In 2001, when a ten part miniseries came to our notice, the world immediately sat up and listened. It wasn’t just a story written for the big screen. It wasn’t something fabricated and given the Hollywood treatment. Band of Brothers was fact. It was historical. It was Easy Company.
Episode 1 is the first of ten and is named Currahee. What’s Currahee I hear you ask? Any Band of Brother’s aficionado would be able to tell you that Currahee is 3 miles up, 3 miles down
“Currahee” is the title of the first part of the historical miniseries that graced screens in 2001 – Band of Brothers. Episode one follows the men from basic training at Camp Toccoa. They are under the dictatorial leadership of their commanding officer, a man named Herbert Sobel. Of all the hardships Easy faced, Sobel was one of the first and hardest.
This episode has an undercurrent of conflict running through it. Sobel clearly conflicts with his men and finds pleasure in searching for infractions to punish them with. Are those infractions correct? Are those infractions fabricated? When you learn to see Sobel as the men do and understand him as they do, the answer becomes clear. One thing that this episode clearly demonstrates, is that while Sobel may have command of ‘easy’, he most certainly has not got the mens respect. That belongs square on the shoulders of Richard Winters.
While Sobel does not have the respect, what he does have is talent. That’s demonstrated through the fact that as he commands Easy, he takes them from young men to army elite. But what good is getting men to this level if they don’t respect you? What good is taking men to this level if they most certainly wouldn’t follow you into battle?
After gaining their jump wings with their 5 jumps from the C-47, Easy are transferred to North Carolina. Combat training begins and it is here than the viewer can identify the incompetence of Sobel with ease. The incompetence comes to a head with a conflict between Sobel and Winters. Sobel attempts to have Winters court-martialled for failing to follow orders, orders that he never received.
The matter gets back to Easy Company, to Richard Winters men. The respect that Richard Winters has from his men is displayed through an act of protestation to Colonel Sink. The non-commissioned officers states their case, and for their trouble are demoted or reassigned. However, Colonel Sink transfers Sobel out, following the realisation that maybe the officers were right.
The episode ends as each men boards the plane. The plane to the drop zone in Normandy.
This episode is beautifully written and reflects so many emotions throughout. As you watch you swing from excitement when Easy get their wings, to annoyance and agitation when Sobel dishes out his infractions. You see the camaraderie building and the comradeship developing. Even in episode one , the small comrade groups are forming. Watching each others backs from the start.
Day of days
The company have arrived on French soil. The drop causing several problems, such as losing kit and missing the zone does not fail to show the men and you, the viewer, how perilous the actuality is, versus the training for it.
Winters realises quickly that the drop has gone awry. Easy company, along with others are scattered across Normandy. Winters finds Lipton. Guarnere, Toye and Malarkey. They share information they have learned, and quickly realise that within 5 miles they are at their objective
,As they arrive at the rally point, they encounter captured German prisoners, one of which is from Malarkey’s home state. Malarkey exchanges pleasantries but it isn’t long before the German prisoners are executed.
Winters is now front and centre with Buck Compton, heading to the Battle of Brecourt Manor. The operation takes out a nest of German 105mm heavy guns at Brécourt, a nearby French estate. The guns are aimed directly at Causeway #1 at Utah Beach and are inflicting heavy casualties to the incoming troops.
Winters takes two squads, one led by himself, the other by Compton. The Battle follows and Winters proves himself an excellent tactician and leader throughout.
Nixon and Winters discuss that a map Winters found at Brécourt showed all the key German artillery sites in Normandy and has been passed up to Army intelligence.
Winters heads off to speak to his men, putting to rest a longstanding rumour. As he sticks his head in the back of the truck, he tells Guarnere that he is ‘not a Quaker’. Winters tells us it was ‘a day of firsts’. He takes a sip of wine with his men.
He sits later, not eating and it’s then that you realise that the death of Hall during Brecourt, has affected him. he realises he is not hungry. You hear Winters talking about he just “hoped to get through the day, now he hopes to get through D-day +1”
Episode 2 takes you into the heart of battle and carries this well Camera angles and styles put you front and centre as you feel that you are running with them. This episode continues the comradeship as you see others form. The pairing of Winters and Nixon continues to grow and is pleasing to watch.