Series 1 - Episode 2

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Ann follows the experiences of her uncle, Donald Widdecombe, who was an army chaplain with Field Marshall Montgomery’s 8th Army. A Baptist vicar before the war, Donald volunteered for army service. After two weeks’ basic training he joined the Queen’s Royal Regiment, an active unit. As the war in the Western Desert reached its climax, Donald was sent to the Middle East. He arrived just as the tide was turning against Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps. In the unforgiving climate of the desert, he saw action at the decisive battle of El Alamein. Ann follows in her uncle’s footsteps and discovers what an army padre would have endured in combat.

Quentin attempts to uncover what exactly his father, Bernard Willson, did during the war – he knows he was at Bletchley Park but, because his father strictly adhered to the Official Secrets Act, beyond that very little else. His quest takes him from Cambridge University, where he learns his father was a star linguist, to Bletchley Park – the heart of British code-breaking during the Second World War. Here Quentin discovers the key role his father played in breaking a vital enemy cipher, an achievement that would have a direct impact on the course of the war.

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Comments (18)

  • Antoinette

    almost 2 years ago


    Channel 5, are there any plans to release this series on DVD? I love hearing about stuff from this period in history as I am currently studying IGCSE History and hearing about all the amazing stories from a generation long gone by who were brave and made so many sacrifices so me and my children could live or hope to live in peace.

  • Trevor

    almost 2 years ago


    We think we recognised my wife's dad in footage of the 8th Army in episode 2. Is there any way we can get more info about the footage used so we can try to confirm this? he was an ambulance driver! Great programme, by the way.

  • Brian

    almost 2 years ago


    I'm puzzled. What's the point of putting these programmes on "Demand 5" if they're only available to view during the timeslot in which they're shown on Channel 5 anyway? Or have I misunderstood something?

  • This comment was removed by a moderator

  • Julie

    almost 2 years ago


    My grandfather, Gustavus Starmer, was part of this... wish I could pick out his face amongst the many in the footage! I wonder if it's possible to get hold of a copy of the program before it gets taken down from here..............

  •   P Johnson

    almost 2 years ago

    P Johnson

    could not view - froze from start

  • This comment was removed by a moderator

  • Martin

    almost 2 years ago


    I had to stop watching made me cry my father was in the 8th British North Africa Force. Some of the film clips shown could have been him. He would always say if we watched a war film that was wrong. Military Medal gained out there but would never say why and how he got it .So proud of him now shame I could not tell him while he was alive for what he did and the others. WHERE WOULD WE BE WITH OUT THEM .Also my grandfather was at the BBC Bush house on police patrol with his duty partner when it was hit by a land mine he survied but sadly all they found of his partner was his helmet on Aldwych Church

  • JohnFairhurst

    almost 2 years ago


    Great stories. I did wonder with the first one about the two investigations in the same programme but with this one they've fitted them together much better. No problems with watching the programme in IE.

  • eric

    almost 2 years ago


    great program i also had an uncle in tobruk. Keep it we need more of these programs for the young.......

  • J Bell

    almost 2 years ago

    J Bell

    having problems viewing, keeps freezing up.

  • neil

    almost 2 years ago


    great series, had an uncle in tobruk nearly cost him his life, never spoke of his army life or battles, only know of snipets from his mum, my late granmother,

  • Stan2

    almost 2 years ago


    Why do we have to keep redoing the adverts every time you reconnect after the connection breaks ...

  • Stan Stephenson

    almost 2 years ago

    Stan Stephenson

    I've had to reload 4 times to get it play , shocking

  • Stan

    almost 2 years ago


    This glitches all over the place btwn breaks onSafari and on a mac not best pleased , great show ruined by IE stuff

  • rexy

    almost 2 years ago


    brilliant series - ian mcleod amazing. going to take his battlefield tours definitely

  • Helen Cookson

    almost 2 years ago

    Helen Cookson

    It's the same for my Grandad William Blay I know he served in Egypt, Madgascar and in South Africa where he met my Grandma (who was South African) occasionally he would say about the lemers being quite cheeky and that was it

  • Mike Henderson

    almost 2 years ago

    Mike Henderson

    My Dad , Basil , was also a None Talker about his Army Life . Although I Now Know , 3 times In Dispatches , and on Field Marshal Alexander's private staff ! . Wonderfull Programme and VERY Moving . Many Many Thanks Chris and Crew ...........