BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

27 November 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us


D-Day on the BBC
Robin Duff, BBC war correspondent assigned to the US Forces

D-Day on the BBC


Characters portrayed in D-Day

Juan Pujol (aka Garbo) – The Double Agent

Juan Pujol was employed by the Germans to work as a spy in London but actually was sending them misleading information, under the direction of the British Security Service, MI5.


In 1941, his wife, Aracelli, offered his services to the British consulate but was turned down.


Pujol realised he would have to have something to offer the Allies so he approached the German embassy in Madrid. After telling them he could get to London they took him on as a spy.


He entered a fantasy world of fiction and invention and told the Germans in July 1941 that he'd reached London, even though he was actually in Portugal.


Pujol's information was so interesting to the Germans in Madrid that they radioed his reports to Berlin. These were intercepted by the British who had cracked the Germans' military cyphers.


MI5 was informed about an enemy agent controlled by Madrid at the same time as they were told by British intelligence officials that there was a Spaniard in Lisbon who was duping the Germans.


MI5 put two and two together and flew Pujol to England in April 1942.


Garbo's ability to play the role of more than 20 different 'informants', and persuade the Germans that this information was correct, was crucial to the success of D-Day.


Working for ideological reasons, Garbo never asked for cash but was given £17,500 by the Allies and the MBE.

Terence Otway – D-Day veteran

Before World War Two, Terence Otway was a career soldier serving in the Empire's hardest trouble spot – the North-West frontier.


In April 1944, while in his late twenties, he was second in command of the 9th Parachute Battalion and was surprised to be suddenly promoted to the top job and ordered to plan for the attack of the Merville battery on D-Day.


The attack itself did not go to plan, with many paratroopers missing their drop-zones and not reaching the rendezvous point at the arranged time, and much equipment getting lost.


The attack ended at around 5.00am and the men retreated, taking with them their injured comrades and 23 prisoners.


Of the 150 paratroopers who took part in the assault, half were dead, missing or wounded.


A signal flare was fired and a carrier pigeon released in order to convey to HMS Arethusa waiting off-shore that the battery had been silenced.

Bill Farmer and Bob Littlar – D-Day veterans

Bill Farmer and Bob Littlar were conscripted into the army in 1943 on the same day, but not at the same place.


Bill joined up at Worcester, at an Initial Training Unit, and Bob was called up at Brecon.


They both, however, became attached to the 2nd battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI). In October of the same year Bob was informed that they would be taking part in the Allied invasion of the Continent.


The first time they met was at Locherbie where they were sent to prepare for D-Day.

About a week before the invasion Bill and Bob were moved to a sealed camp which they were not allowed to leave.


On 5 June they were heading for France and landed in the second wave of allied forces on the beach codenamed Sword.


Despite heavy shelling, mortaring and machine gun fire, within about an hour they made it off the beach.


Robert Capa – War Photographer

Robert Capa was born Endre Friedmann in 1913 in Budapest.
He left home at 18 and found a job as a darkroom apprentice with a Berlin picture agency.


With the rise of Hitler, Friedmann, who was Jewish, fled to Paris.


In the spring of 1936, Endre and his girlfriend, Gerda, decided to form an association of three people. Gerda acted as sales representative, Endre was a darkroom hired hand and both were supposedly employed by an imaginary American photographer named Robert Capa.


Friedmann took the pictures, Gerda sold them, and credit was given to the non-existent Capa, whose shots sold for three times the standard rate.


That summer, Friedmann, now operating under the name of Capa, covered the Civil War in Spain.


In 1942, he joined the invasion convoy to North Africa where he took an assignment from Life magazine.


On 6 June 1944 a landing craft took Capa to Omaha Beach – he was one of only three photographers chosen to cover the initial amphibious assault.


He struggled ashore under heavy fire and took four rolls of film. Of these, all but 11 frames were ruined in Life's London darkroom when the emulsion ran in an overheated drying cabinet.


However, Life and the world press published the surviving images – some of the most memorable of the war.


Andre Heintz – French Resistance

Andre joined the Resistance after being approached by a Polish priest who had started an underground network.


