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In the course of military history one of the most effective tactics ever to take the enemy by surprise has been THE RAID. "HISTORY'S RAIDERS" some of the most exciting and decisive small unit actions have been minutely researched and uncovered with unprecedented access to over 500,000 hours of archive film, much of which will be seen in the series for the first time.
|S01E01||Search and Rescue in the Balkans 1995-1999||03/06/2001||In June 1995, a US Air Force F-16 fighter was shot down by Russian-built surface-to-air missiles while enforcing the no-fly zone in Bosnia. Its pilot survived and within days he had been located and rescued in a daring raid deep in hostile territory. It was one of the most spectacular missions of the elite US Air Force and Marine Corps units whose motto is "That Others May Live".|
|S01E02||The SAS Raid on the Iranian Embassy 1980||10/06/2001||On May 6, 1980, astonished British TV viewers watched as black-clad troopers blasted their way into the Iranian Embassy in London to free 26 hostages being held by Iraqi-backed gunmen. The men who brought the six-day siege to a triumphant conclusion were part of Britain's elite Special Air Service regiment, which specialises in raiding and anti-terrorist operations.|
|S01E03||The Entebbe Raid 1976||17/06/2001||The Entebbe Raid 1976 The skill and audacity of Israel's special forces was first shown in a daring raid on a vital Egyptian air-defence radar installation on Green Island. Seven years later, in July 1976, the world was amazed as a special forces team flew more than 2000 miles to rescue 94 Israeli citizens and the crew of an Air France Airbus, who were being held hostage in Entebbe, Uganda, after a hijacking.|
|S01E04||The Dieppe Raid 1942||24/06/2001||As dawn broke on August 19th, 1942, Canadian troops launched a major raid on the German-held French port of Dieppe. What was later described as a "reconnaissance in force", proved a disaster - the Canadians were pinned down on the beach under savage fire. The only thing that could be said in favour of this tragic fiasco was that lessons were learned which saved many lives on D-Day.|
|S01E05||PT Boats in the Pacific 1942-1945||01/07/2001||Throughout the US fight back in the Pacific, from Guadalcanal to the coasts of the Japanese home islands, the Navy's motor torpedo boats landed raiding parties, attacked enemy shore installations and supply barges, and undertook reconnaissance missions. Their crews lived up to the motto of John Paul Jones, one of the fathers of the US Navy - "Give me a fast ship, for I intend to go in harm's way".|
|S01E06||The Mosquito Raiders 1940-1945||08/07/2001||One of the most specialised roles of De Havilland's "Wooden Wonder", the ultra-fast Mosquito fighter-bomber, was pinpoint raids in support of the Resistance movements in Nazi-occupied Europe. And one of the most spectacular examples was the attack on Amiens prison before D-Day which freed a large numbers of key Resistance leaders who were facing imminent execution.|
|S01E07||The Zeebrugge Raid 1918||15/07/2001||On St George's Day - April 23rd, 1918 - Royal Marines stormed the German defences at the port of Zeebrugge on Belgium's North Sea coast. This audacious raid was the most spectacular event in the Allies' long World War 1 campaign against Germany's U-boats, and succeeded in sinking ships to block one of the vital channels through which they reached the sea.|
|S01E08||The Chindits 1943-1945||22/07/2001||In early 1943, the British Army sent a large raiding force deep into the jungles of Japanese-occupied Burma to attack supply convoys and sabotage railways. Known as the Chindits, these raiders were led by Orde Wingate, one of the most dynamic and unconventional leaders of World War 2, and showed that Allied forces could take on and beat the Japanese in jungle combat.|
|S01E09||The SOE and the Gorgopotamus Bridge 1942||29/07/2001||On the night of November 25th, 1942, British agents and Greek resistance fighters attacked a vital Gorgopotamos railway bridge in the heart of Greece. Its destruction was one of the most successful sabotage missions ever undertaken by the Special Operations Executive, not only cutting off supplies to Rommel's Afrika Korps, but disrupting Axis supply lines throughout the Balkans.|
|S01E10||The Raiders of Telemark 1940-1944||05/08/2001||Some of the most vital raids undertaken by Allied forces during World War 2, were those against a remote factory in Telemark, Norway. For here the Germans were producing "heavy water", a vital component in the development of Hitler's atomic bomb. The courage of a few brave men played a crucial part in ensuring that the Germans lost the race to build the ultimate weapon.|
|S01E11||The Schweinfurt Raid 1943||12/08/2001||On August 17th, 1943, the 8th US Army Air Force launched its first major long-range bombing raids into the heartland of Nazi Germany. The American belief that its heavily-armed Flying Fortresses could fight their way through in daylight without escorts to any target was facing its crucial test. As Luftwaffe fighters swooped on the US bombers it became horrifyingly clear that the theory was wrong.|
|S01E12||The Raids of Otto Skorzeny 1940-1945||19/08/2001||The rescue of Benito Mussolini, the deposed dictator of Italy, from imprisonment in a remote mountain-top hotel on September 12th, 1943, by German special forces was one of the most spectacular raids of World War 2. It was also a raid by one of the war's most flamboyant raiders - Otto Skorzeny - whose exploits made him notorious as "the most dangerous man in Europe".|
|S01E13||The Commando Raids on Norway 1940-1945||26/08/2001||In the dark days of summer 1940, as Nazi armies overran much of Western Europe, Winston Churchill ordered the formation of a special raiding force known as the Commandos to carry the war back to the enemy. Its successful attacks on German occupation forces in Norway played a key role in convincing Hitler that he must keep quarter of a million troops pinned down there for the rest of the war.|
