Monty Halls tells incredible and little-known stories of Second World War escapes from Nazi-occupied territory by prisoners of war and Allied soldiers. Retracing their routes – through thick forest and over snow-capped mountains – former marine Monty discovers what it took to survive on the run, and celebrates the extraordinary bravery of the escapees, some of whom are still alive today and share their experiences in the series. Monty also meets surviving local farmers and resistance fighters who risked their own lives to help Allied servicemen and women to safety.
In this first episode, Monty tells the dramatic story of the most successful mass escape of Allied prisoners of war of the Second World War. Retracing their extraordinary journey through the forests and mountains of Slovenia, Monty discovers how they managed to hide from the Nazis as they marched more than 200 miles through Nazi-occupied territory towards freedom – and learns the risks they faced in pulling off this audacious escape. Along the route, Monty meets Neil Churches – the son of one of the daring ringleaders of the escape – and also meets surviving Slovenians who formed a resistance network against the Nazis, and helped on this escape.
The huge group trekked across some of the most beautiful landscape in Europe, through deep forests and over high mountains, which were home to bears and wolves. They faced spies and firefights and battled exhaustion and the elements. At times the line of men stretched over a kilometre and they were often within a few hundred metres of enemy patrols and outposts. They relied heavily on support from local partisans. This programme celebrates the bravery of everyone who was involved.
Executive Producer: Monty Halls
Producer: Liberty Smith
Production Company: Seadog TV & Film Productions Ltd
WWII’s Great Escapes: The Freedom Trails Episode 1 airs on Saturday 16 September 2017 from 8.0pm-9.00pm on Channel 4.