UNION — The second film in a trilogy on the American experience in the final year of World War II in Europe will be presented at the Elks Lodge of Union at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“The American Road To Victory” trilogy consists of “The Americans On D-Day,” “The Americans On Hell’s Highway,” and “The Americans In The Bulge.” The films follow the American experience in three major battles of the last year of the war in Europe: D-Day, “Operation: Market Garden,” and “The Battle Of The Bulge.”
The trilogy, which was acquired by the Friends of the Library, is being presented by the Union County Carnegie Library as a “Living History” series. The first film, The Americans On D-Day, was shown June 7 at the Elks Lodge.
The second film, The Americans On Hell’s Highway, will be shown Thursday at the Elks Lodge. The library’s synopsis states the movie gets its name from “the infamous road leading from the Belgian/Dutch border to the city Nijmegen in the Netherlands.” The film includes a graphic account of the Waal River crossing by Capt. T. Moffatt Burriss of I Company, 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment, which was in the first wave of the Operation Market Garden offensive.
Admission is free and the Friends of the Library will serve refreshments.
The Americans On Hell’s Highway examines the American experience during Operation Market Garden, an attempt in September 1944 by American, British and Polish forces to seize a series of strategic bridges linking The Netherlands with Germany. The seizure of the bridges would allow armored units to then drive into Germany and encircle and seize its industrial heartland in the Ruhr. By depriving Germany of the bulk of its industrial base, allied leaders hoped to cripple the German war machine and bring about an end to the war in Europe by Christmas of 1944.
Operation Market Garden was the largest airborne operation up to that time and achieved initial success with the capture of several bridges. However, a combination of communications problems, terrain, weather, bad choices and intelligence failures combined to bring about the failure of Operation Market Garden and the ambitious plans of the allies to end the war by the end of the year.
The trilogy is produced by Columbia-based “Living Battlefields” and directed by Richard Lanni, who Library Director Ben Loftis said took a unique approach to telling the stories of the three battles depicted. Loftis said Lanni complied “hours and hours” of interviews with veterans and combined those interviews with footage of the tour guide taking viewers through the sites where the battles were fought. He said these are combined with archival footage to recreate the battles and experience of the Americans who took part in them.
Lanni attended the presentation of The Americans At D-Day and answered questions after it was shown.
While the director will not attend Thursday’s presentation, Loftis said Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, himself a retired U.S. Army general, will introduce the film and possibly lead a short discussion afterwards.
Each documentary is hosted by Ellwood von Seibold who Loftis said works as a tour guide for some of the World War II battlefields in Europe. Loftis said that for his efforts to keep the history of World War II in Europe alive for today’s generations, von Seibold was given the honorary rank of captain in the U.S. Army.
In The Americans On Hell’s Highway, von Seibold clears up some misunderstandings about Operation Market Garden. While the operation itself failed, von Seibold says the American forces involved achieved their objectives despite heavy casualties.
The third film in the trilogy, The Americans In The Bulge, will be shown Jan. 10, 2013. It examines the Battle of the Bulge which is described in the film’s synopsis as “the bloodiest and most costly campaign ever fought by U.S. Forces.”
More information about the trilogy and the Livingbattlefield of SC organization — as well as downloadable maps and lesson plans — is available at www.livingbattlefield.org.
Once the films have been shown, they will be added to the library’s DVD collection and be available to be checked out.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.