lodging rooms, suburban homes and caravan parks.
The movie is available in both VHS and DVD format. A detailed article on the making of the film was contained in After the Battle Magazine, Issue number 17.

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