|S01E14||Human Torpedo Raiders 1941-1945||02/09/2001||One of the most remarkable raiding weapons of World War 2 was the Italian Maiale human torpedo. On the night of December 18th, 1941, three of them fundamentally changed the balance of naval power by crippling the only British battleships remaining in the Eastern Mediterranean. This triumph was soon being copied as the British, Germans, and Japanese developed their own human torpedoes.|
|S01E15||The Capture of Fort Eben Emael 1940||09/09/2001||As German troops moved forward to their battle stations to begin Hitler's 1940 Blitzkrieg in the West, gliders swooped out of the dawn sky onto the Belgian fortress which dominated bridges vital for the German advance. Within a few hours less than 400 German paratroops had neutralised this supposedly impregnable fortification and seized the bridges.|
|S01E16||The Raids Against the Tirpitz 1941-1944||16/09/2001||For the Germans, the giant battleship Tirpitz was the "Queen of the North" - a constant threat to the vital Allied convoys to Russia. For Churchill, she was "the Beast" - and one which must be destroyed at all cost. For more than three years RAF bombers, Fleet Air Arm dive bombers, and Royal Navy Chariots and X-craft mounted raids until Tirpitz was finally eliminated.|
|S01E17||The St Nazaire Raid 1942||23/09/2001||The great dry dock at the French port of St Nazaire was the only facility on the Atlantic coast of Nazi-occupied Europe which could accommodate Germany's giant battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz. On March 28th, 1942, the British navy sailed a destroyer packed with explosive into the dock gates. When this blew up the next day, it put the dock out of action for the rest of the World War 2.|
|S01E18||The Raids of Lawrence of Arabia 1914-1918||30/09/2001||T.E. Lawrence is one of the most legendary of raiders. The British could not afford to divert troops to support the Arabs in a revolt against the Turks during World War 1. Instead, acting as liaison officer with the Arabs, Lawrence led a series of raids against the railway lines supplying the Turkish army in the field, and captured the port of Aqaba.|
|S01E19||The US Rangers and the Raid on Cabanatuan 1945||07/10/2001||Impressed by the performance of Britain's new elite force, the Commandos, the US Army set up its own special unit - the Rangers. These took part in many of the major Allied landings in Europe, capturing vital strongpoints. In the Pacific, one of their most spectacular actions was a raid deep behind enemy lines to free prisoners-of-war, threatened with massacre by the Japanese.|
|S01E20||The Cockleshell Raiders 1942-1945||14/10/2001||By 1942, the British were aware that vital raw materials were getting to Germany via the occupied French port of Bordeaux. This was too far up the Gironde River for a conventional raid, so an attack using canoes was mounted, and four ships were sunk. Although only two of the ten "Cockleshell Heroes" survived, the raid led to the same method being used against Japanese-held Singapore.|
|S01E21||The Raid on Taranto 1940||21/10/2001||On the night of November 11th, 1940, obsolete Swordfish biplanes of the Royal Navy swooped on the Italian fleet as it lay at anchor, and sank or disabled three battleships. Within a few minutes, the Royal Navy had changed the face of naval warfare. The Swordfish for this surprise raid, had been launched from a carrier task force, and far away in the Pacific, the Imperial Japanese Navy was watching.|
|S01E22||The Desert Raiders 1914-1943||28/10/2001||Shortly after Italy entered World War 2 in June 1940, General Wavell, the British commander in the Middle East accepted the idea of a small elite reconnaissance force to be known as the Long-Range Desert Group. When this was joined by the Special Air Service as a specialist raiding force, the British acquired one of the most formidable teams of desert warriors ever known.|
|S01E23||The Tunnel Raiders1914-1918||04/11/2001||As World War 1 degenerated into the gruelling stalemate of trench warfare, both sides sought desperately for ways of breaking through the enemy's lines. One of the most extraordinary methods was to tunnel under the enemy's positions and set off massive explosions to create a breach. Soon a bizarre new form of warfare had begun as underground raids were mounted against the enemy's mines.|
|S01E24||German Commerce Raiders 1939-1945||11/11/2001||During World War 1, the German navy enjoyed considerable success with commerce raiders disguised as merchantmen. When World War 2 began, it was decided to use similar tactics, and nine disguised raiders were sent out alongside Germany's small number of major warships to prey on enemy shipping. All were eventually hunted down, but not until almost 200 Allied ships had been sunk.|
|S01E25||Raiders of the Falklands War 1982||18/11/2001||In 1982, Britain found itself fighting a full-scale land, sea, and air war eight thousand miles away in the South Atlantic. The speed with which the British task force was able to reoccupy the Falkland Islands and defeat the Argentine invaders, was considerably helped by a series of daring raids mounted by the elite troops of the Special Air Service and Royal Marine Special Boat Squadron.|
|S01E26||The Dambusters Raid 1943||25/11/2001||The dams which supplied Nazi Germany's industrial heartland with power were a vital target for the British, but difficult to attack using conventional weapons. Then in May 1943, nineteen Lancaster bombers took off carrying a revolutionary new "bouncing bomb". Eight of the aircraft were lost on the raid, but two of the dams were successfully breached causing widespread flooding and disruption.|