Britain's Greatest Generation

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Their Finest Hour

Series 1 - Episode 2 Their Finest Hour

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Review

It isn’t always easy to render the memories of the wartime generation televisually fresh and vivid, but this series does it well.

When Geoffrey Wellum recalls flying his Spitfire at an armada of 150 German planes in 1940, we’re there with him. Dorothy Hughes describes “the awful smell of burning flesh and burning buildings” she experienced serving on an anti-aircraft battery in the Blitz.

And, movingly, we see the one-man tribute that former merchant seaman Austin Byrne pays to comrades who didn’t survive when their ship went down in the Arctic: he hoists a red ensign on a flagpole in his back garden and salutes.

Summary

The Second World War saw men from all classes unite to fight the Nazis, and this programme meets some of the last surviving pilots of the Battle of Britain. Women, who had been excluded from many jobs, worked in everything from anti-aircraft gun batteries to steel-making factories. The Blitz saw rescue workers risk all to save those trapped in bombed buildings. For many of the era's last survivors, the defiant spirit that brought the nation together remains one of their proudest moments, as this documentary reveals.

Cast & Crew

Director Steve Humphries
Editor Andy Attenburrow
Producer Steve Humphries
Producer Andy Attenburrow
History