After this network was broken up in 1941, he joined the Organisation Civile et Militaire (OCM).


This, too, was dispersed in 1943, but Andre was undeterred and joined another Resistance group – Liberation Nord.


Andre's underground work comprised three main tasks: intelligence work, where he collected information for the Allies about German positions and defences; provision of new identities for people in trouble; and distribution of underground newspapers to keep up local morale.


He also had a radio set on which he listened to the BBC, receiving coded messages sent to the Resistance.


His task for the night of 5 June was to watch the headquarters of the 716th German Infantry Division, which was in his street.


He also helped protect the sick and injured in Caen hospital from a direct Allied hit, by dipping sheets in pails of blood and laying them outside the hospital in a giant cross shape. The hospital was never hit.


Raimund Steiner – German veteran, D-Day

Raimund Steiner was born in 1920, in Innsbruck, Austria, into a middle-class family.
He was liberal and frequently clashed with Nazi sympathizers.


Steiner was forced to enlist in April 1939 and saw action in Russia, Finland and Yugoslavia, before being sent to the French Channel coast at the end of 1943.


In France he took over command of the Merville Battery on the Normandy coast on 19 May after its previous commander had been killed in an air raid.


After D-Day, Steiner and his men resisted all subsequent attacks by Allied troops and held out until 16 August when they quietly slipped away.


The Military Leaders



The son of a Bishop, Monty had an unhappy childhood and was briefly married, before losing his wife in tragic circumstances.


The Army had been his life before marriage and it became his family again after his wife's death.


Throughout the last years of the war he lived and worked in a simple war caravan – a monkish existence. He didn't drink or smoke and was very intolerant of those who did smoke.


He liked to surround himself with bright, slightly unconventional men and preferred the company of junior officers. Monty was always awkward in the company of senior colleagues.


He exhibited a hard-bitten mean streak in his dealings with those he had taken against and, once he had formed an opinion of someone, it was hard to change his mind.


He had very few close friends, but he had a genuine concern for ordinary soldiers and was careful not to waste lives in costly actions.


He was an inspirational figure in the desert and in Normandy, making an effort to be seen by frontline troops and distributing magazines and cigarettes to soldiers he came across.


He had been wounded in World War One and decorated and always demonstrated great personal courage.


As a General, Monty was a great planner, meticulous in his attention deal. His critics suggest he was not a good improviser – too cautious on the battlefield. His record, however, speaks for itself.



Dwight David Eisenhower was born in Texas in 1890 and brought up in Abilene, Kansas.


He excelled at sport at school and received a cadetship to West Point military academy.


Eisenhower spent the Twenties and early Thirties in staff jobs, including assistant to the Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur.


After the attack on Pearl Harbor, General George C Marshall called Eisenhower to Washington where he was able to demonstrate his considerable leadership skills.


He was rewarded with command of the Allied Forces' landing in North Africa in November 1942, which led to the consequent liberation of Sicily and southern Italy.


In December 1943, he was appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force and was briefed on the operation that would take the Allies back into Occupied France.


On D-Day, 1944, Eisenhower (Ike) commanded more than two million men from a dozen nationalities in an invasion that changed the course of the war.


After the War, Ike became the army chief of staff and then president of Columbia University.


He left to become supreme commander of the newly formed NATO forces.


In 1952, he was persuaded to run for president. "I like Ike" was an irresistible slogan and Eisenhower won a sweeping victory.


He served two terms, backing moderate domestic policies and international alliances to ease the tensions of the Cold War.


He died in Washington on 28 March 1969.



Johannes Eugen Rommel was born on 15 November 1891, in Heidenheim, Germany.


During World War One he fought as a lieutenant in France, Romania and Italy, moving up the ranks in the inter-war years.


Having been made a general in 1939, Rommel was given command of the 7th Panzer Division in February 1940.


Despite being a novice at commanding armoured units, he quickly grasped the great potential of mechanised and armoured troops.


Just a year later, in February 1941, he was appointed commander of the German troops in Libya and went on to score some of his greatest successes.


Hitler accordingly promoted him to field marshal. However, Rommel and his army were defeated at El-Alamein and, in March 1943, he returned home on Hitler's orders.


