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Then and now: Crossroads Battlefield with Scenes from “Band of Brothers”

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by PzJgr, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    After a five-men night patrol reported coming across German machine guns at the Crossroads, Captain Winters organized a group of 15 men to attack them.

    There’s hardly any World War Two enthusiast that hasn’t seen the epic HBO’s Band of BrothersTV series. Surely one of the best shows on the topic depicts the warpath of the Easy Company, 506th Paratrooper Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.

    In ten episodes, the series covers events from D-Day until the surrender of Germany. It’s a memorial to Captain Richard Winters and his men, to their struggle and heroism shown in fighting for the freedom of Europe.

    What makes the series stand out from other similar projects is its authenticity. Most of the scenes in the ten episodes were as carefully portrayed as is possible on a TV show. Band of Brothers is full of scenes that, even today, grab the attention of fans worldwide.

    There are thousands of videos, walkthroughs, and studies about the authenticity of these scenes. One excellent example is a YouTube video made by Bart Houx. It shows a “then and now” version of the events depicted in episode number five: The Crossroads.

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    Paratroopers of Easy Company, 506th Infantry Regiment, after the end of World War II, 1945

    The Battle at the Crossroads
    The Crossroads is a junction on a road between the Dutch towns of Randwijk and Heteren, some eight miles from Arnhem. The entire area between the rivers of North Rhine and Waal is known as the Island. This land is intersected with drainage waterways and dikes.

    The Island was the setting for the Battle of Arnhem, part of the 1944 Operation Market Garden. After the British failed to seize the bridges at Arnhem, the front was stabilized at the Island. Easy Company arrived at the Island on October 2 to replace the British 43rd Division.

    The events depicted in episode five of Band of Brothers happened three days later, on October 5. After a five-men night patrol reported coming across German machine guns at the Crossroads, Captain Winters organized a group of 15 men to attack them.

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    Easy Company during Market Garden.Photo: MoldesRules CC BY-SA 3.0

    Still under cover of darkness, soldiers from Easy Company attacked the German machine gun nests. After killing seven enemy soldiers, they were forced to withdraw to the ditch west of the Germans.

    It was from this point, as the sun rose, that they made a bayonet charge against German troops positioned behind the dike road leading to the Renkum ferry.

    As it turned out, Captain Winters and not more than 35 of his men faced two German SS Companies. Thanks to the element of surprise, they managed to push the Germans toward the Renkum ferry.

    The fight ended with at least 50 Germans being killed, more than 100 were wounded, and eleven were taken prisoner. On the Allied side, American paratroopers had 22 wounded soldiers and one was killed.

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    Richard Davis Winters

    Seen from the air
    In a simplified manner, Band of Brothers presented the Crossroads fight as it actually happened from the view of the soldiers of Easy Company.

    However, this amazing YouTube video made with a professional drone camera gives a bigger picture of the efforts made by Captain Winters and his men.

    From the footage you can see how flat the entire area is, which would have made any action very difficult. Approaching soldiers would have been within the sights of the German artillery situated on elevated positions on the other side of the Rhine River.

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    Alan Wood, war correspondent for the Daily Express, types a dispatch during the battle. Behind him is Sergeant Lewis of the Army Film and Photographic Unit.

    It’s also possible to see how close the Crossroads was to both German positions on the Rhine and Easy Company HQ at Randwijk.

    Finally, alternating with scenes from Band of Brothers, the video follows the path of the bayonet charge across the huge field. When seen from the air, it’s clear that it was a pretty long run for the men of Easy Company before they reached the dike where they attacked the Germans.

    This interesting drone footage shows the Crossroads battle from a very different and interesting perspective.
     
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  2. Half Track

    Half Track Active Member

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    Very well done, interesting and thanks for posting!
     
  3. Buten42

    Buten42 Member

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    Excellent. Thanks for posting. Really puts the action in perspective.
     

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