Britain's Greatest Generation

The Fight for Freedom

Series 1 - Episode 3 The Fight for Freedom

Wed 3 Jun 9:40pm - 11pm PBS America
See Repeats
Thu 4 Jun, 11:45am - 1pm PBS America
Thu 4 Jun, 4pm - 5:15pm PBS America


More modest but stirring testimony about the Second World War. Fergus Anckorn describes how he awoke in a Singapore hospital in 1942 to find Japanese soldiers working their way through the wards, bayonetting patients. He avoided death, ending up in one of the forced labour camps and at one stage had no food for six weeks: his litany of what he ate to get through that time is not pretty.

We also meet the remarkable 103-year-old Dr Bill Frankland (recently on Radio 4's The Reunion) and hear a philosophical view from former bomber Bob Frost: “We didn't win the war,” he sums up. “Nobody wins a war. Somebody comes off worse than the others, and thank God they came off worse than we did.”


Stories of courage, suffering and survival from servicemen and women between 1942 and 1945, as revealed by a generation of people now in their nineties and hundreds. This instalment includes the story of Fergus Anckorn who was once the youngest member of the Magic Circle and - at 96 - is now the oldest. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese in Singapore and put to work on the Burma Railway. He managed to survive using his magic to entertain his captors, who rewarded him with food that kept him and his fellow prisoners alive.

Cast & Crew

Director Steve Humphries
Editor Nick Maddocks
Producer Steve Humphries
Producer Nick Maddocks