Colditz Castle, a notorious prisoner of war camp in Nazi Germany, was supposed to be escape-proof. But in World War II, a group of British officers dreamt up an escape plan: in a secret attic workshop, they constructed a two-man glider out of bed sheets and floorboards. The plan was to fly to freedom from the roof of the castle, but the war ended before they could put it to the test. Now a team of aero engineers and carpenters rebuilds the glider in the same attic using the same materials and use a bathtub full of concrete to catapult the glider off the roof to find out if the legendary glider plan would have succeeded.
This film tells the story of 130 young men from Hawaii who, from the late 1930s through the early years of World War II, were part of a clandestine mission by the U.S. federal government to occupy desert islands in the middle of the Pacific. The first wave of these colonists was a group of Hawaiian high school students, chosen because government officials assumed Pacific Islanders could best survive the harsh conditions present on the tiny, isolated islands. For the young men, who were unaware of the true purpose of their role as colonists, what ensued is a tale of intrigue, courage, and ultimately, tragedy.
During World War I, the Allies and Germans repeatedly struggled to break the hideous stalemate of trench warfare. In the winter of 1916, Allied engineers devised a massive surprise attack on the German army. Their weapon of choice: 600 tons of explosives, hidden in secret tunnels dug under German lines.
Building the tunnels was desperate work, with tunnelers at constant risk from flooding, cave-ins and enemy digging teams; German sappers would listen for telltale sounds and explode counter-mines, or sometimes break through into Allied tunnels and grapple in primitive, face-to-face combat in the dark.
At 3:10 AM on June 7th, 25 mines at Messines were simultaneously triggered in what was probably the single biggest non-nuclear explosion of all time, heard clearly in London 150 miles away. 10,000 German troops were killed instantly – but the stunning success was just the beginning of another wartime nightmare.
Now, archaeologists are revealing the extraordinary scale and risks of the Allied tunneling operations in the biggest excavation ever undertaken on the Western Front.
This program recounts the ticking-clock missions of the “commandoes of the deep” through firsthand accounts – including that of a D-Day demolition team member – and through never-before-seen footage, home movies and personal mementoes. Admirals, master chiefs, clandestine operators, demolitioners and snipers reveal how U.S. Navy SEALs morphed into the world’s most admired commandoes.