The War episode 5

The War episode 5 - FUBAR

The War episode 5: Victory in Europe seems imminent, but Holland, the Vosges Mountains, and the Hurtgen Forest, GIs learn painful lessons as old as war itself – that generals make plans, plans go wrong and soldiers die. Meanwhile, on the island of Peleliu, the Marines fight one of the most brutal and unnecessary battles of the Pacific.



The Emmy award-winning documentary THE WAR explores the history and horror of World War II from an American perspective by following so-called ordinary men and women who became caught up in one of the greatest cataclysms in history. This epic film focuses on the stories of citizens from four American towns taking the viewer through their personal and harrowing journeys, painting vivid portraits of how the war altered their lives.

Six years in the making, Ken Burns’ seven-part documentary series chronicles the horrifying historical impact of World War II from an American perspective by focusing on the personal stories of private citizens from four American towns: Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and Luverne, Minnesota. Together, these four communities serve as a tapestry of the ordeal Americans went through during the four years of the war, as witnesses share their own vivid and often harrowing accounts of how the war dramatically altered their lives as well as those of their friends and neighbours.


The War episode 5 – FUBAR


Lost Battalion

“The Lost Battalion” refers to the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry (36th Infantry Division, originally Texas National Guard), which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains on 24 October 1944.

Against the advice of his senior officers, Maj. General John E. Dahlquist committed the “Texas Battalion” to an engagement. The battalion was cut off by the Germans, and attempts by the 141st Infantry Regiment’s other two battalions to extricate it failed. The 405th Fighter Squadron of the 371st Fighter Group airdropped supplies to the 275 trapped soldiers, but conditions on the ground quickly deteriorated as the Germans continued to repel U.S. forces.

The final rescue attempt was made by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit composed of Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans. The 442nd had been given a period of rest after heavy fighting to liberate Bruyères and Biffontaine, but General Dahlquist called them back early to relieve the beleaguered 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 36th. In five days of battle, from 26 to 30 October 1944, the 442nd broke through German defenses and rescued 211 men.

The 442nd suffered over 800 casualties. I Company went in with 185 men; 8 came out unhurt. K Company engaged the enemy with 186 men; 169 were wounded or killed. Additionally, the commander sent a patrol of 50–55 men to find a way to attack a German road block by the rear and try to liberate the remainder of the trapped men. Only five returned to the “Lost Battalion” perimeter; 42 were taken prisoner and were sent to Stalag VII-A in Moosburg, Bavaria, where they remained until the POW camp was liberated on 29 April 1945.

The 442nd is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service, with its component 100th Infantry Battalion earning the nickname “The Purple Heart Battalion” due to the number injured in combat.

Battle of Peleliu – The War episode 5

The Battle of Peleliu, codenamed Operation Stalemate II by the United States military, was fought between the U.S. and Japan during the Mariana and Palau Campaign of World War II, from September to November 1944, on the island of Peleliu.

U.S. Marines of the 1st Marine Division, and later soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 81st Infantry Division, fought to capture an airstrip on the small coral island of Peleliu. This battle was part of a larger offensive campaign known as Operation Forager, which ran from June to November 1944, in the Pacific Theater.

Major General William Rupertus, commander of the 1st Marine Division, predicted the island would be secured within four days. However, after repeated Imperial Army defeats in previous island campaigns, Japan had developed new island-defense tactics and well-crafted fortifications that allowed stiff resistance, extending the battle through more than two months. The heavily outnumbered Japanese defenders put up such stiff resistance, often fighting to the death in the Emperor’s name, that the island became known in Japanese as the “Emperor’s Island.”

In the U.S., this was a controversial battle because of the island’s negligible strategic value and the high casualty rate, which exceeded that of all other amphibious operations during the Pacific War. The National Museum of the Marine Corps called it “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines”.


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