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Dangerous Missions

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Summary

Nine daring and dangerous missions from World War II (and one from the Great War), ranging from the famous Dambusters raid to the less well-known actions such as the German assault on the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emaul, the "Cockleshell Heroes" at Bordeaux and the raid on the German navy in Zeebrugge in 1918.

Latest Episode

Series 1 - Episode 1 - The Fall of Eben-Emaul
Aired - Air date unknown.

Episode summary:

This episode of Dangerous Missions chronicles the daring Fallschirmjäger assault in 1940, on the Belgian fortified bunker complex known as "Eben-Emael." Eben-Emael was constructed by Belgium between 1932 and 1935. The purpose of constructing this massive fort was to protect a weak point in the Meuse valley near the Maastricht area. Artillery and weaponry contained inside the fort consisted of; two 120mm guns, 16 75mm guns, 14 60mm anti-tank guns, 5 60mm anti-aircraft guns and 11 machine gun positions The main task of Eben-Emael was to defend or destroy 3 important bridges near-by. Seventeen bunkers, manned by 1200-1500 troops was its main defense. Eben Emael was protected by 60 meter walls. Underneath Eben Emael was an impressive living area of; hospitals, kitchens, independent water source and 5.5 km of tunnels, linking bunkers .Most military experts considered Eben Emael impregnable. The task of taking this fortress rested with Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment) Koch of the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division (German 1st Parachute Division) Led by the vicious Otto Skorzeny. The plan was for 85 men to land in gliders on the roof on Eben Emael and knockout its bunkers and guns. Three other platoons were tasked in taking the 3 key bridges. The Germans developed a new Hohlladung charge (hollow charge) which would penetrate thick bunkers and copulas. Flamethrowers and other demolition equipment were also deployed. Junker Ju-52 transport aircraft would delver the silent glider craft to their objectives. On May 10, 1940 at approximately 0410 hours 9 gliders, 2 of the original 11 had mechanical difficulties, landed on Eben Emael's roof. The defenders were completely taken by surprise. The assault force, down to 70 men, rushed out of their gliders, regrouped and began locating their assigned targets. Within 20-25 minutes most of the fortresses offensive strength was rendered useless. Up to this point the German forces were lead by Lt. Delica. The commanding officer Lt. Witzig final arrived in a new undamaged glider several hours later. The original plan was for the 4 platoons to hold out for 4 hours until relived by 4th Motorized Division. The handover of 2 bridges, 1 was destroyed, and Eben Emael actually occurred 24 hours later on May 11 at 0830 hours. Operation "Gelb" suffered 37 killed-in-action and 100 wounded-in-action casualties. Even today a plan of Operation "Gelb" design would be considered brilliant. However, considering the deployment of glider-borne troops, to capture a massive bunker complex, n 1940, is completely staggering. It was and is considered one of the most daring and impressive small unit actions in history.

Watch Episodes Online - Episode Guide

+ Series 1

+ Episode - 10 The Zeebrugge Raid Aired - Air date unknown.
+ Episode - 9 The Chindits Aired - Air date unknown.
+ Episode - 8 Attack on Dieppe Aired - Air date unknown.
+ Episode - 7 Sinking the Tirpitz Aired - Air date unknown.
+ Episode - 6 The Dambusters Aired - Air date unknown.
+ Episode - 4 Target St. Nazaire Aired - Air date unknown.
+ Episode - 3 The Desert Raiders Aired - Air date unknown.

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