Baton Rouge, La. (LPB) – Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day with the PBS national broadcast premiere of Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière on Thursday, June 6th at 8PM CST (9PM EST). The film sheds light on a relatively unexplored, but pivotal battle to secure a critical route inland for allied forces invading Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. The fight for the La Fière causeway and bridge is regarded as one of the bloodiest small arms battles in U.S. military history, fought largely by members of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Capturing the La Fière story for the first time in documentary form, the LPB production relies on first-hand accounts of paratroopers and glidermen who battled their way across the Norman countryside to secure the small, stone La Fière bridge and causeway – even returning to Normandy to walk the battlefields with the heroic men who fought there. The National World War II Museum recorded these interviews more than a decade ago as part of its effort to document oral history from war veterans while they were still living.
Colonel Kevin W. Farrell, PhD—whose past credits include the 2014 WWII film Fury—and Robert M. Citino, PhD, Executive Director of the National World War II Museum’s Institute for the Study of War and Democracy and Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian, provide context for the fight. Historic film and photographs along with contemporary footage help illustrate the story.
“The D-Day invasion changed the course of history and turned the tide in the fight against tyranny in World War II. Yet, even seventy-five years after these soldiers saved the world, we are still finding incredible, largely untold stories of bravery against overwhelming odds. It is gratifying to highlight a story like this for national audiences,” says Christina Melton, Executive Producer and Director of the film.
LPB President and CEO Beth Courtney credits the strong partnership LPB has forged with The National World War II Museum in bringing this story to life. “This project continues our decades-long relationship, from the museum’s inception, well into its future. It reinforces our shared commitment to preserving the history of World War II.”
The mortal ferocity of the four-day battle for control of the small stone bridge over the Merderet River at La Fière is testament to the bridge’s strategic importance in the D-Day invasion. Without control of the bridge and its vital causeway, German forces could have reinforced defensive positions to crush invading Allied forces. American forces coming ashore at Utah Beach needed to secure the roadway to bring heavy artillery and troops inland.
“Beyond the operational role that La Fière played in terms of keeping the (invasion) timetable on schedule, there’s another reason to study the Battle of La Fière Bridge, and that’s valor,” Citino said. “This isn’t just a great moment in the history of the US Army, it’s a moment, I think, that should make all Americans proud. La Fière is a battle for the ages, and I’m glad to finally see it getting the attention it deserves.”
Mark Harmon (NCIS, The West Wing, Chicago Hope) narrates, with an original music score by Lauren Buchter, an ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Composer to Watch. The score was recorded by a live orchestra in Budapest, Hungary. Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award-winner and LPB Deputy Director Christina Melton was Executive Producer and Director of the Project, and fellow duPont-Columbia Award-winner C.E. Richard wrote the script. LPB’s Donald “D-Ray!” Washington and Matt Hathcox were editors with Washington serving as Post-Production Supervisor.
Seize and Secure: The Battle for La Fière was a collaborative project with the The National World War II Museum in New Orleans and with generous support of Madlyn and Paul Hillard.
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