Join us as we look at ‘When Trumpets Fade‘, John Irvin’s HBO TV movie which follows a battle-weary squad leader torn between simply staying alive and leading his new recruits into action during the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. Starring Ron Eldrad, Zak Orth, Frank Whaley, Timothy Olyphant and Bobby Cannavale the film shines a light on a largely forgotten battle and premiered just a few months before Saving Private Ryan.
Join us for the fourth edition of our Show & Tell series were we discus ‘Geronimo’ (1993) which tells the story of Geronimo’s last battles and the 1962 Steve McQueen-led classic ‘Hell Is For Heroes’ following a group of US soldiers as they battle to break through the Siegfried Line.
This week we take a look at ‘The Outpost‘, a film that brings the story of Camp Keating and the desperate Battle of Kamdesh to the screen. With the decades long war in Afghanistan seemingly drawing to an end we thought now was as good a time as any to begin examining how the war has been portrayed on screen. Directed by Rod Lurie and staring Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom, Caleb Landry Jones ‘The Outpost‘ is a very well-made war film – perhaps even a modern classic of the genre.
Don your flight suits and climb into the cockpit with us this wee as we discuss Strategic Air Command (1955). A film that blends beautiful aerial cinematography, awe inspiring aviation engineering and blatant Cold War propaganda. We’re joined by David Schroeder the host of the Cold War Channel to discuss this early Cold War classic which gives us a window into the objectives and operations of the USAF’s nuclear bomber arm – the Strategic Air Command.
This week we make our way through the atmospheric forests of North America to take on the latest screen adaptation of ‘Last of the Mohicans’. We’re joined by special guest Jonathan Ferguson, Keeper of Firearms & Artillery at the UK’s Royal Armouries, to explore Michael Mann’s 1992 epic. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Wes Studi, Eric Schweig, and Steven Waddington and is set during the tumultuous French & Indian War. The film offers a more historically authentic telling of James Fenimore Cooper’s most famous novel and takes us on a trek through the North American frontier of the 1750s and gives us a love story amongst desperate sieges and viscous battles.
This week we discuss 2016’s Siege of Jadotville, a film which portrays the valiant last stand of a UN contingent of Irish troops holding off an overwhelming force of mercenaries and rebels during Congo Crisis. With a veritable plethora of ally kit and guns the Siege of Jadotville is a well shot, competently made war film which tells a little known story. Starring Jamie Dornan as Commandant Pat Quinlan, alongside Mark Strong, Danny Sapani, Jason O’Mara and Guillaume Canet, the film is the first feature from director by Richie Smyth.
With the UEFA European Football Championship (the Euros) starting this week we thought what better time to tackle a curious John Huston film staring no less than Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow, Sylvester Stallone, Pele and half of the Ipswich Town football club! It is of course ‘Escape To Victory’, a film which mixes football with a POW escape movie! We are joined by Ipswich Town fan and host of the excellent WW2TV, Paul Woodage, who brings his expert Ipswich Town knowledge to help us breakdown this unconventional war film!
This week marks the 81st anniversary of Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk Evacuations, so we’re examining the very first onscreen depiction of the evacuation – Channel Incident (1940). Channel Incident is a 15 minute Ministry of Information film directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Peggy Ashcroft, Gordon Harker, Robert Newton and Kenneth Griffith.
You can watch the whole film on the IWM’s online archive here!
This week we tackle a truly harrowing film. Arguably director Peter Watkins’ finest work, 1966’s ‘The War Game’. An anti-nuclear war film that takes Watkins’ pseudo-documentary style to its pinnacle to tell the story of what a Britain during a nuclear war might look like. Suppressed by the BBC and government the film still won an Oscar. We are joined by author and host of the Atomic Hobo podcast, Julie McDowall to discuss this very important film.
We return to the Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank’s long and storied on-screen career. This time we are examining a scene from ‘Paper Tiger’ (1975). It’s an interesting film, and certainly not one you’d expect a PIAT to pop up in! David Niven plays Mr Bradbury, a tutor to a young Japanese boy. Bradbury is a Walter Mitty-like character that regales the child with made up tales of his wartime escapades.
Early in the film Bradbury describes a battle in France in October 1944. Niven’s Character is shown to be a member of the Grenadier Guards and receivers orders to take an enemy pill box. Bradbury describes how he attacked the German position single handed. The sequence begins with what looks like a platoon making a frontal assault.
Niven receives a call from his commanding officer and then asks his Sgt to hand him ‘the bazooka’. But it’s not a Bazooka he’s handed but a PIAT! Now it’s quite the faux pa’s to call a PIAT a Bazooka but I imagine the script called for one and the film armourer brought along British weapons to fit the action involving the Grenadier Guards.
Niven’s character then charges across the ground in front of the pillbox. He takes cover in a shell crater and we can see that the bomb loaded into the tray is painted black with a yellow stripe – this denotes that its actually an inert drill round. – If we look closely inside the yellow stripe it also appears to have the words ‘drill use’ written on it. Note how far forward the bomb appears in the bomb support – this suggests that the weapon isn’t cocked and that the bomb has just been slid down onto the spigot to make it look loaded.
Before he can take on the pillbox a German armoured fighting vehicle (which is actually a disguised American M8 Greyhound) crests the ridge. Niven takes aim with the PIAT and knocks it out. As he aims, we can see the PIAT has the later pattern 3 aperture rear sight rather than the earlier 2 aperture. The apertures are for 50, 80 and 110 yards. The PIAT, however, is missing its webbing butt pad and gaiter cheek rest. But we can see the white indirect aiming line painted along the top of the PIAT for use in the light mortar role!
As the Greyhounds crew bails out Niven draws his revolver and shoots the crew with a style that pastiches many war films. Leaving his PIAT Niven runs forward and we see that the spigot is forward in the bomb tray – this means he would have had to manually re-cock the weapon before firing again! As he runs we can see he has another PIAT bomb handing from his belt. I’ve never seen any contemporary photos or documents referencing this method of carrying bombs – in reality they would have been carried in a 3-bomb bomb carrier.
He throws a No. 36 (Mills) grenade into the pillbox with perfect aim. Another funny nod to a common war movie trope! The bunker is knocked out and the enemy surrender en masse. It’s an interesting little scene, Niven as always is great and of course as a veteran of the war and an officer he would have been familiar with the PIAT.
Check out the rest of our videos looking at on screen PIAT portrayals here.