D-Day’s Sunken Secrets, coming to Channel 5 in May, takes a look at a unique expedition to the bottom of the ocean to explore the lost battlefield of D-Day – the seabed off the coast of Normandy. Using sonar technology and expert divers, the film uncovers the military treasures thought to be lost forever, and hears from some of the men who took part in the landings. In D-Day’s Sunken Secrets a team of historians, wreck detectives, scientists and veterans are on a quest to discover what lies below the waves.
During the film we hear from English and American veterans such as Bill Allen who recalls his experiences as a teenage medic. On his fourth trip to the beaches, his ship hit a mine and 94 of his shipmates died. Bill returns to Normandy for the first time and takes a submarine to the seabed to pay his respects to those comrades who never returned. We also meet submariner Jim Booth who was part of five-man crew on a midget submarine that lurked off the coast for days before the invasion.
June 6, 1944 saw the world’s biggest amphibious assault, one of the most important military campaigns in history and a pivotal moment in the Second World War. For generations, historians, archaeologists and other experts, in their attempts to reconstruct the events of the day, have scoured every battlefield…except one. Just off the coast of Normandy is a lost graveyard, where hundreds of objects lie on the sea bed. The team scours a 500 square kilometre stretch of seabed. Among the astonishing objects they find are curious collection of American Sherman tanks, specially adapted to float, and the wreck of the SS Leopoldville, a troopship hit by a German U-boat which lost 800 lives.
Liz McLeod, Executive Producer at True North comments: “We always think of D-Day as happening on the beach – but, as this extraordinary underwater expedition reveals, it was also a sea battle and one that was both crucial and tragic. This is a rare, last opportunity – and an emotional one – to travel back to this underwater battlefield with the men who fought there.”
Simon Raikes, Commissioning Editor – Factual at Channel 5 comments: “70 years on from one of the pivotal actions of WW2, this extraordinary film opens up a remarkable new window on D-Day. It’s the story of the terrible cost of the operation – and it’s there, just yards from the beaches, hidden in plain view beneath the waves, told by men who were there, and calibrated by the spectacular and newly revealed wrecks of the tanks, ships and landing-craft that never made it ashore.”