Most World War II history buffs know about the so-called “Great Escape” as lionized in the film starring Steve McQueen, but war is full of escapes, both great and narrow — and it’s the latter that are getting their time in the sun with Military Channel’s Narrow Escapes of WWII premiering May 15 at 10pm ET/PT. The series honors the generals and troops both on the line and in the rear echelon who, through brilliant tactical maneuvers, selfless heroism and in spite of terrible odds, carried out missions that saved hundreds of thousands of innocent lives — and who lived to tell their tales.
In this series, they get their chance to have their stories told, recreating suicidal raids, rearguard actions and back-to-the-wall fighting that was necessary to make sure that vital troops would live to fight another day. Among the stories profiled will be:
“The Doolittle Raid” (May 15) This near-certain suicide mission was a response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, in which U.S. bombers carried out an incredible long-distance strike on Tokyo, fully aware that they would, in all probability, not have a chance at survival.
“The Amiens Raid” (May 22) Group Capt. Charles Pickard led the Mosquito fighter planes behind Operation Jericho, in which the bombing of Amiens prison in German-occupied France allowed French Resistance fighters and Allied spies to escape and avoid execution.
“Wingate & the Chindits” (May 29) This episode describes how Orde Wingate, surrounded by the Japanese, led the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade in one of the most complex and ingenious escapes in either the Asian or European theaters of operation.
Further episodes of Narrow Escapes of WWII will illustrate other bold and daring escapes, including The Black Battalion at the Battle of the Bulge, Australian General Leslie Morshead at Tobruk, Major-General Roy Urquhart at Arnhem, as well as famous missions now known as Erich von Manstein’s “Elastic Defense,” and many others.