At the start of 1944, Rommel was given command of Army Group B in Northern France and ordered to defend the region against almost inevitable Allied invasion.


He set about indefatigably reinforcing the 'Atlantic Wall' defences that had been neglected due to pressure from the Russians in the east.


As early as autumn 1943, Rommel had become convinced that the war could no longer be won and he thought that Hitler was the root of the problem.


The war with the Allies needed to be resolved so that the real enemies, the communists to the east, could be dealt with. But Hitler would not consider making peace with the Western powers.


Rommel became entwined in some of his colleagues' clandestine opposition to Hitler.

After Hitler was nearly killed in an assassination attempt, suspicion fell on many people, including Rommel.


On 14 October 1944, two generals visited his home and gave him the choice that Hitler had decreed.


Rommel was to have either a traitor's trial, which would shame his family, or commit suicide and be given a state funeral with full honours.


Rommel choose the latter option and died the same day aged 53.



A rich Californian and talented professional soldier, Patton was something of an actor and always carried a silver-handled pistol in a holster.


Soldiers of the US 3rd Army were as proud to serve under 'blood and guts' Patton as 8th Army veterans were of their commander, Monty.


Patton hated Montgomery, in particular, and the British in general.


He did not think Eisenhower was much of a soldier, either, although Ike had saved his career; Patton had once struck a soldier he believed was malingering.


He would swear like a company seargant in almost any company.


But he was well-educated, familiar with the great classical commanders and was want to compare himself to Alexander the Great.


Like Monty, he was a veteran of World War One and always exhibited great personal courage but, unlike Monty, his flare was for the unscripted battle.


Production biographies



Adam Kemp (Commissioner, BBC)

Adam Kemp is the BBC's Commissioner for Specialist Factual, Arts and Current Affairs for Independents and Nations.


He has initiated the Dunkirk, Hawking and Pompeii landmark films and been executive producer on more than 70 BBC factual series and specials including the Emmy and BAFTA award-winning Walking With Dinosaurs Specials, George Orwell: A Life In Pictures, Killing Hitler, Country Parish, Elephants: Spy In The Herd, Two Fat Ladies, Century Road, Children Of Crime, Neighbours At War, Nightclub, Simon's Journey, Gaytime TV, Money, Money, Money and Finest Hour.


Richard Dale (Director/Producer)

Richard worked as a director for the BBC's Walking with Cavemen.


As a documentary director Richard has made a number of award winning and critically acclaimed films for BBC ONE and BBC TWO, including The Human Body.

Richard read Natural Sciences at Christ's College, Cambridge, and joined the BBC as an assistant producer in 1987.


He became producer of Tomorrow's World in 1989.


Tim Bradley (Producer)

Tim worked at the BBC between 1990 and 2000, where his production credits include Spender, Miss Marple, Casualty and East Enders.


Other credits include producer on the first series of Teachers for Channel 4 and head of production for ITV's Boudicca.

Peter Georgi (Director/Producer)

Peter was series producer on Walking with Cavemen, and produced an acclaimed film for the BBC ONE science series QED, following the courageous attempt of half-paralysed ex-Royal Marine Sgt Reggie Perrin to climb Alaska's Mount McKinley.

He also produced and directed the BBC's first large format (IMAX) film, The Human Body.

D-Day To Berlin


Laurence Rees (executive producer)

Laurence is currently the Creative Director of BBC History.


In 1994, he launched Reputations, the BBC's historical biographical strand, and went on to become editor of the award-winning Timewatch strand, for which he won three Emmy Awards.


Laurence has a raft of acclaimed history series to his name, including the six-part series for BBC TWO The Nazis - A Warning From History, which won him a BAFTA award in 1998.


Andrew Williams (series producer)

Andrew joined the BBC in 1986 as producer on Newsnight, and went on to become Assistant Editor on Panorama.


He produced a ground-breaking series on the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein called The Provos, before joining the BBC History Unit to write and produce for Timewatch and Reputation strands.


He produced the award-winning Battle of the Atlantic and wrote the accompanying book.


He has also written the book to accompany D-Day To Berlin.

< previous section next section >
Printable version top^

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy